Mr. Mercedes S3E10 “Burning Man”

Mr Mercedes - A notebook full of handwriting is burning along all edges

Well, here we are at the end. Episode 10, end of the Season 3, and likely, end of the series, Mr. Mercedes. It’s a bad ending for Bellamy and a happy ending for Hodges. And everyone else just kind of gets forgotten. I’m not going to pull any punches here; I thought this finale was a bit of a train wreck. It’s not that I found the ending dissatisfying though, it’s just that the execution had so many flaws.

Mr Mercedes - Morris Bellamy on Majorie's cell phone, sitting in Alma's shed
Morris talks with Bill and Ida.

“I loved her more than I hated her.”

Morris and Marjorie get to spend a lot of quality time together this episode. Morris is pretty much out of his mind at this point, of course. He can’t see the irony in his longing for the normal life he never had with Danielle, as a good husband and a good father, while he rails against John Rothstein leaving his hero, Jimmy Gold, in precisely that type of mundane suburbanite existence. We want to live vicariously through our literary heroes, but we don’t necessarily want to actually be them. Alma enjoyed that ride, but ultimately Morris was desperate to find some normalcy in his screwed up life.

After the credits, the first signs that something is very wrong with this episode begin to leak in. For starters, Bill is cursing like a drunken sailor who has been kicked in the groin a couple of times. I guess we’re supposed to see this as a buildup of his own anger and anxiety, paralleling Morris’ descent into madness, but it just comes off as weird, even for Bill. It’s more like he’s suffering from a bout of Tourrette’s.

The music, “Down by the River” by Neil Young, seems like it is just playing on the radio. But as Bill steps out of the car, you realize it’s actually background music. Then the volume gets cranked up to an 11. This continues for more than a minute during his search of Alma’s trailer, this blaring foreground music that is utterly incongruous with the action on the screen. It’s so painfully overbearing that I physically breathed a sigh of relief when it finally faded out as Bill exited the place. What on earth were they thinking?

This is where continuity errors also start to creep in. As they pull up, Jerome announces that the place looks dark and maybe Alma is in bed. Yet when Bill is inside, it appears that every light is on in the place. Morris cleans up what had to be a bloody mess, with both his and Alma’s injuries, to the degree that Bill sees nothing suspicious. He apparently managed to fit Alma in the freezer with an ease that she could only dream of when she had to stuff tiny little Danielle in there.

Then there’s the question of why Morris would have had Marjorie outside the shed in the first place? Did he have a psychic premonition? Once Bill leaves, they return to the shed for a few more disjointed scenes of his ranting and making phone calls. I guess we’re just not supposed to ask these questions, but it’s all so glaringly wrong. This could have been done much better and much more believably.

Mr Mercedes - Pete looks at the flame of a lighter in his hand
Pete formulates his plan.

“It all leads back to Rothstein, I swear.”

I could go on, but I don’t really want to. All of the scenes with Morris and with Pete are full of frantic pacing and disjointed edits. It may be that this was all intended to give a sense of what the two of them were feeling. They both do an obnoxious amount of posturing and threatening while waving guns around, both on the phone and eventually in person. Ultimately, it’s not until mom gets ahold of the gun that a shot is finally fired.

The idea that the writers seemed to be driving at was that Rothstein was a toxic influence, on both Bill and Morris. Bill even tries to make an awkward connection with Morris, saying they were both “fucked over” at a young age by Rothstein’s legitimization of their rage. It’s weird and a bit clunky. Bill eventually has his “there but for the grace of God” moment as he watches Bellamy die.

After all, the real deal here is that they had an end scene in mind, Morris Bellamy trying desperately to read the burning notebooks as he too is burned alive. It is a powerful image, lifted directly from the pages of the original novel. I wasn’t sure they were going to go there until the title of Episode 10 was released, and then it was pretty clear where they were headed.

Mr Mercedes - Bill and Allie sit out in the back yard looking on as Fred the tortoise eats
Bill and Allie watch over Fred the tortoise.

“I’m not going nowhere.”

The last-minute introduction of Allie back into the story was definitely a surprise. She’s a bit of a McGuffin here, crammed in at the last second to give Bill a happy ending. Although to be fair, she has popped up over the phone and in dreams a couple of times this season. If I’m really generous, I guess I can see where this plays against the idea of legacy that Rothstein had been pounding on Bill about all season. Now Bill does have a legacy to look forward to, as Grandpa Hodges.

“Yeah, I’ll do my best. I’ll do better,” are Bill’s final words.

