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SDCC: Why Season 2 of Mr. Mercedes couldn't adapt the second book in Stephen King's Hodges trilogy

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Jul 19, 2018

Members of the cast and crew of the Audience network's adaptation of Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes trilogy appeared at San Diego Comic-Con to tease Season 2 of the series, which premieres late next month. And while trilogy is the key word here, the new season of the show will not be drawn from the second book in the series, Finders Keepers, but from the third and final book, End of Watch.

The problem with using Finders Keepers, said executive producer/director Jack Bender, was that "our heroes didn’t come into it until halfway through the book." Even though the words "Finders Keepers" are included in the season, the main action is taken from the trilogy capper. Just prepare yourself for things to get a little stranger, “a little what the f*** are you talking about?" Bender said.

Part of this can be credited to famed novelist Dennis Lehane (Shutter Island, Live by Night), who helps write for the show. “Dennis Lehane brings a particular voice to the show that’s uniquely Dennis … dark and funny at times," Bender said. 

Panel attendees were also treated to a sneak peek of a clip from the upcoming season where the protagonist, Detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson), is taunted by the Mr. Mercedes killer Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway) while visiting a cemetery. At one point, Bill climbs down into a dark grave that leads to the hospital room where Brady is currently a comatose vegetable after being hit in the head by Holly Gibney (Justin Lupe) at the end of last season. All in all, the scene is masterfully directed and beautifully atmospheric. 

Bill's definitely in a dark place, but his wife Donna (Nancy Travis) is offering him a way out of his dark despair. Despite being his ex-wife, Donna returns to re-explore their relationship, Travis revealed. "She’s a sounding board for Bill and presents an alternative that’s not Hartsfield."

Speaking of Holly, the one who bashed in Brady's head, Lupe said of her character: 

"She’s kind of blossoming. She’s kind of running the show with Bill in the second season … she’s really utilizing her skill set in this new position.”

As for Lou Linklatter, her entire ability to trust and sense danger has been obliterated, offered Breeda Wool about her character. As the new season picks up mere minutes from where Season 1 left off, we'll get to see the fallout of Brady's actions. 

The official synopsis for Season 2 is as follows:

A year after his thwarted attempt to perpetrate a mass murder, Brady Hartsfield remains in a vegetative state and retired Detective Bill Hodges has opened Finders Keepers. When unexplainable occurrences begin, Hodges has a feeling that Brady is somehow responsible.

Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire) joins this season as Dr. Felix Babineau, the doctor tasked with saving Hartsfield's life. Also present at the panel, Huston described his character as a talented and ambitious neurosurgeon with an equally ambitious wife (played by Tessa Ferrer). Bender compared the couple to Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, making a point that the roles were destined for Huston and Ferrer. 

Another ambitious member of the cast is the assistant district attorney Antonio Montez, played by Maximiliano Hernandez. With political ambitions that could be realized by convicting Brady, he might be trying to prosecute a the killer who isn't even conscious. “Being an officer of the court doesn’t hold [him] back from bending the rules to make that happen," said Montez at the panel. 

The second season of Mr. Mercedes drives onto the AT&T-owned Audience Network on Aug. 22. The debut season was well received by critics and currently holds an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. Hopefully, the television landscape is big enough for two Stephen King shows, as Castle Rock lands on Hulu July 25. 

Click here for SYFY WIRE’s full coverage SDCC 2018, including up-to-the-minute news, exclusive interviews, and videos.