Mare of Easttown: Illusions
May 18, 2021 7:07 AM - Season 1, Episode 5 - Subscribe

In her mandated therapy, Mare opens up about her family's history with mental health struggles. Meanwhile, Lori tries to get to the bottom of her son's outburst at school, and later, Mare meets with a semi-retired source to help find a possible connection to her three cases.
posted by gladly (28 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Where do we go from here? There are two episodes left! Obviously there's a large missing piece and they probably didn't hire Guy Pearce for what he's done so far...but still.
posted by wellred at 7:37 AM on May 18, 2021

This was a rollercoaster of an episode, and I did NOT see that coming.

After a couple of episodes that had seemed a little slow, there was a whole heap of plot exposition in this one - with various characters either exposing themselves more as potential suspects (Dylan, Cousin Billy) or providing explanations that might exonerate them (Deacon Mark).

Mare, too, gave up more of her fears and motivations in therapy; this has been a wonderful, nuanced, multi-layered performance by Kate Winslet. In particular this week, I loved the scene with Mare and Helen driving back from the funeral, Mare laughing her head off at Glenn's bombshell, guilt-fuelled news. Helen the Saint exposed as the Sinner!
posted by essexjan at 8:09 AM on May 18, 2021 [7 favorites]

Can someone DM me what episodes have sexual assault as a topic and how graphic that is? Thanks!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:11 AM on May 18, 2021

I'm not sure about Guy Pearce since he wasn't originally planned for this role, and he was a last-minute addition. But, putting a pin in him for a moment.

What I was most preoccupied with after this episode was where Lori Ross and her husband fit into Erin's murder and DJ's parentage. And, in terms of clues in the writing, why did Lori ask her son, "Is it with the same woman as before?" Why have the character use the name if they're not hiding something from us? Between Billy Ross getting himself a full beer then taking off when the conversation turned to Erin, and John Ross's secret with Ryan, I feel like we might have DJ's father in there, if not Erin's killer.

Looking back, Zabel was having a "my last day before retirement" sort of day where I shouldn't have been surprised that he didn't make it out of the Potts house. I'm assuming that we're going to see Mare follow-up on some alibis after Zabel's confession about the Upper Darby case.

I loved the Helen funeral confession, and Mare's drive home with her. Jean Smart is a delight in this role.
posted by gladly at 8:16 AM on May 18, 2021 [4 favorites]

incredible episode!! lots of slow pacing and character moments leading up to a "silence of the lambs"-esque final scene. bummed about Zabel :(
posted by supermedusa at 9:09 AM on May 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Silence of the Lambs episode -- the similarities were too much, including the tension. Yes, what a rollercoaster!
posted by mefireader at 9:11 AM on May 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm really glad they didn't drag out the abducted girls plot line. Introducing it at the end of one episode and solving it by the end of the next is good. Now back to "who killed Erin/who is DJ's dad?" but with extra layers of longing and guilt for Mare.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:43 AM on May 18, 2021 [5 favorites]

Huge spoilers for my entire comment

An Ode to Detective Colin Zabel, Zucchini Lover and Mare Admirer. Man, that really got me. I liked his sophomoric puppy crush. I liked that he tried hard. I liked that he cared. I like that, from the very beginning, he wanted Mare to be treated better.

I was pretty upset that this show, that started out so claustrophobic and intimate decided to go the "stranger kidnaps women as a boogey man" route. They saved the show, a very small amount, by immediately resolving that plot direction immediately without any visible brutalization and without expecting the audience to get to know the bad guy.
posted by FirstMateKate at 12:31 PM on May 18, 2021 [6 favorites]

I agree with pretty much everything said here. I was ready to give up on the show after the last episode, but it won me back over with this latest one -- definitely want to see it through, now. The Betty Carrol death was a little odd -- it seemed to carry a lot of significance, but then didn't really deliver (I thought the power outage would lead to something more, but I guess Mare caught a glimpse of Siobhan's documentary -- and then the widower's hilarious disclosure).
posted by AwkwardPause at 1:57 PM on May 18, 2021

It seemed like Mare didn't consider the sex work angle for Katie Bailey until Missy Sager went missing. Did I miss something? Was there any evidence that led to checking Sidedoor in the Sager case?

