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.

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Mr. Mercedes – Season 1, Episode 9: “Ice Cream, You Scream, We All Scream”

AT&T’s Mr. Mercedes
Season 1, Episode 9: “Ice Cream, You Scream, We All Scream”
Directed by Kevin Hooks
Written by Bryan Goluboff

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “From the Ashes” – click here
* For a recap & review of the finale, “Jibber-Jibber Chicken Dinner” – click here
Pic 1Another morning for former Dt. Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson). Same routine, a little more guilt now since Janey’s death. Still, he gets the taunting messages from Brady Hartsfield a.k.a Mr. Mercedes (Harry Treadaway), he continually monitors his property. Every day is exactly the same. Just a variant of how shitty things can get for him.
Meanwhile, listening to “Here Comes Your Man” by the Pixies, Brady works out at home. Next to mom’s (Kelly Lynch) decomposing corpse, Band-Aids over her eyes. At the police station, Bill goes to see Pete Dixon (Scott Lawrence), who’s trying to do right by his old partner. However, he makes clear personal feelings for Janey can’t enter into the situation, everything needs to go by-the-book.
Brady’s got a new FedEx package full of toys. He’s got a new plan in mind. Uh oh.
Pic 1APete brings his boss Captain Brooke Hockney (Debra Monk) all the information he has about the bombing, the Mercedes Killer. She’s certainly surprised. She now wonders about Bill, so Dt. Dixon explains the situation. She doesn’t exactly like it, and he’s got to get forceful with her to get through the fact Bill has helped them, he hasn’t – so far – hindered their investigation.
When Bill gets home he finds Holly (Justine Lupe) there. She has his bulldog statue, it makes her “feel safe.” This all naturally drags up a ton of emotion for him, the links to his own estranged daughter. He wants her to keep the statue. Regardless, he doesn’t want her around. Simply for her safety. Except that Holly’s got a clue: Olivia had a business card for Supreme Electronix, the very store where Brady works. DAMN, GIRL!
At the store, Robi (Robert Stanton) is pissed with Brady for being late, staying in back packing away stock instead of being out front. He’s sniffing around, wondering why he’s back there, believing he might be stealing. So our killer talks the good talk, only serving to piss Robi off a little more who’s only worried about sucking himself further up the corporate anus. More good music, too: “Human Fly” by the Cramps.
Perfect shot where the killer pulls out from the store parking lot, as Bill pulls in. Right after, Pete and Dt. Izzy Torres (Nicole Barré) arrive to make sure he’s not out of line. They all head in to speak with Robi about Olivia’s patronage. Then they find out Brady did all her house calls, which he often does for older women; wonder why(wink, wink, gross)? This leads Robi to tell them about his “prejudices” towards the young man, believing he’s… off, y’know. OH, don’t we know all about that. When Bill sees a picture of him, he recognises the ice cream man from his neighbourhood, Mr. Friendly.
Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 2.09.38 PMNow we’ve got Bill heading over to talk with Brady’s mom. Yeah, the mom lying in bed, flies swarming around her, flesh rotting. She’s listening to her son talk about his “masterpiece” and making a “dent” in the world. His new plan sounds big; ugly big. He’s been psycho a long time. At this point, he’s beyond psychotic, he’s in another world entirely. Perfect time to have the retired detective hunting him down ringing his doorbell. Such a wildly tense few moments. The cops with Bill obviously won’t bust into the house, they’ve got no warrant, and they’re adamant on following the law. We watch as he peeks inside, unable to see anything, Brady lurking in the darkness.
Ken Brock (Tom Nowicki) turns up while Bill’s looking, he has a chat and winds up telling him about a friend of the kid’s, Lou Linklatter (Breeda Wool). Simultaneously, Holly calls her old buddy with a bit of urgent info, sending him back to see her and Jerome (Jharrel Jerome). They’ve sussed out an M.O. – job fairs, big gatherings. The misanthrope detective isn’t immediately inclined to believe it.
Lou gets a visit from Bill, asking about Brady. She tells him the basics, believing he’s a sweet guy, not willing to talk much about anything private. He lies a bit, though. Saying that Brady’s involved in a homicide; we know that, but it isn’t official. I hope this doesn’t start anything that’ll mess up the cops investigating. Eventually, Lou breaks and tells him about the apparent angina attack Deb had, Brady acting strange.
That night when Robi goes home, he finds Brady in his apartment. The young man wants to know why the police are asking about him, so Robi talks. The guy doesn’t know when to shut up. Then he gets murdered right in his kitchen. Bludgeoned to death when he figures out his employee is the Mercedes Killer.
Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 2.24.24 PMSWAT are gearing up. The cops are ready to head inside the Hartsfield home. Pete’s leading at the front. Bill shows up and wants a vest, wanting to go in, too. At the very same time, Brady is washing up, totally unaware. Once he’s finished he sits down with a camera pointed at himself. He records a confession, about the “what question” and the “why,” as well. He believes his story will be famous, he’ll be studied, wrote about, all those delusions of grandeur. But he has one chapter planned: “Things that go bang in the night.”
He turns on the ice cream truck in the driveway, it plays its music. SWAT officers head closer, beckoning him out, not knowing it’s empty. When they shoot it full of gas, moving inside, a pop-up toy ejects in the front seat and they fire. They all head into the house, slow, steady.
Downstairs is the killer’s lair, a countdown on the screen, explosives everywhere. Upstairs, Bill discovers the clown mask, a dead Deb in bed, possibly Brady next to her? Or a decoy? I bet the latter; Robi’s body. Doesn’t matter. The room’s set to light on fire, the place goes up. They all get outside in one piece, luckily. Could’ve been far worse.
That means there are bigger plans on the horizon.
Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 2.33.31 PMScreen Shot 2017-10-05 at 2.36.59 PMGod, what a tension-filled, insane episode! Just, wow. Love this series.
One last episode. “Jibber-Jibber Chicken Dinner” is next. And oh, I worry what sort of psychopathic madness is going to come down on Bill then.