Holly hands the “family heirloom” back over to Allie, relinquishing her role as Bill’s surrogate daughter. All grown up now, she finally goes on that date with Roland. Yay. And they’re going for pancakes, of course. Beyond the sleuthing and his crackpot idea that Bill drive the Mercedes, Jerome gets forgotten. Will he go back to Harvard? Will he stay on with Finders Keepers? We’ll never know.

Pete and his family hug it out after the fire and that’s it for them too. If it helps, as I recall from the novel, Pete gets a book or movie deal to recreate what he remembers of the now lost Jimmy Gold novels, avoiding jail and allowing him to pay back the stolen money. Even if I’m remembering that wrong, that’s what I’m going to go with.

Mr Mercedes - Bill and Jerome look at the Mercedes painted yellow parked in front of Bill's SUV
The Mercedes with a fresh coat of paint.

“I don’t have to be a hooker!”

Chekhov’s Mercedes did not go off as I predicted last time. Instead, we are left wondering whether or not Lou was ever really crazy after all. Well, she’s seeing a shrink now, and taking some good advice. Though I’d guess that her shrink doesn’t know the reality of her new “catering” job.

There were a couple of nice callbacks there, with the electronics store and the kids playing hockey. Once again, the writers had a scene in mind that they wanted to get to, though they executed this one much better. I certainly didn’t see that coming. Ultimately though, it does come off as more of a punchline to a bad joke than a natural progression for her character.

Mr Mercedes - An ice cream truck is parked on a street, a crowd of kids at the window
Lou’s new “catering truck” job.

Quick Takes

A couple of quick takes on the rest of the episode:

  • I never noticed this before, but Bill has a painting of a covered bridge on the mantle of his fireplace. This may be a stretch, but I wonder if that’s a nod to NOS4A2, another Stephen King adjacent TV show, based on the book written by his son, Joe Hill. (Good show BTW, I recommend it.)
  • The scenes of Bill racing around Bridgton, making a tire squealing U-turn with traffic honking at him, were so painful to watch. They invoked the ridiculous car chasing sequences with Mulder in the latest season of The X-Files.
  • They get Marjorie Sauber’s phone number from the dad’s phone, and through that end up tracing Morris’ location. Why on Earth did they not do the same with Peter’s phone? I guess we’re not supposed to notice that. I also highly doubt it’s possible to get the IMEI number just from having someone’s cell phone number, but we’ll ignore that too.
  • Wouldn’t you have tried to flip to the end of the book? I know I would have.

The best lines of this episode:

  • “Who died and left you Dr. Phil?”
  • “It’s time to start scaring people.”
  • “I mean, you’re driving his car.” “To take the power away.” “Totally.”
  • “No judge is going to issue me a warrant based on your trailer park treasure map that you drew here.”
  • “You could make a booth for me up there. I’m a freak show. People love a freak show.”
  • “I wanted a dog, or a pet rock, and I think you split the difference.”
  • “What the fuck is this, This Is Your Life?”
  • “Oh, you know, ever the romantic, our Kermit.”

Mr. Mercedes in the News

So naturally, what I was hoping for, here in this final recap for the season, was news about whether or not there would be another season. No such luck yet. Best I can do for you is dig up a quote from this summer, from an interview for /Film this summer in which director Jack Bender had said, “At this point there is just talk about if there were to be a fourth season, what would it be? So, you know creative wheels are spinning in various heads of ours, but nothing official has been decided.”

That said, I’ve made no secret of my firm belief that this is going to be it for Mr. Mercedes, and I’d say the finale here seems to line up with that belief. The news this week would also seem to confirm this, as more information rolls in on follow-on projects for some of our Mr. Mercedes actors:

  • Breeda Wool (Lou Linklatter) will be in Collection, a drama “set in the seedy world of high-stakes debt collecting and follows a grieving father who struggles to shed the tragedies of his past.” (Deadline, November 15)
  • Tom Lesinski (producer) and Jenna Santoianni (producer) are executive producing Hunters, a drama about a “group of justice-seeking individuals dedicated to rooting out the Nazi murderers living in the U.S. under assumed identities.” (Bleeding Cool News, November 15)
  • Brendan Gleeson (Bill Hodges) is in talks to join the Coen brother’s Macbeth, to potentially play King Duncan opposite Denzel Washington in the lead role. (Jo Blo, November 13)

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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  1. I got a chuckle that the sign for “Cougar Street” was so prominently shown, seeing as how both Alma Lane and Ida Silver, to a lesser degree, are both cougars.

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