Wednesday, August 30, 2017

REVIEW: 'Mr. Mercedes' - Brady Exerts His Power and Control in Order to Kill Again in 'Gods Who Fall'

Audience's Mr. Mercedes - Episode 1.04 "Gods Who Fall"

Ida is hurt as Hodges and Janey's relationship intensifies. Lou is disturbed by an interaction with a customer. Deborah takes Brady to the cemetery and the two reflect on their difficult past.

How much of Brady's actions are premeditated versus spontaneous? That's the question that Mr. Mercedes asks throughout "Gods Who Fall." It was a key question during the initial investigation of the Mercedes killings as well. Was it an intentional act of violence? Or was it a case of a guy breaking and the consequences just happened to be so severe? Of course, the show has made it clear in the story that when Brady got behind the wheel of the Mercedes it was a part of a grand plan. He's been able to get away with those murders because of all of his careful planning. He's working against a police precinct that is woefully unprepared for his type of criminal behavior. They simply don't know the technology that he is working with. He may just be an impoverished young adult working two jobs just in order to survive. But he also has the means and knowledge to turn things extremely deadly. He has the capacity to do so and the ill-tempered mind to actually put those actions into fruition. He's been very deliberate in his manipulations of Olivia and Bill. He knows how to psychologically get under their skin and make them question the role they played in all of this. It has been an amusing and very deliberate game on his part. This episode makes it clear though that Brady's life isn't completely defined by the Mercedes killings. He's behind several additional tragedies as well - some in the past and some in the present. With those, it's unclear if there was an premeditation or if it just happened in the spur of the moment because he had a break.

Of course, there's always some level of premeditation with Brady's actions it seems. That is abundantly clear in his handling of the white supremacist who has become a frequent customer at the electronics store. Brady is spying on him through his computer. He may not know for what purpose when he set up that surveillance. But he's clearly logged on with evil intentions. He causes the computer to crash instantly which mostly feels like him exerting his control in a situation where it's easy for him to do so. He has the expertise and it's so impersonal. He can ruin this guy's life and it means absolutely nothing. He doesn't do it because of his strong friendship with Lou. That does feel like it should be a part of it. He's avenging her after this guy is so hurtful and bigoted about her outward appearance. She experiences that and is incredibly devastated that there is still so much hate in this world. Brady is there for her in the special way that only he can. But the audience is also suppose to question the sincerity of his actions. He can talk with relative ease about being able to turn his brain off and avoid the hateful things people say to them. He remembers them when need be. But it's a coping device that he has that makes Lou a little envious. Of course, if she knew the truth, she wouldn't be that impressed by what Brady is. But does he genuinely care for her and want to get vengeance on the guy who wronged her? It's unclear.

And yet, that final sequence is absolutely thrilling to watch. It starts in the electronics store where Robi seems like he has his first human moment of wanting to protecting Lou from the hate speech this man is spreading. It's just a brief moment but it establishes that there is some kind of personal bond there. That could help humanize Robi in the future. But then, it's just a thrilling car chase as the action just carefully waits for Brady to make his big move. The tension is increasing with each passing minute. Brady seems to get more volatile as well. He's completely imagining what this guy's life has been like up to this point. Was he always this demented with his beliefs? Or was he a popular jock in high school whose opinions shifted as he grew up? Brady can control the traffic lights. He sees that as a blessing and a curse for this guy. Again, it's him exerting control on a situation where he has all the power in the world. It's a sequence bound to end in tragedy. It does too in such an epic way. Brady forces a green light to appear and the guy drives straight into a semi-truck. It's brutal to watch. It's even more chilling to see Brady's reaction to it. He's shocked and excited as well. It's weird that the audience probably has the same reaction as Brady to this horrible display of violence. It's easy to want this guy to suffer for what he believes. But the show also makes it clear that we should have no sympathy for either party. Brady only reveals himself in the end to show the true horrors of this accident. He's messing with forces that the guy can't even fathom. Brady has control and will need it moving forward to further manipulate Bill and Janey.

This appears to be a growing pattern throughout Brady's life as well. All of this also happens to fall on the day when he and his mother memorialize the anniversary of the deaths of Brady's father and younger brother. It's confirmed here that the young boy choking on his food in the previous episode is actually Brady's younger brother, Gerald. The death of these two characters is very fundamental to the story because it highlights the people that Brady and Deborah were destined to become. Deborah dreamed of a successful, middle-class life with her husband. He had a solid job working for a utility company because he believed they could never go out of business. Instead, an on-the-job accident killed him. It appears it was a brutal death as well with him getting electrocuted. He was ripped away from this family too soon. It was a random death that the family had no control over. That doesn't appear to be the case with Gerald though. The choking possibly could have been. But with Brady involved and in charge of the food that day that seems doubtful. Plus, it's largely just teases dropped throughout the rest of the episode. Gerald didn't die from choking but he was never the same afterwards. He had a scar on his throat and he seemed much slower and less playful. And then, young Brady and Deborah are seen standing over his dead body in the basement. They are seemingly staging the scene to make it look like he fell. Neither are surprised or distraught. Instead, it's very cold and chilling which shows that the darkness of this family stretches back much further than anyone could have expected.

All of this also means that Brady is too distracted right now to continue tormenting Bill. Of course, Bill is always on his mind. Plus, Bill is still traumatized by Brady so casually being able to invade his world. He sees the footage of the killings on his TV and it's a really unexpected moment. It shows that Brady can still be so unnerving when it comes to revealing to Bill just how far he can dig into his world. But that's just a minor detail for now. Instead, it's much more important to see the growing intimacy between Bill and Janey. They are united in this case. That's how their connection started. They are still talking about it and offering new theories about how the killer was able to steal Olivia's car. But the personal connection is becoming more deep. Bill is opening up about his daughter and their troubled relationship. He reflects on not being a great dad and the painful realization his daughter had that her parents were just messed up human beings. She's a troubled girl currently in rehab. But Bill thinks there is nothing he can do to help her. Janey suggests otherwise. But she's not a parent. She has no children. This could be a source of conflict between them. Instead, it's a way to bring them closer. They know how complicated it could be if they were to act on their attraction to one another. She's technically his boss on this case. And yet, they both decide to push the consequences to the side and actually have sex. It may ultimately be a mistake. Something that is bound to end in tragedy because Brady can exploit this new personal connection. But it's also meaningful because Bill is finding love and purpose in his life once more. Janey is providing that for him. It's sweet and relaxed. It may just be the alcohol controlling their actions. But they can't walk back from this moment either. It will change their relationship. It's more personal now and only time will tell if that's ultimately a good thing.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Gods Who Fall" was written by Dennis Lehane and directed by Jack Bender.
  • Jerome figures out a way that the Mercedes killer could have hacked into Olivia's car without needing the key. It's an explanation that revolves around frequencies. Bill doesn't totally understand. But now, he's open to the possibility that Olivia really was telling the truth and had absolutely no fault in the tragedy that would later occur. It was all the killer manipulating her because he has the technology to do so.
  • Of course, Jerome knows Brady as the local ice cream truck driver. They acknowledge each other in public outside of that common relationship as well. They aren't friendly towards each other. But it is important to note that they are aware of each other's existence. With Brady eyeing Jerome's dog, it seems destined that Jerome will be involved in the eventual tragedy of this story as well.
  • Brady is clearly buying a bunch of supplies in order to make a bomb. That's a terrifying thought. He already did so much damage with a car. And now with explosives, he will be even more dangerous. Of course, he does leave one crucial element behind solely because he knows the man working the cashier and has to engage him in small talk.
  • As expected, Ida becomes aware of Bill and Janey's relationship and is immediately taken aback by it. Bill praises Ida as the reason why he has a spring in his step once more. He has a purpose in his life. That's rewarding to her. But she's also disappointed and shocked to see him with another woman - even though she doesn't know the full context.
  • Bill played his part in the abuse of Olivia in the aftermath of the Mercedes killings as well. He refused to believe her story about locking the car. And then, he set her up for even more public humiliation by telling her she can just go to the station and demand to get her vehicle back. It's amusing to the officers. But with hindsight, it's incredibly damaging and cruel.