Mr. Mercedes – Season 1, Episode 8: “From the Ashes”

AT&T Mr. Mercedes
Season 1, Episode 8: “From the Ashes”
Directed by Laura Innes
Written by Bryan Goluboff

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Willow Lake” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Ice Cream, You Scream, We All Scream” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 12.13.38 PMIn the aftermath of Janey Patterson (Mary-Louise Parker) being blown to bits, former detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) wakes to a morning harder than those before it, a little less light in the world, and he’s not as inclined to hop out of bed and get ready. Things have changed. Well, except for Mr. Friendly’s Frosteeez driving through the neighbourhood, Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway) at the wheel.
So, what does the ole copper do now? Keep drinking, for one. Try to keep the bad thoughts at bay. He decides to have another chat with Mr. Mercedes on their private chat. This is when the killer begins digging in, hard. Upstairs, the killer’s mother Deborah (Kelly Lynch) is watching the news about the car bombing, trying to cook and be normal. Part of me wonders, if mom is going to be his ultimate downfall, in some shape. It’d be perfect for the Oedipal-type tragedy this story becomes in its best moments.
And Bill, he still has Ida Silver (Holland Taylor) looking out for him, though he tries to make her realise that people who get too close to him are in danger. Last thing he needs is to get further involved with Ida, in any kind of relationship, putting her in harm’s way. Just another thing to eat away at him.
At the Hartsfield house, Deb’s cooking away. She eats a piece of meat out of the pan to test it. Not long afterwards she goes into near convulsions, throwing up, bleeding. Why? Because remember those burgers Brady made, the ones with the rat poison? Yeah. That’s what she used to cook. When he finds her, she’s in the midst of a brutal death. He tries to make her throw up, only to watch her die there on the kitchen floor in front of his eyes.
Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 12.20.51 PMMommy’s dead, so the son goes about taking care of the mess, disposing of her body. Actually, he doesn’t get rid of it. Not yet, anyways. He drags her upstairs, putting her to bed and covering her with a sheet. Laaawd, it’s Norman Bates all over again!
Pete Dixon (Scott Lawrence) is looking for his old partner, concerned about Bill. Our man’s rushed off, wanting to see his daughter Allie (Maddie Hasson), telling her about what’s happened, the killer, that anyone connected to him could be in the line of fire.
Josh: “We sell the future.”
Brady: “Here? The toilet doesnt even flush.”
Things at work, they must go on for Brady. Corporate douche Josh (David Furr) is there to get things rolling on the transition to a super store. Lou (Breeda Wool) shows up for a minute; we find out she’s sued the place, plus she throws an excellent bit of lesbian-flavoured sass right in Robi’s (Robert Stanton) face. She’s actually there to talk to her friend. Brady called her, apparently, frantic. He makes up a story about his mom’s “angina” and passes it off. But she’s too smart to take that as the truth.
Down at the station, Bill talks to his buddy Pete. Things look bad because the vehicle Janey was in that exploded was registered in Bill’s name. So now the retired detective has to explain his relationship to her, why she was in the car, all that. For the record. Meanwhile, the Mercedes Killer gets home to Ken Brock (Tom Nowicki) standing on his doorstep, a FedEx package in his hands. He was meant to have lunch with Deb, she obviously didn’t show up. So the son makes up a story, she went with a friend to Indiana; “an old dream they had.” Yeah, that’s not suspicious, at all.
When Bill gets home he sees a Mercedes in front of his house. Gun drawn, he goes to it, and inside sits Holly Gibney (Justine Lupe). She needed to make sure he was okay, after Janey’s brutal death. No matter how isolated he tries being, Holly, Ida, they genuinely feel concern for the man. Across town, Brady’s left with nobody, isolated to a dangerous point. Without mom, there’s nothing for him.
Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 12.52.50 PMWhen Holly decides on staying the night at Bill’s place, avoiding her mom, she symbolically takes the place of his daughter, sleeping in her bed. We also find out the tortoise belonged to Allie, the reason why he ever kept it around. In the morning, the retired detective finds Holly working on the computer, having invited Jerome (Jharrel Jerome) over to crack more of the case.
They come across sound bytes on Olivia’s computer. The voices she heard? They were genuine sounds from the Mercedes murders, victims, recorded by the killer, sent to torment the poor woman. He was running a remote program, playing the sounds whenever he wanted, driving her mad. But, someone had to at least get in at the laptop once, physically, before working remotely. This prompts Bill to take more evidence to the police.
When Holly and Bill go to Pete, the cops suss out more information. They ask about where she bought the computer. This may lead back to the store where Brady works, if she had any work done there. The noose could tighten for the killer. Saddest part is that Bill has to sever ties with Holly, send her back home; he can’t let his shit hurt her. A tragic parallel to Allie, whom he had to turn his back on in order to help her. Bill’s life is a long, circular shitstorm.
In the meantime, Brady called in sick to work. However, Robi needs another corporate suck-up, the super store changeover, blah, blah, blah. He’s offended that the young man won’t come in. And I see a very rough confrontation between the two coming, soon.
Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 12.53.03 PMMr. Mercedes may be gearing up for something big, an arts centre opening prompts him to dream up a “celebration” of his own. He even shares this idea with mother; yes, Norman is alive and well in modern day. He lies in bed with her, talking about when he “had a girl once.” The only other lover aside from mom. He says he wanted to know about a different life. Yet now, he only wants the one he had with her. At least until he goes out in a blaze of horrific glory.
Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 1.07.33 PMFantastic, insane, brutal episode. That death scene was one of the most terrifying things on TV in a long, long time. Cannot wait for more, there’s so much happening and poised to happen there’s going to be a big release of tension coming up. Not sure who’ll snap first, Bill or Brady.
“Ice Cream, You Scream, We All Scream” is next week, promising something deliciously evil.

