Warning: this article contains spoilers for episode two of Sky Atlantic’s Mare Of Easttown, so make sure you’re all caught up (or are actively seeking spoilers) before scrolling down.
Ever since Kate Winslet’s new crime drama Mare Of Easttown hit screens last week with its atmospheric and intricate first episode, I’ve been looking forward to returning to the bleak and mysterious world of Easttown in episode two – and it didn’t disappoint.
In contrast to the slower-paced, introductory approach of the first episode, it doesn’t take long for episode two to get into the drama at the heart of the series. In the opening scenes, we see Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet) visiting Creedham Creek, where the body of Erin McMenamin (Cailee Spaeny) – a young mother who viewers are introduced to in episode one – has been found by a passerby.
Naked and bruised with a large gash to her head, it’s clear that something horrific has happened to Erin – and Mare is given the job of finding her killer.
From this point on, the episode introduces us to a number of potential suspects. These include Erin’s father, Kenny (Patrick Murney), to whom Mare breaks the news of his daughter’s death with the help of his cousins; Erin’s ex-boyfriend and father of her baby son, Dylan (Jack Mulhern), who has already been shown to be a reluctant and irresponsible father; and Brianna (Mackenzie Lansing), Dylan’s new girlfriend who catfished Erin to coming to the woods on the night she was murdered.
In short, lots of people look guilty here – but that doesn’t mean finding out who the killer is will be an easy job for Mare. On top of the fact that both Dylan and Brianna are reluctant to answer her questions, Mare’s proximity to the case and its suspects makes it hard for her to remain emotionally unattached – especially as she’s under extra pressure to solve the case due to her failure to find Katie Bailey, the daughter of her school friend Dawn (Enid Graham) who has been missing for a year.
As a result, Mare’s mode of questioning (and in Brianna’s case, apprehending) the subjects is often harsh and abrasive, as if she’s trying to overcompensate for her failures elsewhere.
However, the drama surrounding Erin’s murder isn’t the only thing going on in this episode. On top of the arrival of Colin Zabel (Evan Peters), the friendly and ever-so-keen county detective assigned to assist on the Erin case who finds himself on the wrong side of Mare’s blunt attitude, there’s the ongoing tension surrounding Katie’s disappearance and the attempts by Brianna’s father to intimidating Mare into letting his daughter walk free.
Alongside all her work as a detective, Mare’s dealing with family issues, too. Drew, her grandson who she is raising after her son Kevin (Drew’s father) died by suicide, is showing signs of the same tics his father did, which Mare fears could be a sign that Drew has inherited the issues which affected her son. And at the same time, Drew’s mother Carrie is applying for full custody – something Mare’s daughter Siobhan (Angourie Rice) assures her her mother is not willing to give.
Oh, and somewhere along the line Guy Pearce makes another appearance as Mare’s love interest, Richard Ryan – although with everything else going on, it’s not exactly the most memorable moment. In fact, it’s in the episode’s closing moments that we’re treated to the series’ biggest plot twists yet.
Firstly, after deciding Dylan is responsible for Erin’s death, Kenny decides to take justice into his own hands. After sneaking out of the house and hiding in the back of Dylan’s truck, he springs a gun on him and forces him to drive into the forest, where he shoots him two times in the back.
And secondly, there’s the whole issue of whether or not Dylan was the dad of Erin’s baby at all – a fact which is thrown into doubt by Erin’s best friend, Jess (Ruby Cruz). According to her, Dylan definitely isn’t the dad – and while she’s not 100% sure who the real dad is, she does have an idea of who it might be: none other than Mare’s ex-husband, Frank Sheehan (David Denman).
With all of this unfolding in the last 10 minutes, it’s safe to say we’ve been left with a whole host of questions ahead of next week’s episode.
Will Mare let the pressure of Katie Bailey’s disappearance shape her response to Erin’s murder? What actually happened to Erin? Is Dylan actually dead, or will he survive to find out he’s not the father?
And, most significantly, if Frank Sheehan is the father of Erin’s baby, could he somehow be involved in her murder? We know he was her teacher back in high school – he tells Mare in an earlier scene that he had a sense that things weren’t good at home for her but they didn’t talk much – but could he really have been in a relationship with her too?
I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens next, but, if one thing’s for sure, Mare Of Easttown is proving itself to be just as addictive and gripping as I’d hoped.
Mare Of Easttown episode two is available to watch now on NOW and Sky TV Plus, and airs tonight Monday 26 April at 9pm on Sky Atlantic
As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.