It's hard to work out what we were meant to feel for Colin Zabel. The prodigy detective who didn't actually solve the case he was famous for; the love interest of Mare who was weird with her after a drink and lived with his mother. This lack of clarity made him a more interesting character, but unfortunately, as we learn at the opening of this week's episode, he's now dead. We knew his days were numbered after that kiss. Mare, however, is very much alive, and comes to be surrounded by her family. Even Frank seems to hate her marginally less after being shot.
The question of whether Erin was murdered by the same man who abducted Missy and Katie is hanging over the episode, but before long it transpires that the killer has a rock solid alibi for where he was the night Erin was killed. This is good for the continuing drama of the show, but the story does feel like it's lost a little intrigue now that we're not unearthing some wider conspiracy. Instead it's just the sad truth about how many women are killed by men... or is it?
Mare's brush with death and confusion over losing Zabel means that she's walking through this episode in a daze, something that Winslet is particularly good at conveying with an awkward shuffle and puff on her vape. She looks especially small while wearing a beanie when she visits Zabel's mother, who tells her off for leading him on, blames her for his death, and slaps her across the face.
Two things that are bound to cheer her up are Chief Carter putting her back on the case to track down Erin's killer, and Richard showing up at her doorstep with a gift basket full of Rolling Rock. With the way things go in this episode, we should probably take a moment to issue a formal detraction over suggesting week-in week-out that Richard was our number one suspect. While we stand by the assertion that he gives off definite groupie killer vibes, perhaps suggesting that he was Ted Bundy with a semicolon Substack was a bridge too far.
Deacon Mark confesses to being with Erin on the night she went missing and to hiding her bike, and he's placed under arrest for tampering with evidence. Meanwhile, after Brianna comes forward with what she knows about Dylan going missing the morning Erin was killed, Mare takes satisfaction in informing him he's the prime suspect in a murder investigation. This feels like a stretch really. These rogues might be trying to distract us, but it's pretty clear neither is the guy we're after here.
Mare is back in therapy, and realising that she is hiding behind other people's grief instead of facing her own. She recalls the night where Siobhan found Kevin hanging from a beam in the attic and she cut him down, unable to catch him because he was too heavy. Shortly after we see Katie Bailey's mother thanking Mare for bringing her home, revealing that she wakes up in the night kicking and screaming, confessing that she had lost Katie to drugs before she was taken. It's a moment which mirrors Mare losing her own son, and perhaps gives her some comfort that there's nothing she could have done to bring him back, he was already gone.
Siobhan's relationship seems to have already soured, with Anne telling her not to stick around town on her behalf. Fair enough really, Easttown seems grim. Triggered by this, and the dormant trauma of her brother, she takes an edible and calls her girlfriend 1000 times, and really who amongst us has not? When she is returned home by friends a fight ensues between her and Mare, with Siobhan blaming her mother for leaving her to find her brother's body.
The smoking gun of this week's episode is a Ross family reunion jumper which Mare stumbles upon with an old shirt of Erin's, the date on the jumper matching the date inscribed on Erin's necklace. Mare presses Lori for details about the weekend, discovering Lori's husband John and his brother Billy were there that weekend. This is all escalating fast.
After Billy's extremely suspicious exit, leaving a full beer on the table, last week, things only become more alarming as his dad confesses he came home the night Erin was murdered covered in blood. Feels fairly major that one we'd say. We get the moment the whole series has been leading towards as Billy admits he killed Erin, but before he confesses John suggests one more trip to dad's cabin, because why not eh?
Things are set up for another epic showdown in next week's finale, with Lori admitting to Mare that Billy is Deejay's father, and that he killed Erin because she threatened to tell everyone. Just as you thought they were leaving no twists and turns for the final instalment, enter stage left Dylan and Jess. Earlier in the episode he tracked her down for ratting on him to the police, he threatens her by saying they are "joined together forever". So what has Jess done? The episode ends with Jess in the police station showing Chief Carter the scrap of paper she saved from being burned, and his face freezes in shock.
Carter knows that Mare is speeding down the freeway to get Billy, gun loaded. So what is on this piece of paper that changes what Mare thinks she knows, and why does it mean she needs to hear it before she gets to Billy?
Leads gone cold:
Number one suspect: This week's mixed conclusion means that the certainty we had over Billy wavers a little. Is there a name on that piece of paper from Erin's diary that implicates someone? Did we rule Frank out too fast? Is John's cheating streak something we should have paid more attention to? WERE WE RIGHT ABOUT RICHARD?
Angourie Rice is compelling as Siobhan, but would anyone from Gen Z who listens to Phoebe Bridgers be leaving a voicemail? In this climate?
Mare's feelings about Zabel confusing her about Richard makes sense, but is that all the romance she's going to get now done?
No Jean Smart time in this week's episode, this is more of a general complaint @HBO.
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