The premiere of HBO’s Mare of Easttown takes a little while to pique interest but will leave you wondering what happens next by the end of the episode
Last Updated: 06.30 PM, Apr 20, 2021
We’ve seen Kate Winslet do a bunch of things on screen - she’s been a teenage murderess, a woman of high society falling in love with a commoner on a ship and a former Nazi camp guard. In Brad Engelsby’s Mare of Easttown, she’s a detective, a divorceé and a grieving mother with a limp. Vaping through her time as a pivotal figure in the tightly knit community of the fictional town of Easttown in Pennsylvania, Winslet’s character Mare Sheehan has little tolerance for those around her. This becomes evident in her constant annoyance, hidden resentment and desire to be alone.
The premiere episode of this seven-part HBO miniseries begins with Mare receiving a call in the wee hours of the morning. She follows up and finds out that Mrs. Betty Carroll (Phyllis Somerville) has a complaint - her granddaughter has apparently noticed a peeping Tom that has scared her. Mare’s interaction with Mrs Carroll reveals that Mare is a well-known figure around the town, having lived here for most of her life.
As the plot progresses, viewers realise that the simplicity of Easttown is superficial - terrible crimes lurk underneath the surface. The bleak town is ridden with alcoholism, drug abuse, poverty, unemployment and personal tragedy. Mare fits right into this dismal town, for something is amiss in her own life. Though reasons for this are not clear yet, there are enough hints up until this point, for she’s raising her young grandson all by herself, her mother (Jean Smart) has moved into her house and her ex-husband (David Denman) has occupied the house directly behind her residence.
Slowly, reasons behind Mare’s demeanour (and also reasons behind viewers sticking through this crime-drama) are explained. She is on a downward spiral ever since she lost her son, an added blow was her divorce. Her personal demons haunt her and being stuck in this rusty town where everyone glorifies her for a shot she scored at a basketball game years ago, earning her the nickname of ‘Lady Hawk’, adds to her frustration.
What truly pushes the narrative forward in the Mare of Easttown is the disappearance of Dawn’s (Enid Graham) teenage daughter which has remained unsolved for a year. She does not believe that the police will be of any help and organises a press conference by herself, which adds to the bitterness Mare feels for not being able to crack the case. Adding to Mare’s troubles is the news of her ex-husband’s engagement and the final blow is that her mother and daughter plan to attend the engagement party, abandoning the special ceremony that has been organised to honour the town’s old basketball team.
If Mare’s day in this episode sounds bad to you, hang on tight. It gets much worse for both her and Erin McMenamin (Cailee Spaeney). Erin is a teen-mom who is dating Brendan online. But by the end of the episode, Brendan’s true identity is revealed in a party in the woods. The next time the audience sees Erin is when she’s discovered on the edge of the lake- a cold, naked corpse with a gash on her forehead.
Though the show takes a while to quicken its pace, there is a definite promise of dark secrets being unearthed by Mare. The richness of the characters, the gloomy setting of the town and Winslet’s brilliant performance makes the show stand apart from all other crime-dramas based in small towns yet. The episode will reel you in slowly and you’ll be left waiting to discover the truth behind the crimes that Mare has been entrusted to solve.
The first episode of Mare of Easttown can be streamed on Disney+ Hotstar.