Mr. Mercedes – Season 1, Episode 10: “Jibber-Jibber Chicken Dinner”

AT&T’s Mr. Mercedes
Season 1, Episode 10: “Jibber-Jibber Chicken Dinner”
Directed by Jack Bender
Written by Dennis Lehane & Sophie Owens-Bender

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Ice Cream, You Scream, We All Scream” – click here
* Recap-reviews of Season 2 to come on release, as it’s been confirmed the show’s renewed!


A different opener for the finale. Suddenly, in the dark, former Dt. Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) wakes to “Danny Boy” playing. Nearby is a trail of blood smeared through the hallway, out into the kitchen, everywhere. The side of the house is covered in a streak of crimson. Outside is a wheelbarrow with an eviscerated corpse in it. In the trees, a bloody leg. The Mr. Friendly jingle plays. In the driveway, Bill sees his daughter as a girl, Holly (Justine Lupe), and Jerome (Jharrel Jerome) all eating ice cream with the ice cream man himself, Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway) who greets him with a pleasant, sinister smile.
Then there’s Ida Silver (Holland Taylor), she takes his gun, tells him to go “have some fun” while Mr. Mercedes serves him up his favourite fudge treat.
But then his daughter’s taken by Brady. When he goes back inside, everybody in his life is dead, murdered brutally. He’s quickly attacked by a rabid, beast-like Brady who tears him apart, ripping his flesh, eating him. Terrifying fucking nightmare.
Such a great contrast to the other episodes, all of those so similar, the same song, the record player, the breakfast. Now, we’ve come to the end of Season 1, and Bill’s in a vastly different, scarier headspace than he was before, worried for the safety of everyone near him.
IMG_0330At the police station, Dt. Pete Dixon (Scott Lawrence), Dt. Izzy Torres (Nicole Barré), Captain Brooke Hockney (Debra Monk), and Bill watch the confessional tape Brady recorded before the supposed end. As he rants about his delusions of grandeur, his mom, the “lead boots” of conscience against which his life raged, the lie that his mom died because she wanted to turn him in – he can’t even admit HE was the one who accidentally killed her, a pathetic human. He goes on about history as “scar tissue” and gobbles up a bottle of pills at the same time. Until it looks like he passes out, falling into the lens.
Bill’s thanked afterwards by Capt. Hockney for his involvement, as well as tasked with helping out more while they check for bombs at his place, other places Brady might’ve left a bomb behind. They also get a bit of help from Lou Linklatter (Breeda Wool) concerning where Robi might be.
At the electronics shop, corporate douche Josh (David Furr) realises the killer is the one who setup a display recently, to attract kids and their parents. Nothing’s found. However, better safe than sorry, right? Bill’s house is safe, too. He and Pete have a beer on the front step, chatting, the latter admitting they found an escape tunnel down in Brady’s lair. Quite possible he’s out, alive, plotting.
And yes, he is, of course. Like we all knew. So sinister. He’s got another bomb, he’s putting the finishing touches on it. He has a wheelchair, as well. Underneath which is where the explosives are neatly hidden, nobody any the wiser about its capabilities. Oh, shit.
IMG_0331Josh goes looking for Robi. When he notices his car’s there and nobody answering at home, he calls the cops again. Pete, Izzy, and Bill come to check the place. In the apartment they find no one, nothing. Although Josh notices after a moment there’s no rug near the kitchen like before. So Izzy begins doing minor forensics, spraying luminol around a few areas, locating the presence of some interesting fluids – a large splash on the wall, the floor, some reaching out to the kitchen cabinets. A macabre, fluorescent crime scene.
This is when they call the morgue, to confirm the corpses, and discovering that most likely it was, indeed, Robi left in bed with Mama Hartsfield. So Cpt. Hockney and the rest try determining what Brady’s next move is, what to do in the preemptive hope they can combat the killer.
Speaking of, Brady’s shaving his head, going with a new look. Is he planning on a suicide bombing mission in that wheelchair? Simultaneously, the cops are wondering which events might be targets, a gala, another career fair event, so on. Without a specific threat, they can’t cancel anything. So they add security, they’ll keep their eyes open. Problem is even the shaved head could throw them off his trail, for just enough time to detonate those explosives.
Poor Bill’s haunted, seeing the images of his nightmare over and over. He also believes there’s no way Brady is going for another career fair, just as WE see the killer in his wheelchair, wearing glasses, bald head and a suit to boot. Brady’s at the gala, same place as Holly. Dear lord, no. Bill knows something bad will happen, he rushes for the gala, calls Ida and tells her to get someplace safe; our former detective knows the killer’s going for people he cares about.
IMG_0332In a portable outhouse, Brady opens the wheelchair and produces the bomb. Out on a stage, a speech, a look at the Edmund Mills Art Center opening in the community. In the crowd Bill looks hard for his man, he stumbles onto Holly and asks her to get out of there fast. And Jerome, he’s there with his family. So many in peril.
Lou’s also kicking around, having a drink. Near the bathrooms, she runs into none other than Brady in his disguise: “Shouldve worn sunglasses,” he quips. He stabs her in the stomach before hopping back in his wheelchair. Right at the same time Jerome takes the stage, introduced for his achievements, his getting into an Ivy League college, as he himself introduces a young choir. THE TENSION IS KILLING ME!
The killer doesn’t finish Lou off, so she shouts for help. Bill hears her calls, finding her, and getting somebody to call for an ambulance. She tells him about the disguise.
And wheeling into the middle of the crowd Brady readies himself to detonate. Onstage, Jerome starts clearing people out after Holly alerts him. Bill points his gun into the crowd as they run, Brady holds the detonator ready. But before anything can happen, Holly cracks the killer in the face, beating him relentlessly, and Jerome grabs the device. All to “This Little Light of Mine” in the background. Amazing sequence.


