I haven't read the book, so Mr. Mercedes Season 1 Episode 7 got me good.
In this world of casting news and exclusive interviews and previews and spoilers and leaked screeners, it's a rare day when I can watch an hour of television not fully aware of what's ahead.
It's the rare crew talented enough to capture my attention to the point I'm so involved that even when the breadcrumbs have been spread, I fail to follow.
"Willow Lake" was a well-crafted hour of television.
If had a bit of everything, and the first thing that demanded my attention was a replacement boss for Bill Lumbergh from Office Space.
While Lumbergh was annoying and funny, corporate hack Josh was diabolical and funny. The things that came out of his mouth were out of this world.
Robi's day had come. He wasn't being anointed the next new store manager, but he was set up to be chastised for not making "plan" like he should have been doing all along. But hey, it wasn't his fault.
The world is made of winners and you.Josh
Robi's staff of losers brought him down. We learned how much of an ass kisser Robi was as he had managed to persuade Josh that while he could shove him under the bus in front of his employees, it was all their fault he wasn't making plan.
The guy went from firing them all and blaming them for his family not enjoying the finer things in life to wondering if he should feel sorry for their inability to get other jobs to welcoming them back to verbally slapping them around some more and ultimately firing only one with a finger bang lineup.
Clean out your locker, Degeneres, we're parting ways.Josh
Lou was fired on the spot with a not-so-subtle shout-out to her sexual orientation, to boot. The girl isn't one to rest on her laurels, so she'll undoubtedly put the franchise out of business with a lawsuit.
While Brady was suffering that humiliation at work, Deborah was working on another at home.
I have an entirely new impression of their relationship after their chat.
Deborah may be a drunk, but she has a keen memory and an understanding of her son that is probably the very reason she picked up the bottle in the first place.
After a search of the house that didn't include the basement because Brady keeps it locked with an iron door, she confronted him with rubber tubing, a clown mask, and his DMFD book.
Discovering she had the opportunity to have him committed in the past but didn't because he promised to change and she lacked funds is very interesting. She likely knows exactly why that mask is in the bedroom, especially since we've heard her talk about the Mercedes Killer soon being caught before.
Her sexual relationship with Brady also comes under new scrutiny. If her boy is that sick, what if he's been holding her hostage mentally, and the only way she has any control over him is by using her body?
That's undeniably sick, but when you're in a situation in which you feel trapped, you'll do some pretty messed up things. If you'll eat your own arm, I guess you'll eat your ill young, too. Is this the equivalent?
Through all of this, Hodges was helping Janey with her mother's funeral.
She gave to Hodges Olivia's laptop so he could find the information on it he needed to connect with the Mercedes Killer. Holly got closer to Hodges and connected with Jerome.
Janey's mother was taken to the funeral home owned by Ida's family, and even as Hodges got closer and closer to Janey and her family, she continued to pull away.
She was afraid she was going to fall in love, and that girl already had her day, made her mistakes. Janey wanted to keep the door open with Hodges' on Olivia's case, but at arm's length by returning to California.
When you've been burned enough times, trusting love again is scary.
The look on Janey's face when she was burned, though, suggests she was ready to jump into the water anyway.
I don't know why I didn't see the explosion coming. It was a combination of things.
Although I knew there was a bomb, we hadn't seen it placed yet. Brady could have been up to any number of things at that moment in time. He was still focused on Hodges during Hodges' call while Janey was walking to his car.
Additionally, Hodges was holding his cell phone, which I thought had been switched out by Brady. At the very least, I thought Brady duplicated it. If Brady duplicated it, he wasn't calling Janey's phone with the duplicate to set off the bomb. How was the bomb activated in any way with Janey's phone?
So as the final seconds came together, even in slow motion, my brain slowed down, too. If I would have screamed, it might have come out in a slo-mo sequence.
It was a dramatically beautiful scene, intercut with Janey's eulogy for her mother that didn't come to her easily but couldn't have been more appropriate.
Hodges will hold the time they spent together writing that eulogy very close as he considers what the murderer did, but it's hard to imagine how he won't crack going forward. Without help, he's sunk, but with it, everyone is in danger.
With three more episodes remaining, this is going to be one of the wildest shows available up against a whole new slate of fall programming. Don't abandon ship!
Ride it out with me, and let's show everyone what it means to appreciate stellar television in the era of Peak TV.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.