Brady re-emerges from hiding for one final gambit
And here we are at the final climax — the big event. Funnily enough, every character pursuing the Mercedes killer thinks their task is already done.
Every character except Bill Hodges, of course. If his own paranoia weren’t enough already, Bill opens this episode with a nightmare in which Brady is still alive and well as the ice cream man, threatening not only Jerome and Holly but also Allie and Ida. In the real world, Bill asks Pete if he thinks Brady is really dead. Pete replies in the affirmative, even though the police found a tiny door in the basement where Brady could have easily escaped. Plus, they couldn’t find any dental records for Brady, preventing a positive identification of the male corpse.
Thankfully, it doesn’t take them too long to piece things together. Once Josh gets sufficiently enraged at Frobisher’s prolonged absence from work, he and the detectives break into the late manager’s apartment. Thanks to some ultraviolet scanning, Izzy spots the marks of blood on the wall. After Pete inquires with Josh about Frobisher’s height relative to Brady’s (6 feet vs. 5 feet 8 inches or so), he puts in a call to the coroner and finds out that, yes, the male corpse discovered in the apartment was just over six feet tall. The game is back on.
As the police see it, there are two possible targets for Brady’s final attack. He’s either going to hit the grand opening of the Edmund Mills Art Center (where we saw Lou painting a mural with her girlfriend last week) or the career fair at the Roseland Ballroom. Since the Mercedes killings were targeted at a job fair, the police think Roseland more likely and center their plans there. But Bill isn’t so sure.
Brady, of course, is alive and (relatively) well. Once again, he happens to be blasting some awesome music, even as he builds a bomb to smuggle in a wheelchair and shaves his head for a disguise. His taste in music is one of the few relatable things about him, and funnily enough will end up being a large part of this finale.
Bill rushes around, calling everyone he knows (Jerome, Holly, Ida) to stay away from the celebration at the new art center. Unfortunately he doesn’t call Lou, who ends up being the first one to run into Brady – on her way out of the Port-a-Potty, no less. Freshly changed into his wheelchair disguise, Brady has no regard for Lou’s efforts to cover for him last week; he jumps at her, covers her mouth, and viciously stabs her in the stomach. (Recap continues on page 2)
Fortunately, he didn’t actually kill Lou, and she screams for help loud enough for Bill to hear. He calls her a medic, and in exchange she tells him that Brady has shaved his head. Luckily, Bill was also able to get in touch with Holly (despite her turning her phone off for several minutes) and she’s able to pass on the warning to Jerome, the guest of honor at the celebration. As Brady makes his way toward the front of the crowd, detonator in hand, Bill pulls out his gun and tells everyone to get down. They do, leaving Bill and Brady as the only two left standing.
The two men face each other down: Bill vs. Brady, gun vs. detonator, cop vs. serial killer. Bill is afraid to shoot Brady, lest he explode the detonator, and so the task of stopping him falls to someone else. Holly wasn’t kidding when she said that dog statue was good luck — thank god she had it in her bag. Without Brady noticing, she sneaks up behind him and starts beating him over the head with it. Eventually, he even drops the detonator, and Jerome is able to safely secure it as everyone’s nightmare monster is finally beaten into submission. Bill, for his part, happens to suffer a heart attack at the absolute worst time, and he and Brady fall into unconsciousness together.
When Bill wakes up in the hospital, we get a montage of where everyone else has ended up. Josh, hilariously, is now forced to don Frobisher’s old uniform as the thankless manager of the electronics store rather than its ruthless capitalist overlord; Jerome prepares to make the drive to Harvard and the better future his dad wanted for him; and Allie is finally out of her rehab, though she isn’t sure where to go next.
Of course, there’s one last person Bill needs to check in on. Before he leaves, he visits Brady’s room one last time. The doctor there informs him that Brady will probably never wake again. Bill knows better, though, and gets close to whisper to Brady’s comatose form that if he ever does decide to come back, his old enemy will be waiting for him. The episode ends with a close-up of Brady’s face, with a glitch-y Pixies song playing to suggest his jumbled brain. But then, the record rights itself, and the song starts playing completely — Brady’s not quite dead.
I’m not sure how I feel about this finale. It reminds me of how season 1 of Fargo ultimately deprived us of a climactic confrontation between Allison Tolman and Billy Bob Thornton, just as Mr. Mercedes denied us a real cathartic fight between Bill and Brady. Then and now, I don’t think the reasoning behind denying viewers such a scene is worth losing that beat — especially since the show took so long in finally getting us there. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this show, particularly its thoughtfulness about life in our modern post-recession hellscape, and the ways that can exaggerate the worst qualities among us.