[Spoiler Alert: The following review discusses key plot details from episode 4 of the second season of Mr. Mercedes. If you haven't watched the episode yet, proceed at your own risk!]
The fourth installment from the new season of Audience Network's Stephen King adaptation 'Mr. Mercedes' does not waste any time picking up right where the previous episode left off. The episode opens to the scene of nurse Sadie MacDonald’s tragic suicide, who we saw in the previous episode as the first mind-controlled victim of Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway).
There's no time for a montage and a nice Neil Young opening track this time, but the episode still continues to showcase its fine music collection, contrasting Bill Hodges' (Brendan Gleeson) classical taste with Brady's punk preference for chaotic punk rock. In one scene, we get to see Brady meditating in his mind-cave to what sounds like The Ramones in the background.
The investigation into Sadie's death, which the cops obviously rule a suicide, makes Brady's doctor, Felix Babineau (Jack Huston) tense. Now fearful about news of his 'experimental procedure' on Hartsfield, he confronts Brady's new nurse and Hodges' confidante, nurse Maggie (Tammy Arnold), saying that he can't defend her if she spills the beans about Brady's unusual brain activity spikes. All this happens under Brady's watchful eyes, and he now knows that Hodges and Maggie are friends. This could mean that Babineau will soon find himself in a lot of trouble, especially considering the fact that Bill now has a whiff that something's off with Brady.
Meanwhile, Bill has new problems to deal with. The temperamental District Attorney Antonio Montez (Maximiliano Hernandez) is breathing down on Bill's neck, curious to find out why he was snooping around Sadie McDonald's residence. After snooping about a little in Bill's house, he learns of Bill's theory about Brady still being sentient and somehow faking the coma.
It's a small leap of logic to accept the hard-facts loving, old-school detective Bill Hodges from season 1 now pitching irrational theories about mind-control agents, but for fans who are on board with the new supernatural twist to the show, it shouldn't be too hard to digest.
The bigger question, of course, is how exactly is Brady getting into people's minds in the first place. All we know so far is that Babineau's experimental Chinese drug has some side effects that allow Brady to infiltrate people's consciousness. He got to Sadie because she was epileptic, but we don't know if that has something to do with his newly gained powers. In this episode, Brady eyes his next puppet and surprisingly, it's not his new nurse. The target is the gentle giant of a hospital staff member Al (Mike Starr). Al sneaks into Brady's room to watch his favorite nature show and play some tablet games. Before we know it, Al is in a trance and Brady's taken hold of him. This time, he intends to do just more than flex his muscles.
Brady makes Al drive all the way from the hospital to the memorial for the Mr. Mercedes murders, taking the time to admire the memorial which Brady considers a token of his greatest masterpiece. So how did Brady Hartsfield use a television set and a tablet to infiltrate Al's mind and take control of him? And what's common to Al's mind and Sadie's that makes them so vulnerable to Brady's attack? Hopefully the explanations will arrive in later episodes.
Meanwhile, the familiar faces from season 1 introduced in the last episode play a significant role in this episode. Brady's old friend (who he later stabbed) Lou (Breeda Wool), and Hodges' old sidekick Jerome (Jharell Jerome) are back in this episode as well. Lou's not having a great time.
She's clearly unable to cope with her mental state after being stabbed by Brady and it causes a rift in her relationship with her girlfriend, who finally decides to call it quits. Lou soon finds herself in a bar trying to pick up a girl but things turn sour quickly when a man makes rude gestures at them. Lou loses control and almost beats him to death after macing him in the face, only to end up in prison.
Jerome, on the other hand, is being more productive. He lures Hodges into employing his tech skills yet again, this time to break into Sadie's phone, which her mother finally hands over to Hodges after he convinces her that her daughter's death was not accidental. After a few attempts at doing what Jerome claims even the FBI cannot do, he cracks the password for the phone. Hodges' worst fears are realized as he sees a series of texts from Sadie to her boyfriend in which she says Brady is trying to get inside her head. The game is finally afoot. Just shy of the mid-way mark of the new season, Hodges and Brady are set to lock heads yet again, only this time, Brady has the ability to get inside heads.
The episode ends with a cliffhanger, as we see Al's car pull up outside Hodges' house. Could this lead to a physical confrontation between the two? Al is a much bigger, meaner adversary than Hodges is used to facing, so he will have to be wary. But attacking Hodges could also completely give the game up for Brady and all Hodges has to do is get back to the hospital and cut off his air supply once and for all. We've seen him try it before, but his conscience kept him from pulling the plug. The atmosphere is tense as we head into the second half of season 2.
Season 2 of 'Mr. Mercedes' is airing now on Audience Network. Catch the next episode on Wednesday, 17 September at 3:00 pm PST.