Spoilers are ahead. Katie Bailey is finally home. Mare (Kate Winslet) is still in the hospital recovering from her run-in with Wayne Potts (Jeb Kreager), the man who kidnapped Katie. Unfortunately, he isn’t Erin McMenamin’s killer, which means Mare must again play the local hero. The show is called Mare of Easttown after all. But after losing her partner Det. Colin Zabel (Evan Peters), she isn’t feeling all that heroic. The pain of this loss is unshakeable. It’s the third young person she’s lost — her son and Erin being the others — and the grief is catching up with her.
Before she would have tried to bury her sadness, swallow it up and keep on going, but Colin’s mom won’t let her do that. When Mare goes to her house to express her condolences, his mom slaps her and says, “You think you can just go through life, do whatever the hell you want, not have any consequences?”
That slap might be a wakeup call, a sign that she can’t keep going on this way. As her therapist, who she now sees willingly, says, she can’t keep “seeking an external solution for her internal pain,” hiding behind other people’s grief. Her therapist worries she hasn’t fully grieved her son. “Even after these cases get solved, the grief is still going to be there waiting for you until you confront it,” she says. For the first time, Mare talks about her son’s suicide. How he was found by Siobhan (Angourie Rice) in the attic of the house she still lives in. No one goes in that room, but no one has forgotten what happened even if they don’t talk about it.
It isn’t until Siobhan comes home drunk that the two address the rift between them. The young girl hates her mom for sending her to check on him that day. Mare might have previously shut down this talk, but she embraces her daughter and her pain. Mare doesn't need to hide her personal struggles from those she loves, but she still has to be strong for others. It’s part of the job, but she’s starting to understand the toll it's taken on her.
However, Mare is still Mare so she's back on the Erin McMenamin case and she's narrowing in on her leads. Deacon Mark Burton (James McArdle), an early suspect is brought in for questioning after Erin’s pink bike is found. While it seems unlikely that the deacon had anything to do with her death, tampering with evidence is a bad look.
Erin’s ex Dylan (Jack Mulhern) is also questioned after Brianna (Mackenzie Lansing) goes to the police. She says he left his house in the middle of the night. He claims that he just went out for a drive to get high, but he doesn’t have a witness to his alibi. He’s also acting extremely suspicious, threatening Erin’s bestie Jess (Ruby Cruz) at gunpoint. Telling her, “Don’t open your fucking mouth again or you’re going to end up with your face blown off just like Erin” doesn’t make him sound like an innocent man.
While those are all good leads, it’s Erin’s uncle Billy (Robbie Tann) who becomes the number one suspect. Mainly because he confesses that it’s him. Well, his brother John (Joe Tippett) tells his estranged wife Laurie (Julianne Nicholson) that Billy confessed, laying out his whole motive, which connects back to that necklace Mare found with the date “5.29.17” inscribed on it. That date marks the Ross Family Reunion where John says Billy started an affair with Erin. (Hence the necklace, which, according to the jeweler, a distraught Erin was looking to sell back.) Eventually he got her pregnant. She threatened to reveal he was the real father of her child so he killed her.
That has to be why he showed up at his father’s house the night Erin died covered in blood, right? But the clues just don’t line up for me. The receipt from the jeweler where the necklace was purchased just says “Ross” no first name, which means it may not be Billy. It could be another Ross family member who bought it. It could be John.
We know that John is a liar and he’s gotten so good at it that his wife didn’t realize he was cheating on her again. We also know he’s a charmer who manipulated his teenage son to lie for him for months about the affair. What would stop him from doing the same to Billy? Maybe he encouraged Billy to help him kill Erin or just do it for him. Earlier in the episode, Billy angrily tells his brother, “You made a mess of your life because you couldn’t keep your dick in your fucking pants. Now you clean it up.” In the moment, it seems like an offhand remark about John's affair, but it could be about Erin. Billy claims he's the one who's trying to keep John "accountable" for once.
There are other signs that John can’t be trusted. The fact that he pleads with Billy to confess to the murder. “I have to hear you say it,” he says as if he's coaching him. He then asks Laurie to lie to Mare about Billy’s involvement “for our family.” Not to mention the gun packed away in the tackle box the men have taken with them fishing. A trip that John suggested just as Billy said he was going to go to the police to confess.
Nothing on Mare of Easttown has been cut and dry. They’ve given us red herrings (Frank as a possible suspect) and cliffhangers that force us to constantly question this town and the people who live in it. Seriously, every Easttown man has been a possible suspect. In the final moments of the penultimate episode, they keep us guessing again.
Jess goes to the police with the photo she found in Erin’s journal. We have yet to see the photo, but it’s clear it will reveal the father of Erin’s baby, who is likely her killer. I expect it to be John, which means Mare, with no backup in sight, has once again put herself in a dangerous situation. Let’s hope she makes it out of the finale alive.
If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433.