In the aftermath, Holly and Jerome are heroes. Bill’s been vindicated already, as his hunches over the Mercedes Killer case turned out to be entirely warranted. Meanwhile, Brady’s a vegetable in the hospital, our former detectives goes to see him every day: “If he ever flatlines, Ill show up and cremate him myself.” He leaves the hospital after whispering into Brady’s ear, making clear he isn’t going anywhere no matter if the killer’s brain dead or what.
There’s still a flicker. We can hear The Pixies “Here Comes Your Man” playing, the radio in his brain hanging on and on. I wonder…
IMG_0336Loved this finale! Wow, just filled with atmosphere and suspense, tension to fill your boots. Season 2’s been announced already, so I’m very interested if they’ll take into account Finders Keepers, or if they’re going for a whole angle of their own. Exciting stuff to consider in the interim.

Advertisements

Mr. Mercedes – Season 1, Episode 7: “Willow Lake”

AT&T’s Mr. Mercedes
Season 1, Episode 7: “Willow Lake”
Directed by Jack Bender
Written by Dennis Lehane

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “People in the Rain” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “From the Ashes” – click here
Pic 1Again, love the repetition of each morning Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) experiences. Every day is exactly the same. Shows how he’s just going through the motions. His only added change are the bits and pieces of the Mercedes Killer case he works on. Across town and then right into the neighbourhood is Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway), working from afar yet right out in the open, too. A tense situation that’s bound to explode sooner than later.
The glimpses of Brady in his basement are the true views of his life we’re offered, we see him as a real person down there. We see his true self, the one he has to hide even right upstairs with his mother, from his spastic dancing to Radiohead to his bomb making and other eerie behaviour, facilitated by a cabinet full of explosives, discarded cellphones, and other treasures. Plus, he’s watching Bill. There’s nothing the old detective can do that’s out of view of Mr. Mercedes.
Another interesting note: Brady and Bill are each haunted by their past; for the former it’s his dead brother, the latter his estranged, alcoholic daughter. So to watch their parallel paths in life – one a serial killer, the other a cop, though equally damaged – is very compelling.
Pic 1ABill has to “eat shit” because he needs computer help, which means he needs young Jerome (Jharrel Jerome). He feels bad, but isn’t willing to totally eat that shit. However, he does well enough to fix things between them. He needs to dig through Olivia Trelawney’s laptop. He’s getting Holly (Justine Lupe) to help them out, too. Turns out the girl’s got computer game, she knows just about as much as Jerome. She’s both quirky AND smart.
Scary stuff now, as we see Deb (Kelly Lynch) at home, drinking, where she starts picking through her son’s things. Curious about his life. She finds one of his hats. And then finds his clown mask. Oh. Shit. Afterwards, she also digs under his mattress to find a journal with terrifying, sexual drawings on the front. A veritable horrorshow, his mind.