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.

Mr. Mercedes – Season 1, Episode 4: “Gods Who Fall”

AT&T’s Mr. Mercedes
Season 1, Episode 4: “Gods Who Fall”
Directed by Jack Bender
Written by Dennis Lehane

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Cloudy, With a Chance of Mayhem” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Suicide Hour” – click here
Pic 1I love how Mr. Mercedes opens almost every episode with Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) waking to his house in shambles, liquor bottles and dirty dishes and open peanut packages, he’s a mess himself. And it’s so similar to EVERY OTHER OPENING that you actually question if you’re watching the correct episode. Genius, as we’re literally put in the shoes of Bill, retired, semi-washed up, and unsure of what day it is ultimately. Really excellent, simple technique that works wonders.
Just seeing Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway) in his basement lair is eerie, watching as he plays with a toy fire truck, imitating the siren, surrounded by computers.
We also get a look at a white supremacist, whose interests lie in America, the KKK, and all the other typical dog whistles. His name is Ryan Springhill (David A. MacDonald). Today, he’s being served with a subpoena, papers for a restraining order. Really upstanding type of guy. And Brady, he’s keeping an eye on him. Playing games with his laptop. This is the guy who got in Lou’s (Breeda Wool) face recently, not impressed with her sexual orientation, muttering “incompetent dyke” to himself getting frustrated. Hmm. Wonder what Mr. Mercedes is setting in motion.
Pic 1AFlashback to Pete Dixon (Scott Lawrence) and Bill interviewing Olivia after the Mercedes massacre. Of course the police believe she was involved, at least Pete. She feels terrible for what happened, though it isn’t HER fault some psychopath stole the car. Sure, her keys were left in the ignition, supposedly. Doesn’t mean she’s culpable. Plus, knowing Brady’s computer expertise? He likely hacked the vehicle, using Olivia as a scapegoat, another way to fulfil his sick fantasies.
So now the Nazi has gone down to Supreme Electronics, calling Lou “twat“in front of everybody. He gets very personal, calling her down to the dirt openly. We see more and more how Robi (Robert Stanton) doesn’t care about his employees, a corporate suck-up, passing off personal, sexist, homophobic insults for business. Fuck you, Robi. Eat a dick.
Jerome (Jharrel Jerome) is still kicking about, even if Bill said he doesn’t want him involved. The young guy only wants to help, offering to “step back if it gets too sketchy.” I mean, it’d be hard for me if I were his age to just give up helping a former detective investigate a psychopath murderer. Just saying. Finally, Jerome drops the idea that Olivia didn’t leave her keys in the Mercedes, that it might’ve just been left in the glove box. Piquing Bill’s interest, a tiny bit.
The poor retired detective is having his mind assaulted on the daily. His TV flickers, showing bits of the Mercedes Killer’s dashcam from the night of the massacre, then the smiley face logo mocking him. Afterwards, we see Brady go to a local diner, he runs into Jerome who knows him from the ice cream truck. Yikes. Too close for comfort. Scares me that this maniac might do something to Jerome.
Pic 2Our poisons are our pleasures
Deborah (Kelly Lynch) watches the kids on her street playing, remembering the better parts of her life. Long ago, before she had Brady. She was on the cheerleading squad, the cutest boy in school was into her. Now she lives with her son in a forcibly incestuous household, wasting away.
Later on Jerome calls Bill with talk of people breaking into cars with no trace. He explains bits and pieces about how the lock works, transmitting a signal. Meaning someone could intercept the signal. Unlocking the car. As I said: hacker shit.
The Hartsfields go to the cemetery, to visit dad, the dead brother. Brady’s not exactly thrilled to be there, though it’s clear Deborah still holds onto their memory tight. Definitely the death of Brady’s brother disturbs him, he was partly responsible. He resists thinking of it, as much as possible. But he wears the ugly tragedy on his face.
Sad that Ida (Holland Taylor) gets hurt after finding Bill at a bar with Janey (Mary-Louise Parker), looking very friendly. I feel that his gravitating towards Janey is more indicative of his obsession with the case. He can’t be interested by anything else, even if it means romantic involvement. Sure, the younger of the two women is pretty, but Ida’s a babe, too. Firmly believe Bill’s entire life is dictated by the Mercedes Killer case.
Bill: “People make mistakes when theyre angry
Janey: “People make corpses when theyre angry, too.”
Pic 3At home, Deb is having flashbacks. She sees her dead son, crawling around the fire truck; the one Brady plays with nowadays. She sees the cut in his throat for the attempted tracheotomy. And this pushes her to the freezer, for a bottle of vodka.
Brady listens to the Pixies playing “Here Comes Your Man” while shopping at a hardware store. For a few essential tools, like a watering can, lawn fertiliser, a spade, and other things. Though he isn’t happy to be served by one of his high school teachers, Mr. Mundy (Keith Flippen), working his second job. Neither is he happy to be seen near a camera; he decides on dropping the gopher poison before checking in. After that he literally beats himself up over not doing “recon” where he planned to buy poison.
The Nazi is picking up his laptop, not satisfied with things already. Robi again ignores sexist bullshit in lieu of business. So the angry white man leaves, but he’s followed by Brady who’s talking to himself about the “big bro” ahead of him. That’s when he uses his universal remote contraption to start changing intersection lights, until the Nazi’s smashed to bits by a large truck in the road. Behind him, Mr. Mercedes revels in the destruction, the death of a horrible man. Looking in his eyes, Brady remarks: “Ive seen that look before.”
And this is when we flash to his brother at the bottom of the basement steps, cracked and broken, bleeding, mouth wide open… dead… little fire truck’s lights and noises going off.
Pic 4Another fantastic episode. One of my favourites yet, because we’re seeing more of Brady, his psychopathy expanding and becoming all-encompassing. There’s growth to Bill, as well. He and Janey closer and closer all the time.
“The Suicide Hour” comes next week.

Mr. Mercedes – Season 1, Episode 3: “Cloudy, With a Chance of Mayhem”

AT&T’s Mr. Mercedes
Season 1, Episode 3: “Cloudy, With a Chance of Mayhem”
Directed by John Coles
Written by A.M. Homes

