'Mr. Mercedes' season 2 episode 2 review: 'Let's go roaming'
Brady flexes his new found mental abilities as the clueless Hodges reunites with his old sidekick, Jerome Robinson in the latest epsiode of the Stephen King adaptation.
"I am so far away from you, yet closer than you'll ever know," says Brady Hartsfield ominously in the new episode of season 2 of 'Mr. Mercedes.' In the opening episode of the new season, we saw Brady Hartsfield move his eyeballs. Just one episode later, he's doing much more than that, but for some reason, it doesn't seem to add much value to the exposition of a show whose new direction was made pretty clear in the 2-minute trailer that arrived before the premiere.
[Spoiler Alert: This review has details from episode 2 of the second season of 'Mr. Mercedes' and also some tidbits from Stephen King's 'End of Watch,' on which the season is based.]
But that doesn't take away anything from Harry Treadaway's brilliant performance as both the comatose Brady, as well as the personified mind of the disturbed mass murderer. Considering the new season is an adaptation of the final book of Stephen King's 'Bill Hodges Trilogy,' the showrunners had the tough task of choosing a cinematic treatment well suited enough to translate King's sudden transition from hardboiled detective fiction to full-blown supernatural psychological thriller. The treatment that they successfully chose, gives the viewers a surreal view of Brady Hartsfield's mind, by transporting his real-life hi-tech man cave to the recesses of his mind.
In the last episode, thanks to Brady's doctor, Felix Babineau's (Jack Huston) copious dose of an experimental drug, Brady seems to have gained the ability to infiltrate minds, starting with his nurse Sadie (Virginia Kull), who does her best impersonation of a rabbit caught in the headlights of a truck. Brady flexes his new mental powers out, first by getting Sadie to fondle her own breasts, then testing out her motor skills, until ultimately by the end of the episode, he successfully mind-controls her into picking up a scalpel to try and stab Bill Hodges.
The problem in suspending one’s disbelief while trying to digest the plot is made harder since the first season stayed clear from anything beyond the realm on the known. And that’s where the show drew its strength from - the fact that grotesque things happen to ordinary people in real life. As that theme gets tossed out the window, several questions arise. How did the drug accidentally give Brady these powers? Why is it that he can control only Sadie? Is his power to control minds air-borne? Or did Sadie get it because she often has direct physical contact with his vegetative body? Are people with weaker minds and more likable attitudes more vulnerable to Brady’s telepathic intrusions? All these questions and many more will hopefully be answered as the series slowly picks up steam.
Meanwhile, the inimitable Brendan Gleeson is still on-point with Bill Hodges, who we keep getting to know in more and more detail. His love for Neil Young and his beloved record player surface in the form of a montage (one of several in the show) at the beginning of the episode to the tune of 'Till The Morning Comes.' After losing his longtime friend and partner Pete in the last episode, Hodges is back to his dreary, bittersweet Irish self again. He has no idea that Brady has picked up a new skill as he goes around trying to solve his mundane cases for 'Finders Keepers', the detective agency he now runs with Holly.
One of the cases involves tracking down a man known to work with the cartel with charges of extortion and murder against him. When Bill ultimately finds him, he's still the same gun-first-words-later Hodges. But he's grown soft because he lets the man get away after he sees that he's on the run with his two young sons, and after the man comes clean about being 'just a courier' for the cartel.
We see more of Hodges' wife Donna (Nancy Travis) too, who Bill uses as a sounding board to keep his head straight. In a subtly revealing scene that adds much character depth to our hero, Donna asks Hodges, "Why can't you simply enjoy life and stop finding the value in it?" Hodges, in his typical resigned way, replies: "What if I'm not built for that?"
Interestingly, one key aspect from the book 'End Of Watch,' which is the basis of this season has not surfaced yet. In the very opening chapter of the book, Bill Hodges is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and is given 18 months to live. Perhaps the show's creative team, led by director Jack Bender ('Under the Dome'), and writers David E. Kelley ('Big Little Lies') and Dennis Lehane intend to keep the burly, brooding detective alive and kicking for another season?
Meanwhile, the new episode also re-introduces some familiar faces from the first season. We see Lou (Breeda Wool) recovering after being stabbed by Brady in the finale of the previous season, and more importantly, we finally see Jerome (Jharrell Jerome) return home to a grand welcoming party after a semester at Harvard. Fans of the first season will remember Jerome for being the computer whizz who played Hodges' trusty sidekick and their reunion in the new episode is sure to bring a smile to fans' faces.
There's also a lot of room for Jerome's character development. His grades at Harvard are not the greatest and he seems to be under a fair amount of pressure to meet up to his parent's expectations. He's also smoking pot now (secretly, of course) and hitting his vape pen pretty hard, and even asks his dad for a beer and gets away with it before sharing it with Hodges. Even things between Jerome and his younger sister Barbara (Makayla Lysiak) are starting to get tense, as the young sister is clearly sick of living under Jerome's shadow.
In all fairness, Jerome did help nab a mass murdering maniac before he even stepped into college, and that is no small load to carry through life. Whether Jerome gets involved with the Brady-Hodges battle again is to be seen, but I would definitely like to see more of him through the season.
The episode ends on an interesting note. After a nurse at the hospital who Hodges befriends calls and alerts him about Brady possibly regaining consciousness, Hodges abandons Holly at Jerome's party at rushes to the hospital. Brady sees Hodges through nurse Sadie's eyes and telepathically gets her to slyly grab a scalpel and go for the kill, only to be interrupted by her co-worker, who rushes to Brady's comatose body and somehow breaks the telepathic bond. Just two episodes into the new season and Hodges has already come that close to dying, and he doesn't even know it yet.
As the episode closes, we see Brady desperately trying to break out of his own mind to try and get Hodges for good, but he's restrained by the metal gate to his man-cave that we were privy to in season 1. The gate that used to keep all of Brady's secret safely locked away has now become the boundary that marks the confines of his mind. For those who can stomach the sudden change in the show's theme, the rest of the episodes are surely going to suck you into a messy, gory, black-comedy filled psychological screamfest! Brace yourselves.
Season 2 of 'Mr. Mercedes' is airing now on Audience Network. New episodes will follow every Wednesday at 3:00 PM PST.