At work, Brady hears from Lou (Breeda Wool) there’s a shake up in the store. They’re all brought into a meeting where one of those douchey corporate guys Brady met at the restaurant gives them a verbal lashing. He berates them brutally, going “fullon fucking Mayan.” So, he decides on firing Lou randomly. Security even comes to escort her out of the building. Spineless Robi (Robert Stanton) looking on shocked. The guy’s lucky Brady didn’t slaughter them all.
Then there’s a semi-awkward situation over at the funeral parlour, Silver’s – yes, Ida (Holland Taylor). That puts Bill, Ida, and Janey (Mary-Louise Parker) in a room together awhile. Slightly uncomfortable.
Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 11.44.00 PMDeb, along with the old journal she apparently stashed away, found a length of rubber hose. She wonders what Brady does with it, asking him face to face. She likewise shows him the clown mask, asking why he’s got it hidden in the closet. He goes on a rant about running away with the circus. She keeps on prodding, looking through the journal, lamenting not having him “committed” years ago. Deb wants her son to have changed, from the budding psychopath that clearly existed long ago. Problem is, he budded. Fully bloomed.
The next morning, Bill and Janey have a difficult discussion. She’s headed back to California after the funeral, which doesn’t sit well with him. He does his best to act normal. Clearly he’s wounded, believing their relationship to have been more meaningful. “If I stay Ill fall in love,” she says. Not something she’s prepared to do after having been deeply wounded herself once upon a time. Sad on both sides.
Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 11.51.13 PMJust outside the funeral procession, Brady watches on. Janey gets up to do the eulogy. A really sick moment, Mr. Mercedes right there, watching the family of the woman he drove to suicide grieve over another family member. So twisty and turny and unsettling.
Scarier still? Brady has planted another bomb. In Janey’s car. As she drives out of the parking lot he sets it off, the car exploding while Bill and Holly sit not far off. The killer drives away, leaving the wreckage behind, as well as Bill, left there with the burning remnants of the woman he’d started to love on the street, in the car’s twisted metal.
Wow. Absolutely devastating.
This episode finally ratcheted the tension up, high as possible, before just drilling us, hard. I’m fascinated by this series. I expected an event like this, though didn’t see it coming here. Devilish, tragic. I wonder how Bill will ultimately deal with this, I know he’s going to feel responsible partly. He’ll blame himself for Janey being around him, he’ll be paranoid of everyone near him winding up dead.
“From the Ashes” comes next week. Be prepared.

The Pre-9/11 Paranoia of Arlington Road

Arlington Road. 1999. Directed by Mark Pellington. Screenplay by Ehren Kruger.
Starring Jeff Bridges, Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, Hope Davis, Robert Gossett, Mason Gamble, Spencer Treat Clark, Stanley Anderson, Viviane Vives, Lee Stringer, Darryl Cox, & Loyd Catlett. Screen Gems/Lakeshore Entertainment/Arlington Road Productions Corporation/Gorai & Samuelson Productions.
Rated R. 117 minutes.
Crime/Drama/Thriller