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “On Your Mark” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Gods Who Fall” – click here
COVEROne thing I love about Mr. Mercedes is how it shows former Dt. Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) in a sort of static position. Many other stories might show us the defiant cop now retired coming back with force and gusto to finally solve the case that’s plagued him so long. Not this one, not something based off the work of Stephen King. No, Bill is stuck in a web of late drunk nights and obsession.
Flashback to Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway), but as a little boy. He sees mother Deborah (Kelly Lynch) having sex, loudly, on the couch. Instead of going to bed like he’s told, he perches on the top of the stairs watching, dissociating from reality. In present day, he’s still living with mom, still eating Froot Loops like a boy, still following mom around like a puppy. Underneath all that you can watch him seething, right below the surface. Wonder how much longer until he kills again. He already gave his boss a nice fright, some minor injuries to the face.
Pic 1ABut we know he’s capable of so much worse. We go for another flashback, to Dt. Hodges and Dt. Peter Dixon (Scott Lawrence) inspecting the Mercedes after the fateful night, covered in blood, that smiley face sticker on the steering wheel like a taunting glare. All this is still swirling in Bill’s mind while he continually claws after more evidence.
When Robi (Robert Stanton) gets back to work, nerve damage in his face, he’s not happy Brady or Lou (Breeda Wool) didn’t come to see him in the hospital. Furthermore, the boss suspects someone possibly messed with his laptop. Of course Brady plays it off, though maybe not well enough.
Former owner of the Mercedes, Olivia Trelawney’s sister Janey Patterson (Mary-Louise Parker) is trying her best to help Bill. They meet again, she reiterates that anyone who could run someone down with a car is a “sick fuck.” However, their Mercedes Killer is even nastier. She’s brought a letter the murderer wrote to Olivia, before she killed herself.
So we hear about Brady’s life, the incest sexual abuse, as the detective and Janey still don’t know his real identity. Our horror’s knowing, watching while hearing the terrifying details of his inner mind, simultaneously see him suit up for his job in the ice cream truck, going about his life. “I still hear their screams,” he wrote. He partly sees it as fate, finding the Mercedes that night, unlocked and keys inside. This is what drove Olivia to suicide. The letter’s also where the name Mr. Mercedes comes from, his eerie signature.
And there’s a degree of remaining procedure with Bill, he’s not the archetype renegade cop. He takes the letter to the cops, so things can go officially. He genuinely wants to catch this killer, rather than allow something to go bad in his hands. Yet when he goes to Pete, the enthusiasm isn’t exactly what he hoped. Nobody’s taking him seriously, believing that retirement and booze is pickling his brain.
Pic 2Flashback to Brady as a boy. He and his little brother Jerry sit together, eating. When he ignores Jerry too long, the kid starts choking. He calls his mother in, she screams to call 911. Seems like he most likely died. Probably around the time when things started going horribly bad for Brady and his mom.
Bill: “…and go and shittweet or facefuck or arsebook, or whatever you call it.”
We’re starting to see Bill collapse a bit. He goes on a rant – and rightly so, I might add – after a lackadaisical bartender serves him a drink in a bit too chill of a manner. After not long Pete arrives to take him home. Hilarious scene, but truthful, and Gleeson sells it SO DAMN WELL! Bless his talent.
When Bill gets home there’s another video message from Mr. Mercedes. The killer’s taunting again, getting nastier, too. Some people might hate the aggressively sexual nastiness in these videos. Remeber: Brady is a victim of incest abuse. And that’s also perhaps why Bill’s so damn sure that letter is authentic. Only a traumatised person would write and create things like that.
Later, Bill gets a visit from Jerome’s dad, who’s worried about his son helping with a police investigation. He simply wants to know that the retired detective won’t “fuck up” his boy. Although across the city is a really fucked up boy. Brady gets an e-mail that drives him mental. Bill’s decided on playing a dangerous game. He pretends that Mr. Davis, the long-sought wife killer Pete and Bill searched for ages ago, confessed to the Mercedes killing. This sets the real killer on fire. His dangerous obsession is about to get a whole lot more dangerous.
Pic 3Back at home, Brady finds the only place that makes sense. Even if it’s toxic. Between the mental stress, his migraine, he crawls back to mother. The one who always takes care of him. A bit too much. Seeing him juxtaposed with Bill and Janey dancing, a true romance, is ugly. While two get close on the dance floor, mom strokes one out of her boy; a small, telling gesture of shame sees him pull a blanket over them, so even they don’t have to see what’s happening.
LORD! This show is too good. Disturbing as hell, yet amazing. Can’t wait for “Gods Who Fall” next week. There’s one hell of a bad storm brewing. Afraid of who’ll get caught in its midst.

