Mr. Mercedes is an adaptation of the first book in the Bill Hodges Trilogy by the master of horror, Stephen King. Airing exclusively on the Audience channel through Direct TV, the story follows Detective Bill Hodges as he tries to solve one of the last cases of his career before disappearing into the obscurity of retirement. Now, two years after the murders, the killer is trying to lure the old detective out of his hole by goading him with emails and videos, as well as letting him know he can get as close to Hodges, whenever he wants.
The book was exciting and scary in a way that you don’t see from Stephen King very often. He was able to create a new kind of fear in our everyday lives that didn’t necessarily require a haunted hotel or killer supernatural demon clown. This time all it took was a gray Mercedes and a mischevious smiley face.
Recap of Season 1, Episode 1 “Pilot”
It started in 2009 when a gray Mercedes ran through a crowd of people waiting in line for the City Center Job Fair to open. An individual wearing a clown mask plowed into the mob, leaving 16 dead, and three times that number injured. It was one of the last cases for Detective Bill Hodges, and one that seemed to haunt him until his final days on the force, and beyond.
Bill Hodges – Two Years Later
Det. Bill Hodges, now retired, is going through the motions of life. He’s put on weight and let himself go from the hard-nosed cop he used to be. It’s made clear through lunch with his old partner that he’s miserable in retirement; even more so when Pete has to leave suddenly because an old case of theirs was about to break. No, not that of the gray Mercedes, but the one where Donald Davis killed his wife and thought he got away with it.
Bill heads home and encounters his neighbor Ida who proceeds to hound him about the condition of his yard, but then invites him to dinner. She’s pushy and matter-of-fact but seems to like Bill enough to proposition him to sleep with her. After she points out he would need to bathe first, he seems less interested and ultimately heads home. It is there that suddenly, all the depression surrounding his retirement fades away when in his email he finds one titled ‘Long time’ from the sender Mr. M.
When Bill opens the email, a disturbing and graphic video begins to play, taunting him about how the City Center case has gone unsolved, even though Bill Hodges vowed to find the killer. The video offers small tidbits of information such as the driver wore a condom so he would leave no DNA evidence. Pictures of the victims, including the young woman and her baby that was run over while she was breastfeeding in a sleeping bag, goaded Bill as the person behind the video manipulated their faces to look like they were also torturing the retired detective. The video ended, and the email deleted itself once it played.
The next morning Bill enlisted the help of Jerome, the neighborhood kid who cuts his grass, to try and retrieve the email. Jerome tells him that whoever sent the email and video, knows their stuff, but they might be able to get it back.
While Jerome is working on the computer, Bill tries once again to have lunch with his old partner, Pete. This time it is to ask a few questions about the current state of the Mercedes killer case, but he tries to disguise it by asking about a bunch of other cold cases first. Eventually, he gets around to the City Center case. Some of the items in the video – the clown mask and the smiley sticker on the steering wheel – match items left at the crime scene, but he needed to know if they had never been revealed to the public. Pete tells him no, but then wonders why he seems so interested in the Mercedes killer now. Bill brushes Pete off, but has to wonder, is this really their guy?
Hodges doesn’t reveal anything about the contact he’s been getting from Mr. Mercedes, nor does he tell Pete about the email and videos. Instead, he goes to the impound yard where the gray Mercedes sits, still covered in the blood of its victims.
More determined than ever, Bill buys a security camera for his home, and has Jerome continue to recover the email and video. After finishing up another tactic to get back the deleted video, Hodges and Jerome head outside. Jerome asks Bill to buy him an ice cream from the Mr. Friendly’s Frosteeez truck that had just stopped up the block. Bill tells Jerome to get him one too, and as the kid runs off, Bill finds a tennis ball in his yard with the same smile from the sticker on the Mercedes’ steering wheel.
Brady – Computer Tech & Mama’s Boy
Brady works at a discount electronics store as one of the techs that will come to your home to fix your computer. We first meet him as he is driving back to the store singing along with “I don’t want to be buried in a Pet Cemetery”. He and his co-worker, Lu, get some flack from the manager about how to treat customers. Neither seems to give a crap about the customers or their job. We again see Brady driving home to his mother, who is day drinking on the couch while smoking a cigarette.
This mother son dynamic is anything but healthy. Brady’s mom isn’t just an alcoholic but tries to entice her son to go out and have fun, while touching him and trying to kiss him on the mouth. Brady escapes into his basement, clearly shaken and aroused by what just happened. That doesn’t stop him from powering up his command center of computers and continuing to work on whatever his “special project” is.
Later, back at work, Brady’s boss and self-proclaimed mentor, learns he has another job and chastises him for it. He tells Brady, be happy with what you have and who you are. He doesn’t seem too pleased with the unsolicited advice and continues on to his other job, driving an ice cream truck. As he does his thing handing all the sweet children their sweet treats, he lends a long sideways glance at the old man down the street looking at a tennis ball in his yard.
This series, developed by Stephen King, David E. Kelley, and Jack Bender has brought together a near perfect cast to tackle this story. Brendan Gleeson (Detective Bill Hodges) and Harry Treadaway (Brady Hartsfield) brought these characters to life in the best possible way. Brady’s creepy, yet sad demeanor comes through loud and clear, as does his psychopathic tendencies. Gleeson is spot on as the retired surly detective. You can see this broken, depressed man start to awaken as the Mercedes killer begins to infiltrate his life. Being on the case again sparks something in Hodges through the pages of the novel, and Brendan Gleeson conveyed that easily through the pilot episode.
As a big fan of the Bill Hodges Trilogy, I am a very happy Constant Reader with the start of this adaptation. The script and casting couldn’t be any better right off the bat and easily draws you in by the end of the first hour.
Of course, with all things, there is at least one little problem with the show and that is solely within its availability to the masses. Currently, it airs exclusively on the Audience ch. 239 through Direct TV, or Uverse through AT&T. Should the series get picked up to air all the books in the trilogy I would hope they expand to Hulu so more people can experience the terror of the Mercedes Killer and the retired Detective determined to stop him from killing again.
Final Verdict: Mr. Mercedes is a series you should be watching, regardless of having read the book or not. You don’t even have to like horror or the works of Stephen King to enjoy the show. (Though, if you don’t enjoy King, I question if we could be friends.)
Give it a shot. It’s worth it. Just make sure you pull your blinds closed after watching. You never know who may be watching you.
Mr. Mercedes airs on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Uverse AT&T and on Audience ch. 239 via Direct TV.