I'm really enjoying watching this spread out. I got distracted Sunday night & missed it, so it was a real treat Monday night.
posted by ASCII Costanza head at 8:02 AM on May 19, 2021

Hmmm... this recap of ep. 4 says
Hauser doesn’t think the two cases are linked but Mare has a very different theory. In fact, she believes these cases could well be linked to prostitution. “Teenage girls are sneaky,” She retorts knowingly.
Zabel and Mare both visit Jess, who in turn reveals that Erin opened an account on an escort site called Sidedoor. She wanted to get ear surgery and was just doing this line of work long enough to save up some cash.
I'll watch again, but it sounds like Mare had the idea of prostitution on her own (why after a year?), confirmed w/ Jess, then found Erin's page & got met who contacted her.
posted by ASCII Costanza head at 8:08 AM on May 19, 2021

Well that was unexpected, which is good, It is a little odd that cops would casually call on someone they suspect of being a kidnapper without a ton of backup and maybe a bit of research beforehand. You could argue that Mare is at least partially responsible for her partner's death. But I'm probably expecting too much in the way of realism. It's a good entertaining show.
posted by night_train at 9:21 AM on May 19, 2021

Very glad that the kidnapped girls plotline was resolved quickly as I found that aspect of the show less interesting than Mare's family dynamics and town ravaged by the opioid epidemic theme. To me, it made sense for them to pursue the kidnapper suspect without backup as lives were on the line.

Lots of red herrings but I think the Ross family must be linked to Erin's death in some way. Two more episodes to go, right? I hope we see more Helen, clearly the highlight of the series.
posted by emd3737 at 10:50 AM on May 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

it sounds like Mare had the idea of prostitution on her own (why after a year?), confirmed w/ Jess, then found Erin's page & got met who contacted her.

Given the reveal that Jess has been taking orders from Dylan, I wonder if the Sidedoor/prostitution link was inadvertent on Jess's part. She said she created the page with Erin, but can we trust that now? Jess might have accidentally gotten the other girls found by trying to link Erin to them.

And I'm really hoping that someone explains why Erin was shot 13 miles away and then dumped back in the creek. If you were Erin's murderer, wouldn't it be better to have her case worked by a police department that doesn't know her family that well?
posted by gladly at 11:17 AM on May 19, 2021

Kate Winslet is just fantastic in this. I’m not sure I’d be nearly as gripped if it wasn’t for her performance.

On some of the doubts above...

Another kid went missing who also had a drug problem which led to sex work, which is where that angle suddenly came from. Mare got the idea of checking whether Erin was involved in sex work because she knew she was desperate for money for her kid’s ear operation.

That whole thing with the journals could be them protecting Erin or it could be them protecting themselves.

Mare had to drag the info from Jess, which suggests they hadn’t faked it, but it could be misdirection. She had the login details after all.
posted by chill at 12:00 AM on May 20, 2021

is zabel dead for sure? i mean, it looked like it in the moment, but nothing actually confirmed it.
posted by j_curiouser at 9:25 AM on May 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

The big reveal of Helen having had an affair with her crabby neighbour's husband was HILARIOUS. I was laughing my head off right along with Mare during the follow-up car scene. Helen will never, ever live that down. People from that intertwined community are going to be either laughing or clutching their pearls about it long after she's gone.

I'm picking Billy as D.J.'s father now. D.J. kind of looks like him. I think he might be the killer too. It would make sense that he would be desperate to avoid having the truth about D.J.'s paternity come out. Didn't he own a gun too?

Dylan is obviously up to some kind of shady business, but I don't know what. I don't believe he killed Erin because that would leave him with 100% responsibility for D.J., and he wouldn't want that. But why burn the journals? Even if he did kill Erin or did something else to her that night besides what we know about, it can't be just about that because the journals wouldn't give him away -- Erin never reached home that night to write in them. Where was he that night? What's he hiding?

And what the fuck is going on with Jess? She seemed to genuinely care about Erin, and she clearly didn't want to burn those journals. How is Dylan getting her to do what he wants? For that matter, why would ANY of these girls ever have gotten involved with Dylan? He's not even attractive.

