And so "Jibber-Jabber Chicken Dinner" ends the series with… no bang, and a lot of whimpers.


Now that the series is over, I’d have to say that it suffered from the same problem of a lot of TV and TV adaptations.

First, too many episodes. The series seemed to run out of steam around episode seven. And this episode, #10, definitely was a bit ragged around the edges. Last year’s 11/22/63 ran eight episodes and even that was a little too long. But overall, just about right. The two extra episodes of Mr. Mercedes didn’t do it any favors.

Second, the creative team led by David Kelley decided to change things. When the series follow the book, it was pretty darn interesting. It was basically a battle of wills and taunts between a retired detective and the massacre killer that he never caught. And the first few episodes, they pretty much stuck to that. Brendan Gleeson was a mildly odd casting choice for the character of Bill Hodges. But the show had a fair amount to say about retirement, and post-retirement depression, and thoughts of suicide, and it had Holland Taylor as Ida.


British actor Harry Treadaway as an Ohio killer was also an odd casting choice. But he managed to be about as sympathetic with the homicidal character as you could expect or want a homicidal character to be. We don’t want to like him. But Brady Hartsfield was a sick, twisted individual who wasn’t responsible for what he was. He had a wacko mother, for starters. And that’s probably where the show wavered when they killed Brady’s mother, Deb.

Yes, she dies in the novel. And she dies the same way. But for starters, they switched her death and Janey’s so that Janey dies first. In the novel, it’s more like Brady wants to make Bill suffer the way that he’s suffered by losing a loved one of his own. But in the TV show, it’s more Brady just trying to kill Bill and failing in a manner that isn’t very clear.


Then they got rid of the Happy Slapper from the novel. Not a big change, but that means they had to introduce the bulldog paperweight. Which means that they had to turn Bill’s daughter from a relatively normal woman into a recovering drug addict to explain the bulldog. Even though they never really went anywhere with the whole “Allie is a rehab patient” thing.


Then their worst mistake was having Bill actually be believed. So by the ninth and tenth episodes, he’s more of a passive onlooker to the whole thing. Yeah, it’s arguably a less predictable story because Bill’s former partner doesn’t think he’s nuts. And it makes the partner, Peter, a more likeable character. But… it means Bill doesn’t have much to do at the end. He sits around and watches the police do most of the heavy lifting.


Anyhoo, let’s recap. Brady set his house on fire and put the body of his boss Robi in bed with his dead mother. The fire supposedly destroyed the body so that the police couldn’t identify Brady as the dead man. But when they discover that Robi is dead, they compare heights and realize that the dead man was taller than Brady was. So it couldn’t be Brady. Which means Brady is still alive.

So the police start hunting him down. They confirm that Robi is missing, presumed dead, and find blood stains in his house. So they figure that Brady killed Robi and Robi was the Brady body. Now they have to guess if Brady will target the art gala (changing from a boy band concert in the novel), or a job fair. Even though the police captain says that they’ll cover both, there’s no police at the art gala. Bill figures that Brady will strike there because Jerome (okay) and Holly (huh?) and Ida and Allie (double huh?) will be there and Brady wants to kill Bill’s loved ones. Because of a prophetic nightmare that Bill had.


And yes, they start the episode with one of those “It’s a nightmare and then he wakes up” sequences. Sigh.

Bill ends up at the gala. Lou is there and sees Brady, who has shaved his head and is using a wheelchair to smuggle in a bomb. Brady sees Lou seeing Brady, stabs her, but apparently he’s not very good at stabbing people because she survives and warns Bill. Bill confronts Brady, who prepares to set off the bomb. But Holly clubs Brady repeatedly over the head with the Chekhov’s bulldog statue, and down goes Brady while Bill has a heart attack.


At the end, we get lots of little scenes of the various characters moving on with their lives. Bill is in the hospital, and stops by to visit the comatose Brady. After Bill tells him that he’ll be waiting, he leaves and a radio signal starts playing from Brady’s fractured skull. Setting up End of Watch with Brady coming back as a super-psychic. No mention if Bill and Holly form what is essentially an unlicensed detective agency. Lou is still alive, so I suppose she could play the role she plays in End of Watch.


I liked everyone involved, acting-wise. Not just Brendan Gleeson and Harry Treadaway, but… well, everyone. Mary-Louise Parker, Holland Taylor, Kelly Lynch, Breeda Wool, Robert Stanton, and Jharrel Jerome. Justine Lupe was good, although the creative team seemed almost afraid to take her as far as she was in the novel. She’s less of a fully-fleshed character, and more of a walking plot point. Why is she strange? Insert backstory here. Why does she carry a bulldog paperweight with her. Insert backstory there.

It just seemed that when the series went from a character study to a more standard police drama--and deviating from Stephen King’s novel--it became more of… well, a standard police drama.

So overall, when Mr. Mercedes was an adaptation, I’d say it was a good adaptation. But when it strayed off to do… whatever David Kelley and Dennis Lehane and whoever else wanted to do, it wasn’t.

But that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
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