Mr. Mercedes S03E02 “Madness”

Judge Raines sits at the bench looking out, purple bow tie showing prominently against his block robes

I was thinking of a series of dreams
Where nothing comes up to the top
Everything stays down where it’s wounded
And comes to a permanent stop
Wasn’t thinking of anything specific
Just thinking of a series of dreams
Just thinking of a series of dreams

Bob Dylan, “Series of Dreams”

With the start of Episode 2, we have our new theme song and opening montage for season 3.  The song is “Series of Dreams” by Bob Dylan, though this is a slightly edited version of just the first verse from the full song (quoted above). Although released in 1994, this is definitely something you could see being in Hodge’s vinyl collection. The montage is, I have to say, kind of a weird smattering of clips.  Thematically, they all appear to be from season 1, during the period before Bill was really on to Brady.  The period when he was still just Mr. Mercedes, an ever-present dark force, haunting Bill’s life and dreams. As we have been told Brady’s presence will be felt but not seen in season 3, so maybe that makes sense of it.

The episode’s title, “Madness”, has a lot of hooks throughout. Lou is descending into madness in captivity. The judge is mad, which may work to her advantage. Jerome talks about how Rothstein’s writing oozes with a kind of angry madness that can infect young teenage boys. And seeing what Lou is going through is causing Holly to relive her personal history with madness as well.

Lou in her psychiatric hospital scrubs, staring worringly, afraid to turn around.
Lou hears the ice cream truck music.

“He finds me in here.”

Speaking of people haunted by Brady, let’s start with the developments in Lou’s storyline first.  Judge Raines isn’t having the self-defense argument, especially if it’s based on Hodges’ affidavit about Brady killing people while he was in a coma.  Bill’s continued efforts to influence the judge just seem to make things worse.  In the final pre-trial hearing, Raines pulls a fast one on both sides by ordering a competency test, sending Lou away to a psychiatric hospital for up to a year.

More importantly though, Lou is hearing Brady talk to her, preceded by the ice cream truck music, and eventually sees Brady in her room at the psychiatric hospital.  It’s strange that even though Bill and Holly know this through her lawyer, they don’t seem to be taking it seriously. Bill tells Holly, “We’re all a bit mad.  It’s what makes us human.” As if Lou is just going a little stir-crazy being in prison, and it’s not a big red flashing neon sign shouting “Danger!” over their heads.

Alma leans over with drink in hand, talking to Morris, in her living room with walls lined in her paintings.
Alma declares Morris a hero for having killed Rothstein.

“Two plus two equals you shot John Rothstein in the head.”

So, we might have another “mama’s boy” in the worst possible interpretation.  Since they are rewriting Morris’ role from the books, I’ve got to ask, was that necessary?  In Brady’s case, the mother-son incest was an integral part of the character and added gravitas to his mother’s death that pushed him further over the edge.  Morris though is just a mean snake, and surprise, his mother is apparently also a mean snake.  That’s probably all the more that needs to be established here.  I guess what I’m saying is that other than firmly securing that mature rating on this particular episode, I fail to understand so far how that element contributes to the story, beyond plain old shock value.  Which is so beneath this great show.

Now, is she really his mother?  I might be jumping to conclusions here, I admit. IMDB lists her character as Alma Lane, whereas Morris’ last name is Bellamy. Maybe “That’s my boy, that’s my boy, that’s my boy!” is just dirty sex talk? Let’s hope so. That said, I’ll be honest and add that, while I knew Kate Mulgrew (of Star Trek: Voyager fame) was going to be on this season, I did not recognize her at first.  Wow.  Her transformation is amazing.

Alma had it in for Rothstein and seems to have pointed Morris at him with the intent of at least hurting him, the way he hurt her. That Morris murdered Rothstein was a bonus, and recovering the manuscripts would be the icing on the cake. With their two devious minds working together, they seem to be closing in on Pete rather quickly.

Pete sits at his desk in his room, listening intently to his dad talking, just offscreen.
Pete tries to play it cool while his dad is having a heart-to-heart talk with him.

“Who is this smart kid sitting at my table?”

Pete is a smart kid, but he’s already made his first slip up.  He stupidly bought himself a $300 pair of shoes with the robbery money, making his parents think that he might be taking and/or selling drugs. He’s a junkie all right, but a junkie for Rothstein’s unpublished manuscripts, which he is devouring eagerly.

Overall though, Pete’s life is looking up.  That confrontation inspired his dad to take stock of himself and try to be there again for his family. His hiding spot behind the wall has got to be the envy of every teenager in America. Granted, he did find a dead body in the car, which is bad, but it prompted him to anonymously tip off the police, good idea, and start carrying a gun, probably even better idea.

Bill in a hospital smock, staring off in the distance.
Bill looks down on John Rothstein’s body.

“There’s another.”

Montez really steps up his game to drag Hodges into the investigation of John Rothstein’s murder.  He’s giving Bill access to crime scenes, letting him read internal reports, and showing him the “dead herring” in the morgue.  Creepier than that though was his insistence that Bill first see Rothstein’s body, and then touch it.  “This is a calling for us, Bill,” he says. Was Montez genuinely inspired by touching Rothstein’s body?  I somehow doubt it.  I’d say that whole set up was inspired by the reaction he saw in Bill last episode. Montez knows how tenacious Hodges can be.  Now he’s got Bill primed and loaded as surely as if he were a gun aimed at the unknown killer’s head.

Holly sits at the dining room table, looks unhappy.
Holly remembers her past.

Mr. Mercedes in the News

This is a little bit of old news, but I personally wasn’t aware of this until it was pointed out by u/emf3rd31495 on the r/MrMercedesTV sub-Reddit (thanks!).  In Stephen King’s novels, the character of Holly Gibney actually made the leap out of the Mr. Mercedes trilogy and appeared as a fairly pivotal character in The Outsider (just released last summer).  That novel was also immediately picked up for a 10-episode series adaptation, to air on HBO probably next year.  However, she will be played by a different actress, Cynthia Erivo, not our wonderful Justine Lupe.  Given Erivo’s musical background (with a Grammy and Tony award under her belt), I’d guess this might end up being a different take on the character.

More current, although also more tangential, a trailer for Hulu’s Castle Rock season 2 was just released last week.  While not a direct adaptation of any particular Stephen King novel, there have already been several appearances by characters and locations from various stories, and it looks like season 2 will continue in that same vein.  That series is every bit as good as Mr. Mercedes, and I highly recommend you check it out.  You have time to catch up before season 2 airs on October 23.

Season 3 of Mr. Mercedes airs Tuesdays at 10pm ET/PT on AT&T AUDIENCE Network. AT&T AUDIENCE Network is available on all AT&T video platforms including DIRECTV CH. 239, AT&T TV NOW, and U-verse.

Written by Brien Allen

Brien Allen is the last of the original crazy people who responded to this nutjob on Facebook wanting to start an online blog prior to Twin Peaks S3. Some of his other favorite shows have been Vr.5, Buffy, Lost, Stargate: Universe, The OA, and Counterpart. He's an OG BBSer, Trekkie, Blue Blaze Irregular, and former semi-professional improviser. He is also a staunch defender of putting two spaces after a period, but has been told to shut up and color.

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