'Mr. Mercedes' season 2 episode 9 review: Red tape, not Brady Hartsfield, is the real enemy for detective Bill Hodges
The Stephen King adaptation takes a sudden and unexpected anticlimatic turn as the show heads toward the nail-biting season finale.
[Spoiler Alert: The following review discusses key plot details from episode 9 of the second season of Mr. Mercedes. Proceed at your own risk!]
Brady Hartsfield is up and walking and judging by what happened in season 1 of Audience Network's 'Mr. Mercedes', that never leads to anything pleasant.
The latest episode of the Stephen King adaptation of the Bill Hodges Trilogy picks up right where the previous episode left off. The final scene of the last episode showed us Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway) missing from his hospital bed and the maniacal serial killer is on the loose again. The ninth episode yet again showcases the show's consistently agreeable choice in music selection as Brady limps along the road dressed in a doctor's robes to the soundtrack of Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons' 'Walk Like A Man' (which is also interestingly the title of the episode.)
Meanwhile, Brady goes shopping for clothes to stay inconspicuous and as he charms the sales lady at the store, a SWAT team sweeps through Mercy General Hospital. Bill Hodges' (Brendan Gleeson) worst fears have proven true yet again and along with Montez (Maximiliano Hernandez), he is now grilling Dr. Felix Babineau (Jack Huston) for some answers. For his part, Babineau is completely stunned at Brady's ability to get up on his own two feet and walk, and is now not sure of the full effects of the experimental Chinese drug he'd been administering to the serial killer.
The penultimate episode of the season builds to a climax when Hartsfield walks in on Babineau and his wife Cora in their own home. He catches them in the middle of a discussion as to how to save their face in the middle of this clusterf**k and come out on top of things. This is the moment we've all waited for throughout the season. Brady is back and things are going to get messy. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case. Although he menacingly walks in with a stolen Tazer and sufficiently scares the scheming couple into submission, the scene suddenly turns into a giant anticlimax as Brady decides to surrender to the cops.
What just happened? That's exactly what Hodges thinks when he finds out about what's happening. Rightfully, he remains suspicious of the move. This is 'The Mercedes Killer' after all. Why would he turn himself in without a plan? Well, it turns out that after a thorough interrogation, Brady finds out that the drug Cora and Felix have been pumping into him is called Cerebellin. If he doesn't get more of it within the next three months, his mind will completely shut down and he will die. As Brady himself loudly proclaims, he's "dead man walking" and as a calculated move, he teams up with the Babineaus (rather takes them hostage) to hatch a plan.
There are a few noteworthy moments in the new episode. Brady calls the trio "Teamie Weamie" - another instance of Brady's latent childishness, an effect of being sexually abused by his mother during his adolescent days. There is also a great reference to another Stephen King adaptation - 'The Shining' - when Brady turns himself in. "Here's Johnny", he says, referencing Jack Nicholson's famous line from the film.
Another extremely uncomfortable scene is when Brady asks Cora to kiss him just before turning himself in. Brady claims that he feels all sorts of things he'd never felt before - regret, longing for affection, empathy. He thinks that Babineau messed with his mind when he performed surgery on his brain. We can't be sure if this is all an elaborate act or if Brady Hartsfield is really a changed man who suddenly sprouted a conscience, but we'd be wise to treat this new act of his with some caution.
He also admits that he's never been kissed by a woman and considering how his days as a free man are numbered, he wants Cora to show him what it feels like. She gives him a peck. He asks for a real kiss. After some hesitation, she obliges and puts a little too much oomph into a kiss that makes Felix as uncomfortable as the audience. The lady just made out with a serial killer. What's with her?
Surprisingly, nobody is talking about Brady's ability to infiltrate people's minds, which has been a running gag throughout the season. Now that he's awake, has he lost the ability or is it still intact? Lou Linklater (Breeda Wool) seems to be the only one still concerned about it. After some research, she concludes that Brady's mind is slowly turning into code! She warns Hodges about it and at this point, the poor old detective doesn't know what's real and what's not. Well, neither does the audience because the effort to explain all the paranormal stuff in season 2 keeps getting harder to believe and more cringeworthy.
Toward the end of the episode, we find out that Brady's anti-climatic arrest has an adverse effect on Hodges. In an interrogation room, Brady sits across from Tony and Detective Daniel Marks (Fredric Lehne). He tells the veteran cop about how he's a changed man and regrets his actions. He's very convincing at it too. He waives his right to remain silent and confesses to everything - the Mercedes killing, the incestuous relationship with his mother, killing his brother at a young age - he spills it all.
But there's a catch. He starts hinting at how Bill has been out to get him, accusing the former detective of trying to kill him and slyly alluding to shady things happening at the hospital. This leads to Bill having to sit down with Detective Marks where he gets grilled for all his "suspicious actions". Marks sees Hodges as the "weak link" in the case against Brady and presents it as Bill having stalked Sadie before her suicide, then having stalked Al before shooting him. He hits a touchy subject by bringing up Janey’s (Bill's former love interest who Brady kills in a car bombing in season 1) death. Hodges storms out only to receive a phone call from Montez that he's being charged for assault and battery on both Felix and Brady. In a severely disappointing scene, Hodges is arrested and taken to the police station while Ida and Holly stare helplessly.
Meanwhile, while our brave anti-hero suffers the wrath of the bureaucratic system, Babineau and Cora are lapping up all the media attention to paint themselves in a good light. Cora goes as a guest on a talk show where she talks about the unjust regulations that is holding back millions of lives from being saved by Cerebellin, painting Brady as a success story instead of a revived maniacal serial killer. Felix also issues a statement in which he quotes a list of philosophers and intellectual sounding words to come off as a doctor dedicated to his Hippocratic oath. The couple seems to have gotten away with their evil doings - at least for now.
At the very end of the episode, Hodges is escorted to his cell. As he sits down, he hears a familiar voice say "Greetings detective." It's none other than Brady Hartsfield, grinning away in the adjacent cell. Was this part of Brady's plan all along? If yes, how did he ensure that Hodges ended up exactly in the cell next to his? What does he intend to do next now that he has Hodges exactly where he needs?
We'll hopefully have all the answers in the season finale of Mr. Mercedes, which premieres next Wednesday, October 24 on Audience Network.