Wednesday, October 3, 2018

REVIEW: 'Mr. Mercedes' - Brady Invades Hodges' Life While Babineau Pushes for a Response in 'Fell on Black Days'

Audience's Mr. Mercedes - Episode 2.07 "Fell on Black Days"

Hodges and Donna look toward a new future. Under pressure from Cora, Babineau performs brain surgery on Brady. Montez and Hodges work to get Brady transferred out of Mercy General.

Right now, the momentum of the season comes from two distinct questions: Who will get Brady to wake up? And who will Brady's next target be? Many of the characters have a vested interest in the answers to both of these questions. Hodges and Lou are the only two who have succeeded in provoking a response from Brady. As such, it seems inevitable that one of them will get him to regain consciousness once more. Of course, that doesn't stop Babineau from digging around in his brain trying to force him out. In fact, Babineau believes he holds all of the power in this situation. One move can completely kill Brady. His body is absolutely defenseless. The theory still persists that Brady needs this body in order to house his own consciousness. He can't just hide out in other people forever. He can't live on in that kind of infamy just taking over control of whomever he wants. He needs this base of operations to always return home to. Whenever he suffers a trauma in a different body, he needs to be flung back to his own with severe consequences also playing out. Brady is understanding the rules of this new game he is playing. He has these skills because of the drugs and experiments that Babineau and Cora were running on him. They were performing all of these risky procedures in secret because they believed it could lead to medical breakthroughs. It has done that. They just don't know the extent of Brady's damage just yet. Hodges and Montez are fully aware that Brady connects to Sadie's death and Al murdering a dog. They just don't have the physical proof to back it up just yet. They hope it's enough to convince the people in charge of the hospital that Brady has to be moved to a facility where he won't be subjected to any more of these experiments. The hospital is completely clueless as to what Babineau has been doing. And now, it's actually beneficial to keep Brady in the hospital because of his notoriety. That's absolutely sickening. And yet, it's also a convenient excuse to keep everything exacting the same for the final act of the season. The pieces are falling into place with everyone believing that they have control over this narrative. However, Brady's final action as Al proves that no one should ever be confident that what they have planned will ultimately work out.

Of course, Babineau understands that so much is on the line now. Cora was able to play to his ego in order to get him to run this illegal experiment on Brady. He wasn't thinking through the consequences. And now, he is realizing that his wife may not genuinely love him and that Brady is much more sinister than he could have anticipated. Babineau believed he could appeal to Brady by offering him a way out of jail. It just meant labeling him as a disturbed individual with a mental health condition. That didn't work. So now, Babineau clears the operating room so that he can talk to Brady alone. He wants Brady to say stop in order to keep Babineau from killing him in that moment. But Brady calls him out on his bluff. He holds strong. All he has to do is keep his focus during his workouts in his mental prison. As long as he doesn't have too emotional of a response, he will continue having all of the power in this arrangement. He wants that independence. He doesn't know if he'll maintain control over Al if he wakes up. His life will once again be so depressed the moment he interacts with the world as himself once more. It means that he will be prosecuted for his crimes and locked away. All of this mirrors Babineau's latter conversation with Cora. She actually seems like she's running away. She says she has to go to China to ease things over with her company's partners. But it's mostly just so she remains safe and not caught up in this disaster should it be exposed. They are both fully expecting that to happen soon because of Hodges' show of confidence in the previous episode. He has already pieced so much together. This surgery didn't work out how they planned. So now, Cora is running. She just isn't given the opportunity to do so because Babineau steals her passport with the intention of destroying it unless she tells the truth. But it remains a lose-lose situation for her because he keeps the passport and the power regardless of what she says to him. There is no more appeasing this man because he is seeing just how delusional he has been throughout all of this.

And yet, Babineau still reaches out to Lou and gives her a job. He wishes to employ her in order to help solely with this study about Brady. He wants to know why she is so special to him. During the surgery, images were held up to Brady to see what would cause a reaction. Once again, it's clear that his mother inspires strong feelings from him. She is yet to present herself in his imagination as well. But it's also incredibly telling that she isn't the reason that he breaks. That could have been the moment where he slipped and offered a glimpse of hope that this experiment has been a success. Instead, the Chinese businessman all see it as a failure. One that Babineau and Cora try to excuse as Brady needing months of therapy in order to fully recover. That's odd because Brady is already a very active character. It seems likely that he would just be his old self again should he regain complete consciousness. Babineau is still hoping to do that by exploiting Lou's connection to his patient. He doesn't know exactly who she is until he goes to meet her. It's only then that he realizes that she was one of his victims. One of only two who have ever survived his wrath. That exclusive club continues to be just her and Hodges as well. Everyone else touched by Brady has turned up dead. That's tragic for Al and his brother here. And yet, Lou doesn't know that. She sees a way to have a meaningful life once more. Her expertise with technology could actually help make sense of what is going on in Brady's head. Sure, it's crazy for anyone to suspect that he is manipulating the machines in his hospital room with his mind somehow. He's not doing that. The drug gave him the ability to take over minds. It will be dangerous for whomever gets close to him or uses the ZapIt that Al loved so much. Lou takes this job only because she is being evicted and can negotiate with Babineau about money because he needs her. She is the only person who can help him try to figure out the mysteries of Brady.