Pissing off Brianna was a dumb move on Dylan's part. She NASTY. She's going to sing like a canary to get herself a better plea bargain. Hell, she might do it just for the sheer vindictive pleasure of it.

Anyway, Dylan is a waste of oxygen and I hope something really terrible happens to him. I know he's been shot, but that's not bad enough. He even pocketed the money for D.J.'s ear surgery.

Mare and Colin really should have thoroughly searched Erin's room for anything resembling a journal. It seems really contrived to me that they didn't.

I am glad Katie and Missy were found alive and that their abductor is dead, although it is awful that it had to be at the price of Colin's life. That's partly on Mare, who should not have been working the case. Colin should have had another armed cop with him.

And now we know what Ryan's so haunted about. I'll just say here that if he were my son, and had gone after his sister's bully with a lunch tray, I would not have seen the need to punish him for it any further than whatever consequences the school principal saw fit to impose.

I wonder where D.J. will wind up. At least he's being well cared for by Dylan's parents at present. I doubt Lori and her husband will decide to take him in given that their marriage is currently on the rocks, and I can't think of anyone else who would be suitable.

It seems like Deacon Mark might be in the clear after all. He might be just someone who doesn't have the best judgment or boundaries.
posted by orange swan at 11:47 AM on May 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

I found it very bizarre that Billy got a beer and left after being interrogated about Erin, implying he was either the father or the killer, and then there was a shot of his beer bottle... and the cop didn't take it for DNA. WTF?
posted by dobbs at 3:41 PM on May 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

We didn't see what Mare did after she stared at that bottle of beer with one swallow gone from it. She may have taken it for DNA, or she may not have.
posted by orange swan at 3:54 PM on May 20, 2021 [4 favorites]

yeah, i caught that. billy was sure acting fishy.

on second viewing, looks like zabel got it in the noggin from the wall decoration.
posted by j_curiouser at 12:13 AM on May 21, 2021

I thought the significance of the beer bottle close-up was not that Mare planned to get a DNA sample from it, but simply that it underlined Billy's anxiety to get away.

I read her thinking as something like this: "He's just asked for another beer, so he'd plainly intended to stick around long enough to drink it, then he runs off the second someone asks him about Erin? Who leaves a beer untouched like that? What's he so nervous about?"

[My recollection is that close-up showed the beer bottle completely full, but I could be wrong about that.]
posted by Paul Slade at 5:24 AM on May 21, 2021 [5 favorites]

I agree that the main significance of the lingering Rolling Rock shot was the fullness of the beer. This show has shown very little interest in forensic science as a plot point - we got the ME confirming a few things about the death, but otherwise the show has pretty much only shown us the investigative points that interest Mare - alibis, motives, etc.

Even the scene in which they looked for a bullet was more about establishing the park as the definite crime scene, and establishing Mare's tenacity, than it was about evidentiary value - have we even heard what caliber bullet killed Erin?

I would be surprised if we hear about forensic evidence as anything other than a confirmation of a solve through Good Police Work - I agree with gladly that Zabel's confession about his limited role in cracking the prior cold case (followed by his immediate death, sheesh) is likely to lead to Mare more closely examining alibis.

That said, this show has thrown some genuinely jarring curveballs in the last couple episodes, so I am prepared to be utterly wrong about all of this. Maybe we're about to go full CSI.

Episode highlight was clearly the funeral affair confession, followed by the immediate cut to Mare cackling on the car ride home. Hahahahaha, that is how you bring the comic relief!

I was also pleased to see Mare actually working things through with her therapist this episode. That was another unexpected twist, at least for me.
posted by the primroses were over at 6:58 AM on May 21, 2021 [5 favorites]

I binged the five episodes this week. Even though I'd seen the young cop's death coming a mile away - Marconi would've been proud of the telegraphing - and also thought the actor was a bit of a weak link in the cast, it was disturbing.

Telegraphing: All that talk about "I've never done anything," the impulsive kiss, the mother telling him to be careful and her lingering look as he left. Oh, and Mare, who lost her own son, looking back at his mom as they were about to drive away.

I also had guessed that he didn't really solve that other crime.

