Some artists become so iconic for a style, that you can forget their talented works in other fields. Stephen King is one of those, who is known for his varied horror chops, that when you hear a film or show is based off his work you expect to know what you’re in for. With Mr. Mercedes, I was wrong.
Mr. Mercedes is a crime thriller which follows a retired cop as he tries to track down a mass killer. There are no supernatural horror elements here, no terrifying clowns, no creepy twins, and no telekinetic angsty teens.
Instead the show horrifies you with the depravity of humanity.
Note: The next two paragraphs will have light spoilers for the premise of the show. Skip it if you want to witness the show at its best, blind.
The show opens with a bunch of poor people, waiting overnight in a long and cold queue, for the opening of a job fair the next day. It uses some intimate human scenes to make you feel sorry for these poor souls, right before someone runs them down in a Mercedes. He is labelled by the police as the Mercedes killer, and they never manage to find him.
The show is set years later, after the retirement of Bill Hodges, who was the inspector that vowed to catch Brady, the killer. Brady gets in contact with Hodges to taunt him about his failure to catch him, using software that allows videos to be played, but disappear. This means that Hodges can’t show them to anyone else. You can guess for the most part where the show goes from here.
The show doesn’t try to hide the killer, in a who did it kind of way. Instead it shows from the outset who the killer is, giving Brady nearly as much screen time as Hodges. This shows the viewer the cat and mouse game being played from both sides, instead of leaving you trying to unfold it as it goes along.
There are still mysteries that unfold as Hodges discovers them. You see how Brady is doing things, but you always know that Brady is doing things when he is doing them. This is valuable as it lets you get insight into his mind, and more importantly develop as a character, albeit a character you never want to meet.
In fact, the viewers ride with Brady swings around in circles regularly. The show will spend half an episode showing some horrible thing that Brady is dealing with or has dealt with that has you feeling sorry for him. Then it will flip the tables as Brady does some horrible stuff, that immediately yanks those feelings away from you. It does it so well that even now, looking back, I’m still stuck between the duality of these traits and not sure whether I feel sorry for him or hate him.
The show doesn’t feel as much like a show, as a long movie. Episodes rarely leave on a major cliff hanger in the traditional TV style, which works for the tone of the show. Instead of wasting time or emotion, giving you a reason to come back, it stops at a reasonable point, more so you can have a break.
Mr. Mercedes is a well-crafted show that is well worth your time. With 10 episodes, it’s not a huge commitment, but thanks to excellent acting, and an excellent story, it’s hard not to recommend.
Mr. Mercedes Season One is available now on Lightbox