“Proximity” was another great episode of Mr Mercedes, as the extent of Brady’s potential became more obvious and Bill strengthened his resolve.
There are creepy opening scenes, and then there are really creepy opening scenes like the one that opened “Proximity”, in which Bill (Brendan Gleeson) was awoken by Brady (Harry Treadaway), who had tied a length of twine around his dick and was threatening to pull it off. Stephen King’s influence isn’t always felt in Mr Mercedes, but sometimes it very much is.
It was a dream, obviously. Or was it? At the very least it was born of Bill’s anxieties about the case; about how much terror Brady can still potentially unleash, despite his vegetative state, and how disheartening it is that there are still those close to him – most particularly his neighbour, Ida (Holland Taylor) – who think he’s going nuts.
That doubt bothers Bill so much that in “Proximity” he considers receiving psychological help “by public fucking demand”, but it swiftly becomes apparent that he’s on to something. When Lou (Breeda Wool) visits Brady in hospital to taunt him, he gets so wound up that he starts typing on his new thought-to-text gizmo, thus giving the game away to Dr. Felix Babineau (Jack Huston) and thus Bill’s spy in the hospital, Nurse Maggie Wilmer (Tammy Arnold).
In the meantime, Bill is occupied with the task of figuring out who shanked Antonio Montez’s (Maximiliano Hernandez) pooch so that the DA doesn’t revoke his private investigator license; an investigation that leads him from Lou (Wool shows again in “Proximity” why she’s the show’s acting MVP) to poor, simpleminded Al (Mike Starr), who has no recollection of the period in which Brady had control of him. He does, though, have blood in his car, which Bill is easily able to swab and which Holly (Justine Lupe) confirms to be canine. He’s promptly arrested after various bits of incriminating evidence are found in his car and home, including bloody gloves and a butcher’s knife. Oops.
Bill, though, and on some level Montez, knows that isn’t the end of it. Al, like Sadie, hardly seemed the type, and what connects the two of them? Brady. A fun scene in which an MRI scan triggered an earthquake in his mind basement revealed the extent of Brady’s brain function to Felix, who reported as much to Cora (Tessa Ferrer). You can tell who’s the more desperate (and potentially dangerous) of the two. Eager to turn a major profit on the new experimental brain-repairing drug that she convinced Felix to administer, Cora even goes to meet Brady personally. He, perhaps unsurprisingly, licks her face through one of his monitors. Proximity, indeed.
Thanks to Jerome (Jharrel Jerome), who wants to abandon the “fake” world of Harvard for the “real” world of truth, justice and mind-controlling comatose serial killers, Bill is wise to what Felix and Cora are up to. He visits them both and offers his services in waking Brady up – which, out of panic, mostly, they refuse. But it does prompt an argument between the two in which Cora reveals that the miracle drug was secretly tested on humans and suggested the potential of mind control – a detail which she conveniently kept from Felix while convincing him to dose the local mass murderer with it.
Turns out that Bill doesn’t actually need these two to get access to Brady; Montez secures him a visit instead. And he gets his wish. Regaling Brady with stories of how much he inadvertently improved – nay, saved – Bill’s life gets him riled up enough to send Bill a cliffhanger text message, ending “Proximity” with the promise that Bill and Brady are going to be getting a lot closer very soon.