Mare of Easttown final: sometimes doing the right thing
The following contains spoilers for the Easttown mare finale, Episode 7, “Sacrament”
I can’t believe seven weeks have passed. It feels like yesterday we were introduced to Kate Winslet’s Mare Sheehan who was waking up to investigate a voyeur incident. Now here we find the answer to the big question: who killed Erin (Cailee Spaeny)? Easttown mareThe finale of Us gives that answer, but also wraps up its exploration of the titular character’s struggle to overcome grief.
I had not been familiar with the theories circulating in the interwebs. An acquaintance had recently informed me about people blowing up the picture of Chief Carter (John Douglas Thompson) holding the episode 6 picture while trying to figure out who is in it. Angourie Rice, who plays Siobhan Sheehan, had made a meeting where she was asked about her favorite theory and responded by explaining that some fans thought it was the turtle. The times I checked the Easttown mare tag on Twitter I received countless comments about Kate Winslet’s accent and Helen (Jean Smart) playing again Fruit Ninja, but never any idea who could potentially have murdered Erin. I even had my own theory. It was nice to see that some aspects of it were perfect even though I was wrong when it came to naming the actual killer.
For those who thought that John Ross (Joe Tippett) had been the one who killed Erin, they were a little right. No, he wasn’t the one who pulled the trigger, but he was the one who made the decision to continue having an incestuous relationship with his niece. The move sparked a chain reaction of events that led her son Ryan (Cameron Mann) to accidentally kill Erin in a poorly orchestrated attempt to scare her away.
John should never have put the burden of his infidelity on Ryan because at that point, in Ryan’s mind, he was tricked into believing that it was his job to keep his family together. I’ve never been more in touch with Ryan than when he expressed his reason for doing what he did. I was about his age, and also the oldest child, when I remember being trained to lie to social workers about the conditions I was growing up under. I was told to teach my siblings what to say to social workers in order to prevent us from being placed in the foster system. I wanted to do anything to keep my family together because as a kid I was afraid of what might happen if we weren’t. Ryan was afraid that his family unit would break up, so he decided that “scaring” Erin would be the best solution. My lies about my life didn’t stop us from being placed in foster care, and Ryan’s attempt to scare Erin back turned against him in the worst possible way.
Remember all those times Detective Colin Zabel (Evan Peters) made those passive comments about Mare Sheehan knowing absolutely everyone in town, and how much I didn’t like her character being used for this plot? Guess I have to apologize, because it looks like he was correct in making that assumption. I give you all permission to do the Grace Adler “I told you!” Dance the next time you see me on the street or at a convention.
The Sheehans and Rosses have been linked the entire time thanks to the close relationship between Mare and Lori (Julianne Nicholson). As the title suggests, “Sometimes the Work sucks,” and this is one of those times. For seven weeks we dove deep into Mare Sheehan’s world and the one great constant in her life, the one thing that has kept her sane is her close friendship with Lori. These two are practically sisters, it’s the only relationship in Mare’s life that she hasn’t ruined with the “Mare Sheehan Bubble”.
Easttown mare final asks us the question as viewers: where to draw the line? How long is a friendship, no matter how close, lasting when your family is in danger? We learned that John was unfaithful before, but Lori brought him back because she wanted their family to be together. She lives for her family. Even after this moment when John is placed in jail and asked to take DJ to keep him in the family, Lori agrees. She hates it – you can tell every time she looks at DJ that he’s become a constant reminder of when in their lives everything went wrong – but she always does it out of necessity to protect her family unit.
On the other side is Mare Sheehan who took to the job because allowing herself to focus on the grief of others means that she will spend less time alone. To do this, of course, she will follow any lead if she makes herself known. She had promised to uphold the law, but it was then that that promise came at a price. Mare understands that everything changes the second Ben Carroll (Patrick McDade) tells her that the only thing stolen and then returned from a break-in was his gun (which corresponds to the murder weapon for Erin), and that the only other person with the key was Ryan cutting his lawn. This is when Mare must decide whether to be the detective or the friend. This case had turned out, through Zabel’s keen eye, to be a major conflict of interest for Mare. Finding out that his best friend’s son was the real killer takes the conflict of interest to a whole new level.
