Summary of the episode Mare of Easttown 1×01: “Miss Lady Hawk Herself”
Detective Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet) is supposed to investigate a missing person case, which is coming under increasing pressure from the community.
While her loved ones later celebrate the engagement of her ex-husband Frank (David Denman), Mare attends a basketball party and meets Richard (Guy Pearce), a professor who is new to town.
With almost all crimes, one naturally wishes they had never happened. With the new HBO mini-series Mare of Easttown, however, you get the feeling that even the story of the small-town crime story would have worked better without a criminal case, which seems contradictory at first. Because a homicide investigator like the eponymous Mare, played by Oscar winner Kate Winslet (“Titanic“,”The Reader“), Cannot determine much without murder. Unless she already has her own tragedies to deal with and lives in a place that is as psychologically and dramatically rich as the fictional Easttown, Pennsylvania – a city built of bricks and depression.
The director Craig Zobel (The Leftovers) has prepared a stage for Mare of Easttown, which is clearly a more exciting narrative by Brad Ingelsby (“The Way Back“), The author of the seventh divider, would have deserved. Unfortunately, it stays with the stage, with Winslet also doing her part as a constantly vaporizing, beer-drinking no-bullshit bull to cover up the empty content of the latest HBO production. Just like by the way Grande dame Jean Smart (Legion), who plays Mares hilarious mother.
So is the HBO thriller Mare of Easttown, which started on Sunday, April 18th with Chapter One aka Miss Lady Hawk Herself (1×1), a packaging fraud? No, because the series has enough to offer as a character drama to excuse the lack of thrill in the central crime. Especially since some of the said mystery may be cheering anyway, which would mean a perfect match for them.
What’s the matter?
The main character Mare Sheehan is a policewoman, as she has invented television countless times: marked by a serious personal loss, lonely, tough, not averse to alcohol and yet a safe bank for the good in the world. She suffers because her son committed suicide years ago. And also because her marriage to Frank (David Denman), who is now newly engaged, did not last. Siobhan (Angourie Rice), her daughter, is growing up herself and is turning away from her. And her mother Helen (Smart) is not of much help either.
The work is the only thing Mare really excels at. Though it ignores her past achievements as a high school basketball ace, which is one reason Easttown residents love and trust her. Her boss, Chief Carter (John Douglas Thompson), doesn’t trust her because he knows about the burden Mare carries with him and fears that it will affect her judgment. Nevertheless, he sets her on the most important case in the station, namely the search for a supposed kidnapper of young girls. When the teenage mother Erin McMenanim (Cailee Spaeny) is murdered, the matter comes to a head. Mare gets reinforcements: the foreign detective Colin Zabel (Evan Peters).
The melancholy Mare and the easy-going Colin now roam the small town as an unequal duo, through which we viewers get to know all the illustrious characters. It quickly becomes apparent that something as bad as what the Sheehans experienced, everyone else here also experienced. Easttown is full of lost souls, almost all of whom are capable of murder. And in the course of the series, some will have to give up their lives without giving too much away …
How is it?
In the first three episodes, the question of who the perpetrator is often takes a back seat. Rather, we should ask ourselves what exactly the family constellations of the characters look like, which shows that the author himself, i.e. Ingelsby, is less interested in the action than in the actors. Perhaps he suspected early on that no satisfactory solution could be found for the great mystery that would seem both surprising and logical. So he puts all his energy into the character work and gives us many brilliant moments – of course also due to the strong performances of the actors.
At this point I have to underline once again what a great pleasure Jean Smart alone conjures up on stage as Helen Sheehan. All of my all-time favorite moments have something to do with her. Because it is she who is most likely to tickle a human reaction out of the otherwise walled-in mare (usually a negative reaction). But the young Angourie Rice is also great, whose little love dramas as Siobhan also provide good entertainment. As I said, all of this is much more interesting than the murder and kidnapping cases. Unfortunately, I can’t say much positive about Mares’ own romance with the writer Richard (Guy Pearce).
In general, I have to admit that it took me several attempts to really get into the series. Five screeners were provided to us in advance. And it is clear that if you watch five episodes of something, you are more likely to find something good about it than with just one episode (often we can only rate the pilot, for example). The trick here is called the mere exposure effect, which could actually play a big role in Mare of Easttown. You get used to the dreary city and empathize with its residents, even if you don’t care about the actual events. In any case, it will be interesting to see whether the seven-parter can keep its audience from week to week.
All in all, I still dare to give Mare of Easttown a cautious recommendation. Fans of atmospheric crime series like Sharp Objects, True Detective or British counterparts like Broadchurch and Happy Valley will definitely want to take a look. And then you might be surprised when you notice: You came for the crime and stayed for the characters and the setting.
In this country you have to be patient, because Sky Atlantic will only present Mare of Easttown as an exclusive German premiere from May 21st at 8:15 p.m. Seven episodes are on the schedule.
Finally, here is the Trailer about the series Mare of Easttown by HBO: