Wednesday, September 26, 2018

REVIEW: 'Mr. Mercedes' - Confrontations from Hodges and Lou Force Brady to Start Communicating in 'Proximity'

Audience's Mr. Mercedes - Episode 2.06 "Proximity"

When a visit from Lou elicits an unprecedented response from Brady, Dr. Babineau pushes him to communicate. Holly begins to come around to Hodges' thinking about Brady. Armed with new intel, Hodges reaches out to Babineau and Cora.

Brady has invaded the minds of every major character on the show this season. He has only literally done so with Sadie and Al. He has taken over their bodies and forced them to do things that they wouldn't normally do. But everyone else has him at the top of their minds. They are all wondering what he is capable of doing. They want to know if he is still alive inside his own head. He presents as nothing but a man in a coma. No significant changes have occurred in his condition. But that's not true at all. The audience is keenly aware of what he is capable of. Felix and Cora gave him this mysterious drug that suddenly allowed his brain to regrow and develop the ability to control other people. They need him to wake up so that they can have the satisfaction of knowing that this all worked. That's what they are chasing. They are presenting themselves as his saviors. They are the ones who healed him and can potentially keep him out of jail by testifying that he has a psychological condition. One that kept him from developing any sense of empathy. As such, he has never been in the right head space to fully grasp the magnitude of his actions. Felix believes he is offering Brady a comforting and better future. But that's not what Brady wants at all. He once again has free reign over the world where he can manipulate and destroy without anyone realizing that it's him. It's completely far-fetched that the world would suggest that he has the ability to control minds now. He remains in a coma in the hospital. He is still heavily guarded. And yet, he has invaded the world once more. He has made everyone fear what he is now capable of. All they have are their suspicions. He has yet to truly confirm his powers to anyone who can do something to stop him. However, he is starting to make mistakes which is bound to prove even more costly in the future. Moreover, this episode reveals that he's not the only monster amongst the ensemble this season.

The narrative has really been focused on what all of these newfound accusations against Brady are doing to Hodges. It seems like he is becoming obsessed again with a theory that would be ridiculous for anyone to hear. Sure, Holly is starting to come around on the idea while Jerome is working at Finders Keepers more now. However, Ida still wants Hodges to see a therapist. She thinks it could do him some good because she is able to see that this relationship with a deranged killer has really filled a void in Hodges' life. Of course, Hodges fears that Brady has found a way to infiltrate his own mind. The audience knows exactly how things work for Brady and his ability to control minds. He can't control everyone. He mostly has to hypnotize them with the game at the hospital or the school. He can't just reach out and take over Hodges when he is far away from the hospital. And yet, Hodges believes that has actually occurred at the top of the hour when he wakes up to find Brady in his home. That's a terrifying opening sequence because it shows that Brady continues to hold all of the power in this relationship. Hodges won in this war between them. But now, he believes he is completely exposed and vulnerable when it comes to this latest tactic Brady is using to try and gain the upper hand. He doesn't know what to expect. It's confusing and disorientating. Hodges has no idea if this is simply a nightmare or Brady manipulating him with his mind. He has no clarity in that regard. As such, his loosening grip on sanity could get even worse as the season proceeds. He is choosing to keep forging ahead while not listening to Ida's advice because he gets at least some confirmation that Brady is still alive. He just still doesn't have a firm grasp on all that Brady is capable of doing.

Of course, this episode is very telling as well because it doesn't spend any time with Brady actually in control. Whenever he pops up, it's within the safety of his own mind. He is trying his hardest not to be pushed back to the surface. He doesn't want to return to reality. He doesn't want to wake up and deal with all of the doctors and prosecutors. He doesn't want his fate to change because things have been very good for him because of Felix and Cora's intervention. He is formulating his own new strategy for how to continue messing with the lives of others. He killed Sadie. He intimidated Mendez. And now, Al gets arrested because of it. Mendez conveniently had video surveillance of his backyard. So, he knows who was responsible for this crime. Hodges is able to quickly make a damning case against Al. Blood is found on his car. And then, gloves and the knife are discovered in his apartment. It doesn't matter that he has no memory of what he did the previous afternoon. That just feels like a tactic to deceive the investigation into him because he has no other viable alibi. However, Hodges doesn't believe that Al was responsible for his own actions. He doesn't see a guy deeply rooted in evil who could kill an animal. He has no previous record. He is a sweet and simple guy everyone at the hospital loved. It offers a simple solution for Mendez. He arrests the man who infiltrated and destroyed his life. He has to be completely forthcoming with Hodges in order to get this arrest. And yet, he still rationally believes that Al must have somehow listened to the conversation that he had with Brady. That's the thing that makes more sense. It's completely wild to assume that Al was replaced by Brady who did these actions out of a personal vendetta. That's what actually occurred. It's the angle Hodges is pursuing. However, it still doesn't lead to him being able to confront Brady about what he has done.