Mr. Mercedes – Episode 1: “Pilot”

AT&T’s Mr. Mercedes
Episode 1: “Pilot”
Directed by Jack Bender
Written by David E. Kelley

* For a recap & review of Episode 2, “On Your Mark” – click here
Pic 1We start in 2009, in Ohio. Extremely early in the morning at a City Jobs Fair. People are lined up outside through a roped walkway. Everyone waits patiently, some introducing themselves to one another. Others aren’t entirely happy to be there, not into the socialising. Regardless, everyone there’s starved for work, from the older folk to a young mother with her baby and every sort in between.
Suddenly, a Mercedes pulls up. Lights beaming onto the crowd. The driver slides on a clown mask, breathing heavy. Then he drives directly through the people, barrelling forward at top speed. People scream, running away fast as they can.
But some don’t escape. The driver ploughs over them, including the young mom and her child, a man helping her. Tons and tons of bodies lie bloody, crunched, smashed to bits in his wreckage. Holy christ, what a brutal sequence! When the smoke clears, Detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) turns up on the scene to survey the carnage and begin an investigation along with fellow lawman Pete Dixon (Scott Lawrence). The senselessness isn’t immediately evident. Pete thinks the driver “lost control” of his vehicle. Hodges knows better.
Pic 1AWe jump ahead, two years later. Looks as if Dt. Hodges is a bit rough around the edges, lying in his own wreckage now. Mostly consisting of beer cans, cigarettes, and peanuts. Bit of a mess, in more ways than one. He’s got a lot of time to himself these days. Him and his friend Fred, the tortoise in the backyard. Seems they’re sort of at the same pace. He still has dinner with Pete, keeping in touch after his retirement.
One thing’s clear, though – Bill’s got unfinished business. Like many cops who’ve retired with unsolved cases. He doesn’t even feel like himself. While Pete and a local waitress named Sheila (Tuesday Beebe) try keeping him on track, as does nosy neighbour Ida Silver (the incomparable Holland Taylor), there’ll always be something not right with him. He just slides further into the bottle.
Bill: “Ever notice everythings upside down on a spoon?”
Sheila: “Maybe thats how life is, hon. Spoons just got it figured out.”
Perfectly with The Ramones playing “Pet Sematary” on the radio, we’re introduced to Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway). He works at a store dealing in electronics, computers, all that sort of thing. He’s got a regular life, he and co-worker dealing with shitty customers and a corporate cut-out boss. And his boss, oh, man: a piece of work! He’s basically jealous of Brady’s talent with computers, cutting him down a peg at any corner possible.
We see that Ida’s nosy because she’s looking for a companion, at least a sexual one. But underneath all that – she’s a proud lady, after all – there’s a genuine concern about Bill. She doesn’t want to see him waste away, she’s seen it before. She doesn’t want him to have “retreated from the living” just because of retirement. So, despite her sort of snooty attitude at first, she’s genuinely worried the man doesn’t have any purpose. And without purpose, without telos, what IS a man?
Pic 2Well, there’s still a purpose. Deep down there somewhere.
