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AT&T AUDIENCE Season 2 MR. MERCEDES Q&A w/ Breeda Wool, Holland Taylor, Jack Bender; Episode Guide

Mike Vicic - September 5, 2018




On Wednesday, August 22, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT, AT&T AUDIENCE premieres the second season of MR. MERCEDES. The new season takes place a year after Brady Hartsfield's (Harry Treadaway) thwarted attempt to perpetrate a second mass murder in the community of Bridgton, Ohio. Since the incident, Hartsfield has been hospitalized in a vegetative state. Retired Detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) has done his best to move on from his Brady obsession, teaming up with Holly Gibney (Justine Lupe) to open Finders Keepers, a private investigative agency. But when unexplainable occurrences begin to affect hospital staff members attending to Brady, the feeling that Brady is somehow responsible haunts Hodges. The series also stars Holland Taylor, Breeda Wool, Jharrel Jerome, Robert Stanton, Kelly Lynch, and Pete Dixon. New cast members include Nancy Travis as Donna Hodges; Jack Huston as Dr. Felix, Brady Hartsfield's doctor; Tessa Ferrer as Dr. Babineau's wife, Cora Babineau; and Maximiliano Hernandez as Assistant DA Antonio Montez.



This summer at the Television Critics Association (TCA) Summer Press Tour, AT&T's Audience Network presented a panel that included cast members Breeda Wool, Holland Taylor, and Executive Producer/Director Jack Bender. Here are a few highlights (edited for clarity and readability) from that panel.


From left to right, Executive Producer/Director Jack Bender, Holland Taylor, Breeda Wooland

at the Television Critics Association (TCA) Summer Press Tour in July 2018.


Harry Treadaway as Brady Hartsfield (left) and Brendan Gleeson as Det. Bill Hodges (right).

Question: The dream sequence -- where Brady is dancing at the cemetery -- was that a way for you to give Harry something he could perform while Brady is in the vegetative state?

Jack Bender: The answer is yes. Part of the challenge of the season was how to keep Brady active, how to keep he and Hodges challenging each other, and not just lying in a hospital bed. That definitely was part of the challenge of the season. The way Harry and I work together is spontaneous. Some of it's written, some of it isn't. That dream was an invention and grew as we did it. I'm a painter, so when stuff happens I didn't anticipate, I love that. And with actors when they surprise you and do stuff – one of those elements is letting the life happen around you and not needing to control it.

Breeda Wool: I think it's very interesting because in Season 2, who is survived by Brady? It's me and Hodges and we're sort of the last remnants of people that knew him in his waking state and are aware of the potential for the insidiousness and then while he's lying there, what's latent in that bed? Everybody in our town knows but that intimacy is only shared by Hodges, who never actually met him in-person and then me, who knew him as the nice fella who fixes your computer at the Brain Buds station.

Holland Taylor: I think that dream sequence was wonderful for the Bill Hodges character. In a way, it's the solution of the novelistic nature of this piece – the omniscient author exploring what's happening in the inner recesses of a mind of a man in a coma. That novelistic device, they've taken it into the visual world. When you see Brady in his lair, you seem him acting out his thoughts while he's lying in the coma.

Jack Bender at TCA Summer Press Tour.

Question: Was it clear that you were going to have to effectively skip Finders Keepers because it's not a story that includes Brady?

Jack Bender: Not only that but Bill and other main characters don't come into the book until page 250, which was problematic. We made a number of decisions to bring up "End of Watch," the third book in the trilogy, and mesh them enough so that we could keep the focus of the show on Brady. This show will never be Finders Keepers detective agency where a different case comes through the door. That's not the show we're going to do. And I think Finders Keepers serves its purpose showing the continuation of Bill and Holly's relationship.

 Holland Taylor as Ida Silver drinks tea with Brendan Gleeson as Det. Bill Hodges.

Question: The first book is notable as one of Stephen King's supernatural-free books and then suddenly you get to the third book and here comes the supernatural. What was your reaction to having to bring that up?

Jack Bender: I'm always interested in it. But one of the challenges this season was how do we keep the show focused on character? How do we keep it a character-rich show and still walk that tightrope which takes us more into what you called supernatural but I'll call Stephen Kingdom. I think we pulled it off in Season 2 because we kept it grounded in character. It was through the brilliance of these performances that I was able to keep the show grounded enough to walk that fine line. And from the beginning, I always thought these books are about Stephen writing about the monsters inside the characters, not outside in that supernatural world.

Holland Taylor: To work with the actors Jack has assembled, to work with Jack who is a great artist and painter, as well as executive producer and director, was wonderful. The acting experience with Brendan is unlike any I've ever had. He's astonishing. Just to be there with him, drinking tea, is quite enough.

Breeda Wool as Lou Linklatter.

Question: What were some Lou moments from the book you were eager to portray? Were there things you got to do that aren't in the book?

Breeda Wool: I started reading the series and by page 50 I got the first script for season 1. It was like having a parallel dream occurring at the same time. It was like this prism of each other – it's like that thing where you go in and there's just one detail that's different? But I chose the TV show, I was like, "I'm making a TV series, I'm just going to go with that story." So I haven't gone back and read the books, because I wanted to expand Lou in my own imagination.

Jack Bender: Stephen wrote me an e-mail saying, "Some of the stuff you guys do in the show I wish I would have done in the book because I think it's better." Stephen is very generous – as long as you're true to the book in spirit – he's along for the ride.

Justine Lupe as Holly Gibney.

