Mare of Easttown: Poor Sisyphus
May 10, 2021 3:37 PM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Mare tries to come to terms with a major professional development. Siobhan moves on. Dawn gets her hopes up. And the episode ends with a major revelation.
posted by AwkwardPause (22 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Man, I was ready to quit the show on the spot if Dylan had done to DJ what it seemed to foreshadow for a second there. Yikes.
posted by AwkwardPause at 3:38 PM on May 10, 2021 [4 favorites]

I was mostly enjoying the show up until this episode. If they would have just kept the focus on the cast of characters they had developed, just let us follow the lives of these interesting families, it would have been enough. Why didn't HBO trust that there is enough "drama" there and instead turn it into yet another psycho serial killer piece of shit? Kate Winslet is so good, her character has so much depth, I feel like they only gave her the first 3 scripts before she agreed to the show. "Oh, you thought it was a deep dive into the lives of modern small town America? Psych! It's actually just another show about dehumanizing and murdering young women." So yeah, I'm done.
posted by gwint at 4:41 PM on May 10, 2021 [7 favorites]

I agree with that. I commented to my spouse this morning that I wish it would be about something more “normal” (which I realize is a very weird term to use).
posted by AwkwardPause at 5:06 PM on May 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

...yet another psycho serial killer piece of shit?

Ugh, for realsies? What a letdown.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:02 PM on May 10, 2021

Aw, man. The reveal in this episode is disappointing. It's like they didn't think the opioid epidemic and sad small towns were enough, so they just threw in a villain. And Mare's flashback to Kevin and Carrie taking cash from her and being addicts felt like the show giving Mare a pass on planting the drugs. Freddie's scam on Dawn was telegraphed from the second he pops up back in Bethy's house.

The weird slapstick scene of Siobhan and her new friend coming home and scaring Becca in the basement? How totally bizarre. Plus, it wasn't just the drink making Zabel think dating his partner was a great idea? I do like Zabel's very passive-aggressive mother.
posted by gladly at 6:46 AM on May 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

This episode definitely went off in a few weird ways. I'm okay with the storyline of the two young women locked in the basement, as it's not a far-fetched scenario. I also don't think it's too big a stretch that someone - separately - killed Erin. Her killer will be happy that the focus has gone off them and in a different direction. If it turns out to be the same person, that will be totally ridiculous, though.

The basement scene with Siobhan just didn't fit with the rest of the vibe of this show. It was weird to try to play it for laughs.

And why, when everyone in town knows that Mare is currently off the job, did no-one question her turning up at Erin's friend's house to continue with the investigation as if nothing had happened?

Still, despite the plot holes, I like a mystery so I'll carry on watching.
posted by essexjan at 10:06 AM on May 11, 2021 [3 favorites]

Yeah, the kidnap dungeon is not a promising plot development, but I'll grit my teeth and hope the narrative doesn't go fully in that direction. I'm assuming Erin's killer will end up being a different person than the kidnap dungeon guy as well.

Both the Erin-Becca-hot DJ and Mare-Zabel-boring author triangles are also of minimal interest to me, but whatever.

The most interesting part of the episode, for me, was which part of the investigation she's trying to hide from Zabel. I'm not clear what her motivation is in keeping the possible journals and the necklace to herself. Is she trying to be sure she's the one who figures it out? And if so, is this in case she needs to protect someone from consequences (not necessarily the killer) or just to feel like she's redeemed herself?

The date on the necklace was in 2017, I think. My boyfriend figures the necklace is probably Katie Bailey's - he thinks the date seems about right for Dawn's granddaughter's birth - so maybe Erin was killed by the same person who kidnapped Katie, but because she tried to blackmail him for what she assumed was a murder. I'm not actually 100% sure what year this is in show - presumably if I paid closer attention to the anniversary celebration in the first episode, I would have a clearer date.

Vulture lays odds on the long list of suspects as well, if you want some more idle speculation (idle speculation comes with a soft paywall/monthly article limit, just FYI before you waste a click).
posted by the primroses were over at 1:22 PM on May 11, 2021

Also, the whole subplot with Dawn and Freddie was just cooked. A junkie jonesing for his next hit does not strategically lay out and then calmly and clearly articulate over the phone the exact phases of the nefarious journey. Only ever time we've seen him he's staggering around scratching himself and twitching so that whole bit was just dumb. And both the kissing basement and kidnap basement bits were dumb.

Mare's mum hiding the ice cream in the frozen veggie bag was fun though.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:44 PM on May 11, 2021 [8 favorites]

As a tired middle-aged woman with close long-term female friends, I felt the scene between Mare and Lori.

