‘Mr. Mercedes’ Season 1 premiere recap: ‘Pilot’


Stephen King has a brand new television series based on his novel Mr. Mercedes.

The pilot episode of this Audience original series is produced by David E. Kelley (L.A. Law) and stars Brendan Gleeson and Harry Treadaway as a retired police officer and a serial killer who escaped justice who end up embroiled in a game of cat and mouse. Here is a look at what happened on the series premiere of Mr. Mercedes.

The Mass Murder

The entire premise of Mr. Mercedes, which is based on the first book in Stephen King’s Bill Hodges trilogy, involves a man who drives through a mass group of people, killing many of them, before escaping. Bill Hodges was the detective leading the investigation but never found who the killer was.

The Mr. Mercedes pilot episode starts out exactly where the book started and includes an almost identical setup with almost no changes. A job fair is being held and people are lining up the night before to get in early. With the recession in full force, many people need a job and the two characters we meet here are a young man who gets in line behind a woman who is holding her two-month old baby.

There are a lot of interesting things to note here – specifically the distaste that others seeking jobs have for the young woman to bring her baby out in the cold to try to get a job herself. However, everything goes to hell when a Mercedes pulls up and shines its light on the crowd. The car then launches into the crowd and kills 16 of the job hunters, while injuring many more. Included in the deaths were the young man as well as the woman and her baby.

This is the exact point where many people will turn off the episode and never return. It is horrific and relentless and there is a shot of exploding body parts as the car plows over the woman and her baby. It is one of the most disturbing things I have seen on TV in a long time. Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) and his partner Peter Dixon (Scott Lawrence, JAG) show up and look at the scene in horror.

Photo by AT&T Audience

Bill Hodges

The show moves ahead two years later when Bill Hodges is retired from the police force. He has gained a lot of weight, is drinking too much, has a problem urinating, and is really lost without knowing what he is supposed to do after retirement. Peter tries to keep contact and remain friends but Bill is not very outgoing anymore and is having nightmares and day terrors, mostly due to the fact that he never caught the killer and the visions of the victims still haunt him.

That is made worse when Bill gets an email from the killer, who uses the smiley face sticker that was found on the steering wheel of the Mercedes and a clown mask, which is what the killer wore when he went on the rampage. That information was never given out to the public and Bill realizes right away that this is the killer, who is mocking him for not catching him. The video immediately disappears from the computer and later Bill gets another message, this one by clicking on a smiley face link when searching for information on the local newspaper website.

Bill talks to Peter about the old case but never tells him about the videos. He learns that the woman who owned the stolen Mercedes committed suicide by blaming herself. Peter then tells him to leave it alone and admits they will likely never know who the killer was.

Bill ignores the advice and hires a neighborhood kid named Jerome to try to figure out what happened with the computer. Bill then decides to buy a security system and install it around his home.

On a side note, Bill also has a neighbor named Ida (Holland Taylor, Two and a Half Men) who offers herself up to Bill as a sex partner, even showing him a naked photo of herself to show how great she looks naked. It seemed a very strange moment but makes a little more sense as we learn a little about the antagonist – Brady Hatsfield.

Photo by AT&T Audience

Brady Hatsfield

Since this is a thriller and not a mystery, we immediately know who the killer is. It is a young computer genius named Brady who works at a computer store that is a smaller version of a Best Buy type store. He works both in the store and as a sort of Geek Squad person, who goes to people’s homes to help fix their computers. We get to know Brady a little bit in this episode.

He seems to have just one friend, a lesbian he works with at the store, and both of them are outcasts. This is told to us by the store manager, who tells them that he hired them because he wants to give back to the needy and outcasts of the town. He also tells Brady at one point that he is a mentor and Brady should take advantage of that because he has no dad and his mother is an alcoholic.

Speaking of his mother, Kelly Lynch (Cocktail) plays his mom Deborah and it is clear that Mr. Mercedes is planting Brady right in the middle of a White Trash situation. While Bill has an older neighbor making a play for sex, Brady gets the same sort of offer from his own mother. In a very awkward situation, Deborah asks him to sit by her and gushes over her son, telling him how good looking he is. When she asks for a kiss on the cheek, she turns her face and gives him a big kiss with tongue and then gropes his crotch.

To Brady’s credit, he pulls away and goes to the basement, which he keeps locked up tight. After masturbating on the stairs, he heads downstairs and we see the huge computer setup where he is making the videos that he is tormenting Bill Hodges with.

When the episode ends, Bill is having Jerome help set up the security cameras around his yard when the ice cream truck pulls up. As the kids in the neighborhood and Jerome head over to get ice cream, Bill finds a tennis ball in his hedges. He pulls it out and finds the smiley face painted on it. As he looks around in a panic, we see the ice cream truck driver is Brady Hatsfield, who looks at Bill with a dark smile.