Particularly after he gets an e-mail addressed from Mr. M. Subject line: Long Time. We see a clown mask briefly. Then the screen switches to a smiley face, speaking to him with an electronically disguised voice. Taunting about his retirement, his weight gain, and the fact he never solved his case. Up come a bunch of pictures of the victims driven down outside the City Jobs Fair. He even tells the former detective he wore a condom that night, for fear he’d ejaculate and leave evidence. The whole video is wildly disturbing, and totally terrifying.
So if there wasn’t purpose before, if he didn’t consciously care about it already, now Bill is paying attention. Now, he has something he must do. If not, he’ll likely suffer the rest of retirement in a haze of insanity.
We also cut back to Brady, his mother Deborah (Kelly Lynch) worrying he’s working too many hours. That he’s “all work and no play” – sound familiar, Stephen King fans? Similar to another fella named Jack. She worries more about him, that he’s never had a girlfriend, that he’s withdrawn, even if he’s a smart guy. Oh, and it turns out mommy has other things on her mind. Things no mother ought to be doing with her son, y’know, like incest. Yikes. Although Brady leaves before things go too far. Instead he spends time alone stroking one out rather than go all the way. Man, that’s unsettling.
If you didn’t know already, Brady is Mr. Mercedes.
Pic 3Pic 3AThe fun will-they won’t-they between Ida and Bill continues. She’s not happy she showed him a nude on her phone and he wouldn’t look at it. She insists he looks. He does, if not a bit reluctantly. I hope they continue this relationship, on any level, because Gleeson and Taylor together’s like some kind of sweet magic.
When Bill clicks a link on his computer with a smiley face, it goes to a short few clips of Mr. Mercedes driving through the people in the crowd that day, the clown mask, his distorted laughter. A fucking evil thing to witness.
Bill: “Now personally I think closure is overfuckingrated, but the nightmares, the panic attacks I could do without.”
So he’s poking around more, asking Pete questions about the case. His friend doesn’t want him to obsess anymore, like he did at the end of his career. Later, he ends up at the electronics store where Brady works. He’s looking for a surveillance camera, though he doesn’t come in contact with the young man. A slick moment of near chance.
Afterwards he heads to a towing lot. A place he’s evidently been quite a few times. There lies the bloody, beat up Mercedes kept in storage. Just seeing it leaves the retired cop in agony, imagining all the people being run over in those seconds of brutality. He sits in the driver’s seat, as if imagining himself driving.
Pic 5At home he gets the camera installed with help from a neighbour kid who does stuff around the house for him regularly, including with the latest e-mail business. And who else is rolling around the neighbourhood? It’s Brady. One of his other jobs is as a Mr. Friendly’s ice cream truck driver, serving up scoops for the kids, and fucking with Hodges, tossing a tennis ball with a smiley face into the yard for him to find.
Screen Shot 2017-08-11 at 5.15.26 PMMan, oh, man! I did not expect the first episode to be so damn good. Much as I love King, I’m always sceptical going into a film or television adaptation of his work. Which is a bonus when it’s actually fucking great. So much to love here, and not least is the use of punk rock in the soundtrack. Love it!
“On Your Mark” is next week, so stay tuned. We’re going to get deeper into this creepy little world of Mr. King’s together.

