Mare of Easttown is Apocalyptic Brilliance

Mare of Easttown is Apocalyptic Brilliance
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Mare of Easttown is Apocalyptic Brilliance. I’ve taken some grief from some readers of this website because you think I’ve abandoned my roots – which is, indie films – by watching so many series. (Series plural is series, right? I’m dying to type serieseses. But alas, I’m dubious CY will let me keep it. Though it would be extra fun to say!!) But there have been so many great limited series(eseseseses) that I just can’t not talk about them. Shows like, Behind Her Eyes, The Bureau, Things Heard and Seen, Shadow & Bone, Cruel Summer, Tribes of Europa, etc., etc. So many… so many many good shows. But man, I am going to have to cut back as they require way too many hours of investment per show. But if they keep rolling out Mare of Easttown quality shows? I’m doomed. If you haven’t decided whether or not to watch the show? I got nothing for you – just take my word for it and go watch it. The only thing I can liken it to is season 1 of True Detective. Yes, high praise, I know. So here’s a trailer – and then the rest of this post will be a detailed walk through of the entire show. So, be warned.

Mare of Easttown Episode 1 – Miss Lady Hawk Herself

The entirety of the show Mare of Easttown is 100% about a string of disappearing girls, and Mare’s family. Sometimes these two overlap – and occasionally the Venn diagram is a circle. So when you begin to think that the show is off topic? It’s probably investigating Mare’s family as a part of the murders, and sometimes conversely.

The series kicks off with Detective Mare Sheehan who is forced by the community to reopen a year-old investigation into the disappearance of a young girl in town, Katie Bailey. Dawn, Katie’s mother, basically single-handedly forces Mare to dive back into this needle-in-a-haystack investigation. Simultaneously, Mare’s ex, Frank, is having an engagement party that Mare wasn’t informed of. And did I mention that Mare’s husband lives out back from Mare’s house? Yeah. And that night is the anniversary of Mare’s shot that won the high school basketball championship… which, she is telling everyone that she doesn’t want to go to. But. Then, while out at the local watering hole celebrating the celebration… or something… Mare meets Richard, an author who recently moved in to Easttown. He’s published one fairly successful book, back in the day, and it ended up destroying his marriage, etc., etc, you know the drill.

Cut to Erin McMenamin – the series’ number one mystery of the show. Erin is a single mother who is desperate to get her son’s ear surgery taken care of. But it is going to cost almost $2,000. Dylan, the baby’s father, and his new girlfriend, Brianna, yell and fight with Erin when they come to get the child for the weekend. Erin then rides her bike out to a party under a bridge, where she is beaten senseless. Siobahn, Mare’s daughter, sees the fight going on, and rescues Erin. And then Erin walks alone out into the woods. That next day, a runner finds Erin’s dead body in the river under the bridge. She has a massive head trauma and is missing part of a finger.

Summary: At this point, we know that Easttown has a couple of missing young women. We also have a dead teen. It’s as if Easttown is cursed. (Reminds me a bit of the show Black Spot, which I’ll be writing about soon enough.) And, we have a cursed detective… Mare, who is leading up the investigations. I was pretty hooked on the show by ep1.

Mare of Easttown Episode 2 – Fathers

Episode 2 kicks off with Mare heading over to the scene of Erin’s murder. (Which, pro-tip, isn’t the scene of Erin’s murder.) And pretty quickly, she is getting tips about Erin’s horrible relationship with the father of her child (which, pro-tip #2, isn’t the father of her child). And because of the increasing calls for the local police to finally do something, they have brought in a detective from the county named Zabel. A hotshot with a record for cracking cold cases (pro-tip #3? I really should stop… but I can’t help myself. Zabel didn’t crack the cold case himself). Kenny, Erin’s father, later abducts Dylan, and shoots him twice in the back. Killing him. (Pro-tip #4 nope.)

When a video of the night of Erin’s murder surfaces, it shows that Brianna beat and kicked Erin. Mare arrests Brianna on assault charges. This in turn, pisses off Brianna’s father? Who chucks a milk jug through one of her windows. And we learn from this anecdote that Mare is, without a doubt, widely loved by the community. (Pro-tip #5 – again, nope.) She is dealing with about a billion issues of her own, with alcoholism probably the simplest of issues on her docket. She is also worrying about her grandson, who, she fears, will have the same mental illness issues that plagued her son, Kevin. Kevin, committed suicide two years earlier, and Mare still hasn’t taken the time necessary to grieve his death. And she’s also dealing with her daughter-in-law’s fight to get custody of Drew back. Carrie and Kevin, were both strung out on drugs, and spent their time stealing from pretty much anyone and everyone they could in order to buy the drugs they were so desperate to get their hands on. And things go really off the rails when Erin’s best friend tells Mare’s friend that she thinks Frank might be the real father of Erin’s child.

