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Mr. Mercedes S03E04 “Trial and Terror”

“The worst crime that my generation ever committed was that we murdered Satan. Now, nobody’s evil. They’re damaged, they’re misunderstood, they’re unloved. They’re not evil. God forbid you say that.”

This was a fun episode. A lot of really great moments. And, if I’m not mistaken, it’s the first episode this season in which nobody dies. Hey, how about that? The title this time was more of a play on words, rather than a theme running through multiple characters’ stories.

Ah, the music in the episode—just great, wasn’t it? This is gonna be another great soundtrack this year. The mid-episode song break was Leonard Cohen singing “It Seemed the Better Way”, from his brilliant final album, You Want It Darker. Then the final song taking us into the credits was “Holly Holy” by Neil Diamond. What could be more appropriate? These two songs, along with the John Rothstein quote above from Bill’s dream, did give a notable religious backdrop to the episode.

This week I’m going to do a little more speculating than usual. We’re four episodes in now. I think we can maybe start to catch some glimpses of where the ride is headed. We’ll see how I do.

Bill leans over talking to Lou, who sits crying, in the judge's chambers.
Bill tries to talk some sense into Lou.

“This doesn’t involve you, Kermit.”

First, I want to talk about Lou’s “headspace Brady”, as I’ve called him. The ice cream man Brady, to differentiate him from a different Brady we’re going to talk about next.

I’ve been making rumblings all along about how out of character I feel it is that Bill and Holly are not taking Lou seriously about this Brady business. Now we have Lou just knowing Bill’s real name, out of the blue with no apparent foreknowledge, because Brady told it to her. Hello?! Even Finkelstein thinks that somebody is helping Lou craft these “brilliant” legal strategies. How much more obvious does it need to get?

Lou’s transformation this season has been quite impressive. Kudos to actress Breeda Wool for pulling it off. Half of her, let’s call it “the Lou side”, is breaking down and falling apart. This is the part of Lou that has taken up rocking because it comforts her (a maneuver she was mocking just one episode ago). The other half, let’s call it “the Brady side”, is becoming more confident and emboldened as the trial moves forward, as if a plan is proceeding accordingly.

Where I see this going is that not only is Brady haunting Lou, he’s moving towards taking her over. In Bill’s dream, Rothstein says “there’s Mr. Mercedes” just as the courtroom doors open to reveal Lou tied up to the tree. As if his subconscious is saying, “That’s him, right there, inside her, and you know it.” Nice and subtle.

Author John Rothstein sits at a fire pit looking inquisitively.
Rothstein asks Bill a question in his daydream.

“He’s knocking around in my brain too.”

The other Brady is Bill’s Brady. Don’t recall seeing that? Well, let me explain. I think that the Rothstein haunting Hodges’ dreams (and maybe even daydreams now, at the fire pit) may, in fact, be Brady. What I’m saying is that the writers are engaging in a subtle sleight of hand. By making us focus on Lou’s ice cream man Brady, we’re not paying attention to Bill’s Rothstein Brady. Both are “headspace Bradys”, like I talked about last week.

In the original Mr. Mercedes novel, Brady pushes much harder to try to get Bill to commit suicide. Some of that played out in Season 1, but not to the degree that it did in the book. Could Brady’s endgame here be to generate a real hope that Lou will go free, and then sacrifice her in the end to play up Bill’s guilt over putting her in this situation? This could explain why Lou is so bent on making this trial happen. Because it’s her Brady side that’s pulling those particular strings.

Brady would have to be more subtle with Bill. Bill knows him better and they’ve already played a round of this game. Certainly, Brady can’t just show his face. So perhaps he’s taken on a different face? One he knows Bill will be responsive to, i.e. Rothstein’s.

Could Brady even be controlling things beyond the scope Bill and Lou? Pete’s dad says he feels he has to be at the trial, but he doesn’t seem to be able to articulate why to either his son or his wife. He was a victim of the original Jobs Fair Massacre, and Brady would delight in continuing to inflict suffering on those who survived. We could be headed for another spectacular court room surprise this season.

