Mare of Easttown: Sore Must be the Storm
May 24, 2021 11:04 AM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

So much coming to light, so few answers. Mare opens up about her son's death; Siobhan makes a heart-wrenching confession; Pat, Billy, and John come in accordance; Deacon Mark sets the record straight; both Jess and Brianna come clean; and Lori airs out her brand new dirty laundry.

Recap from: Vulture, Esquire, Collider, AV Club. spoiler warnings for all.

Have we finally found the Who of this classic who-dun-it? Maybe not. Check out Vulture's updates of their Better's Odds on the current suspect list

The episode's title is taken from a well-known Dickinson poem - but who is the bird and who is the storm?

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
posted by FirstMateKate (31 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm 50% sure at this point that I think I know who killed Erin, but it seems to be too much of an obvious signpost (and I'll just say I don't think it's the person Mare thinks/has been told it is at this point in the story).

I found the flashback where Mare found her son's body was gut-wrenching, and my heart was also in my mouth in that scene with Drew, because they couldn't do that to us, could they?

Having just gone through what she went through when Colin was killed, Mare's decision to go on alone - again - shows either utter stupidity or a complete disregard for her own personal safety almost bordering on a death wish.

I'm looking forward to next week's final episode and the reveal of who the killer is. If it's the person who appears to have the big arrow over his head that says "He Did It", I'll be disappointed, as I think there's still a twist to come.
posted by essexjan at 11:55 AM on May 24, 2021 [4 favorites]

I think it's someone else too. (Do we not speculate in these threads?)

After the reveal of how her son died, the next time they showed a shot down that hallway, all I could think was what happened right above. I have had the experience of finding someone who died of natural causes in a home, and that was bad enough.

Last couple of episodes the show has lost a bit of its luster for me. Combination of a bit of clunky plotting and situations that make me furious. Having just suffered another deep loss myself, perhaps I should be more sympathetic to Mare. But she's been given little to no consequences for 1)`planting that heroin, which could have ruined that young woman's life, and 2) persuading Colin - through his crush on her - to work "off the books," carelessness which likely caused his death. His mother couldn't slap her hard enough for me.

For a high-school girl, Siobhan seems to be living a rather unsupervised life. She stays out all night - the family seemingly not knowing where she is - at a time when multiple young women have disappeared or been killed. I don't know if that's just the way this family is, or a sign that they're still so consumed with the son.
posted by NorthernLite at 12:56 PM on May 24, 2021

That was the incredibly stressful. I haven’t been this stressed watching a tv show since Ozark.
posted by chill at 1:21 PM on May 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Mare's visit to the jeweller's seemed rather rushed to me. She was barely in the door before the owner began telling her exactly what she wanted to know and then instantly produced the years-old paperwork. I guess they couldn't spare much time for that scene in the episode.

Also, shouldn't Mare have checked that Freddie was dead rather than simply assuming it? "He's gone" seemed a needlessly ambiguous way of breaking the news too. Gone as in dead, or gone as in skipped out the window?
posted by Paul Slade at 2:06 PM on May 24, 2021 [5 favorites]

I'm happy to speculate- I don't think Billy is the father of Eri's baby or her killer, but may have been involved with her death. I think John is one or both, or the other option is that his son Ryan is involved somehow. That picture definitely holds the answer! Dylan sucks, but I'm thinking he's acting cagey for some other criminal reason (drug dealing?) and isn't Erin's killer.
I did not enjoy the pseudo-drowning scene and might have refused to watch the finale if they killed off that toddler. I will say it's been a while since I watched a show in real time and I'm enjoying it! Who killed Erin? Will Siobhan go to college in CA and get the hell out of Easttown? (I hope so). Will Mare get her highlights touched up? A lot to resolve in the final episode, which I hope features plenty of Jean Smart!
posted by emd3737 at 3:21 PM on May 24, 2021 [7 favorites]

Will Mare get her highlights touched up?
I kind of love that it's apparent Mare hasn't addressed her hair color since her son died two years ago.