Mare of Easttown Episode 3 – Enter Number Two

As the episode opens up, Kenny confesses to murdering Dylan… who, actually, survived the attack. But I gotta say, I probably would have flipped out as well if my daughter had been murdered similarly. And yet, Kenny is a right mess in his own right.

When Mare confronts Frank (her ex) about his relationship with Erin, he admits to helping Erin. Which isn’t a great look. But he insists that he isn’t the father of the child, and that he didn’t touch her sexually. He agrees to give a DNA sample to prove that detail… and while Mare is at it, she also gets DNA from Dylan as well.

We also learn that Erin is missing a finger – and that the cause is probably from a gun shot. We find that there is no evidence of rape, which is a little weird seeing as though she is found basically naked. More interestingly, Erin was shot at a park miles away, and then her body was moved back to where the party was. And, disturbingly, Deacon Mark Burton was the last person to have spoken with her. He also is the one that has Erin’s bike, which he tosses in the river. (PLEASE DON’T LET IT BE DEACON ELON MUSK, I MEAN DEACON MARK BURTON. Please tell me you’ve seen the SNL MURRDDDERED MY DURRRRDURR sketch? You are welcome.) I about chucked my TV in the river too when I realized the show was going this direction.

The show circles the drain as Mare is pursued by Richard, and also is hit on by a completely inebriated Zabel. Richard and Zabel both tell stories of their past divorces and chaos in their lives. And Mare gets the detective of the year award when she plants drugs in her daughter-in-law’s car in an attempt to keep her from getting custody of Drew. This gets Mare put on leave, and she is also ordered to go to counseling. (Which, if we admit it, is the only positive development in this whole show… well, so far.)

Mare of Easttown Episode 4 – Poor Sisyphus

Zabel takes over the investigations – but Mare doesn’t let up even a little bit. The two are constantly talking and sharing information about what Zabel is finding. (Though Mare isn’t sharing much.) We learn that neither Frank or Dylan are Erin’s baby’s father. And after Missy Sager, an escort in town, goes missing, we learn that Erin also had a secret profile as an escort. But Missy thought she never actually met with any clients. (Right, sure she didn’t.)

Missy gave Mare false information about Erin’s diaries, which she said were in her dresser between two drawers. They weren’t there, but she did find a locket with a specific date inscribed on it. We also learn that Deacon Elon Musk was transferred after an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old.

Insert more Mare family chaos here —-> Carrie gets custody of Drew for the night, but he gets homesick. Mare has flashbacks of her son, Kevin, and Carrie violently robbing her for drug money. Mare’s daughter, Siobhan, breaks up with Becca, who has a drug problem. And begins dating the older and wiser Anne. And ultimately Richard and Zabel ask Mare out on a date the same night… but she isn’t sure who she wants to go out with.

And Freddie, in an attempt to get drug money, calls Dawn Bailey claiming that her daughter Katie Bailey is alive. But as we follow Missy Sager, who has been abducted, we learn that Katie really is alive, and being held captive by the same person.

Mare of Easttown Episode 5 – Illusions

During the wake for Betty Carroll, who died of a heart attack and drove into a telephone pole which causes a blackout, we learn from her widower that he was having an affair with Mare’s mother. Which, you have to admit, is laugh out loud funny. I, at least, laughed out loud anyway. We also watch as Mare learns that Erin lived for a little while with Lori’s brother-in-law Billy. Hrmmm. And Lori learns from her son that her husband is having an affair, yet again. (Easttown is the Bermuda Triangle of familial relationships… this much we know for a fact.) Are you keeping the players straight? Nope? Me either.

Back closer to the case though, we learn that Brianna – Dylan’s newish girlfriend – noticed that Dylan was absent the night of Erin’s death. And Dylan, Jess (Erin’s bestie), and another friend, all meet to get Erin’s journals and then burn them. But Jess? Yeah, she keeps a photograph from one of the journals. And seeing as though right now I’ve only seen through episode five? That photo is EXTREMELY important to how tonight’s episode 6 will play out.

You can almost make out the photo – if you squint – really hard. Mare and Zabel go out on a date, but it doesn’t work because Mare can’t stop talking about the case. Deacon Elon Musk, gah, Mark, Deacon Mark, admits to Father Dan that he actually didn’t just talk to Erin, but he also went and picked her up the night of her death. Erin insisted he take her to the park where she eventually is murdered. But I was very happy the show started to lean away from Dan as the murderer.

