Mare of Easttown began its limited series run on HBO tonight and it’s destined to become the next great crime drama. Not since True Detective stormed into our lives in 2014, has a show been so well crafted and so balanced that it has the potential to capture the world’s attention. Other shows have attempted to capture the magic True Detective first conjured up in 2014. Perry Mason showed promise but fizzled towards the end of the first season. Penny Dreadful: City of Angels appealed to a select audience. Writer/Showrunner Brad Ingelsby’s narrative has mass appeal. Most shows of this genre focus on the crime committed and not on the ripple effect which occurs. Tragedy comes in many forms in Mare of Easttown. Let’s take a look at our five big takeaways from episode one. These are spoiler-filled recaps, so reader beware.
Kate Winslet plays Detective Mare Sheehan, a divorced mother who is overworked and hasn’t come to terms with her own son’s suicide. For her, personal and professional lives are the same thing. She’s never off the clock. She doesn’t censor what she says to anyone whether she’s investigating a death or talking to one of her former High School Basketball teammates. When she’s not dealing with the pressures of being a single mother, a single grandparent, and a detective that’s seemingly blamed for the lack of progress in a missing person’s case, Mare is attempting to interact with a world she’d sooner avoid. Easttown still views her as a hero (they call her “Miss Lady Hawk”) for hitting the game-winning shot to win the state title in High School, but all she can see is her shortcomings. She meets a local creative writing professor named Richard Ryan (Guy Pearce) in the first episode and they immediately have a connection. Ryan is attracted to her by Mare sees him as a means to an end. Perhaps there’s more to Ryan’s story than we realize?
4. Jean Smart as Mare’s Mother
Casting Jean Smart as Mare’s mother is a stroke of genius. The chemistry they have throughout the series injects just the right amount of comedy that gives the show the balance other crime dramas lack. It also speaks to how Mare is coping with everything that’s been occurring in her life of the last year. There’s a line in the episode where Sheehan goes off on her mom for always being around and she calmly responds back. Something tells me if that happens again that the result could be very different.
3. A window into who Mare is
This is the second most important moment in episode one but it does us a glimpse into who Mare is. She happens to be driving by and sees someone breaking into Beth Hanlon’s home (Chinasa Ogbuagu) and immediately spring into action only to find the prowler is her strung-out brother. Beth wants to kill him but Mare intercedes explaining that he was looking for things to sell cause his heat had been turned off. Now after this interaction, one would think that this where we see Detective Sheehan show some compassion towards her brother but Mare keeps that same matter-of-fact tone with him explaining his options. It seems life has beaten her down so much that any level of compassion is reserved for her grandson and that’s it. Is it because that’s Mare’s only connection to her son who has since passed? It’s as if the circumstances of the last year have made her numb.
2. This doesn’t feel right
Erin’s (Cailee Spaeny) best friend Jess (Ruby Cruz) seems all too eager to get her ready for this date she has with someone in the woods. Is she in on it? Again, there’s nothing in this first episode which would give me any indication otherwise but what friend would encourage another to just go hang out in the woods and meet some guy. To make matters worse, Jess’s mother ends up doing her makeup. Really? But, just something to examine as the show unfolds. Is Jess somehow involved in what happens to Erin?
1. Erin’s Dad
Could Erin’s Dad be the one who did this? He’s clearly frustrated with her and a bit of an alcoholic as well. Even when it appears that he’s trying to be her father and doesn’t allow her to take the truck, he throws in a comment about how she scratched it up last time and nothing about staying safe. Is he that checked out after Erin’s mother died? What raised suspicions is how on the night she went to woods, he went out as well and came home the next morning. Is it a mere coincidence that the night his daughter dies that he’s just out about town or is there more to it?