I think there's still a twist to come.
As long as the finale doesn't entail Mare, or one of her Lady Hawk teammates, beaning the killer by hurling a basketball (or other object) at him, I'll be okay with whatever plot twists are yet to be revealed.
posted by carmicha at 4:43 PM on May 24, 2021 [7 favorites]

then instantly produced the years-old paperwork

There was another scene intercut into the jewelry store scene, so the jeweler's search for the receipt could have taken awhile.

Also, shouldn't Mare have checked that Freddie was dead rather than simply assuming it? "He's gone" seemed a needlessly ambiguous way of breaking the news too.

That bugged me too. Freddie didn't look dead. And a cop I dated years ago told me that the rule on the force (Mississauga, Ontario) was that cops weren't to use euphemisms nor to try to soften the blow when breaking news of a death to people. Cops were told to say things like, "Your son is dead."

Poor Beth. What a terrible end to her brother's life.

I don't know how Mare could possibly have thought Colin's mother would want to see her or hear what she had to say. Dawn, by contrast, will be overflowing with gratitude until her dying day.

Siobhan gets next to no care or guidance from her parents, poor girl. She probably never really has. She's the wheel that doesn't squeak, the good kid who behaves well and is doing well in school and is responsible, and so she doesn't attract or ask for the attention she needs. Anne's acting like their very new relationship might be only temporary really threw Siobhan for a loop.

Frank's engagement seems to be off. Well, he was rushing things. Only two years before he was still married to Mare.

I'm amazed Ethan just let his mother sleep, even if only for a few minutes. My nieces and nephews certainly never let me doze off around them when they were his age. They'd shake me awake and demand that I play with them, even though there was the entire rest of the family present to pay attention to them.

Did Dylan really think Brianna wasn't going to rat him out immediately? Or that he was going to be able to keep Jess silent? Dylan is not smart. That scene with him and Mare was satisfying.

Did anyone else notice that in the scene between John and Billy Ross, neither of them ever talked about D.J.'s paternity? Billy just said he killed Erin, and then John said, "What am I going to do now?" as though the situation was something he was involved in and Billy had made it worse. And the anger Billy showed towards John when John wanted his help with the mattress set certainly seemed like a sign of something going on below the surface. If Billy had both had sex with Erin and killed her, why would he be lashing out at his brother for merely having had an affair? Another thing is that the jewelry store receipt just had the name "Ross" on it, with no first name.

(I'll just pause here to say how appalling it is that whichever of those two middle-aged men had sex with a fifteen- or sixteen-year-old second cousin then bought her a heart-shaped necklace to commemorate the occasion/pacify her into keeping quiet, and then the teenaged girl had to try to sell it to get money for the resulting baby's ear surgery. Christ Almighty. That's at least eight layers of horror right there.)

I know I've been wrong thus far with all my speculation, but here's my new theory: John fathered D.J.; Dylan did something to terrorize Erin that night, but didn't kill her; and Billy killed Erin to protect John. Though I still have no idea as to why Jess would be cooperating with Dylan at all, so I could be wrong.

I've also got a theory regarding D.J.'s name. Maybe Erin didn't know for certain who her baby's father was, and only figured it out months after he was born according to resemblance or something like that, and so when he was born gave him the initials of both the candidates for fatherhood: Dylan and John.

I also have my suspicions regarding who put that gun in the tackle box. If Billy had put it in there, he wouldn't have opened up the box so widely and stared at the gun when John was approaching the truck. I also note that John wanted to be the one to carry the tackle box, and gave Billy a look when he insisted on carrying it himself, and that John was the one who suggested the fishing trip in the first place.

If nothing else, things are not looking good for the future of Lori's marriage. And she was the only member of the former basketball team to have a relatively happy home life.

The photo that Jess gave Chief Carter looked to me to have the outline of John Ross on it, plus one or two more people whom I couldn't make out.