Mare and Zabel go to interview an escort who was almost murdered by someone in a blue van. Zabel admits he’s not a hotshot investigator, and that it was someone else that solved his previous case out at the county. Mare and Zabel successfully track down the kidnapper, Wayne Potts, and Zabel is shot in the head and killed. Mare narrowly escapes being murdered herself, but is able to retrieve Zabel’s gun and kill Potts. The two girls are retrieved and saved, cementing Mare’s hero status there in Easttown. Which, she decidedly doesn’t want to be.

Mare of Easttown Episode 6 – Sore Must Be The Storm

Cut to the police finding Erin’s pink bike in the river, and the police arrest Deacon Mark for messing with evidence. But no one really thinks the stupid man is the murderer. At least, I don’t anyway. Mare realizes that at a family reunion, pulled together by the Rosses after the death of Erin’s mother occurred on the date engraved on the necklace. So what happened at this here family reunion exactly?? John heads over to stay with his father, admitted to his son that he saw Billy return home covered in blood the night of Erin’s murder. John talks with Billy and admits that he killed Erin. (And I don’t buy it. Remember, Episode 7 isn’t out yet… I’m still in the dark as to who the real murderer is.) John lets Lori know, and he also tells her that Billy is also the father of Erin’s child. He also told her that he killed her after Erin said she would tell everyone about their incestuous relationship if he didn’t pay for the ear surgery she desperately needs. Immediately after, Lori tells Mare, and she books it to their favorite fishing spot.

At the same time though, Jess (Erin’s best friend, keep up) goes to the police with the photo from Erin’s journal. Upon seeing the photo, Chief Carter tells his men to tell Mare, as she refused to stand down and has gone to arrest Billy. So, as it stands right now, Billy and John are out fishing – and Billy has a gun in the tackle box. Mare is CERTAIN she knows that it was Billy that has killed Erin. And yet, there is a photo with more information in it that Mare doesn’t have. What is going to happen????

Mare of Easttown Episode 7 – Sacrament

THE PHOTO??? Well, the photo shows Erin in bed next to John, who is fast asleep. Wait. John? Billy? What is happening here?

Well, cut to Jess, who lets Chief Carter know that Dylan had them burn the journals solely to hide any untoward information, but mainly to keep Erin’s baby in Dylan’s parent’s care. Not because Dylan was worried about being on trial for murder. (Screenplay flaw? I mean, wouldn’t you be a little bit longer sighted on your destruction of evidence in the middle of a murder investigation when you don’t have an alibi?)

Flip back to the fun family fishing trip outing with John and Billy. John points the gun at Billy, but Mare stops John and subdues him. And, at that point, John admits to having an affair with Erin. The night of Erin’s murder, apparently, she called John, and John left Frank’s engagement party to meet her at the park. After arriving at the park, Erin threatens to kill herself. And in the struggle, John accidentally shot Erin. And it was Billy and John who moved the body back over to the woods where she was last seen in order to draw suspicion back to the kids at the party.

But Lori??! She told Mare it was Billy. Yeah, disappointing. John apparently convinced Lori to lie and to tell Mare that it was Billy who killed Erin. Why would she even consider going along with this silly plan? Oh, that’s right… because John didn’t kill Erin. John and Lori’s son, Ryan is the one that killed Erin. Sure, Ryan only wanted to scare Erin, and make her stay away from his family. Fine. Whatever. And it was John and Billy that covered it up – and John is now framing Billy? Lowest of lows. And with that, Ryan is sent to Juvie, and Lori is angry about Mare sending him to prison (but really, come on). And as the show ends, Mare finds it in herself to head back up into the attic.

Final Thoughts on Mare of Easttown

What did you think of the bait and switch from Kenny to John, and then from John to Ryan? Personally, it was a little too clever by half. And the flip to Ryan, and his interrogation without a lawyer present? I’m sorry, but that conviction would be thrown out by a lawyer on the Juvie team. I mean, never mind the fact that the kid needs some serious help after all that. But after a really fantastic 6 episode run, I think the show did a hard right turn on the viewers in a bid to surprise and shock. And after watching it play out, I think the writers jumped the shark a bit. But still, I believe it is one of the best police procedurals on TV since True Detective Season 1. Compelling characters drove this thing from beginning to end. And for me anyway, everything begins and ends with compelling characters. Clever twists (which I love, don’t get me wrong) are fun and all, but they have to be grounded in amazing characters, and Mare had that. At least in my humble opinion anyway.

Edited by: CY