HomeTelevision'Mare of Easttown' Episode 2 Review: 'Fathers' Rolls into High Gear

‘Mare of Easttown’ Episode 2 Review: ‘Fathers’ Rolls into High Gear

Photograph by Michele K. Short/HBO

While its premiere episode laid a ton of groundwork in showcasing the main character and her surroundings, the second installment of Mare of Easttown had zero hesitations in ramping up the crime drama’s central mystery. The limited series from HBO starring Kate Winslet took incredible steps this week with the multiple fallouts from the debut’s final cliffhanger. The appropriately titled “Fathers” features a lot of Easttown’s male residents taking some extreme measures to protect their loved ones, making Mare Sheehan’s complicated life even more so. The premiere had already painted a banal and bleak picture early on, so saying things have gotten darker and more dangerous by the episode’s end is putting it lightly. Spoilers ahead, so please be warned.

Easttown, Pennsylvania is immediately rocked with the news of the violent death of teenage mother Erin McMenamin (Cailee Spaeny, Pacific Rim: Uprising). Upon finding the murdered girl’s body in the woods, Mare immediately notifies her emotionally unstable father Kenny (Patrick Murney, Seven Seconds). The leading suspects in the case are Erin’s uncaring baby daddy Dylan (Jack Mulhern, The Society) and his equally callous girlfriend Brianna (Mackenzie Lansing, The Deuce). Mare interrogates the couple after their cruel prank and attack on Erin last episode was recorded and uploaded online. Winslet’s overwhelmed detective also discovers her daughter Siobhan was an intervening witness at the scene, making their already strained relationship a bit frostier. But to stay on wintry analogies, we know this early probing of the case at hand is merely the tip of the iceberg.

This second episode also introduces Mare of Easttown’s newest major character, County Detective Colin Zabel. Played by American Horror Story veteran Evan Peters (WandaVision), he arrives in town and is assigned by Mare’s police chief to assist her in the case, much to her annoyance. Zabel’s unwelcome reception from his new partner stresses even further how hardened Mare has become, as well as her reluctance to accept help from a less experienced cop who’s on her turf. Peters acquits himself nicely in the role, and he and Winslet already have a strong, odd couple dynamic going. Having played so many deranged and eccentric characters on AHS over the years, it’s also refreshing to see Peters go a different route here. Of course, he could be right at home if the straight-laced, endearingly corny Zabel actually turns out to be Erin’s killer. Hmmm…

Speaking of which, Winslet has been proverbially killing it with her performance as Mare. It’s a credit to the actress’s immense talents that our protagonist is one of the most realistic yet multi-dimensional characters to arrive on television so far this year. In between her casework, the tough and tired Mare accepts an invite from Richard (Guy Pearce, Memento), her suitor from last week, to one of his upscale book parties. Winslet takes a hilarious step in showing how out-of-place Mare feels, sneakily spitting out a pate hors d’oeuvre and discarding it in some sofa cushions. On the other end of the spectrum, Winslet’s dramatic excellence is shown in the scene at the pediatrician’s office. Mare has an emotional discussion with the doctor over her depressed son Kevin’s suicide and how it still haunts her, and Winslet peels back some new and interesting layers.

But as previously mentioned, the “Fathers” that are referred to in this episode’s title are featured heavily. Mare’s late son is the father of her young grandson Drew, and now the boy’s recovering addict mom Carrie (Sosie Bacon, 13 Reasons Why) plans to challenge Mare for custody. Brianna’s dad Tony (Eric T. Miller, Person of Interest), a local restaurant owner, tries to threaten and intimidate Mare to drop the case and her suspicions against his daughter. Plus, the devastated and volatile Kenny attempts to take measures into his own hands in regards to who he believes is Erin’s killer. And to top it all off, the closing moments of the episode produced another massive and mysterious bombshell, this time involving Mare’s ex-husband Frank (David Denman, Brightburn). Writer and creator Brad Inglesby should be commended for weaving everything together so well this early on, while still leaving us hungry for more.

Mare of Easttown continues to deliver on the incredible promise displayed in its premiere. Kate Winslet also continues doing a fabulous job in making the relatable and multi-faceted Mare such a joy to watch. But for those of you who prefer the crime/mystery aspects of the show more than the character development, ‘Fathers’ certainly quenches your thirst in that department. Safe to say, Mare will need to ask plenty of new questions next week in her investigation. Yours truly is in!

Mare of Easttown Episode 2 ‘Fathers’ is Now Streaming on HBO MAX.





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