Well, this show has been all the rave recently, and in my typical fashion, I went into this one hoping that I’d be able to go against the tide and rip Mare of Easttown to pieces. Unfortunately, I won’t be doing that, but it’s not exactly a laudation either…
Mare of Easttown is all about Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet), a police officer in a small Pennsylvanian town, who has to investigate a murder, putting everyone in a tightly knit community under suspicion, all the while trying to keep her own life intact after a divorce and the suicide of her drug addicted son.
This is your typical whodunnit sort of show, so I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum in case you do want to check it out. As I’ve already said, I went in with low expectations, expecting it to be dreadful. It ended up being a good move, because I was pleasantly surprised by how good it started out. I was in denial during the pilot episode that I could have been enjoying it, yet I went back for more and every episode just seemed to be growing better and better – it’s very bingeable.
Every time you think you’ve got the answer… BAM! Another twist in the tale. There’s no time for rest in Easttown. They are masters of suspense, and it’s very well written. I think episode five is where the show peaks in an episode that should go down in history. It’s superb.
I’m not the biggest fan of Kate Winslet, but this is one terrific performance. She is well cast, and ends up really carrying the show. It’s hard not to like the gruff, hardened and sardonic officer, who Winslet adds great depth too.
And the rest of the cast ain’t too shabby neither. I love Evan Peters (American Animals, WandaVision), and the show basically follows alongside the same trajectory as his arc. As he gets more and more involved as Mare’s assistant, the show gets better and better, and then- oh. I’ve already too much. Jean Smart is brilliant as Mare’s mother, and their droll relationship on screen is one of the best components. David Denman, Julianne Nicholson, Joe Tippett and Jake Mulhern also deserve praise, even in smaller roles.
There are a lot of characters in Mare of Easttown, so it’s very cluttered initially. Just when you get used to it, they seem to add another. But, by about episode 3, you should just about know where you’re going. But what they make really work is the small town claustrophobia, the idea that everyone knows everyone, growing old together and never being able to escape. When Mare first meets her future boyfriend, played by the outstanding Guy Pearce, he says that a 25-year-old basketball shot Mare’s old teammates are celebrating at a bar must of been pretty good.
She replies: “Most places? No. Around here? Yeah.” It speaks for itself.
But while we’re on Pearce, I want to talk more about the former Memento and LA Confidential star. Even in the farrago, he stood out. Charming as the one-book-wonder author Richard, he immediately seems like a man with something to hide. What’s great about it is in this close knit community, we’re off edge about Richard because he’s the stranger in town, unlike the rest of them, a man with no history – almost the classic Western stereotype. So why am I disappointed?
Here’s a spoiler: he does nothing. Nowt! The only reason I can think for his character being created is to try to distract the audience from the real murderer. A big name, who appears a little sleazy, a little dodgy, is certainly a prime candidate for the killings – he’s simply a red herring. In a way, it’s brilliant – not only is he a fantastic choice, but also he brings his creditability and quality portfolio of work. You feel certain that it’ll unveil some bombshell, but kudos to both actor and the production, that he is just the boyfriend. It’s rare that a male actor will take the subservient and supporting role, and it shows great integrity on Pearce’s part.
But I want to return to episode five – the peak of the show. For me, it’s a big problem – this show peaks too early.
In a seven episode series, you can not – can not! – peak on episode five. You’ve got two episodes to fill, and yes, we still hadn’t found out who was the killer, but by that point, did I really care? At the end of episode five, it sort of felt like everything had been solved – that it was the end. It’s reached such a high point, you’re not sure it’ll ever reach that again.
Does it? No. Nowhere near, if you ask me. I’m just not a fan of ending. It feels a bit insulting to the audience to suddenly have a new reveal of evidence that points to a character who had had no buildup to their guilt what so ever. It’s like they picked someone out of the hat, and just went, let’s make that work. I won’t spoil it, but I found it farcical. Especially when some parts didn’t even appear to make sense – maybe that’s just me being slow witted, but I would certainly like some explanations. It really feels like a surprise ending that’s trying too hard.
Not only that, but everyone’s happy now! It’s all hugs and kisses! Sickening! A brilliant character in Mare has been ruined by seeing a therapist! Sigh. It’s just all so disappointing. Just by solving a crime doesn’t equate to everyone now suddenly getting on, and everything going right for Mare. We like Mare, of course, but what makes her interesting is her long term suffering, and how that affects her decision making. Her going into the attic? Pfft. Give me a break.
Will a series 2 be coming? HBO claim it’s still up in the air, but after it’s success, I would expect it to return again. There’s still people lying, and I reckon Guy Pearce’s character could definitely be the main antagonist in the second series. We’ll see.
One of my favourite shows, as you’ll probably know by now, is Seinfeld. Creator Larry David’s motto for the series was:
No hugging, no learningLarry David
Mare of Easttown not following that rule has got to be its biggest stumbling block. A far too happy, out of character ending is the let down of this HBO series.
Mare of Easttown – 7 out of 10