With episode 3 of Mare of Easttown now upon us, it seems eerily appropriate that we have three main suspects in the Erin McMenamin case. Two of them seem a little too obvious though, and with Mare off the case now all bets are off as to how (or even if) this will get resolved. Because despite what the higher ups seem to think, Mare is a fantastic detective, but maybe a not so fantastic human being.
One of the opening shots of this episode is a “WATCH CHILDREN” sign in the town, which is an acerbic touch on the part of the show considering how many children in Easttown have suffered over the span of a few years. Katie, who disappeared, Erin, whose death is being investigated, Kevin, who killed himself, Drew, who is in the midst of a custody battle, DJ, who just lost his mom and whose bio dad is uncertain, and Dylan who was shot by his ex girlfriend’s dad and is a murder suspect. So many children, so many troubles, it’s becoming hard to count. Life in Easttown seems to be a special kind of hell, but it’s never more apparent than for the younger generation.
But back to the adults, let’s start with our new suspect, in the shape of Deacon Mark. The last call Erin made, on the evening she was murdered, was to… a priest. Sure, she was part of his youth program, but as Colin points out, how many teens does the Deacon text regularly? Hopefully none, if the church’s past with these kinds of relationships is any indication. What’s more, the detectives receive an anonymous tip about Deacon Mark’s transfer to Easttown. Transfers don’t seem to ever be about something innocent, so one can only wonder what happened wherever he used to be. And even though his conversation with Mare and Colin was a bit offputting, the fact that he ignored them on purpose when they came back was already a pretty big red flag… but him dumping Erin’s bike in the river was a definite murderer move. As we know since Mare and Colin had been repeating it all episode, whoever had Erin’s bike or knew where it was, automatically had something to do with her murder. Erin’s body was found 13 miles from where she was actually killed, which adds a whole other load of questions as to what happened. That said, this is only episode 3, so I feel like this little “the Deacon did it” package is a little too neat. Unless, of course, the show is pulling a The Undoing and the suspect everyone thinks is the killer from the getgo, so it can’t be him, right?! Actually is the killer. I really hope this isn’t the case here, because it ended up being quite disappointing in The Undoing.
Mare immediately learns about Jess’s suspicions over Frank’s relationship with Erin, which was a relief because I was worried it would get dragged out. In typical Mare fashion, she doesn’t hem or haw about confronting Frank, and heads over to his place. To her credit, she doesn’t just call him out on it, since it’s game night and Siobhan is there too, but asks him to head out and talk. Frank refuses, and that’s when Mare tears him a new one. Full disclosure, and in case it wasn’t crystal clear yet, I do not like Frank. There’s no valid explanation as to why he lied to Mare about knowing Erin better than he was letting on, especially if the reason is this innocent. Why would Frank hide being a nice guy? Despite the evidence with the Deacon, Frank remains on my personal shit-list. Maybe they know each other, and the Deacon helped Frank. I mean, one of the other priests is Mare’s cousin: Father Dean Hastings, so who knows if there are other links there. The case is so intricately linked to Mare’s entire family, I wouldn’t be surprised. Despite being quite incredibly pissed off by the allegations (which is understandable, especially in front of his brand new fiancée), Frank consents to doing the DNA test in order to determine who, in fact, is DJ’s father. Siobhan heard the entire debacle between Mare and Frank, which unsurprisingly did not ease the already tense relationship between her and her mother. Also on the fry? Siobhan and Becca. After the stunt Becca pulled when their band, Androgynous, was supposed to perform a live set on a college radio station (getting too high to play), who can blame her? Enter Anne, the college student and radio host, and after some hesitation, Siobhan accepts to go on a date with her, and I’m not sure if Becca was consulted on the matter. The band isn’t Siobhan’s only creative endeavor however, since she is working on some kind of documentary about her brother, including video snippets with an audio commentary from her part. It’s a touching way for Siobhan to deal with what happened, and for us to get a glimpse at what Kevin used to be like.
