Mare of Easttown (2021)

mare of easttown poster 2021 mini series kate winslet
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Kate Winslet, solid story

If you've seen a lot of similar shows, you might see the answer earlier than you would like

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Welcome to Easttown…get rid of the drugs, murder, and unwed teen parents, and it is a nice place to live…

Over a year after the disappearance of Katie Bailey (Caitlin Houlahan), the small town of Easttown, Pennsylvania is rocked by the discovery of the body of young mother Erin McMenamin (Cailee Spaeny).  Assigned to the case is Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet), Mare is coming to terms with her own problems including a son’s suicide, a messy custody battle for her son’s child, and a divorce from her husband Frank (David Denman).  Finding the murderer of Erin McMenamin becomes an obsession and Mare will do whatever it takes to do it.  Mare finds herself teamed with a partner named Colin Zabel (Evan Peters) and few leads to go on…and the city of Easttown has many secrets.

Mare of Easttown is a murder mystery drama that was released on HBO Max.  The episode were released weekly from April 18, 2021 to May 30 2021 and the series received positive reviews.

Kate Winslet can do no wrong and a mystery thriller is always good.  Like many of these style of shows, secrets, misinformation, and small town mentality can grab hold of a case that doesn’t seem as difficult as it is presented.  Mare of Easttown is a solid mystery about an ever-expanding murder investigation that also dives heavy into family and forgiveness.  Due to aspects of the plot, a ******spoiler alert****** is in effect for the rest of the review.

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They might as well named him “Father Red Herring”…it was never going to be this guy

The plot of the series is rather typical to these type of mysteries and those who have seen a lot of them kind of can see thing coming.  There are episodic twists, false leads, and red herring “bad guys”.  The show in particular feels a lot like Broadchurch which has two broken detectives seeking out the murder of a young boy…here, the young boy is a teen girl but a lot of the other similarities match.  Even like something like Twin Peaks, has some similarities with everything surrounding a few people seem to be interconnected and nothing is random.

What raises Mare of Easttown above some of the other mysteries is that it is also a rather strong drama.  Mopey, broken detectives aren’t anything new, but Mare’s problems transcend her character.  Everyone in Easttown is in mourning in various levels.  They are mourning brothers, they are mourning spouses, and they are mourning the inability to protect their children.  The mystery is primary and on the surface, but a lot of Mare of Easttown is coming to terms with responsibility and what and what can’t be controlled.

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Dude…you never stood a chance

All of this is wrapped up in a great performance by Kate Winslet who continues to show why she is one of the best actors around right night.  Her character is flawed but likeable and even when acting badly, she has a sense of honor and justness that ends up eating her up even more.  She’s joined by a great supporting cast that walks around her life of problems and helps develop her character from her mother played by Jean Smart to her ex-husband played by David Denman to her partner in Evan Peters to her understanding chief played by John Douglas Thompson to her daughter played by Angourie Rice, they are all tightly wound into her character.

In Easttown, a sleepy and somewhat backwoods community is created (the real Easttown was not used but a nearby community was).  Everyone knows each other and everyone knows each other’s business.  Getting out is rare and even those who get out drift back to Easttown…the setting (and the set design) is key to the story and creation of the characters.  It starts out a bit heavy on emphasizing a bit of a “white trash” mentality that doesn’t seem fair to the characters, but it does feel like it eases as the series goes on.

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Ha, ha…you’re going to find this really funny and ironic that the reason I know everything is the woman your husband was having affair with…she really was a homewrecker

The biggest fault of Mare of Easttown is if you are a watcher of a lot of these type mysteries…you’re a bit jaded.  The pacing is often very similar and you know if something is revealed about halfway through the series (or episodes), it is going to be reversed or twisted.  The show creators run the scary risk of showing their hand too early or not giving the viewers time to feel smart by figuring out seconds before the protagonist.  Here, I feel that the conversation between the father and son observed by the mother was a bit too telling…it didn’t sit in my craw right and I suspected the son but wasn’t quite sure of the reasons at the time…this of course turned out to be true which fits thematically, but it wasn’t necessarily satisfying.