★★★★
POSTER
There are certain movies re: terrorism which, after the horrific events of September 11th, 2001, really begin to take on heavier meaning than before. Even more so now as people seem needlessly frightened here in North America over so many refugees coming here. The paranoia of these terrorism-fueled thrillers makes for great stomping ground to play out a drama concerning who is or who isn’t a terrorist.
Arlington Road is interesting because nowadays you’d probably see the Tim Robbins character played by someone Middle Eastern, casting immigrants and those outside the North American culture as terrorists, or sympathizers. However, here’s Robbins playing a guy who may or may not be a terrorist (at least we’re unsure for a little while) – the white guy next door. And so this movie came along just a couple years before everybody starting assuming all terrorists have brown skin. It’s refreshing, honestly. Mark Pellington directs a script by Ehren Kruger that’s filled with mindbending sequences, as we rush along on the coat tails of Bridges, whose characters is beyond determined to figure out the truth about his new, subtly suspicious neighbour. Filmed well from a solid screenplay, Arlington Road is a mystery-laden thriller, not without flaws. Overall, it does the job of sucking you in and never letting go, not until the last beat.Pic1edit
When Professor Michael Faraday (Jeff Bridges) finds a young boy named Brady (Mason Gamble) stumbling through the road, bloody, arm nearly blown off, he rushes the kid to a hospital frantically. There, he meets the parents – Oliver and Cheryl Lang (Tim Robbins & Joan Cusack). They are grateful to Michael, and as it turns out, live right across the road. So Michael and his girlfriend Brooke Wolfe (Hope Davis) befriend the new neighbours. The families become friends, especially Michael’s boy Grant (Spencer Treat Clark) and Brady.
Things aren’t everything they seem, though. With his studies in American History/Terrorism, as well as the fact his former wife died in the line of duty with the FBI, Michael knows almost too much about the lives and habits of terrorists. So when Oliver and Cheryl begin to seem suspicious, it takes him into an obsessive loophole of paranoia, guilt, and a strong wave of fear. As things get more tense, Brooke and Grant may both be in plenty of trouble. Only Michael can figure out how to prevent that. Problem is, nobody else sees what Michael sees, and the more he fights to prove his theories, the more he appears crazy.
Can Michael determine what Oliver is and what he’s up to in time? Or is there anything to figure out at all?MCDARRO EC008
The term paranoid thriller is one that fits easily with Pellington’s Arlington Road. And while the paranoia proves to be more dangerous than in certain other films, perilous for the main character spiraling into it, this screenplay really plays on the emotions. Bridges’ character devolves into this paranoid man whose every move is marred by an unshakeable feeling of conspiracy, of terrorists lurking behind every corner of his own neighbourhood. Part of what’s so excellent is the fact we feel very much in the perspective of Bridges the whole time, yet we also see the other events and actions surrounding his situation; we know there’s something not quite right with his neighbours, particularly just before the last 40 minutes starts to roll, and still there’s an overwhelming feeling of seeing things solely through Bridges’ point-of-view. Getting both sides, somehow Pellington traps us with him and the fear, the suspense is all so tangible.
Pacing in a thriller like this, which keeps us guessing to a certain point then replaces any of that suspense with action and plenty of tension, is an important key. And from the moment Faraday (Bridges) starts to really catch onto a possible terrorist plot, there’s a frenzied, chaotic feel to many scenes. These get more and more frequent until Faraday is going full speed, chasing the team of people about to unleash a bombing on the city. The finale is an intensely executed sequence that makes us feel crazy like Faraday, it makes us feel frustration, even anger; everything a good film is supposed to do emotionally. Plus, Bridges help sell it incredibly well. But it’s how things are paced, moving quick and smooth from one scene to the next, which keeps us in league with the thrills. We follow along fast with Faraday, and never are we left in the seat of feeling safe or centered. The pacing keeps us glued, while simultaneously throwing us off our guard during certain moments. Regardless, we go chugging along to the end and the near two hour runtime never feels that long at all.MSDARRO EC003
The acting is spectacular, particularly on the part of Bridges. I’m most impressed by the screenplay. When you consider the end – SPOILER ALERT – not many films have the fortitude to take it that far. Instead of us finding a happier, more pleasant ending, Arlington Road takes us into the depths of terrorism, striking at the happy heart with its shocking final moments. Furthermore, we’re also able to see how the media spins things, and how conspiracy theories are formed, how they breathe and live in the world. There are other films which tackle these types of issues. But Pellington’s film is able to get where many of those other cinematic experiences can’t, as they’re often not willing to go to the lengths this one does. If Faraday managed to save the day, this would be another cheesy crime-thriller, wrapped in mystery and paranoia. But instead of doing that, Pellington, through the writing of Kruger, crafts something lastingly haunting, devastating, and it carries a strong message. I’m just glad this story plays out without having a racist angle, which of course is due to it being released in 1999. If it came after 9-11 this would be weighted down by racial issues and overtones. Arlington Road gives us all the examination of terrorism necessary, without relying on a religious or political dichotomy, or casting a certain race as the only perpetrators of terrorist violence.