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This starts with an overnight queue outside a Jobs Fayre. Someone turns up in a mercedes car and a creepy clown mask, and a massacre takes place.
Two years later, Detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson - The Smurfs 2 (2013) ) has retired from the Police. He tries to live a quiet life next door to Ida Silver ( Holland Taylor ). Then the killer sends him a gloating video by email. Well, in the movies a cop can only solve a case when he is either retired or suspended.
Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway - Penny Dreadful ) lives with his mother, Deborah Hartsfield ( Kelly Lynch ), in a very unhealthy relationship. Meanwhile he works two jobs - tech support and ice cream vendor. When does he find the time for his hobbies?
Retired Detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson - The Smurfs 2 (2013) ) confronts an intruder in his back yard. This actually causes Hodges more trouble with the cops, and his ex-partner suspects Hodges might be slightly obsessed.
Hodges digs deeper into the Mr Mercedes case. He meets with Janey Patterson ( Mary-Louise Parker ), whose sister was also targeted by the killer.
Bill Hodges gets shown the taunting letters that Mr Mercedes sent to his previous target. The font matches, and they are pretty certainly from the same person. Bill takes them to his former partner at the local police station, but the department has just caught a completely different serial killer so they are swamped with more urgent work. This leaves Bill to solve the Mr Mercedes cold case by himself.
Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway - Penny Dreadful ) gives us a few flashbacks of his childhood. His mother ( Kelly Lynch ) was hypersexual, which is not a bad thing in itself, but now Brady is a grown man she is sexually inappropriate with him.
Hodges uses the villain's own tactics against him, brilliantly employing psychological warfare by throwing down the gauntlet. Since the Mercedes killer was bound to strike again sooner or later, Hodges is merely pushing the killer's timetable up. Hopefully Mr Mercedes will be sloppy this time, and the cops will actually have some real clues to work with.
Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway - Penny Dreadful ) starts his day by hacking the computer of the homophobic customer from a few episodes ago. Like with PJ Maybe in the Judge Dredd comics, this is clearly a setup for something else. Since the homophobe takes his rage out on Lou Linklater, Brady's best friend at the customer service desk, it seems that Lou might be the indirect target.
Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ) begins to realise exactly how technically proficient Mr Mercedes is. To start with, the cops never realised how the killer managed to steal the car he used five years ago. Now it is pointed out by the tech support kid that the remote-control security fob's signal could be snatched. Worse, Bill discovers that his television can be hacked by his stalker.
The good news is that Bill's relationship with Janey ( Mary Louise Parker ) begins to hot up.
Janey ( Mary Louise Parker ) takes Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ) to see her mother in the old folks home. Somehow the old lady worked out that Bill was the one who leaked her other daughter's sins to the press, so she is less than happy to see him. This might be the Mercedes killer's work, implying he was gathering intel on Hodges long before he openly targeted the detective.
Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway - Penny Dreadful ) gets the offer of a job promotion at work. Well, he is a straight-looking white-passing male - and the boss does not think that an open lesbian like Lou will be accepted by the customers. Yes, last week's homophobe is assumed to be the default in that small town.
Brady tries to talk Hodges into late-night suicide. However, as we have seen in previous episodes Hodges is an expert at playing mind-games with people. Yes, Brady gets a bad taste of his own medicine.
Janey ( Mary Louise Parker ) takes Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ) to see her mother in the hospital. Bill meets her niece, Holly the autistic girl ( Justine Lupe ), and they actually get along quite well.
This is intercut with flashbacks of Bill's own daughter, Allie, five years previously. When Allie got her third DUI arrrest, she wanted Bill and his wife ( Nancy Travis ) to sort the charges out for her. However, she had already been given two second chances.
Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway - Penny Dreadful ) has family problems of his own. His mother ( Kelly Lynch ) has sobered up and gone off to get her old job back. On the way she bumps into an old boyfriend, Chaz.
Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ) helps Janey ( Mary Louise Parker ) to organise her mother's funeral. Holly the autistic girl ( Justine Lupe ) helps out with the investigation.
Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ) helps Holly the autistic girl ( Justine Lupe ) get over what happened to Janey ( Mary Louise Parker ). Maybe the cops will actually take the case seriously now.
Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway - Penny Dreadful ) has his own problems. He still lives with his mother ( Kelly Lynch ), and there is only one thing separating him from Norman Bates in Psycho (1960) .
Detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson - The Smurfs 2 (2013) ) is hospitalised, and gets retired from the police. After his recover he founds a Private Investigation service known as Finders Keepers.
Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway - Penny Dreadful ) is hospitalised with traumatic brain injury. Since it is a small town hospital, the administrator cannot justify keeping him in a single room. Luckily Dr. Bruce Babineau (Jack Huston - Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ) is a world-class neurosurgeon whose wife is an ambitious executive in an International pharmaceutical firm who can source next-generation drugs to help brain tissue regeneration.
Detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson - The Smurfs 2 (2013) ) is now doing car reposessions. Luckily he gets a more exciting case - a drug smuggler who is on the run after jumping bail.
Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway - Penny Dreadful ) feels the medicine kick in. He gets a bit confused, because his mind is not in his own body. However, he is smart enough to pretend he is uneffected.
Detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson - The Smurfs 2 (2013) ) is suspicious of Nurse Sadie. He puts her under surveillance, and puts his admin assistant on the job. Unfortunately the girl is still learning the PI trade.
Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway - Penny Dreadful ) is preoccupied with his younger self. However, he still plans to claim another victim.
Detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson - The Smurfs 2 (2013) ) continues his investigation of Nurse Sadie. The District Attorney has suspicions of his own. But will he help or hinder Hodges?
Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway - Penny Dreadful ) needs a new puppet. His next target will be Hodges.
Lou is still traumatised by Brady's assault on her. She tries to drown her sorrows in the local lesbian bar, and even manages to pull a blonde bimbo. However, when a straight white man starts to talk to her she decides to choose violence over sex. Yes, she needs an outlet for her murderous rage.
Detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson - The Smurfs 2 (2013) ) continues his investigation. The District Attorney wants promotion, and decides to hinder Hodges.
Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway - Penny Dreadful ) has a new puppet. His next target has been selected.
Lou starts working out in the gymn. She does not have much of a role in the main storyline, so she hangs out alone without the other main characters in a tiny little subplot of her own. However, she will play an important role in Season Three. This is just to remind the audience she is still alive.
Lou pays Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway - Penny Dreadful ) a visit in the hospital. He naturally responds, and Dr. Bruce Babineau (Jack Huston - Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ) begins to suspect he is waking up. This leads to more pressure on Mrs Babineau, who has been concealing her knowledge of the botched drug trial in a Chinese prison. Yes, she knew it might cause telepathic possession ... and still gave it to a serial killer!
Dr. Bruce Babineau (Jack Huston - Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ) performs brain surgery on Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway - Penny Dreadful ), for an audience of Chinese executives. Brady's failure to respond is a tip-off that he is faking it, but Babineau plays things close to the chest because he has no proof. He hires Lou, Brady's victim, as an assistant in order to provoke Brady into action.
Brady's proxy gets bailed out of jail. Deliberate killing of a pet is only a ninety day misdemeanour, but burglary is a three year felony. Anyway, the proxy suspects that Brady has been entering his mind. Unfortunately, the added stress leads him to use his electronic game ... the game which inadvertently puts his brain in neutral and allows Brady to take over!
Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway - Penny Dreadful ) is about to be shipped off to a more secure facility.
Detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson - The Smurfs 2 (2013) ) is injured after the events of the previous episode.
Which one will get out of their hospital bed first?
Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway - Penny Dreadful ) has gone walkabout. It is only a matter of time before he starts taking revenge on people he views as his persecutors.
Detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson - The Smurfs 2 (2013) ) interrogates Dr. Bruce Babineau (Jack Huston - Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ), while the DA tries to cover for him. Who will Brady come after first?
Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway - Penny Dreadful ) stands trial, and makes his insanity plea. If the Prosecution cannot prove he is sane and competent, he will eventually walk free.
Detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson - The Smurfs 2 (2013) ) has his ex-wife Doreen ( Nancy Travis ) as a defence attorney. The case is out of his hands, so he should just retire peacefully and let the DA take over.
Lou is the only one who can be trusted as an impartial witness. She must confront Brady, and testify against him in court. The ending is a cliffhanger, and the trial plays a major part of Season Three.