Meanwhile, it's so tragic to see what Al's fate becomes. He joins Sadie in being abused by Brady and discarded as soon as he no longer serves a purpose. Of course, Brady is able to better exploit Al because he knows what he's doing. He has complete control as well. Al is essentially locked away inside his own mind when Brady takes over. When Sadie was being inhabited by Brady, she knew that it was happening and tried to resist him. She couldn't manage to do so though and wound up on the pavement because of her reluctance. Brady has found a better host in Al because his mind is weaker. That's absolutely horrifying. And yet, Al is the exact kind of person Brady would exploit to his own advantage. It just means destruction to his entire family. Sadie's mother was left behind with nothing but questions about why her daughter would seemingly kill herself. The same fate is not extended to Al's brother. He just wants to protect Al. He has apparently been doing that for his entire life. Al has a great deal of independence. It's not strange that he doesn't know what happened the previous day or that his brother isn't able to help him fill in the gaps. They love each other. They count on and protect the other as well. Here, they are so close to just taking a fishing trip to their family cabin in order to escape all of this craziness. Instead, Al has to go back for his ZapIt. That leads to him once again being taken over by Brady. Al tries to explain what's been going on in his mind to his brother. His brother is confused but willing to support him no matter what. He wants to get him out of this environment in order to enjoy his freedom once more. But instead, he is lured into a false sense of comfort and Brady is able to first cut part of his ear off and then slit his throat. It's a proud moment for Brady because he can declare who he is to a dying man. It means he is once again in control of the fates of everyone around him.

All of this is absolutely terrifying during the final act of the hour. That whole sequence is a big question of who Brady is going to attack. He is in Hodges' house. He is making his presence known by disrupting this very familiar environment. It's enough so that Hodges knows that something is amiss the moment he walks in the door. However, Holly is completely oblivious because she has only been living here for a couple of weeks. And then, the action cuts away to Donna as she is returning home from a busy day at work. All of this makes it seem as if Hodges is about to lose another important woman in his life because of Brady. However, that would have felt like a very redundant twist. It's what happened last season with Janey. Her death was used to increase the stakes and make Hodges have an even more personal and vested interest in catching Brady. And now, it only makes sense if Brady goes after Hodges right now. He is the biggest threat to his existence. As such, it wouldn't be rational if he targeted Holly or Donna. That would be going about things the same way as before. He would be terrorizing Hodges' life while making him live in that agony. But it was in doing so with Janey that it allowed himself to eventually be caught. So, that's why things are so precarious as Hodges searches his house for any sign of trouble. It really does seem like he is about to be killed as well. It happens right after he is building his life with Donna once more. They were making their plans to visit Ireland. But instead, Brady is startled by a noise behind him triggered by Ida. It's so completely unexpected for her to be there in the kitchen. She is on a date and her connection with Hodges has always been kept separate from the twisted thriller aspect of the narrative. But there she is. She creates an opening for Hodges to shoot and kill Al. It's just so tragic because Hodges is truly taking that shot at Brady instead. Another man just happens to die in the process.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Fell on Black Days" was written by Dennis Lehane and directed by Jack Bender.
  • It's so significant that Hodges has never returned to Ireland after he left as a teenager. He left his home country behind and never looked back. He wanted to build his own life in America. It's a happy, little existence for him. When Donna first suggested he take a vacation, he didn't know where to go. He is still afraid of running into his problematic past while there. But he's also eager to experience the beauty of the country once more.
  • Hodges and Donna's relationship has blossomed really quickly this season. The narrative has mostly been interested in Hodges' new obsession with Brady. It has only delved into his bond with Donna and Holly when it came to him being open with them about what's going on in his life. Him doing so with Donna proves that he has changed and isn't the same man from their marriage. But now, it's completely sudden when she decides to go on this vacation with him.
  • Of course, Ida's new relationship has happened extremely quickly as well. This guy didn't even appear until a recent episode. In fact, there still isn't a whole lot known about him. He doesn't have a memorable or distinguished personality. It's just important that he's at Ida's house to lure the audience into the assumption that no one is coming to save Hodges. But of course, Ida does because she cares about him.
  • There is no cause for concern in regards to Hodges' pet tortoise. There was the fear at the end of the previous episode that the animal couldn't be found in the backyard. That happened right before Brady sent his ominous text to prove to Hodges that he was still conscious and active. But here, the tortoise is fine. Hodges is just wondering who he can trust to take care of his pet when he's away with Donna. Jerome is the easy solution.
  • When Sadie's head hit the pavement, Brady's monitors recognized it. That was the first indication that his mind was still very active. And now, it seems like he has an even more extreme reaction because Hodges shoots Al in the head. It's an absolutely brutal visual. But it also seems like one that completely destroys the illusion Brady has created in his mind. Could that be the thing that actually makes him regain consciousness in this story? He just needed that kind of shock to his system.