blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Mare of Easttown (2021) s01e05 – Illusions

“Mare of Easttown” is going to be seven episodes. Episode five here resolves at least two big subplots and positions Kate Winslet for the mother lode of character development in the next two episodes. It seems very unlikely Winslet will get any of that character development, as “Mare” is so impatient in its execution. Despite Winslet being an executive producer along side director Craig Zobel and writer Brad Ingelsby, they don’t trust her unless she has a Kramer moment every seven to nine minutes.

Kramer as in Winslet does something only Winslet can do in this part, which is usually yelling at someone or reacting to something. It’s a real bummer when they then close the episode on Winslet hearing a flashback in her head, one the audience is familiar with because Winslet’s been peeking at daughter Angourie Rice’s secret documentary project for high school about her dead brother and its made Winslet less resistant to therapy even though she was only performative in her initial resistance because she’s a narcissist with a brand.

There’s a very big finale to this episode and a lot for everyone—the audience and Winslet—to process. The audience has just found out “Mare” is even more merciless than previously implied and Winslet’s life has gotten a lot less complicated.

There are some other super-functional developments in the other plots, like dead teen mom’s baby daddy Jack Mulhern forcing her best friend, Ruby Cruz, to destroy evidence. We also find out Mulhern doesn’t have the alibi he said he had. And there’s a lot more with the suspicious deacon (James McArdle, who’s either not good enough or perfect, it’s hard to say) and then the third suspiciously behaving guy introduced a few episodes ago. He’s got some big secrets about the dead girl too.

Good scenes for Jean Smart this episode. Her trip to the hospital last time is completely forgotten, as are Winslet’s concerns about daughter Angourie Rice dating a college junior. The episode opens with a car accident and an accidental death, which provides a lot of the non-procedural drama this episode. And culminates in Winslet—still suspended from the police force and presumably qualified immunity—breaking into someone’s house and assaulting them.

It’s all good though (in fact, it’s what makes Evan Peters forgive Winslet for humiliating him on their cringe date). Winslet is the whirlwind he wants to destroy him, he keeps telling mom Deborah Hedwall, who appropriately hangs the sword of Damocles over his head whenever he starts rambling.

“Mare of Easttown” is in the finish now. There’s absolutely nothing to suggest Zobel and Ingelsby are going to close it any better than they’ve run it so far. The real question is will Winslet’s performance end up being a waste of time. The promise of “Mare” is it adding up but its creatives don’t even seem to know math exists.

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