Chief Carter tells Mare to pull over and wait for back up, and she says copy... then accelerates her vehicle. Has she learned nothing from Colin's death? I know this time she's approaching two men she knows well rather than a stranger, but still. She believes one of them to be a murderer, and caution is warranted.
posted by orange swan at 9:23 PM on May 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

Last week, they had DJ crying in the crib in Dylan's hospital room, with an aggravated Dylan approaching him with a pillow, telegraphing, "Dylan's going to smother him," only to have them go "Fooled you!" as he picks up DJ and soothes him. And this week they had Carrie falling asleep while bathing Drew telegraphing, "Drew's going to drown when Carrie falls asleep" and then they had Carrie asleep Drew face down in tub only to go "Fooled you!" as Drew pops up as he says he was practicing holding his breath. There are good things in this show, but those are just cheap dramatic tricks, especially doing it twice.
posted by ShooBoo at 9:35 PM on May 24, 2021 [17 favorites]

I might have to go back and re-watch the interactions between the members of the Ross family, following some excellent speculation above.

I too was ready to turn off during the bath scene. Gratuitous and cruel and unnecessary. It’s my only issue with the show, that they don’t seem to have the courage of their convictions when it comes to telling a story about family trauma, and feel the need to throw in stuff like this (and to be honest the “comedy bits” feel jarring to me too).
posted by chill at 2:01 AM on May 25, 2021

I totally agree the scenes suggesting someone's going to do something to a child are unnecessary and gratuitous. I've barely got over the trauma of Bravo TV making me think Ramona's dog Coco (who is about 18 years old) was dead at the start of last week's episode of The Real Housewives of New York City. (Spoiler alert: Coco was just asleep.)
posted by essexjan at 2:22 AM on May 25, 2021

"Fooled you!"

Yes, this is extremely cheap writing, imo. Though this show has some things going for it, mostly I feel it's a waste of my time, specifically because the writing is so poor and consistently manipulative.

Mostly, I'm finding this show frustrating. It relies heavily on a style of writing that is becoming increasingly more common these days. (I first noticed it as something bothersome in Usual Suspects and it's everywhere these days).

Basically, I feel like the writers are trying to have their cake and eat it too. One glaring example from this show:

When it's to their advantage, they'll use something. When it's not, but they should, they won't. For instance, they ran DNA tests twice on this show so far to find out who was the father of the young boy, once with Mare's Ex and once with Erin's ex.

But when the opportunity to run DNA on the beer bottle from the last episode presented itself to rule out Billy, they didn't take it. Why? Well, we find out in this episode why they didn't do it: because it would have come back as negative because Billy isn't the father, John is.

Had they run the DNA they would have eliminated the ability for John to declare Billy told him he was the father and spoiled their own reveal, which I think is coming next episode. Us, as the audience, would have known that when John tells his wife that Billy confessed to being the dad that he was lying. But they didn't want us to have that information so instead just "forgot" about DNA in this case.

Of course Billy did not confess to being the kid's father. John merely made that up when he told his wife. Also, there is NO WAY IN HELL that anyone would tell condemning information about their own brother to the sister of a cop and tell her "don't tell your sister". It is laughably absurd that this is in the show, but again... it makes it easier for the writers. "How will we have Mare head up to the lake?!" -- "Just have her sister send her there." -- "How would the sister know?" -- "Just have the husband tell her." -- "Why would he do that? It makes no sense considering he plans to shoot his brother and he knows how close Mare and Mare's sister are?!" -- "Because we need Mare to head to the lake." -- "Oh, right."

So, so lazy.

Obviously, I think John is the father, which means I also think John is the murderer. I also think John used Billy's drunkeness to convince Billy he did the murder. Billy just came sober, covered in blood, heard about Erin and put 2 and 2 together and came to the wrong conclusion. I assume the gun that's in the tackle box is the same gun used on Erin and that it's John's gun. (And if this is the case I predict another cake having/eating moment coming regarding it!)

Regardless of the true answers to come next episode, the show is just frustratingly stupid.

