Mercy In ‘Expats,’ Explained: Did Mercy Decide To Keep The Kid?

Mercy is one of the female characters in Lulu Wang’s Expats that represents the current generation of young women, who are as clueless about their work and personal lives as Mercy is the youngest of the three women and one of the leads of the show. Her life was a canvas at that juncture, which she could paint the way she wanted. Mercy sadly had not found her calling yet, which is why she was living in Hong Kong doing meager jobs while she held a degree from an Ivy League American university.

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Mercy was a Korean American woman who had spent most of her life in America, and she remained clueless about her roots and culture. Mercy had a lot of issues while growing up, and just like Hillary, her relationship with her mother was not very ideal. At many junctures, she had mentioned how complicated her conversations with the mother had become, and it was always her father who understood her dilemmas. Mercy had to eventually move away from her parents and build a life for herself in a megacity like Hong Kong.

As a young woman with good qualifications, she had a hard time getting along with the crowd in Hong Kong, which didn’t believe in offering jobs based on merit. Mercy had many rich friends who were trying to introduce her to people who could help her land a high-profile job, but she soon understood that the job market was not meant for her. Despite her American upbringing, Mercy was not willing to go back to the country where she was raised. It was unclear why she wanted to stay back despite her awful experiences. Mercy had to resort to working as a waitress with a catering company and was hoping to meet people with money and connections. Her meeting with Margaret had happened at one such party, and they had become fast friends.

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Mercy could get along with Margaret because of their American background, and they figured both could help each other out if they were here in the city. Mercy needed a decent job that could give her some perks as well. Working with Margaret would give her proper shelter, and she could influence the children in the right way. She always believed she had the worst luck, and the streak continued when she lost Margaret’s youngest child, Gus, at the night market. Mercy was not arrested because it was not a deliberate attempt to harm Gus or Margaret, but the guilt stayed with her for a long time. She could not believe her mistake put an entire family in misery, something she would have to live with the pain of possibly forever. Margaret was probably the only genuine friend she found in the city, but that friendship ended on a tragic note, and neither of them could face each other after losing Gus.

It was during the police investigation that she met David, Hillary’s husband. Her affair with David was purely for physical pleasure—her way of momentarily forgetting the pain she was in. There was never any talk of commitment between them, and Mercy was in no mood to break up their marriage. Their affair went on for a while until Mercy became pregnant with his child, and their relationship dynamics changed. She was surprised by David’s concerning behavior.

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Mercy’s pregnancy was an eye-opening experience, as she felt lost as to how to move forward in life. She could not keep friends or family around and ended up blaming herself for all the mishaps that happened. This made it hard for her to make her mind up if she should keep the baby or not. Her brand-new relationship with Charly was also short-lived, as she could not come to terms with understanding or processing the pain she was in. Charly was probably too young to judge Mercy. Mercy quickly realized she needed to work on her trauma and figure out how to make her life better now that she decided to keep the child. Mercy could not terminate the pregnancy because she did not want to take the wrong step this time around. She planned to be a better mother and experience motherhood to understand love and attachment. Mercy was devastated after witnessing Margaret’s pain at losing a child. She also felt bad for Hillary, as Mercy was planning to have David’s child. Hillary was jealous and livid, but both women came to an agreement and decided to move on in life. Mercy and Hillary would eventually bump into each other as they chose to stay back in Hong Kong.

Mercy’s relationship with her mother also went through a transition when the parents learned of her pregnancy. Her mother was quick to make decisions and try to send her back to America to avoid any judgmental looks from people in the city. As a mother, she was aware of the regressive thoughts and ideas one must face while growing up in a South Asian subcontinent or South East Asian society. Women had maximum responsibilities, and they never received a break or asked for it. Mercy’s mother wanted something different for her daughter and the grandchild that was going to be a huge part of their lives. On her mother’s arrival, Mercy broke down, which was a sign both were coming on the same page. Mercy wanted a parent figure who would advise her to stay put.

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On meeting Margaret and Hillary, Mercy understood why she needed to move on instead of being stuck in the loop of trauma. Mercy was feeling guilty about having this child for many reasons. Mercy was responsible for losing Gus and having a child with David’s child; she had deprived both women of a child, and she believed she could never live with that thought. It was Margaret, Hillary, and Mercy’s mother who let her have the moment and accept the choice she made. Mercy was far from perfect, but she had her entire life ahead of her to make things right.


Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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