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‘Mr. Mercedes’ season 3: Ending on an upbeat note

Poster of ‘Mr Mercedes’ Season 3

Poster of ‘Mr Mercedes’ Season 3  

With writing and acting of the highest calibre, the show has potential and left enough strands to be explored, should a fourth season be commissioned

Season 2 of the crime drama, Mr Mercedes, ended with Lou Linklatter (Breeda Wool) shooting Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway) in the head. Based on Stephen King’s crime novel trilogy (he also does those) featuring retired police detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson), Audience Network’s Mr Mercedes is a good enough reason to subscribe to SonyLiv.

The first season based on King’s 2014 novel, Mr Mercedes, told the story of Hodges’ guilt at not being able to crack the case of a man who drove a Mercedes into a crowd of people waiting at job fair, killing 16 people and effectively crushing hope in Brighton, Ohio.

Smoking gun

Two years after retirement, Hodges is in a downward spiral of alcohol and recrimination when he is contacted by the Mercedes killer — Hartsfield, a brilliant, personable, young psychopath. After driving the owner of the Mercedes, Olivia Trelawney (Ann Cusack) to suicide, Hartsfield ups his game sparring with Hodges.

Hodges is helped in his investigations by his computer-savvy neighbour Jerome (Jharrel Jerome). The excellently written series (the marvellous Dennis Lehane shares writing credit with David E. Kelley and others) works like a tense thriller, with shocking twists and heart-stopping violence. The strong cast led by the magnificent Brendan Gleeson creating characters we care deeply about is a huge bonus.

Not quite dead

Season 1 ended with Holly Gibney (Justine Lupe) braining Hartsfield with a paper weight as he was all set to blow up many more people at an arts gala, even as Hodges is having a heart attack.

Though Hartsfield is in a coma and a vegetative state in Season 2, he still can do enough mischief by entering the minds of susceptible people including Sally (Virginia Kull), a nurse and Library Al (Mike Starr) to make them do his dirty work for him. The way his mind palace is visualised is fascinating. An unscrupulous neurosurgeon, Felix Babineau (Jack Huston) spurred by his Lady Macbeth-like wife, Cora (Tessa Ferrer) is responsible for Hartsfield’s miraculous recovery.

Holly and Hodges set up an investigative agency, with help from Jerome who is taking an extended break from Harvard.

Mr Mercedes
  • Seasons: 3
  • Episodes: 30
  • Run time: 49 to 57 minutes
  • Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Jharrel Jerome, Breeda Wool, Justine Lupe, Holland Taylor, Maximiliano Hernández, Rarmian Newton, Gabriel Ebert, Brett Gelman, Natalie Paul, Bruce Dern, Kate Mulgrew, Meg Steedle
  • Developed by David E. Kelley

Where do characters go?

Lou, who Hartsfield stabbed at the arts gala, has to battle her demons and at the end of the season finally puts the demon king to rest — or does she? While Lou shooting Hartsfield dead could have been the dramatic ending of a movie, a series has the luxury of looking at the characters’ arc over a longer period of time and Mr Mercedes does precisely that to great effect.

Season 2 was based on the third book of the trilogy, End of Watch (2016) and Season 3 is based on the second book, Finders Keepers (2015). With Lou’s trial forming an important strand in the third season, though dead, Hartsfield has an important part to play. Though we do not see him, his fingerprints are all over from his shadowy form that haunts Lou in the ripples of the jobs fair massacre.

Season 3 opens with a robbery and murder of a reclusive writer, John Rothstein (Bruce Dern). Though Rothstein stopped publishing a long time ago, he continued to write. The thieves escaped Hartsfield’s killing spree at the job fair, but were traumatised and unable to get a job. One of the thieves, Morris Bellamy, (Gabriel Ebert) escapes with the money and a bunch of moleskin notebooks containing Rothstein’s unpublished work worth a lot of money.

Though Bellamy escapes, his car crashes and when he is hospitalised, a teenager, Pete Saubers, (Rarmian Newton) finds and takes the money and the books. Pete’s father was injured in the job fair attack and has not been able to find work.

Several strands

Hodges is deeply disturbed by Rothstein’s killing as he read the books as a teenager and they made a huge impact on him, prompting his move to the States. He takes it upon himself to find out who killed Rothstein and help assistant district attorney Antonio Montez (Maximiliano Hernández).

King’s favourite themes of literary fandom (the book had Bellamy kill Rothstein because he disliked where the main character ended up) form an important part of the narrative as well as traditional male roles during hard times — both Jerome’s and Pete’s fathers blow a fuse when their sons take it upon themselves to provide for the families.

Songs sung true

Dreams and the thin line between waking dreams and reality is also a recurring theme. The opening song, Bob Dylan’s ‘Series of Dreams’ underlines these concerns. Apart all the wonderful things about the show, the music is a major plus — from the lovely jazz standards to some incendiary heavy metal. The opening theme songs are carefully chosen and echo the main plot points.

There is T Bone Burnett singing of “the wind that turns like a dagger” and rain that “falls like a hammer” in ‘It’s Not Too Late’ in Season 1 while in Season 2 Mississippi John Hurt sings ‘I Shall Not Be Moved’.

The acting and writing continue to be of the highest calibre in Season 3. Gleeson continues to inhabit and flesh out Hodges, Irish morbidity, songs, curses and all. The creation of blowsy, mercurial Alma Lane (Kate Mulgrew) is a master-stroke. Just when you are ready to dismiss her as a silly old hag, she does something completely unexpected and horrific. It is she more than Bellamy who is the true heart of evil in the season. Holly is delightful as ever and has a chance at love with Lou’s brilliant lawyer, Rolan Finklestein (Brett Gelman). Hodges’ feisty neighbour, Ida Silver (Holland Taylor) is an important part of the Rothstein puzzle.

Flies in his eyes

Though the character of Rothstein is said to be an amalgamation of John Updike, Philip Roth, and J. D. Salinger, he seems to have echoes of Joseph Heller, which could be because the main character, Jimmy Gold brings to mind Julius Gold from Heller’s Good as Gold and Jimmy going into advertising reminds one of Heller’s Something Happened, which might be where Yossarian ended after taking that giant leap in Catch 22.

No harm comes to Boogers, Pete’s dog, proving my theory that if the dog is named like Jerome’s Odell, they survive unlike Montez’ unnamed dog that met a sticky end at the hands of Library Al. Series 3 ends on a more upbeat note compared to the earlier seasons.

The show can end with this season, but it has left enough strands to be explored should a fourth season be commissioned.

Mr Mercedes streams on Sony Liv

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 1:52:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/mr-mercedes-season-3-ending-on-an-upbeat-note/article30007506.ece

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