But back to the main plot, DJ’s other prospective (and effective, since he’s raising him) biological father Dylan, miraculously survived being shot twice by Kenny, even though it’s uncertain whether he’ll ever be able to walk again. I suppose I should’ve counted Kenny as a suspect too, since technically he has time he can’t account for on the night of the murder, and his relationship with Erin was shaky at best. But he confessed, or rather professed to shooting (and killing, or so he thought) Dylan so readily that if he had killed Erin, would he have hidden it? Or reacted so strongly to who he does think did it? Maybe Kenny is playing a super long game, but somehow I don’t believe it (watch me eat my words when it’s revealed it was him though, but I hope not).
Cross-generational tensions abound in every aspect as Mare and Carrie fight over Drew’s custody. Mare is not going to let go of Drew without a fight, but unfortunately the way she chooses to go about it is all wrong. I understand wanting to take matters into her own hands, because she can’t trust the U.S. legal system, and Carrie is, at best, a real piece of work. She throws Mare’s relationship with Kevin in her face in such a way that it makes one wonder if she and Brianna are sisters in cruelty. But Mare’s plan to steal drugs from the evidence locker, and plant them in Carrie’s car, is, not even arguably, even more wrong. Of course, we’ve seen Mare make questionable decisions in regards to how she does her job, hauling Brianna in front of the entire restaurant was one of them, deleting the footage of the neighbor’s son was another. But those were still within the realm of acceptability, whereas consciously choosing to plant fake evidence is definitely not. It’s unfortunately easy to understand where she’s coming from though, she wants to help Drew the way she couldn’t help Kevin. Leaving him in Carrie’s care is not how Mare pictures Drew having a happy and safe childhood, and I don’t think anyone would disagree. It’s also worth nothing that this probably stems from her conversation with Richard, who mentioned not having been a part of his son’s life because he wasn’t ready to be a father. But I (naively) took it to mean he was encouraging Mare to let Carrie be in Drew’s life, even if she shouldn’t have custody. But Mare clearly placed herself as the parent who wouldn’t have access until Drew could choose for himself, which is probably more realistic.
Despite this desperate lapse in judgement, it’s easier to understand why she was so cold to Colin in the beginning, when we see her in pure detective action at the crime scene. She insists upon the firearm canine intervention, and finds a bullet ricochet, and then hole, where no one else had been able to, even after hours of searching in the same spot. Despite this, she’s not above asking Colin how he solved his infamous case, because Mare truly loves her job and wants to do it as best as possible. In fact, we learn that she got her motivation from her father, who was a detective, and she’d have become anything he was, such was their relationship. All in all, Mare’s had a long day. A couple of long days, if truth be told. Which leads her to coming across a very drunk Colin at the bar. Drunk Colin is… a lot more forthcoming than sober Colin, but in a sweet, almost sad way. His life isn’t turning out how he thought it would be, and his 15 year high-school reunion isn’t proving to be that much of a celebration.
Almost since the beginning, it’s been pretty obvious that Colin admires Mare and wants to get to know her better, but there was definite flirting here and Mare didn’t rebuke him even if she didn’t encourage him either. I, for one, am here for it. And since Mare’s now off the case thanks to her boss finding out about her little drug ploy, I’m betting her access to still being on it will definitely be through Colin. I was not expecting the consequences to fall on Mare so swiftly though. After all, this is only episode 3! Four episodes to go and our lead detective has given back her badge, gun, and entire career.
The expression on Mare’s face as she realizes the full extent of what she’s done and its consequences was heartbreaking. Her boss is still somewhat protecting her, but taking her off the case seems akin to taking away her will to live, and I wonder how it’ll pan out.
Another fantastic episode, jam-packed as usual but since we’re just about halfway done with the season, it’s no surprise it would set up the second half of the season, and boy did it ever! So, what are we thinking? Did the Deacon do it? Or was he “helping” someone else? Did Jess blame an innocent man of fathering a teenager’s child, or does Frank have a darker agenda that we don’t know about? How will Mare cope with being off the case? And will she and Colin ever give in to that chemistry?! Sound off in the comments!