Miss Lady Hawk Herself
Episode 1 of Mare of Easttown begins with Detective Sergeant Mare Sheehan receiving a call from Miss Carol early in the morning. Annoyed and cold, she shows up and listens as she discusses a “ferret-looking man” lurking about.
According to her, he was wearing a hooded jacket and watching her granddaughter from the garden opposite. Mare agrees to look into this down at the station and takes off.
Ignoring a call from Frank, Mare arrives at the station to polite applause. That’s not for her though, but instead for the new recruit Officer Trammel, who joins their ranks.
Mare is called into the Chief’s office, where news has broken with the media surrounding Katie Bailey. She’s been missing for a year and it seems the police have given up. Although Mare has chalked this up to a drug-induced runaway, there’s undoubtedly a lot of pressure on the police. So much so in fact, Mare is forced to revisit this case from the very beginning.
Meanwhile, single Mum Erin hands over her child to Dylan, following him outside. There’s obviously no love lost between Erin and Dylan’s new girlfriend, Brianna, with the latter even promising that Erin will “get it” later on down the line.
Things aren’t easy for Erin, especially when her Father shows and gives her the cold shoulder. He’s not happy about the perceived financial burden having a child is having on the household. Despite Erin’s best intentions, she can seemingly do no right by her Dad. Thankfully she still has her friend Brendan, whom she messages and promises to meet later in the day.
Officer Trammel rings Mare with news of a burglary. Given how beloved Mare is to everyone in this town, she heads over to Beth’s house to help. On the way she finds Freddie Hanlon, the man who broke into Beth’s house and trashed the trophy cabinet. Mare chases the man over a fence but injures her foot in the process.
Trammel eventually catches up, where Mare takes charge of the situation and takes Freddie out in handcuffs. Beth arrives and despairs, seeing her ex partner in such a state and wondering when enough is enough.
This mantra of “enough is enough” is something Mare carries with her when she returns home. Hobbling over to the table, she immediately ices up her foot. That dull, throbbing pain continues when she speaks to her Mother.
It turns out her ex Frank has arranged a meal for them all, with news that he’s engaged to a girl called Faye. Given Mare and Frank used to be together, this is a tough pill for her to swallow. After a quip about her cooking, Mare’s cousin jokes, admitting that Frank hadn’t “met the right woman” until now. Just to add salt in the open wound, Frank and Faye happen to live in the house directly opposite to hers.
Mare’s daughter Siobhan heads over early and begins singing with her band, celebrating Faye and Frank’s recent announcement. Mare hangs back though, deciding against showing as she has a reunion of her own. She’s clearly not one for big shows and the reunion at the basketball court forces her to try and play along, struggling to smile.
After, Mare heads to the local bar. There, she gets talking to a man named Richard. He’s new in town – and a Professor no less. He’s also someone she can vent to.
The small town mentality definitely doesn’t suit Mare, and you can’t help but shake the feeling that she’s playing out this “big fish in a small pond” trope. After hooking up with the Professor, Mare stumbles home at 3.30am, where her Mother immediately casts a judgmental eye.
Things are about to be shaken up for Mare and the town though. Erin shows up to meet Brendan, encouraged to head out to Bridge Point. Unfortunately Brendan is a fabrication invented by Brianna to get revenge on her. With Dylan filming, Brianna strikes Erin several times across the face.
Thankfully Siobhan shows up and saves her, as Erin walks away alone and struggles to hold back tears.
As the episode closes, we pan across to a new day where Erin is lying dead and motionless on a stack of rocks. A gash across her head seems to indicate she was struck – or maybe she fell? Mare inevitably receives the call and prepares for a big murder investigation.
The Episode Review
Mare of Easttown is a fascinating, small town mystery that sets the scene beautifully in this first episode. Kate Winslett is great in her role but so too are the various other characters. The dialogue feels very on-point for how a community like this would react as well, and props to Director Craig Zobel for this.
Little touches like characters overlapping dialogue with others, natural bites of comedy and gossiping all feed into this feel as well.
It’s also nice that this show essentially delivers an hour of simple character drama before plunging into the case right at the end. This not only introduces us to the different residents, it also allows time for everyone to come to foreground and become possible suspects.
Could this be a serial murder linked to the missing person case of Katie Bailey? And what about Erin’s death itself? Who could be responsible? Richard being the new-guy in town seems like a red herring and I suspect it’s someone closer to home.
So far though, Mare of Easttown presents a gripping mystery, one that’s sure to deliver some great drama over the weeks to come. Roll on next week!