A couple of survivors of the Jobs Fayre massacre decide to burglarise John Rothstein (Bruce Dern - Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019) ) - a local recluse who is a best-selling author. Naturally, the robbery goes badly wrong.
Detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson - The Smurfs 2 (2013) ) is busy preparing for Lou Linklater's defence. Since he was a fan of the writings of the late great Rothstein, he takes it upon himself to take the new case for free.
The surviving robber meets up with Alma ( Kate Mulgrew ), who was the brains of the operation. There have been three deaths so far, and there will be a lot more. All Detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson - The Smurfs 2 (2013) ) will have to do is follow the trail of bodies.
Lou Linklater's defence lawyer does not want to plead diminished responsibility due to mental informity. This is in spite of the fact that not only was she suffering PTSD, but that she is now being haunted by the sound of an ice cream van's chimes.
It turns out that Rothstein's files included a floppy disk with photos of women he slept with. You have to seperate the artist from the art, Hodges says, and lists the flaws of some great Renaissance artists. Maybe one day Cancel Culture will insist that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are renamed so as to not endorse the CIS white male culture-creators.
The robber's girlfriend is suspicious of him, because he is no longer in the mood for sex with her. She gets very nosy, and forgets that an awful lot of money is at stake. There are at least three people who were killed over it. Will she become number four?
Alma ( Kate Mulgrew ) cleans up the mess from the previous episode. She and her henchman close in on their main suspect.
It turns out that the stolen manuscripts were insured for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Team Hodges re-double their efforts.
Lou has a new strategy for her defence attorney to follow. It is so slick, it is like something Brady Hartsfield himself would have come up with.
Hodges is haunted by the ghost of John Rothstein. Or maybe it is just his imagining, because Hodges is a cliched alcoholic Irish ex-cop.
The District Attorney calls Bill Hodges as their first witness.
Pete, the boy who made off with the stolen manuscripts, has problems with his parents. They desperately need money, but are too arrogant to consider accepting the windfall. The father accuses Pete of selling drugs, and shows no understanding of how schools and libraries work..
Alma Lane does some investigating of her own. She also performs an expert disposal of a body.
Hodges has a nightmare again. This time when he wakes up he gets a phone call from his daughter Allie. She claims to be slightly psychic, and
The Defence Attorney calls Holly Gibney as his first witness. This is the first step in his strategy. The next day he calls Lou, the accused woman herself, to speak in her own defence. She is not the most mentally coherent person, since she is haunted by Brady Hartsfield himself.
The robber confronts Pete, the boy who made off with the stolen manuscripts. Unfortunately Pete is unwilling to submit to extortion. Instead he tries to sell the manuscripts via the used books dealer. Of course, the dealer is a glorified fence who will try to rip everyone off.
The defence lawyer and the District Attorney make their closing arguments at Lou's trial. Unfortunately it seems to be an open-and-shut case. The jury's decision is delivered soon after.
The book dealer manages to sell the sample page of the stolen Rothstein manuscript. Of course, he is basically ripping off everyone else. Alma ( Kate Mulgrew ) decides to interrogate the bookseller herself.
Lou gets to breathe fresh air again. She and her lawyer get interviewed on a TV talk show, and she gives off a lot of Brady Hartsfield's political spiel. Yes, she still has him in her head - but since she assumes that his advice was pivotal in the outcome of the trial, she is a lot more willing to listen to him.
Holly the autistic girl decides she is no longer interested in a relationship with the lawyer. Yes, she has a lot on her mind.
Alma ( Kate Mulgrew ) and her henchman have a lot of sex. This is certainly more than Captain Janeway got up to.
Detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson - The Smurfs 2 (2013) ) has worked out who the suspects are. However, he has no proof. Worse, Lou seems to be under the undead influence of Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway - Penny Dreadful ).
The villains hold the boy's mother hostage, in hope of getting the manuscripts back. However, they were going to have a falling-out sooner or later.
The kidnapper wants to negotiate an exchange - the manuscripts for the hostage. Unfortunately he is not exactly calm, and his partner-in-crime is not able to help.
Detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson - The Smurfs 2 (2013) ) discovers his daughter Allie is back in town. She has been having nightmares about him, in a lake of fire. Will he end up as the burning man of the episode's title?
Lou has taken possession of Brady's mercedes. She even wants her old job back.