Would Mare tell Dylan that Jess snitched on him? Absolutely not... unless the writers want a scene where Dylan puts a gun in her face and tells her she'll end up like Erin just to be a red herring.

Why is Dylan on the street? He was literally just told he was the main suspect in a murder and was caught lying to police about his alibi (twice!) and destroying evidence. He would be detained at least until his lawyer arrived and probably for 72 hours. But again, that doesn't serve the writers' purposes.

Does the jewellery store owner live under a rock?! A young girl in his own home town was recently murdered and it doesn't occur to him to call the police and say, "Hey, she was just in here trying to return a necklace." Strains credulity.

I also feel like the writers set things up and then didn't bother to use them. For instance, Zabo confesses to Mare that he didn't really solve the crime he's been praised for. Then, he again ends up being present -- as the only true officer on the scene as Mare's been suspended -- when the kidnapper is found. He should have wrongly been given credit for solving this crime as well, but it's never mentioned. Nor is Mare given credit. In fact, she's never asked how they ended up there! No one in the department asks what put them on the scene and the Chief then reinstates her after knowing she planted evidence AND was possibly responsible for the death of her partner. Makes zero sense.

Another example: Freddie tries to scam Chloe by pretending her daughter is still alive. They make a point of her bringing a gun, which Freddie steals... and then we never see that gun again. Why?

It's just set up after set up wasted.

Anyway, I'll go away now. Obviously I find this show frustrating.
posted by dobbs at 11:17 AM on May 25, 2021 [7 favorites]

Mare and Lori aren't sisters -- just friends from their high school days. I'm also not sure Billy even took a drink from that beer bottle, which would have left it without DNA.

Billy just came sober, covered in blood, heard about Erin and put 2 and 2 together and came to the wrong conclusion.

Billy came home covered in blood and was in the laundry room late at night washing his clothes. When his father caught a glimpse of him, Billy shut the laundry room door fast. This was before Erin's body had been found. If he was covered in blood for some innocuous reason, and it was before he knew Erin was dead, why was he trying to hide that he was? I think he killed Erin. Only her killer, who shot Erin at such close range, would have had blood on him.
posted by orange swan at 11:35 AM on May 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm also not sure Billy even took a drink from that beer bottle, which would have left it without DNA.

I agree. They made a point of giving us a close-up of that bottle as Mare stared at it with great significance. One reading of that is that she was thinking "Damn, he didn't even take a sip - that means I can't get DNA from the bottle."

Also ...

Metafilter: covered in blood for some innocuous reason.
posted by Paul Slade at 12:21 PM on May 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'm also not sure Billy even took a drink from that beer bottle, which would have left it without DNA.

You're correct that he doesn't drink from that full bottle, but before he gets the full bottle he finishes the beer in his hand and puts the empty on the coffee table.

When his father caught a glimpse of him, Billy shut the laundry room door fast. This was before Erin's body had been found.

Also true, but I'm speculating he merely woke covered in blood, didn't know why but suspects he did something wrong, doesn't know what, and then when Erin's discovered he comes to this conclusion.

Also, Erin left the woods gathering at 10pm. I don't recall if time of death was declared, but Billy's dad says it was 4 in the morning when he saw him in the laundry room. Even if she was killed at 1, he would have gone straight home to clean up and hid, not piddled around for 3 hours. Also, he was covered in blood -- arms, face, long-sleeve shirt, etc. Lot of blood for a single shot through the forehead, even if at close range.

I will not be surprised at all if Billy ends up being the killer, I just think it's unlikely because if he is, I don't see why John would want to kill him. And if John doesn't want to kill him, why's he taking him fishing and bringing along a hidden gun?

To my eye, the look on John's face when his dad tells him "I think Billy killed her" is not "Oh, shit, my brother's a murderer" -- it's "Oh, shit, this may be my way out."

