Clare on Mare: Unravelling Season 1 of Mare of Easttown - Episode 2
This is Part 2 of a blog series about Mare of Easttown, the 2021 Sky Atlantic/HBO crime drama. I will be posting my response to each episode after watching, and doing a bit of analysis after each initial viewing. Be warned: since the plot will be discussed, there are spoilers ahead!
Mare of Easttown - Episode 2 - ''Fathers'
Director: Craig Zobel
Writer: Brad Ingelsby
The murkiness in the colour palette of the show has continued in this episode, and some shots even look desaturated. The life has been sucked out of many of the people in Easttown, not least our protagonist Mare who wears a brown overcoat and black rollneck for the majority of her scenes. A fitting costume choice given that she's a woman engulfed in guilt and grief, and you can't help but wonder if her job is doing her more harm than good. Still, we are given a glimpse of Mare outside of work when she attends a book event for Richard, but even then she is accosted by Tony for arresting his daughter, Brianna. This blurring of professional/personal boundaries and the problem with small towns emerges in this episode. Yes, they can be tight-knit, but even when you're in a position of power - like that of a detective - people in smaller communities talk and will know your business, whether that's conducive to effective work or not.
The episode title is very fitting as fatherhood is reiterated in its various shapes and sizes, as well as coming into question for several of the male characters of the show. Fathers are one of the constant threads tying the narrative together: fathers out for revenge, absent fathers, reluctant fathers. Their roles vary but in all the examples of fatherhood here, they are problematic, or are at least beginning to appear that way.
Mare meets her new work partner, Detective Colin Zabel (Evan Peters - pictured below) in this episode. He is a light addition to the office and is keen to get stuck in with a process, which is completely at odds with Mare's way of working. As partners go, he is supportive, sensitive and gives Mare space to use her own methods after observing how she works.
Even though he might be a bit on the cheesy side, it already feels like a well-matched partnership and he is happy to allow Mare to take the lead on the cases. He's the sort of character the show needed in order to bring a bit of optimism to the fore - he's the guy that brings you coffee in the morning and says things like 'team work makes the dream work'. You would never in a million years hear Mare utter such sunshine and rainbows bullshit, but his idealism does make her smile, which counts for something.
One of my questions from the previous blog was answered almost immediately in this episode: the body in the creek did indeed belong to Erin. So now we are embarking on a whodunnit and there are a hell of a lot of suspects. As the homicide investigation begins, let's look at some of the possible killers:
Kenny McMenamin (Erin's dad) - He's volatile, aggressive, always has a bottle of beer in his hand and in the few scenes we saw him interact with Erin, treated her with contempt. He resented paying for the baby's essentials and honestly, when he came home from work in the first episode, it felt like he was going to hurt her.
Dylan Hinchey (Erin's ex-boyfriend and the father of her baby) - Not that Kenny is a reliable source, but according to him, Dylan never wanted the baby and 'hated her for it'. Dylan and Erin were not on good terms, and there were arguments over medical costs. He was in the forest the same night Erin was murdered so given all of this it places him as prime suspect.
Brianna (Dylan's girlfriend) - she 'beat the shit out of Erin' on the night that she was killed - and there is video evidence. She has been placed on arrest for assault and has been only been depicted so far as a nasty piece of work. During the police interviews, one of her peers says her bark is worse than her bite, but we did see her kick a girl in the head so I'm not sure how reliable that testimony is.
Frank (Mare's ex husband) - in the first blog post I noted how many broken relationships there were, but didn't list Frank because he was celebrating his engagement to Faye, and that didn't ring any immediate alarm bells. You wouldn't think that a newly engaged man would be a homicide suspect, but we have since learnt that he knew Erin from teaching her at school and asked about the case when Mare came over to talk about Drew (their grandson). The happy facade definitely isn't all it seems, and with each of his appearances on screen I become more and more sceptical about him. Frank has been laying low, but when Erin's best friend Jess drops a bombshell at the end of the episode, it shows him in a completely different light.
Faye (Frank's fiancée) - we don't know much about Faye yet, but if she has the information that was offloaded at the end of episode 2, that might be enough of a reason for her to 'dispose' of a part of Frank's old life that she doesn't want to bring into their forthcoming marriage.
Siobhan (Mare's daughter) - we know she was in the woods the night that Erin was killed because she's in the video. She ignores Mare's calls during the day and when they do speak about Erin, she doesn't seem phased by the conversation at all. The reticence is a little bit strange.
Dawn Bailey (mother of Katie Bailey - the girl murdered in the previous year) - this is a long shot but Dawn is visibly seething about the fact that her daughter's murder still hasn't been solved. Would she go to the length of killing another innocent young girl to bring the pressure to the police department to really act? I don't think so, but crazier things have happened.
What questions do I have at the end of episode two? On the note of the investigation of Katie Bailey - are the two deaths related? We don't know anything about that case except for how angry the townspeople are about the fact it hasn't been solved after a year. Where did Erin travel to before she died? If her cellphone was found 13 miles away, where did she go and who took her? It's unlikely she travelled that far on her pushbike.
What predictions do I have at the end of episode two? Dawn and Mare finally see eye to eye and join forces. After all, they have both experienced tragedy and want the same thing: justice for the young girls who have been killed.
Other thoughts: there is no title sequence. This seems in line with the stripped back and non-stylised nature of the show, but I do enjoy a good title sequence. Also, I loved seeing Mare's mum on the sofa playing some sort of Candy Crush game on an iPad. She's a rock and provides another subtle source of (much needed!) light relief.
In case you missed it, read Part 1 of the blog series here: Clare on Mare: Unravelling Season 1 of Mare of Easttown - Episode 1.
Read Part 3 of the blog series here.