 

In Bruges: Comedy, Crime, Cheeky Cunts

In Bruges. 2008. Directed & Written by Martin McDonagh.
Starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes, Clémence Poésy, Jérémie Renier, Thekla Reuten, Eric Godon, &  Ciarán Hinds. Scion Films/Blueprint Pictures/Focus Features.
Rated 18A. 107 minutes.
Comedy/Crime/Drama

★★★★★

Martin McDonagh is a treasure. His writing in all forms is exceptional and he’s often very capable of subversive storytelling. As a writer myself and someone that tries his hand at writing for the stage, McDonagh’s The Pillowman completely shattered my preconceptions of what theatre is meant to be and how you can present difficult, wild topics to the audience without shattering them too much. Not just that play, his other works for the stage are great, too. Most of all he defies expectation.
In Bruges is a proper McDonagh mix of black humour, crime, a dash of love, and a nice heap of violence. The actual setting of Bruges, Belgium adds an interesting element. Amongst all the architecture out of the 15th century this story of conflicted criminals plays out, juxtaposing this beautiful, old city with the dirty, gritty crime happening below its surface. Anchoring the script are three performances that allow the wit in McDonagh’s characters and their dialogue to work magic. Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell, and Ralph Fiennes are all equally important to the success of the film. They each give the comedy an edge and bring out every last stroke of genius in the writing.
There’s plenty to lap up in this dark comedy. It isn’t only funny, it has an impressive amount of emotional weight. In the skin of an everyday crime-thriller, McDonagh creates laughter while simultaneously pondering the existential crises involved in the world of cheeky hitmen with consciences. I haven’t enjoyed any other comedies this much since about 2000. Definitely stands as one of the best in the past couple decades, no question.
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The comedy is beyond riotous. Little moments such as when the fellas run into an overweight family and try to warn them about going up a tower with narrow halls; Harry’s telegram to the hotel for Ken with “fucking” on every line at least once; the conversation between Ken and Ray about a “lollipop man” and their various musings on morality; that perfectly awkward yet hilarious scene where Ray punches out a man and his girlfriend, not just funny on its own but taking us back to the earlier conversation with Ken about if you’d hit a man wielding a bottle at you. One favourite moment is after Harry calls Ken and asks about Ray, questioning if he’s only having a wee, or if it was a poo.
There are far too many single moments and scenes to call out individually, lest we spend this entire review recounting every last chuckle.
There’s a major darkness cast over the plot, as well. Ray kills a priest, but in the crossfire winds up taking the life of a young boy. This haunts him, obviously, as the film moves on and the two hitmen move to the next supposed job, and never are those thoughts far from his mind. Of course this is also what puts them in Bruges in the first place. The darkness continues after we figure out specifically why they’re in Bruges – we assume early on it’s a job, and it is, however, there are complexities to this sticky story.
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Part of the setting of Bruges is almost akin to Limbo, a Purgatorial stop before Ken and Ray face their final judgement. Perfect enough, Ray notices a painting called “The Final Judgment” by Hieronymus Bosch, which depicts a scene where people are laying dead all over the ground, as the saviour floats above in the sky ready to accept those who last through what I assume is The Rapture. Furthermore, other paintings concerning death and its approaching presence are in the gallery the men visit. This all comes after Ken is told by Harry that the job he’s on is Ray’s own murder, for botching the priest job. There’s a moment at the end calling back to these paintings, as Ray literally winds up in the middle of one life-sized replica of those paintings with their imagery of death.
The transition into an almost otherworldly space, this idea of Limbo, comes through the Bosch imagery once more. When the hitmen arrive in Bruges at first the place is bright and beautiful, the landscape is all light. Everything seems wonderful. As time passes, the visual aesthetic goes from light towards the dark. Then literally even the characters out of the Bosch painting turn up on the film set, wounds from images in the painting are similar to those Ray ends up with after getting shot. So even if this is a comedy there’s no less care for fine tuned filmmaking. This is an impressive feature debut from McDonagh. His experience in theatre lends itself to having a specific visual style. Not only does he know how to block scenes and dress a set to make things look interesting, film as a medium gives a director (particularly one whom might be considered an auteur) the aspect of post-production, of not being live, and so much more. McDonagh uses this every bit to his advantage.
