'Mr. Mercedes' season 2 episode 7 review: Brady Hartsfield throws the first punch at Hodges in a nail-biter of an episode
The latest episode of the Stephen King adaptation offers a massive payload for fans invested in the show thus far.
[Spoiler Alert: The following review discusses key plot details from episode 7 of the second season of Mr. Mercedes. Proceed at your own risk!]
Easily the most explosive and nail-biting episode of the season so far, the latest episode of Audience Network's 'Mr. Mercedes', titled 'Fell On Black Days' finally starts to converge all the elements that have been steadily building for the last six episodes.
The noose tightened around Dr. Felix Babineau (Jack Huston) and his wife Cora in the previous episode as the power-hungry, overachieving couple's devious plans were foiled by Detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson). In a desperate move, Dr. Babineau performs an unsanctioned craniectomy on Brady to try and make him responsive before he and Cora face the music for their Frankenstein-ian plans. Unfortunately for the Babineaus, things don't go as planned and in a scene that finally gives much-required depth to the two characters, we see their marriage fall apart at the seams as Cora packs her bags and plans to ditch Felix, leaving him alone to take the fall for the experiments on Hartsfield's brain.
We also know now that Brady has figured out some way of telepathically linking up with susceptible victims via technological devices. The explanations offered by the showrunners might still be shaky, but it doesn't hamper the high tension throughout the episode. The only weak part is when Felix approaches Lou Linklater (Breeda Wool) to somehow help bait Brady out using her "computer skills". The last thing we want is the show to end with Lou somehow overpowering Brady with her technical know-how!
Meanwhile, poor Al, who was charged for murdering District Attorney Antonio Montez's (Maximiliano Hernandez) dog is struggling to come to terms with his action. The simple-minded gentle giant was recently subject to Brady's mind-control tricks and one can't help but feel sorry for Al. Mike Starr's rendition of the character successfully evokes immediate empathy from the audience as he breaks down in front of his brother, babbling and crying that he did not kill Montez's dog and that his actions were beyond his control.
Hodges, for most of the episode, is a happy man. He's rekindled things with his ex-wife Donna and the two are all set to visit his homeland of Ireland - a place that we learn Hodges has never visited since moving to America. There's a spring in his step and he's found fresh meaning in his life. But anybody who is familiar with the Stephen King adaptation should know that when Hodges is happy, things don't turn out to be all milk and roses. The last time he was this happy, he lost his friend and partner Pete to a heart attack. This time, it's even worse as we head towards an edge-of-the-seat finish.
All the intense workouts and the health shakes that Brady has been powering through in his mind's lair have been in anticipation of the big face-off with Hodges. Thanks to Al's helpless addiction to the stupid game on his tablet, Brady somehow repossesses his mind and this time, he takes Al straight to the detective's home, armed with a gun.
The cinematic treatment that builds up to the moment is worth mentioning here. All of Brady's memories are projected onto his mind's eye in black and white as if someone has placed a rickety old projector in his mental lair. Against the backdrop of some of the more memorable moments of season 1, Brady gears up in full boxing attire as he prepares for the big fight. A great montage of Brady and Al in their separate worlds set to 'Take Me Home' by Cheetah Chrome - yet again displaying the consistently apt use of music throughout the two seasons of 'Mr. Mercedes'.
As we head into the gripping climax towards the end of the episode, we see Hodges approach his house, but we're not really sure where Al is hiding. The narration keeps flitting between scenes of Hodges, Holly (Justine Lupe) and Donna, keeping the viewers guessing as we go through a Russian roulette to see who is Brady's next target. Will he use Al to get Holly, who is the reason Brady is in a vegetative state (well, almost vegetative)? Will he go for Donna to send Bill a message? Or will he head straight for the bull's eye by taking on Hodges himself?
The mood is so tense towards the end of the episode, that you could cut the tension with a knife! Ultimately, a bloody brawl ensues between Al (who is under Brady's complete control) and Hodges, as the two giants lock horns. Hodges' gun slips away from him after a nasty blow from Al and he's almost done for as Al starts pummeling away at his face (while the camera tactfully jumps to Brady throwing jabs at a punching bag in his mind's lair). Luckily for Bill, his neighbor Ida shows up because of all the commotion and distracts Al just long enough for Hodges to reach his gun, finally giving us a taste of the full scene that was teased in the trailer to season 2. The first bullet hits Al straight in the chest. The second goes clean through his head and as a consequence, Brady's mind-lair gets blown to smithereens as he goes flying, boxing attire and all!
The nail-biting finish is well executed and is a solid payoff for fans who have been invested in the show till now. So far, it's Hartsfield 0 - Hodges 1. But something tells me that scoreboard is going to tick rapidly on both sides in the final three installments of the season.
Brace yourselves for the next episode of 'Mr. Mercedes', titled 'Nobody Puts Brady in a Crestmore', which premieres next Wednesday, October 10 on the Audience Network.