I think most anyone at this point would speculate John is the father of DJ. If Billy killed Erin for some reason related to that (she was going to tell), then I find it suspect that he doesn't say that when he confesses to John. It seems implausible, especially with someone feeling guilty, that they would not attempt to outline their reasoning. I'd also argue that John not saying, "Why did you kill her?!" points to his own guilt. (And would also ask why his wife doesn't ask John, "Why would he kill her?!" when John tells her that Billy confessed. Wouldn't that be the natural response from anyone?)

Also, Billy does not come right out and confess. John absolutely badgers him into saying it. "I need to hear you say it. Say the words. Say you killed her."
posted by dobbs at 1:41 PM on May 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

if John is in fact the killer the fact that he badgers Billy into confessing is profoundly disturbing. I wouldn't have thought John would be a person to 1) knock up a teen 2) kill her 3) frame his drunk brother 4) maybe plot to kill his brother on the fishing trip. but things sure did seem to be pointing in that direction...
posted by supermedusa at 2:22 PM on May 25, 2021

I guess Siobhan did it? A show like this, the "gotcha!" at the end is always going to be completely left-field (see also: Broadchurch) and gimmicky. But, y'know, it works, and as people have been saying about the writing in this series, it seems exactly the sort of well they'd tap.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:27 PM on May 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

I just remembered John is supposedly at Frank's engagement party the night of the killing so that may be his alibi -- though I don't recall if we actually saw him there -- depending on when that ended.

It occurs to me that there's another reason John may want to have badgered his bro into a confession and want to kill him: Billy did kill her and John "loved" her. If he knows he's the father and gave her the necklace and has genuine affection for her he may want to kill her killer and if that killer is his brother he'd want to hear it straight from his mouth.
posted by dobbs at 2:36 PM on May 25, 2021

he was covered in blood -- arms, face, long-sleeve shirt, etc. Lot of blood for a single shot through the forehead, even if at close range.

Erin was shot 13 miles away from where she was found. So I don't really care who shot Erin, Billy or John, but I think they both moved her, stripped her, and left her in the creek. Billy was covered in blood because he helped move her, and I don't know what happened to John's bloody clothing, but I suppose he found a place for them. I do think John fathered the baby because we've spent so much time hearing "D.J." I expect it to be Dylan John. Plus, Lori and John were considering taking D.J. into their family.

Chief then reinstates her after knowing she planted evidence AND was possibly responsible for the death of her partner

I really think that the show forgives Mare for both of these things. She's even joking about planting evidence. And, we get the bath time fake out so we're sure that Carrie really isn't a good mother at all. Maybe it's when it was filmed, but I think the show expects the audience to forgive Mare too.

Kate Winslet is so good in this, and there was a lot of good acting. And, I think the feeling of the show works. The writing and plotting aren't up to the rest of it. Or, maybe it didn't know what it wanted to be -- gritty, realistic suburban cop in an opioid town or young women in danger thriller cop show. It did squander a lot of promise. At least Guy Pierce didn't murder anyone.
posted by gladly at 8:11 PM on May 25, 2021

People who criticize cheap Child Imperilment scares in the writing maybe have a point, but I’ve found the whole show to be deeply affecting. Since each character’s life is a minefield of deprivation and unprocessed grief, it is not so unreasonable that a camera trained on any one of them would anticipate a fresh horror at every turn: a drowning here, a smothering there. Look at what has already happened in their world.
posted by la glaneuse at 12:20 AM on May 26, 2021 [12 favorites]

One last thing in Billy's favor as the non-shooter: when John goes back to his father's house, Billy is quietly furious with him until he shouts about holding John accountable for once in his life. Maybe Billy always knew about Erin and John?
posted by gladly at 5:53 AM on May 26, 2021

Binged this last weekend so I’m we’re talking about it.

I think Ryan Ross did it, or was heavily involved somehow. When Ryan is first on screen in one of the early episodes I said aloud, “that kid did it.” Based on nothing other than they show him looking sketchy as hell for absolutely no reason.