Ultimately there’s an emotional component to the story, aside from all the darkly humorous bits and the dashes of violence and everything else. Once Ken gives Ray a chance to redeem himself there’s a glimmer of hope in all the shadiness. And as the plot wears on closer to the end there’s more significance placed on the relationships between characters. Harry even comes across as a real person after all his dour attitude and vitriolic dialogue, though that goes how it does and there’s no love lost. But just the brief moments where Harry and Ken discuss their past relationship are enough to flesh their characters out before the conclusion. Before that, we get a good look at how Ken and Ray have gotten close in their short time together, as the former essentially sacrifices himself in order to let his younger friend have a chance at redemption. This entire tangle of emotions sets up an excellent finale, equal parts tragic and wild.
One great moment I love so much (WARNING – SPOILER AHEAD) is when Ken uses the coins he’d tried to pay his into the tower with earlier to make sure nobody is standing below when he decides to jump. In an ironic, dark twist, if he were to have been let in minus ten cents then he’d not be able to warn people below the tower, and likely wouldn’t have ended up jumping at that moment. Small bits such as this are what makes McDonagh’s writing so intriguing.
In Bruges
I’ve always admired Brendan Gleeson as an actor. He’s versatile and simply a powerful talent. The writing of Ken as a character is good enough, but his portrayal makes it much more than entertaining. He shows us how a seemingly friendly guy can be part of this ugly world, of murder for hire, so on. More than that, through his relationship with Ray, the character of Ken develops and he comes to this point of realization later, culminating in the showdown between him and Harry. The range of which Gleeson is capable helps make this guy real, as Ken becomes a character with whom we can empathize, despite the fact he’s a hitman. That likeable, jolly quality in Gleeson comes out to help us relate to the man. Yet he’s always capable of being intimidating, so the contradictions in his character are remarkable in his hands.
Colin Farrell is the one I enjoy most. There are likeable qualities to both these men. Although Ray comes with an even further, almost innocent sense about him. This is in total conflict with the fact he’s killed a boy, though unintentionally. Still, this tough reconciliation is the crux of how we view Ray, how we experience what he experiences and assess that within ourselves. Farrell is a fucking laugh. Everyone’s funny, but he makes this all the better for playing the character so well, completely embodying Ray.
Then you can’t not love Ralph Fiennes. He’s another actor of whom I’ve been a massive fan for years. Fiennes is beyond talented. His depiction of Harry is different from all the same old British gangsters you see in so many other movies because he’s another contradictory sort, being a gangster and also being a loving father and husband. Well, he also has a strict moral code. He wants Ray dead for his mistake of killing a child, likely due to his own kids. So is he really all that contradictory? Yes, a vicious businessman in the murder industry. Yet obviously he keeps children out of it, probably women – that’s only a guess. Still there is a moral code and he tries sticking to it. You’ll see how closely when you get to the finale.
With a cast like this and the subversive, witty, dark writing of McDonagh, In Bruges is easily in my top ten comedies of all-time. If not the top five. Everything about it is so perfect and well placed that it’s hard not to enjoy each second. Farrell and Gleeson have a chemistry that’s hard to find, so there’s a buddy comedy aspect. Though one that’s pretty strange and way more hilarious than the atypical relationship we’d see in (most) American (Hollywood) productions. There’s so much to love. The cinematography of Eigil Bryld that makes Bruges leap off the screen into your lap. McDonagh and all his talents. A lead cast with more humour chops than the casts of most popular comedies (coughThe Hangovercough). If you can’t love this, that’s fine. It’s black comedy, pitch dark, at its best. Not everyone can dig it. For those who can there aren’t many modern comedies willing to be so darkly funny. Tuck in, enjoy.