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Mr. Mercedes S3E7 “The End of the Beginning”

We’re 7 episodes in and at long last, we are apparently at the end of the beginning. Good to know that everything we’ve seen thus far was just a prelude to the real show. As we move through this transition episode, there’s more than a few instances of foreshadowing, none of it good. But we’ll talk more about that in a minute.

Things are looking up for the good guys. Lou is free. Finders Keepers is closing in on the reward money. Holly and Finkelstein have a budding romance. Are all of these things being built up just to be knocked down? Things are already “turning to absolute shit” for Pete, and really for Morris too, so it’s hard to see how their storyline is going to get even worse. The one word answer there is undoubtedly: Alma.

This episode dropped the music almost entirely, minus some very moody background score. The exception being “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” from Oklahoma there in the first scene. (Was that timed to coincide with this week’s Watchmen premiere, which also featured Oklahoma heavily? Hmm.) Instead, we had an episode largely framed by literary quotes, real and fictional:

  • “Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.” – Henry David Thoreau
  • “Oh, wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in ’t!” – William Shakespeare, The Tempest
  • “We’re just at the end of the beginning of world turning to absolute shit.” – John Rothstein

Just 3 more episodes to go.  We’re on a roller coaster that’s just cresting the top of the last hill.  Arms up everyone!

Andy Halliday looks serious
Halliday has a “communication breakdown” with Pete.

“You wanted proof of concept, there you go.”

Let’s do something a little different this week and start out with the Rothstein case. This week kind of showcased Andy Halliday of the “Second Story” book store, as he paired off with four of our main characters: Pete, Morris, Alma, and Bill (although posthumously). Holliday thinks he’s pretty smart. He’s got leverage on Pete and Morris and calls their bluff in both cases. He’s screwing them both over and there’s nothing either one of them can really do about it.

But then, alas, *his* bluff gets called by Alma, in classic Alma style. Just as Pete and Morris are crack shots with a gun, Alma swings a mean pick axe. Though I guess she did have to take two shots at it with Andy-Schmandy, as opposed to the one clean shot with Danielly-Belly—and he was even tied down in a chair. Maybe she just needs a little more practice. I won’t be surprised if she gets another chance this season.

The walls are closing in on Pete, holed up in the abandoned club, as he has visions of going down in a blaze of glory, in true Jimmy Gold fashion. As the likelihood of recovering the manuscripts slips seems to be slipping out of Morris’ grasp, he’s also becoming more and more desperate. Next week’s episode title, “Mommy Deadest,” would seem to indicate that he and Alma are going to enact their plan to swap Pete’s mom for the loot. But with 3 more episodes to go, I can’t imagine things are going to go that easy for anyone.

Judge Raines behind the bench, flag and Ohio seal behind him
Judge Raines delivers his final instructions to Lou Linklatter

“And don’t you be killin’ anybody else.”

Just as Halliday had his ups and downs, so too did Lou this episode. Closing arguments were kind of weak on both sides, to be honest. Although maybe ADA Pace’s closing statements did get to Bill a little bit. “Are we a society of Law and Order, or not?” As much as he wants Lou to be free, the anarchy of it all is bothering him deep down. Leaving that scene behind, it really felt like a toss-up as to what Lou’s fate would be.

The verdict reading was a real roller coaster. Innocent on murder one, but then guilty on murder two. Things were looking extremely dark, with Lou in a complete panic as she was led away into the waiting arms of Ice Cream Man Brady, standing outside the courtroom. Finkelstein’s strategy of going for an immediate sentencing pays off however, as Judge Raines let’s his conscious be his guide. Was this his plan all along, as Bill deduces, introducing a lesser charge so that he could be the hero who commutes her sentence? Seems like it to me. As impassioned as it was, I don’t believe Bill’s last minute plea for “justice” really moved the judge much. Though he did give Hodges that head nod at the end, as if to say, “you happy now?”