There was an odd symmetry between the kid whopping that lunchroom prick with a tray, and Mare swatting the kidnapper with some kind of tray. (But I missed it, and too lazy to rewatch. No-rules Mare had her service weapon taken away. But did she have a personal gun with her, and drop it in the initial exchange?)

Poor Kate Bailey has some heavy therapy ahead of her. It's not really the main storyline, but I keep thinking about her poor mother and her.

Mare is a shitty cop in some significant ways. I wasn't sure why, in that previous episode, she deleted video at the older couple's house. But it served as a foreshadowing of her greater corruption and incompetence. Planting the heroin, chasing the man with dementia. And then using the young cop's infatuation to keep working the case after she was suspended, leading to his death.

One character who's really been a mystery is Dylan. (I keep calling him Jack White, reminds me of him a bit.) Is he a really bad guy or just a kind of screwed up kid?

I've also caught the first four episodes of Hacks during the same few days. It's wild to go back and forth from Jean Smart in that to this show.

Oh, and I can never remember how to pronounce Siobhan, and until I read it here, I'd spent five episodes wondering what kind of name Chovan (spelling in my head) is. (Insert embarrassed emoji.)
posted by NorthernLite at 10:32 AM on May 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

I read her thinking as something like this: "He's just asked for another beer, so he'd plainly intended to stick around long enough to drink it, then he runs off the second someone asks him about Erin? Who leaves a beer untouched like that? What's he so nervous about?"

Clearly, yes. That's what the audience is supposed to get out of it. But Mare's not the audience. Personally, if she doesn't do a dna check on that bottle, I'd say she's either a much worse at her job than I thought or the writers are much worse at theirs. That's a doozy of a miss by any measure.

This show has shown very little interest in forensic science

Well they already went into DNA with Dylan and the baby. The idea clearly isn't that foreign to them.


I gotta say one of the weirdest things about the show -- and it's bothered me from the very beginning -- is just how many damn cops there are. Shots when she's at HQ there seems to enough cops for a city, not a small town -- and I don't recall ever seeing such a diverse force in any show/movie in my life. It seems positively implausible. And with the exception of the chief, they're all window dressing. As David Milch would say, Captain Fancy. Not really the way I wish a lack of diversity in tv gets sorted.
posted by dobbs at 9:13 PM on May 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

(But I missed it, and too lazy to rewatch. No-rules Mare had her service weapon taken away. But did she have a personal gun with her, and drop it in the initial exchange?)

Mare didn't have a gun (which she signaled to Colin). She killed Potts with Colin's dropped gun.
posted by donajo at 5:42 PM on May 24, 2021

That's another plot flaw to me. How many cops in the US don't have personal weapons. It just seemed like she would've been carrying.
posted by NorthernLite at 10:05 PM on May 24, 2021 [3 favorites]

The Betty Carrol death was a little odd -- it seemed to carry a lot of significance, but then didn't really deliver

I think this was simply because the great Phyllis Somerville died in July 2020, in between the initial filming in Fall 2019 and its resumption in Fall 2020.
posted by pjenks at 1:51 PM on May 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

Mare is a shitty cop in some significant ways.

Ahaha yes. Winslet's a great actor and she's doing a good job as the kind of blunt and ground-down Mare, but hoo boy. One of the things I watch crime shows for is displays of professional competence, and there's not a lot of that going around, except for the gal who got away from the kidnapper and wrote down a partial plate.

The idea of getting the DNA from the beer bottle is the immediate next implication after showing Billy's full bottle. It's not going to occur to everybody but I think it's going to occur to enough people that it's kind of a blunder. Not that this show is lacking in wtf. For example I also did not find it believable that Mare didn't know about Erin living with uncle/cousin Billy. Her bestest closest only-est friend? Who frequently took care of Erin? Wouldn't have mentioned it as notable family gossip during those couple months? No way.

Also, like downing the kidnapper with a (tiny folding chair???) object then not just continuing to brain him or take his gun away .... I guess they were already in clicheville so why not.

And yeah as noted, the way that a lot of the small roles around the edges are cast with black people, but none of them pierce into the heart of the show, is kind of a weird pattern of diversity.
posted by fleacircus at 10:51 PM on July 15, 2021

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