Alma and Morris sit in her car, white interior, Alma in the drivers seat with a camera pointed down, looking in the distance.
Alma and Morris spy on the Saubers family.

“You’re not in trouble, or I should say you’re not in trouble with me.”

Pete continues with the bad decisions this week. Now he’s mailing anonymous envelopes full of money to his parents. As I recall, in the novel these were accompanied with a note that played it off as some sort of restitution for victims of the Jobs Fair Massacre. No such misdirection here though. So far, having $32,000 fall in their lap seems to be taking the edge off his parents’ curiosity. So far.

Morris isn’t exactly a sly dog either though, just pulling off on the side of a busy road and spying on the Saubers family through his binoculars. Then later just strolling across the field up to their front door for a little B&E?  Well, at least he remembered a doggie treat.

Morris is, however, wising up to Alma at last. He’s smart enough to suspect she had some role in Danielle’s disappearance, clearly. But could he possibly suspect that Alma actually killed her? After he says goodnight and leaves, she looks like she was considering killing him too.

A younger Ira stands in a classroom, the book The Runner in her hands, talking to a younger Morris at a desk with his back to the screen.
Ira introduces a young Morris to Jimmy Gold

Quick Takes

A couple of quick takes on the rest of the episode:

  • So Ida introduced Morris to Jimmy Gold, giving him his first, now very weathered and worn, copy of The Runner. The writers might be stretching credulity by making too many character connections (we’ve already got a link between Ida and Rothstein, probably good enough), but perhaps it will come up later as Hodges gets closer to Morris, or vice versa.
  • In that same vein, there’s apparently also an Alma and Bill Hodges connection in their past. Interesting.
  • I loved the scene between Morris and Boogers the dog. Just another one of those great, take your time moments that the show is always serving up.
  • The opening arguments by DA Pace and Finkelstein were both so good. It promises to be a great back-and-forth trial. David E. Kelley is known for his court room dramas, after all.
  • Jerome continues to do most of the detective legwork while Bill and Holly are tied up with Lou’s trial, although mostly off-screen this episode, unfortunately. When are they going to address / resolve his “taking a semester off” from Harvard?

The best lines of this episode:

  • “I know Bill. He’s a bloodhound, only less handsome.”
  • “I never hurt ya.” “You raped me when I was 13.” “But it was loving.”
  • “It’s practically illegal for you to even notice I’m a woman.”
  • “We didn’t make *that* deal. Thanks for the visual.”
  • “Not everything is your doing.” “But this one is.”
  • “You got principles you stand for. I want you to forsake those principles. So you’re rightly asking what’s…in it…for…me?”
A dog, a small collie mix, looks through a railing at a man standing just off screen.
Boogers stands his ground.

Mr. Mercedes in the News

Short one this week. There have been two recently released interviews with folks associated with Mr. Mercedes that you can read online. Brendon Gleeson (Bill Hodges) did a really great interview with GQ Magazine published on September 20. Jack Bender (director) also has an interview for El Espectador on September 19, although fair warning, it is in Spanish.

Season 3 of Mr. Mercedes airs Tuesdays at 10pm ET/PT on AT&T AUDIENCE Network. AT&T AUDIENCE Network is available on all AT&T video platforms including DIRECTV CH. 239, AT&T TV NOW, and U-verse.


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Written by Brien Allen

Brien Allen is the last of the original crazy people who responded to this nutjob on Facebook wanting to start an online blog prior to Twin Peaks S3. Some of his other favorite shows have been Vr.5, Buffy, Lost, Stargate: Universe, The OA, and Counterpart. He's an OG BBSer, Trekkie, Blue Blaze Irregular, and former semi-professional improviser. He is also a staunch defender of putting two spaces after a period, but has been told to shut up and color.

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