Mare of Easttown is a good watch.  It isn’t too long or too short.  It has a nice mystery full of small town intrigue, and most importantly, it has a great lead in Kate Winslet.  Mare of Easttown is the type of show that you can pound out in one or two sittings and enjoy.  Easttown might never have been on your travel plans, but it is worth a visit on your TV.

mare of easttown episode 1 miss lady hawk herself erin mcmanamin murdered cailee spaeny

“Miss Lady Hawk Herself”

Episode 1        Miss Lady Hawk Herself Airdate:  04/18/21

Detective Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet) isn’t a happy person.  She is the former star of her high school basketball game and continues to live within her small town of Easttown, Pennsylvania.  It has been over a year since her former teammate and friend’s daughter Katie Bailey (Caitlin Houlahan) disappeared and her mother Dawn (Enid Graham) continues to make problems for the police department.  Mare takes care of her grandson Drew and daughter Siobhan (Angourie Rice) with the help of her mother Helen (Jean Smart) while her ex-husband Frank (David Denman) and his new fiancée Faye (Kate Arrington) have moved into the house behind hers.  A night to celebrate Mare’s and her teammates big victory turns into a rare night out for Mare when she meets a visiting literature professor named Richard Ryan (Guy Pearce).  When a teen mother named Erin McMenamin (Cailee Spaeny) prepares for a night out after an argument with her baby’s father Dylan Hinchey (Jack Mulhern) and his new girlfriend Brianna Delrasso (Mackenzie Lansing), tragedy strikes the small town of Easttown again.

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Episode 2        Fathers Airdate:  04/25/21

Erin McMenamin is dead, and the search for her killer begins.  Questions rise in the community if the murder could be tied to Katie Bailey’s disappearance, and Mare finds herself saddled with a partner named Colin Zabel (Evan Peters).  The discovery of a video made of the ambush of Erin by Dylan and Brianna puts Brianna and Dylan in the targets of investigation, but Mare quickly finds that Siobhan’s involvement could complicate her investigation.  Brianna’s father Tony (Eric T. Miller) has opinions about Mare’s arrest of his daughter as Katie’s father Kenny (Patrick Murney) seeks out who he sees as responsible for his daughter’s death.  Erin’s friend Jess Riley (Ruby Cruz) goes to Lori Ross (Julianne Nicholson) with a shocking confession about Erin.

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“Enter Number Two”

Episode 3        Enter Number Two Airdate:  05/02/21

Dylan’s parenthood of Erin’s child is in question, and Mare discovers that her ex-husband Frank could be a suspect.  Kenny’s attempt to kill Dylan fails, but Dylan might be forever changed.  Phone records and a tip about Deacon Mark Burton (James McArdle) puts Mark under suspicion as the police find the location of the murder.  Siobhan decides her girlfriend Becca (Madeline Weinstein) is taking too many drugs, and it could mean that it is a time for a change.  Drew’s mother Carrie Layden (Sosia Bacon) leads Mare to make a serious mistake.

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“Poor Sisyphus”

Episode 4        Poor Sisyphus Airdate:  05/09/21

Mare’s boss Chief Carter (John Douglas Thompson) has ordered Mare suspended and is forcing her to seek counseling due to her plot to frame Carrie.  The paternity test comes back or Erin’s child leading to questions about the father as Mare discovers an item important to Erin.  Drew begins to see Carrie by court orders, and Mare tries to deal with him moving away.  Dawn gets word that Katie could still be alive, but the demands for a ransom may make her break the law.  The kidnapping of Missy Sager (Sasha Frolova) leads to a shocking discovery.

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Episode 5        Illusions Airdate:  05/16/21

Betty Carroll (Phyllis Somerville) has died, but her husband (Patrick McDade) reveals a surprise at the funeral.  Lori learns that her husband John (Joe Tippett) is keeping secrets from her and that their son Ryan (Cameron Mann) may know the truth.  Dylan is out to cover his track about his involvement with Erin, but Jess finds surprising evidence.  Against her better judgment, Mare goes on a date with Zabel…but Zabel sees through her intentions.  When Zabel and Mare learn a young prostitute might have evidence on the kidnapper, the case could be at its breaking point.

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“Sore Must be the Storm”

Episode 6        Sore Must Be the Storm Airdate:  05/23/21

Zabel has been killed by Wayne Potts (Jeb Kreager), and Missy and Katie are safe…but Mare’s survivor’s guilt has triggered memories about her son’s death.  Bullets found at the scene of Erin’s murder come up with an odd match.  Siobhan debates her future and admits her pain to Mare.  Pop Ross (Gordon Clapp) reveals to John that Billy might not have been telling the truth about his where about the night of Erin’s murder.  Mare is getting closer to fitting the pieces together with the discovery of a t-shirt, but Mare’s assumptions might not be correct.

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Episode 7        Sacrament Airdate:  05/30/21

The murder of Erin McMenamin has been solved.  John has confessed to the crime and his brother Billy helped cover it to hide that Erin’s baby was his child…and life goes on Easttown.  Deacon Mark learns that the murder confession means a potential means of forgiveness and Lori finds herself raising Erin’s child alone.  Mare and Richard Ryan get deeper involved as Mare comes to terms with her past, and Siobhan makes a decision about her future.  When Mare gets a mysterious call from Mr. Carroll, everything could change.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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