END OF SERIES REVIEW – PART II
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Harry Treadaway, Justine Lupe, Jharrel Jerome, Holland Taylor, Nancy Travis, Maximiliano Hernández, Breeda Wool, Jack Huston, Tessa Ferrer, Tammy Arnold, Virginia Kull, Mike Starr,
Director: Jack Bender (Episodes 1 – 4, 7 – 10), Peter Weller (Episode 5), Laura Innes (Episode 6)
Writers: Dennis Lehane (Episodes 1, 7, 8, 9), David E. Kelley (Episodes 2, 9, 10), Mike Batistick (Episodes 3, 8), Samantha S. Stratton (Episodes 4, 8), Alexis Deane (Episodes 5, 6), Sophie Owens-Bender (Episode 5), Bryan Golubuff (Episode 6), Jonathan Shapiro (Episode 10)
Based on the novels: Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, and End of Watch by Stephen King
Reviewed by Sidney Morgan
This review CONTAINS A FEW SPOILER SPOILERS.
In this second part of the end of season two review for Mr. Mercedes, the focus will turn to Hodges’ inner circle of friends and support. These people play an important role in Hodges life and ultimately affect the behaviors and decisions he makes.
Bill (Brenda Gleeson) has surrounded himself, whether willingly or not, with a good supporting cast, (mostly returnees from the first season) starting with his neighbor Ida (Holland Taylor). While she didn’t feature a whole lot in the first few episodes, she does make more appearances in the later ones. And though she’s not critical to the plot, she loves to dole out raw and unfiltered advice, especially to Holly, as both develop a nice relationship.
Meanwhile, she continues to look out for Bill, going so far as saving him during an attack. (I do wonder at how freely she lets herself into his house… just a little convenient.) It was a good decision by the producers not to stretch out the sexual tension between them. Having dealt with it in season one, it allows them to have a good friendly relationship instead. Perhaps it’s the reason they brought back Bill’s ex-wife.
Donna (Nancy Travis) reappeared at Pete’s (Scott Lawrence) funeral. Bill, frustrated with retirement, felt the need to reconnect. But though there was a comfort level between the two, as well as a history, the purpose of their relationship in this second season wasn’t clear. Sure they were quick to jump to bed and rekindle whatever flame they once had. However, the history that allowed this to happen is the same one that drove them apart years ago. And as Ida so wisely reminds Donna, Bill is Bill, the same man he’s always been and hasn’t changed. Nor will he.
On top of that, Donna seemed real petty with Holly, exhibiting jealous behaviors for who knows what reasons. But she does come in useful, providing legal assistance for Bill as Brady manipulates the events against him. Don’t get me wrong, I like Nancy Travis, and she played the role well. But there was an artificiality to the relationship, which stood out when compared to all the others.
Jerome (Jharrel Jerome), like Ida, seems to have been the least affected by the events of the first season. His troubles stem more from not fully fitting into the whole Harvard thing. He’s reluctant to tell his father about it. When he becomes aware of his father’s financial struggles, which affects his sister as well, it makes him even more uncomfortable going back (recall that he’s back home for a break).
Jerome finds joy in assisting Bill and Holly, using his computer skills as before. And he’s also found that his interest lies in working with his hands, something he comes to realize after spending much of his time helping to rebuild Ida’s gazebo. I really dug the parallel between the destruction and rebuilding of this structure and the destruction and rebuilding of the people whose lives Brady broke. However, does the fact that it isn’t complete at the end implies the rebuilding is ongoing? Is the celebration of its completion perhaps a little premature?
Rounding out the cast of supporting characters in Bill’s intimate circle is my favorite, Holly (Justine Lupe). I was disappointed for the first half of the season as it felt like the producers were going to minimize the relationship between Bill and her. They barely spoke, he ignored her, and she wasn’t sure how to approach him. And they truly need one another. But like a sputtering engine that finally warms up and runs, their relationship did the same. Their interactions were a highlight throughout the series. Justine Lupe does an outstanding job at bringing Holly to life. Her candor and struggle with intimacy, or rather with speaking about emotions, is brilliantly conveyed. She brings tenderness, innocence, a refreshing (and even cute) sense of what’s right and wrong, and humor to the show.
Part III of this end of season review will focus on Brady Hartsfield and Bill Hodges, as well as some of the themes seen in Mr. Mercedes.