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 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 – 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.