My theory: John is indeed the father of Erin’s baby. Ryan knows about it and he kills Erin out of anger because he feels like she is responsible for jeopardizing his parents’ marriage. Jon and Billy somehow know Ryan killed Erin and they dispose of the body to protect him. Jon brings the gun to the fishing trip planning to kill Billy because he is worried that he is going to confess the whole thing.

As far as the show overall, yeah, it’s got some serious defects. Similar to the first season of True Detective, people expect more out of it than it can offer. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it by treating it as simply an entertaining whodunit.
posted by scantee at 1:28 PM on May 26, 2021 [7 favorites]

Honestly the clearest theory in my opinion is that John is the father and Billy is the killer. Makes sense of Billy's saying whatever it was about John fucking stuff up because he couldn't keep it in his pants, and this time John could take responsibility and clean up his own mess. Billy's resentful that the last time, he had to "clean up" the mess by killing Erin. His motivation for that would have been that Erin had been threatening to tell, and he wanted to protect his brother from the consequences of incestuous rape.

Not sure why John felt the need to force the confession from Billy. Maybe he was recording. In any case, now he intends to kill Billy because even if Billy confesses to the murder, DNA could still rule him out as the father. Maybe he assumes that Billy's confession and subsequent disappearance makes all that go away?
posted by torticat at 4:05 PM on May 26, 2021

I didn't think the bathtub or pillow incidents were gratuitous. Dylan's SUCH a horrible character that the show needed to lighten up on him a little, to show that he's not such an absolute monster as to be abusive towards a baby. And I think the bathtub incident is going to be used as a catalyst for Carrie to drop her custody suit. A scare like that is going to shake her confidence terribly, and she'll start feeling maybe Drew should stay with the Sheehans.
posted by orange swan at 1:39 PM on May 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

Has she learned nothing from Colin's death?

flawed protagonist fer sher. but also - she's not a very good detective. i think that goes against the grain of expectation we have of a kate winslet main character. mare has not been a paragon of competence. more 'okay at a hard job'.

writing issues, yeah a little, but editors never get enough blame.

all in all, completely worth it for the performances alone. casting director did a bang up job.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:09 PM on May 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

So apparently the bullet Mare found in the tree was from an old police revolver. What if, after all this intrigue, Erin’s death turned out to be an accident or misadventure rather than murder—something involving Ryan Ross and Mare’s father’s gun, perhaps?
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 10:33 AM on May 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

ep, creator, screenwriter brad inglesby interviewed by ebert's ron perez.

it's pretty accomodating - maybe gushy -but speaks to winslet's overall contribution.
posted by j_curiouser at 12:39 PM on May 28, 2021

Re: the bathtub scene. Earlier in that episode, when Mare was talking about the day Kevin died, she told the therapist that Drew wasn't home that day because Frank had taken him to swimming lessons. Drew would have maybe been around two at that time, but babies can start swim lessons when they're six months old - they naturally hold their breath. Still maybe a little bit of a cheap shot, but we had good reason to know that Drew is very comfortable in the water.
posted by triggerfinger at 11:35 AM on May 30, 2021

My guess: John and Billy’s father did it. Billy is taking the fall for him.
posted by bq at 12:38 PM on June 20, 2021

Will Mare get her highlights touched up?
I kind of love that it's apparent Mare hasn't addressed her hair color since her son died two years ago.

I think, looking back on it, people will see it as a mark of a show made in 2020, when popping out to get highlights was not so simple - and when, to some extent, we were all looking a little like Mare.
posted by rongorongo at 11:17 PM on August 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

The bathtub scene was where I was finally able to relax and not take this show seriously. I’ve enjoyed my six hours, no regrets, kudos to Kate Winslet and HBO will keep on getting my money for this. But it’s gonna be 90% forgotten within days of me watching the finale.

At this point I have to partly blame myself for thinking that *this time* they really are going to have a dark detective drama not spin out of control and rely on genre cliches to mange the landing.
posted by skewed at 10:40 AM on February 28, 2022

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