I want the Hincheys to disown Dylan and adopt D.J.. I cannot figure out how such pleasant, loving people could have such an asshole for a son.

Mare: We're having a family meeting.
Siobhan: What's that?
Mare's mother: What's that?

I'd been wondering what Mare was short for, and now I know: Marianne.

I feel for Siobhan. She's had a tough go of it. My guess is that her older, troubled brother always sucked up all her parents' attention (that scene with Carrie and Kevin and Mare in the bathroom, yikes) and she has basically had to raise herself, and then once Kevin killed himself and her parents' marriage blew up, she was left dealing with that on her own too, and helping to raise her nephew, who may also have issues. It was nice to see her mother giving her at least a moment of attention and support during the family meeting.

"Let the healing begin!"

We saw a different side of Dawn in this episode. First we saw her with her granddaughter, then I really thought she was going to take money from the convenience store, but no, she made up dummy bills and brought a gun with her. And then she protected Beth from the knowledge of what Freddie had done. I'm surprised she didn't recognize Freddie's voice -- I did.

I agree that Freddie is way too much of a wreck to even try to pull off that kind of a scam.

Poor Carrie is trying to hard to make a home for her son, and she's up against so much.

Erin was at least contemplating turning to prostitution to get basic medical care for her son. Christ Almighty. Did she try crowdfunding?

When Mare said she'd left her phone in the Rileys' apartment, I didn't believe her for a minute.

The Sweet Dreams teen romance drama with Siobhan and Becca and Anne was funny, even if it was out of keeping with the rest of the show. One could see everything building up to some sort of collision, but I was not expecting anyone to wind up with a concussion. Anne seems like she could be really good for Siobhan, by the way, so I hope they keep seeing each other.

Mare: I assumed it'd be a lot worse.
Helen: Well I'm sorry I'm not more maimed for you.

We're looking at, potentially, three different mysteries here: who fathered D.J., who killed Erin, and who abducted Katie and Missy. They might be three different people, though I think the killer and the abductor are probably the same person.

I think the fact that the abductor's face was carefully hidden from us means that he is someone we've seen. We saw the abductor's hands and they were white, and D.J.'s father is almost certainly white, so that rules out Chief Carter and Freddie and Beth's husband Terrence, not that I suspected any of them anyway. We saw just enough of his face to see that the abductor is clean-shaven with short, darkish, slightly curly hair. He also has access to a basement below a bar. Let's look at who he might be:

Father Dan Hastings -- I have nothing to offer as proof that he's not involved, so sure, he could be the rabbit in the hat, but I don't get the vibe that he's anything but a decent guy.

Deacon Mark Burton -- My pick for D.J.'s father, but I find it hard to believe he's the killer or the abductor. It's too obvious, and he also does not seem violent, just as though he's a creep.

Richard Ryan -- Was with Mare at the time of Erin's murder, and I don't think he could have even known Erin. I find it hard to believe he's the abductor. Hair is too long and gray.

John Ross -- Has a beard. But... while Lori and Moira seem happy with their home life, there's something haunted about Ryan, like he knows something he's not saying.

Detective Colin Zabel -- Is doing his utmost to solve the crime and works by the book, so probably not.

Kenny McMenamin -- Kenny would be in jail at present for having shot Dylan, so he's not the abductor. I also don't believe for a minute that he killed Erin or fathered D.J.

Billy Ross -- Also has a beard.

Dylan Hinchey -- Dylan is in the hospital and can barely walk, so he's not the abductor. We know he isn't D.J.'s father. He could have killed Erin, but I don't think he did.

Steve Hinchey -- Seems to spend all his time with his family and be a very decent man.

Tony Delrasso -- A belligerent, violent asshole, so I suppose I can't rule him out.

Frank Sheehan -- Not the father, and was with others/very drunk the night of Erin's murder. Also has a beard, so I don't believe him to be the abductor.

