END OF SERIES REVIEW – PART I
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.
And so the second season of Mr. Mercedes ends. Dare I say with a bang? It certainly was surprising, to say the least. For a moment, I really thought it was heading in one direction, one that would have made some sense given the turn of events. But what does it mean for the future of the show? The most obvious question is, will there be another season? Stephen King wrote the Bill Hodges story as a trilogy. Seasons 1 and two were based on Mr. Mercedes and End of Watch, the two novels that focus on the Bill Hodges – Brady Hartsfield story. And that story has now been told unless the producers have something up their sleeves. And what a story it was. This second season was outstanding, for the most part, because of the characters (and the actors bringing them to life) we met along the way.
Initially, I didn’t know what to expect from this second season. But within the first few seconds, it was clear it would be a straight continuation of season one, with the victims of that last episode making their way to the hospital. Within minutes though, the action skips ahead one year, matching the actual time frame that passed between seasons. And the twenty episodes end up being one continuous story, played out in a straightforward linear fashion. But whereas the first season deals with the Mercedes killer and Hodge’s pursuit of him (and eventual catch), much of the second spent time on the fallout from those actions. Every returning (and a few new) characters were affected in various ways, and this drove the story.
Lou (Breeda Wool) has had the biggest difficulty re-adjusting to life after Brady (Harry Treadaway). The stab wound has forced her first to undergo physical rehabilitation. However, the real wound is psychological. She feels violated by Brady and her inability to cope with it, even with the help of a therapist, leads her to engage in a series of self-destructive behaviors. Believing the only way to heal fully is by confronting Brady, she does so on two occasions.
The first is at the hospital while he’s still in a coma, but it doesn’t turn out too well. However, it does enrage Brady enough to heighten his telekinetic powers. And the second is in court, while he’s going through a competency hearing. Of course, she’s there to testify that he’s the same cold-blooded killer who ran over innocent bystanders with his Mercedes. Breeda Wool gives a good and commendable performance. Her one on one with Brady is one of the most powerful on-screen encounters in the second season.
Antonio Montez (Maximiliano Hernández), the ADA trying to make a name for himself with the Mercedes case, is manipulated and convinced by Dr. Babineau (Jack Huston) that Brady will eventually come out of his coma. And when that time comes, Brady’s going to be ripe for prosecution, something that should give Montez that celebrity status he seeks. Yet he walks a fine line between being one of the good guys and a villain.
His motives are selfish, and he tries to manipulate the situation for promotional reasons. But if anything is made clear in season two, it’s that Brady is not one to be manipulated or used. He is the villain and is the one, especially now that he can control people by invading their minds, who does the manipulating. It’s not surprising to see the events quickly spiral out of Montez’s control, and by the time he realizes Brady’s to blame, it’s too late.
The Babineaus, the medical duo behind using Brady as a guinea pig, is driven by greed, making them, along with Montez, characters of questionable moral fiber. And that is perhaps, one of the weaknesses of this season (if one can even call it that). Whereas last season Brady was without a doubt the only villain, that unique position isn’t as obvious this time around. Montez continuously flirts with behaviors destructive to the prosecution, while the Babineaus are willing to do whatever it takes to get Brady out of his coma. And where such behaviors happen, especially with the intense regulatory and media scrutiny that ensues, problems and tensions between the offending characters are bound to happen. As their unethical behavior is exposed, the pressures increase and threaten to wreck havoc on Felix and Cora’s marriage.
Felix Babineau (Jack Huston) is perfect as the quasi Dr. Frankenstein-like doctor who’s only interested in reviving the comatose Brady. And he goes to great lengths to do so. However, his pendulum-like behaviors were frustrating. At times, he seems like a naive doctor, used by various people to get their way. But at other times, he seemed like the puppeteer. Then again, Dr. Frankenstein was considered both a genius and a madman, no? With Cora (Tessa Ferrer), there is no such ambiguity. She knew exactly what she was doing and was willing to let her husband hang for their actions. And she knows no boundaries. Her moment with Brady in the car is disturbing enough. That she looked as though she enjoyed the moment is just creepy. She’s a greedy, arrogant sycophant, and Tessa Ferrer gives an excellent performance in bringing Cora to life.
Part two of this end of season review will examine Bill Hodge’s more intimate relationships.