Question: Can you talk more about the Holly character and her being OCD? [played by Justine Lupe]

Jack Bender: Justine Lupe does a brilliant job. I saw her at audition and went, "That's the woman." That kind of eccentricity and challenge is something I find and David Kelley [Creator] finds fascinating. Every one of these characters has challenges, they're all living and struggling in their own lives. Holly's challenges are a little more on the outside. At one point this season a character asks Holly, "How weird are you?" Justine does a great job not going over the edge. Something David Kelley writes brilliantly is that alchemy of complexity and hurt and humanity with injections of humor. And Holly is an example of that.

Breeda Wool: I think one of my favorite Holly moments in Season 1 is her jibber-jabber experience, when she talks about being bullied as a kid and the moment in her life when she becomes other – and I felt like it was this mirror of me and Brady in the story, as well, and Hodges and everybody where that fracture forms between you and your community. It was this beautiful Holly moment that reflects on everyone. That moment where you're fractured from your community and making your way back.

 Brendan Gleeson as Det. Bill Hodges and Holland Taylor as Ida Silver.

Question: Can you talk about the role Bill and Ida play in each other's lives and how that changes in Season 2?

Holland Taylor: Through the book the reader dives deep into a world with a multitude of information and rich descriptions that translated to the visual world become very stark. The starkness and the darkness of that first season, I think Bill needed to have some human being who was dependable and sane. No matter how small the contact was. That is the function Ida has provided and in the beginning it was very funny and provocative and seductive in an offhand kind of way. And that kind of sparring and feistiness continues on. But she remains a safe haven for him and he is a safe haven for her. And they get to a point in the second season where they are more content to be in each other's company, sharing whatever they want to share for that day. There's a plot thing that takes Ida out a little bit, you see her relate with students much the same way she would relate with Bill. She's aggressive, she says what she thinks, she doesn't sugarcoat anything. She pushes Bill. But we're at a place where they can have a cup of tea and fall into silence and just enjoy the evening breezes together. And I don't think he has any romantic interest, really, except that it is a love. It is a love.

Jack Bender: The show really does examine people at a certain point in their lives having real relationships that have dimension, and romance, and various things. I think we all work really hard to make that real. And Hodges' wife Donna comes back in the picture. We steered it away from any kind of catty, competitive, or jealous thing and we're just going to show real relationships that are hopefully entertaining and compelling.

Holland Taylor at TCA Summer Press Tour.

Question: Holland, you have played a lot of really fun, unfettered characters over the years. Does that come naturally to you?

Holland Taylor: I would like to be and so I get paid to do it. I don't take a lot of chances in ways that I wish I would. And I certainly am not aggressive. I don't push back in ways that my characters do. I'm not in their faces the same way. But I must say it's a pleasure.


If you want to know nothing about the episodes at all, skip this section. Provided by AT&T Audience Network, this episode guide includes general episode descriptions and specific plot details.

"Missed You" (Episode 201)
Wednesday, August 22, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
With Brady hospitalized, Hodges and Holly rebuild, opening private investigative agency Finders Keepers. Brady's care falls to Dr. Babineau, an ambitious neurosurgeon, with input from his brilliant wife, Cora.

"Let's Go Roaming" (Episode 202)
Wednesday, August 29, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
Hodges struggles with his cases at Finders Keepers, putting him at odds with a concerned Holly. Sadie senses a shift in Brady's medical state and informs Dr. Babineau. Jerome arrives home from Harvard for the summer.

"You Can Go Home Now" (Episode 203)
Wednesday, September 5, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
Brady welcomes a visitor from his past. Sensing Holly's growing frustration, Hodges includes her in his unofficial investigation. Cora continues to apply pressure to Babineau.

"Motherboard" (Episode 204)
Wednesday, September 12, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
Hodges is rattled by the death of a hospital staff member. Jerome offers help in Hodges's quest to uncover the truth. Brady works to master the limitations of his newfound ability. Already struggling to cope, Lou suffers additional setbacks.

"Andale" (Episode 205)
Wednesday, September 19, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
Eager to prosecute Brady, Montez turns up the heat on Dr. Babineau. Holly feels betrayed when Hodges' meddling threatens the future of Finders Keepers. When violence hits close to home, Montez seeks help from Hodges.

"Proximity" (Episode 206)
Wednesday, September 26, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
When a visit from Lou elicits an unprecedented response from Brady, Dr. Babineau pushes him to communicate; Holly begins to come around to Hodges' thinking about Brady; armed with new intel, Hodges reaches out to Babineau and Cora.

"Fell on Black Days" (Episode 207)
Wednesday, October 3, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
Hodges and Donna look toward a new future. Jerome contemplates his place in the world. Under pressure from Cora and Vitalta, Babineau performs brain surgery on Brady. Montez and Hodges effort to get Brady transferred out of Mercy General.

"Nobody Puts Brady in a Crestmore" (Episode 208)
Wednesday, October 10, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
After Hodges suffers an attack, Ida, Holly, and Jerome rally around him, but Donna is reminded of her deepest fears. As support of Babineau's treatment methods dwindle, Babineau goes over Montez's head.

"Walk Like a Man" (Episode 209)
Wednesday, October 17, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
Babineau divulges the details of Brady’s treatment, confirming Hodges’ worst fears. As news about Brady spreads, Hodges faces intense scrutiny, and Babineau and Cora find themselves in jeopardy.

"Fade to Blue" (Episode 210)
Wednesday, October 24, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT
As the community reels from recent news about Brady, the Mercedes Killer's future lands in the hands of the few people who have survived him.