I can't seem to draw any conclusions. I don't know who it would be at this point.
posted by orange swan at 8:52 PM on May 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

Deacon Mark Burton
wasn't he the one throwing the bike off the bridge?
posted by j_curiouser at 10:05 PM on May 11, 2021

While watching that last scene I was expecting Sam and Dean to kick down the door and rescue those girls. It's disappointing that the story has veered so far into cliche. The story arc is pretty much set in stone now. The only mystery is now is the identity the killer. I predict Mare will shoot him in the last 10 minutes. I'll keep watching because Kate Winslet is so good but this is a waste of her talent.
posted by night_train at 3:06 AM on May 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Yes, Mark threw Erin's bike off the bridge. He's definitely involved with Erin in some way. But the thing is it's SO obvious that he's involved that it makes me think he's not the killer. I think he's just D.J.'s father.
posted by orange swan at 4:29 AM on May 12, 2021 [3 favorites]

I think it's almost a certainty that Mare's daughter is the final kidnap victim.
posted by night_train at 6:48 AM on May 12, 2021 [3 favorites]

I hadn't thought of that, night_train, but I think you're right.
posted by orange swan at 7:17 AM on May 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

The thing about Deacon Mark's timeline though is that it seems from the storyline he's not been in Easttown that long, so would he have had time to get to know Erin, groom her, and impregnate her, given the apparent age of the baby (who looks - to my non-baby-having eye - to be 6 or 7 months old)? But that doesn't explain how he had Erin's bike in his possession.
posted by essexjan at 7:27 AM on May 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

D.J. is a year old -- Erin says so in the first episode. It is also said in a conversation between Dan and Mark in episode two that Erin used to be in their youth program but stopped attending meetings soon after she had the baby. So I think he has known her for long enough to have fathered the baby.

It could be that Erin called Deacon Mark for help that night, and that he picked her up and gave her ride elsewhere. I don't know how to explain the fact that he still had her bike. I suppose that it could have happened that there was some argument between them and she got upset and ran off despite his protests, leaving her bike in the trunk of his car. It does make sense he'd dump the bike in the river and keep silent about his role in the events of that night even if he's innocent, because he would know that given his record no one was going to believe his account of what happened.

One of the reasons I don't think he killed Erin was that she died of a gunshot, and Deacon Mark would not be at all likely to have had a gun.

I'm thinking about Erin's motivation for lying about who the baby's father was. She probably only had two candidates (i.e., Dylan and the actual father), because I doubt she would have been having sex with anyone else at that time. Her friend Jess said that Erin said it was Dylan because his parents were such good people who would love D.J., but why lie about it at all? Dylan's a shit, and he's just a teenager with no money. Erin must have had some compelling reason to lie. The real father must have been someone who was an even worse candidate for a father/source of child support, and/or there must have been some other consequence to the truth coming out. Perhaps she was afraid of what her father might do to the guy if he found out, as her father getting a prison sentence for assault would leave her completely screwed.
posted by orange swan at 8:24 AM on May 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Erin must have had some compelling reason to lie.

Protecting the father's standing in the church, perhaps. Still, it seems weird to me that if Deacon Mark were the father, he wouldn't be managing to subtly get the baby more help from Catholic charities. But maybe he didn't know he was the father.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:17 PM on May 12, 2021

I think it's almost a certainty that Mare's daughter is the final kidnap victim.

So far all the victims have all been drug addicts and/or (potential) sex workers. Siobhan has a stressful life, sure. but she seems to be the one teen girl who isn't on that particular path. I think it would be more likely Becca ends up disappearing and then Siobhan would blame herself for it.
posted by M Edward at 10:13 PM on May 12, 2021

As far as we know, it was a year between attempted abductions (even assuming Erin's death was an abduction gone wrong). There's already a fresh case for the cops to work - there's no reason I can see to have yet another teenager girl put in peril in the next 3 episodes. Mare has plenty of personal stress related to the case already. I really hope the writers knock it off. We're already verging on Easttown PD: SVU here.

(Also, not that it matters to anyone but me, but I saw that I typed "Erin-Becca-hot DJ" in my prior comment when clearly I meant "Siobhan-Becca-hot DJ" and I will feel itchy all day if I don't needlessly clarify!)
posted by the primroses were over at 3:50 AM on May 13, 2021

I will feel itchy all day if I don't needlessly clarify

I get like that when I post something with a mistake in it too.
posted by Paul Slade at 5:23 AM on May 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm not actually 100% sure what year this is in show

All of the inspection stickers on the cars are from 2019. I would hope that any continuity crew would have fixed that if incorrect.
posted by dforemsky at 2:22 PM on May 16, 2021

my main thought about this episode as I catch up on this very well-done show is that Camus would have been grumpy about the title

(it's easy enough to use Sisyphus as a metaphor for, uh, just about everyone in this show right now? but that's true of most characters in most dramatic things and especially of those in small-town-wherevers so it's hard to really get the specific resonance of the reference here. unless I missed an actual/literal reference somewhere?)
posted by Kybard at 6:20 PM on August 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

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