While last week’s premiere introduced us to the pieces in this game between retired detective Bill Hodges and Mercedes-driving serial killer Brady Hartsfield, this second episode mostly focuses on nudging those pieces further down the board.
To start off, Brady has sent Hodges a new video. This one features the mom we met at the beginning of the series who brought her baby to that doomed job fair only to be run over by Brady. Somehow, her killer has found footage of her from when she was at home playing with her baby — but he then freeze-framed and Photoshopped blood onto her eyes as a reminder of her tragic fate. Hodges can’t stop thinking about this case, even when he’s sober in daylight; messages like this really rattle him. Tonight is no different. When he hears a rustling sound, he rushes outside — but instead of Mr. Mercedes, he finds himself pointing a gun at a neighborhood kid lying in the grass with a broken arm.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that being caught drunkenly pointing a gun at a kid is not a good look. Luckily, Ida comes by to help give Hodges cover. She gives him both breath-freshener and a cover story (that she brought him whiskey to calm his nerves, not that he was drinking it as part of an ongoing mind game with a serial killer). Unfortunately, even after she helps clear Hodges, he’s still haunted by the video he saw.
After that, we check in with Brain Buds. Brady’s coworker Lou (Breeda Wool) once again ends up pissing off a customer when said customer takes issue with what he calls her “lifestyle” (guessing he’s not talking about her red hair). Brady arrives just in time to hear her getting chewed out by their boss, Frobisher (Robert Stanton), which produces one of the best lines of the episode: “Don’t you ever find her funny?” When Lou and Brady apologize, Frobisher unleashes another golden line: “I have a compass for contrition, and you are not sorry.” He promises they’ll talk more during their lunch break.
Speaking of lunch breaks, Hodges spends his morning at the police station, where he meets up with Peter only to get yelled at about the other night’s incident. Like Ida before him, Peter tells Hodges to find some goal to keep him going in old age — but he should not let it be this case, which clearly isn’t a healthy fixation. This is important to Peter — if Hodges fades away and dies like Ida’s husband, he’d have to be a pallbearer, and “you’re too f—ing fat to carry.”
At the same time, Brady also struggles to protect his secrets from the people around him. While painting a canvas with blood in his workshop (presumably for his next horrific message to Hodges) his mother starts banging on the door, demanding to see what he’s working on. He holds her off for now.
While thinking over the case and his investigation, Hodges remembers an interview he and Peter conducted with Olivia Trelawney, the woman who owned the Mercedes Brady used in his attack. It clearly was not their first interview, because Olivia was upset they were still talking to her at that point. She emphasized that she did not leave her key in the car and expressed anger that people seem to think she’s somehow responsible for the murders.
Flash-forward to the present, where Hodges is watching the Trelawney house from his car. Olivia herself is gone, however — dead by suicide. As a private security guard informs Hodges, her house passed on to her sister Janey Patterson (Mary-Louise Parker). (Recap continues on page 2)
The series premiere was full of references to contemporary socio-political realities in the wake of the Great Recession, and we get more of those this week during Frobisher’s lunchtime meeting with Brady and Lou. He informs them of the dangers automation and digitization pose to their hardware repair business — but, of course, his main concern is his workers’ attitudes. As Lou points out, Brady is so talented at repairs that customers specifically request his services — but that’s not enough for Frobisher, who thinks those customers are still put off by Brady’s attitude. For my money, it’s unwise to keep belittling a dangerously intelligent serial killer, but we’ll see how it works out for Frobisher.
After giving Ida a Portuguese donut to thank her for her help the other night, Hodges checks his mail and finds a physical letter from Brady for once. Emblazoned with the killer’s trademark smiley face, the letter taunts Hodges by mentioning the high suicide rate of retired cops. Jerome clearly doesn’t know what he’s getting into when he walks in a few minutes later — especially since Brady gave Hodges a username for a messenger site that references Hodges’ original Irish name, Kermit. Hodges warns Jerome to stay away for the time being since the killer apparently knows his address — he’s determined to face his foe alone.
But maybe he doesn’t have to. After setting up a meeting with Janey Patterson, Hodges finds her sympathetic to his obsession with solving the case. She even understands the creepy messages he’s been getting from the killer. Apparently her sister got them too, and Janey believes Brady’s taunts were a major factor in driving Olivia to suicide. She wants to catch the bastard, too, and she agrees to let Hodges speak to her mother. Hopefully.
Meanwhile, Brady comes up with something to show his mom: a remote that he calls “Thing B.” It can supposedly control any machine — garage doors, stoplights, even bombs. He doesn’t demonstrate its power, so maybe it’s all a fib for his alcoholic mother, but we’ve certainly seen his tech genius in action. Shortly after this exchange, Brady uses it to detonate Frobisher’s laptop in his face while the boss is watching porn in the office after hours. When he arrives to see his boss being taken away in an ambulance, Brady notes, “And we’re the ones who are ‘off’?”
There’s only one enemy Brady really seems to care about, however, and the episode ends with the two of them finally establishing a connection. Hodges logs on to the site Brady gave him and writes, “I’m here F—head. Let’s play.” So far, Brady has been content to taunt Hodges in one-way messages. Let’s see how they fare going face to face.