Hodges goes to Felix and Cora with all of the evidence proving that they have been doing something very experimental with Brady's care. Hodges isn't allowed in the hospital anymore. He can't go into Brady's room or ask the staff about what is going on with his treatment. Maggie has been demoted down to the ER. But she is still kept in the loop about the hospital gossip as well. And so, she knows that when Lou goes to confront Brady it actually gets a response from him. That's actually a moving and pivotal moment. When Lou was practicing what she was going to say to Brady, it was all about feeling confident and telling him that he didn't kill her or destroy her life. It was her essentially trying to pump herself up for this moment. She has wanted to confront Brady for so long. Her therapist didn't think it was a good idea. She doesn't okay it for Lou to do it now either. It's just something that Lou believes she needs to do in order to gain clarity and control over her life again. Instead, it forces a different reaction from her. She actually feels sympathy for him in the bed living like this for over a year. She doesn't want to feel sympathy for him. She just wants to see him as the monster who betrayed her trust and stabbed her multiple times. She needed to have several surgeries to fix her injuries. And yet, she was one of his only victims to have survived. Hodges is the only other survivor. They have that in common. It allows a connection to be forged when they sit down to talk about Brady. In that moment, Hodges isn't trying to get Lou to open up about how Brady reacted in the moment. He is just being a compassionate person who understands what Lou is going through. He doesn't want to traumatize her again. The same isn't true of the hospital staff though. Felix and Cora want to know who Lou is because she's the only person who has been able to get a response from Brady. Sure, they don't know the extent of the message he left behind. Only the audience is aware that Brady typed out: "Mercy was my mistake." But the "M" is enough evidence to prove that Brady is indeed alive in there.

Hodges even presents himself as the one person who could actually lead to Brady waking up. He believes he can walk into that room and torment the killer because of their passionate feud in the past. Hodges may not like accepting the idea that he enjoys having Brady in his life because it's an adrenaline rush that is missing from every other aspect of his life. His life changed so much when he started to pursue the Mercedes case. He lost his job but he found love and made new friends. Holly, Jerome and Ida are still in his life. He has been rebuilding his connection with Donna. Things have been good but Hodges hasn't been happy. Maybe getting confirmation about Brady's status will be enough for him once more. But that's a terrifying prospect to Felix and Cora. Felix felt afraid after realizing what he had done. He brought a dangerous serial killer back to life. He didn't fully understand the magnitude of what he was doing until it actually became a reality. Brady telling Felix to fuck off is a clear threat that could endanger his life and what he is trying to build with Cora. However, this episode reveals that Cora has been deceiving her husband this entire time as well. She knew going into this experiment that the Chinese drug had severe side effects that were actually quite lethal. She may not have a rational explanation of the test group of prisoners being able to kill the group that was only getting sugar. But it also proves that she didn't care about those results because she decided to give the same drug to a deranged killer. She didn't care what Brady could do if the same results occurred here. She just boosted Felix's ego by appealing to his sense of legacy. She believed this could be the breakthrough that defines their careers. Instead, it could be the thing that destroys them because Hodges already knows so much of what's been going. He's doing so independently as well. And yet, Cora now lives in fear that some government is aware of the damage and illegality of her actions which could lead to some severe consequences for the career that she has built.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Proximity" was written by Bryan Goluboff & Alexis Deane and directed by Laura Innes.
  • Brady doesn't have control over Al when Hodges interviews him or when he is arrested. In fact, Brady loses that grasp in between the episodes. Not a whole lot of time has passed. Mendez's dog was killed just a day ago. But it still shows that Brady can lose these connections and not get them back right away. Of course, Al is still walking around with the game that can hypnotize him. So, the way back in was always present for Brady.
  • Hodges wants to know why Jerome is spending so much of his time around Finders Keepers right now. He fears that Jerome is considering making this a permanent life for him as well. Hodges wants his young charges to be independent and not rely on him for this business to succeed. He wants them to aspire to better things. For Jerome, that means going back to school. For Holly, that means probably joining the police force. However, he's being a little blunt with his disdain as well.
  • However, it's also clear that Jerome is very depressed when it comes to talking about his year at school. He didn't fit in with anyone else in this Ivy League environment. He was constantly the outsider looking in. He was always seen as a black man. Even when people were trying to see past that, they couldn't. It defined everything. Jerome gets along so well with Hodges and Holly. And yet, his relationship with them could just be a crutch to ensure he doesn't chase all of his dreams.
  • Mendez is so distraught over the murder of his dog. He believes that when people die there is still a way to communicate with them. He can still have a conversation with his mother. But a dog is different because it was an animal he had to look in the eyes. Of course, it also gives Hodges an opportunity to talk about the benefits of a tortoise as a pet. However, the episode ends with the tortoise going missing. That's very ominous as well.
  • When Hodges goes out to feed his tortoise at night, that's when he gets the text message from an unknown person reciting the same phrase he told to Brady in the hospital room. Only Brady could have known to send that to terrify Hodges. And so, Hodges' sanity is only going to fray away more moving forward. However, the show will also have to explain who Brady's new host is who sent this message.