“Andale” was a very solid episode of Mr Mercedes, and saw the show supporting the supernatural twist of season 2 with thoughtfulness and patience.
The conversation early in “Andale” between Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) and Jerome (Jharrel Jerome) might have been the best of Mr Mercedes’ second season so far. It was a masterclass of sweary Irishman frustration, but it also revealed something telling about Bill’s character, and why the show is so intimately tied to him and Brady (Harry Treadaway), who, moments before, and still puppeteering Al (Mike Starr), had been parked outside the house. When Jerome asks if Bill’s possession theory is just a way to extend the case, to give him a sense of purpose rather than idle in retirement, Bill says that he has no desire for “a serial killing ice cream fuck to crawl out from his vegetative crypt,” which is a beautiful line, but also probably untrue.
On the one hand, Brady is still very much a threat, and according to Dr. Felix Babineau (Jack Huston), he’s barely even in a coma anymore – medically speaking, he’s close to conscious, and if Felix’s conversation with Cora (Tessa Ferrer) is anything to go by, it won’t be long until he really is. But on the other hand, and as I suggested in my recap of the fourth episode, Bill quite clearly hadn’t finished with the case even before it became clear that Brady was still in some sense at large.
In the meantime, people around Bill are becoming more and more convinced by his theory. Holly (Justine Lupe) conducts her own investigation by visiting an old man with an interest in mind control. Nurse Maggie Wilmer (Tammy Arnold) informs Bill about Brady’s off-the-charts EKG readings during Sadie’s suicide. DA Antonio Montez (Maximiliano Hernandez) has no choice but to believe Bill after Brady, via Al, visits his home, kills his dog, steals his gun, and daubs a phrase across his patio that nobody else was privy to.
That dog-killing sequence was the best part of “Andale”, mostly because of how it was eerily interspersed with a naked Lou (Breeda Wool) having a minor breakdown in the mirror. The whole thing was phenomenal, in terms of both performance and editing, and it’s the kind of sequence that elevates Mr Mercedes from an above-average detective thriller to a legitimately chilling work of horror, too.
All in all, then, “Andale” was a fine episode – perhaps the best of the season, all things considered. But more interestingly it provided new ideas and themes on which subsequent episodes can build, thus justifying the skipping of Stephen King’s second book in the trilogy and with it the severe shift into new genre territory. Let’s see how far the next episode runs with it.