Lori had already stood in line with Mare for lying to her about Billy’s involvement, which almost led to her arresting the wrong man. Not coming to Mare when she found out it was Ryan and lying, even more, to hide it is an obstruction of justice. Lori asks Mare to close her eyes and look the other way because Ryan is her blood but Mare understands what could happen if she does. She has already had her job online for the incident with Carrie (Sosie Bacon) and has learned not to let her personal feelings cloud her judgment, so she calls and stops Ryan.
From episode 1, Easttown mare has always been a show about healing. In the Ross’s case, the healing of their marriage and their family. For the Baileys, healing from a year of trauma brought on by the disappearance of a loved one who was thankfully returned. Then there are the Sheehans, who heal from the suicide of a family member.
As Decon Burton (James McArdle) puts it in tonight’s final, “We came out of a tunnel. Got to the next level of healing. Over the past six weeks, this tunnel has been long, dark, and full of errors. Every choice that we have seen people make was made in a place of fear. For Dawn Bailey (Enid Graham), it was the fear of seeing Katie again, but now that she’s been found, they can work together to rebuild Katie’s life for the better.
Lori had been afraid of losing her family and therefore created a web of lies to keep things under her control. What she had not fully realized was that Mare has always been part of this family. Their friendship is what comes closest to a brotherhood, which is why the moment when Mare invites herself to Lori’s house is such a powerful statement to take the next step in healing. For Lori, Mare is the physical representation of what made her worst fears come true, but she is also Lori’s light. For both of them, sharing that moment near the stove where neither of them speaks more than a name is much more powerful. At that time, it is not two friends, but two mothers who are grieving the loss of a child. It’s that heartbreak that allows them to reconnect and come out on the other side together and stronger.
The greatest journey back into the light Easttown mare final explores Mare’s journey to find acceptance of her son Kevin’s death. For weeks, I’ve been talking about how she used her death as a building block to keep people out, and with every episode she’s knocked down that wall stone after stone. Tonight’s final saw him make the biggest progress to date. She became a woman who stopped running away from her emotions. She grows brave enough on her own to have an adult relationship with Richard (Guy Pearce) even when he has to move on to another college. The Mare from the first few episodes would have shut down and refused to go to work, but this Mare is willing to devote time and care to it as she lives for herself and not for anyone else.
She allows herself to open up to Siobhan and act more like a mother to her than she had in a long time. This allows Siobhan to process what she wants and make the decision to travel to Berkeley to follow her own passions. Mare’s therapy even helps reconnect with her broken relationship with her mother. Helen admits to being angry for her life for not working out as she planned and for lashing out at Mare. As someone who is still waiting to hear their mother admit her faults, this scene touched a heart in me.
Mare also finds patience with Carrie, who has started using it again, and takes the moment not to scold her but to comfort her. She saw Carrie take the job and saw through Kevin what happens when a negative approach is taken. Mare’s goal is for Carrie to be well enough to be in Drew’s life and she’s ready to work with her on it.
The biggest feat for Mare comes in the final moments of the episode. It was established that her son Kevin had committed suicide by hanging himself in the attic, and Mare had not been able to find her way back up there. The continued goal for Mare throughout Easttown mare It was for her to be able to mourn her son properly and to realize that it was not her fault. If this show has taught us anything about Mare, it’s that her actions speak much louder than any words she could say. For the final streak, Mare finds the courage to go up to the attic says a lot about her progress. This means that she is ready to accept his death. The scene is way more powerful than anything they could have made Winslet say and it’s with those types of moments that Easttown mare has been such a superior exploration in character-driven dramas.
This series could have played into the many tropes that come with being labeled a crime drama, but it managed to dive deeper. Easttown mare used his characters to explore mental health and trauma treatment. In an age where mental health is still so stigmatized, it’s important to see a series like this explore that mental health knows neither classes nor races, but is a human issue that affects everyone. Therapy shouldn’t be seen as something horrible, but as a way to improve your well-being. We’re as good as our support systems are, and allowing Mare into that attic means she’s closed this chapter of her life and is ready to see what Easttown, PA has in store for her next. Just because justice has been served Erin McMenamin doesn’t mean it all ends. Easttown is a community and an ongoing community, so maybe one day we will meet Mare Sheehan again. I certainly hope so.