The producers of “Mr. Mercedes” are steeling themselves for possible blowback over the new series’ opening scene – a graphic depiction of a car crashing into a crowd that eerily mirrors recent terror attacks.
Based on the book by Stephen King, the series focuses on Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson), a detective investigating an incident in which a masked terrorist plows into a crowd of people, killing 16 and leaving others badly injured. The scene opens the first episode and is repeated several times in flashbacks and as the investigating cop watches video footage.
The gruesome images show a young mother having her skull crushed and a young man being tossed ten feet in the air to his death.
The shocking scenes mirror a pair of recent vehicle attacks in London and an attack last year in Nice, France, where 86 people were killed by an assailant who drove a truck into a celebrating crowd on Bastille Day.
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Director and executive producer Jack Bender said the producers never had any doubt about including the graphic footage – but others did.
“There was a lot of conversation about – from some people, never our studio or AT&T – should we do this? Should we show this?” he said, noting that some European ad buyers balked at the scenes.
Speaking at the show’s Beverly Hills premiere last week, Bender said they shot the opening sequence just days before the attack in Nice.
“As we were prepping it, Nice happened, and then it became the drug of choice for terrorists and maniacs. Those tragedies are so daunting, and needless to say I was feeling the responsibility. And yet we felt that it was really important to have this show start with something that not only was crippling Hodges, but ideally crippling to the audience.”
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And Bender – who said he “won’t be surprised” by a social media backlash – said they’ve got a “responsibility” not to gloss over the trauma.
“I’ve always argued with a network that says, ‘If someone gets shot, you shouldn’t show blood.’ What are we? Made of straw? If someone gets shot, you should see the fact that people bleed and I kind of felt that way about this and I hope people understand that.”
With James Desborough