While all of this seems like a happy ending, I’ve got to refer back to the episode title. Bad things are on the horizon. Lou is going back into custody for a little bit so that she can be out-processed, so it’s not quite over. The judge’s admonition to not kill anybody else just rang out like a harbinger of doom to me. Same with Holly telling Jerome that she’s never been better in her life. This isn’t really much of a big theories and analysis show, but I’m gonna plant my flag now and say that Lou kills Finkelstein in the next episode. I hope I’m wrong, I really do. But Mr. Mercedes feeds off of hope.

Rothstein in a priest's vestments
Rothstein appears to Bill in priest’s vestments.

“What’s with the get up?”

Bruce Dern is back, as Bill gets another visit from the Rothstein of Christmas Past to mock and ridicule him. He continues to hammer the point home on Bill’s failures and his lack of a lasting legacy. Even in the victory for Lou, Bill manages to find failure. He is a man of the law, and the two times when he let that slip and almost killed Brady himself were used against him by ADA Pace. He tries to redeem himself with his 30 second appeal on Lou’s behalf, but you can see the conflict in him even as he’s voicing his thoughts. He comes off as a little bit scatter-brained, unable to quite remember the quote he wants to use, when he’s been trading literary quotes back and forth with Ira all season.

Meanwhile, Jerome and Holly have a frank discussion about the suicidal people they’ve had in their lives, which again I take to be the heavy hand of foreshadowing placing its cards face-down on the table. Will it turn up with Lou committing suicide? Bill? Someone else completely unexpected? After all, that’s Jerome’s point here. Everything can seem like it’s going well on the surface, but you have no idea what’s going on inside until it’s too late.

Pete is gunned down in a shower of bullets and glass
Pete is gunned down in a shower of bullets and glass.

Quick Takes

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

  • In the first scene where Alma is caring for Morris’ leg, her t-shirt says “People never notice anything.” Did you notice?
  • Jerome’s continued digging through Rothstein’s files yielded the expected link to Alma, and Bill remembers her as fondly as she remembers him.
  • Alma tells Morris that she wants to go see Andrew to see who she’s up against, but she obviously had already done her homework on him, since she knew he was a registered child sex offender.
  • So Pete has been using the cover story from the novel, Finders Keepers, making like the mysterious envelops of money are from someone who was at the Jobs Fair Massacre.
  • I found it an amazing moment when Lou stands up to speak for Brady. This show never fails to deliver some really powerful moments.

The best lines of this episode:

  • “I don’t have proper tools! … It’s just antiseptic. Makeshift medicine. We call it healthcare.”
  • “This is an illegal operation. We don’t give out receipts and keep paperwork.”
  • “One day I go off to school and everything’s fine, and then I come back home and nothing’s fine ever again.”
  • “We are all alone. That’s why we have friends, to make the loneliness easier to take.”
  • “I am not decrepit, and I’m not that old.”
  • “I’m going to give you a mulligan. Because deep down, I’m really sweet.”
  • “I’ve been flipped off by a few assholes in my day, but not literally”
  • “Something going on, but I can’t put me finger on it.”
  • “After I chopped his fingers off, my options became limited.”
Alma pulls a whip taut and looks menacing
Alma threatens Halliday with Shawnee Indian tortures.

Mr. Mercedes in the News

For interviews this week, we have a really good one with Gabriel Ebert (Morris Bellamy) on InterviewsX (October 15). He reveals in there that he’s known Justine Lupe (Holly Gibney) since they were in high school at the Denver School of the Arts, just down the road from me. Small world.

Speaking of Holly Gibney, HBO has released the first official teaser trailer for The Outsider, which begins airing on January 12, 2020. This is our first look at Cynthia Erivo playing the role, instead of Mr. Mercedes’ Justine Lupe. She seems to be playing a more powerful, less mousy version of Holly, but then again she’s playing the Holly who emerged at the conclusion of the original written trilogy.

Last little note, Maddie Hasson, who played Bill Hodges daughter Allie in season 1, will star in the upcoming “atomic monster movie” Malignant, which got a release date of August 14, 2020 this week (per Deadline).

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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