My Review: Mare of Easttown (MoE)
I just watched the final episode of “Mare of Easttown” on Foxtel. Frankly, when I first saw the ads of this “likeable” TV series, I thought it was about a real “Horsie”. The makers would have realised the connection viewers like me would make and thus, they put Kate Winslet right where she belonged — in place of “Ms Horsie”. So, did it live up to the advertisement blitz? I would say, very much so!
Mare of Easttown (MoE) is a slow paced but absorbing “drama” laced detective series in which a murder needs to be solved. I almost fell asleep in the first episode, until I worked out who was going to be murdered. Once, I had woken up to it, the episode finished with a hook — a fair way to get the viewer wanting more. And so on it went, small movements in the plot, some additions, some doubts and a hook in the end. For a while, I felt this was more like “Sharp Objects” but it wasn’t apart from the female centric yarn and the slow pace. Personally, I found MoE much, much better than Sharp Objects. About the pace, thank God, they decided to fold it in 7 episodes. Any longer could have been a “yawn”.
Easttown seems (the last few episodes didn’t make it seem so) to be a small place and like small towns everyone seems to be related in some way to the other (At one point Colin Zabel (played by Evan Peters), asks Mare, “is there anyone who is not related to you”?). Also, everybody’s life is a struggle (I don’t want to use the “F” word here). It’s like a caricature of modern American lives: People on drugs, teenage issues, kids with problems, deviant sexual behaviours, anger, behaviour and relationship issues. Almost all the characters in it have major issues and yes, they have flaws. Their lives are either complicated by the choices that they have made or the situations that they have encountered. Some like Mare stoically go about their lives while others have fallen by the wayside. There is some help available but it is not enough. So in short, there is a lot of drama in “MoE” but no real solutions. It is what it is. Go to the psychologist, visit the church or suck it up. It’s quite disconcerting that way. Only good thing is, the human want for co-operation, friendship, family and relationship which is clearly highlighted throughout the episodes.
There is only one word to describe, Kate Winslet in this: Fat. It is not the kind of fat that would repel someone like Guy Pearce (plays Richard Ryan) or Evan Peters (plays Colin Zabel) in the series. In all fairness, she plays a Grandma, police detective and she had to look that way…lots of muscles, a strong, fit body, warts on the face, minus make up (except when she goes out on those failed dates) and casual dressing. Guy Pearce who plays an author and professor is likeable but has little to do with the plot. In fact, I don’t even know why he accepted the role. He is a real side kick. Similarly, Evan Peters who plays a county detective and is there to assist Mare on the case, is kind of wasted. I couldn’t see a reason why he couldn’t survive episode 5 (Ok, that’s a spoiler! I wanted him to survive). But the downplaying of most male characters in the series is understandable as it is about the “Mare” and not the “stallion”. One has to thank Jean Smart who plays Helen, Mare’s mother who in episode 4 calls Mare, “Marianne”. That solved the Mare puzzle for me.
As I have pointed out earlier, the plot is slow and in fact, the real content of the various episodes could have been easily shrunk into 3 or 4 episodes. But then again, this was not a thriller. The aim of the producers was perhaps to show the various shades of each character and thus they had to come up with various plots, sub plots and characters. Apart from the main murder plot, there is also a sub-plot of kidnapping and slavery. Until episode 4, it feels like the director is throwing bread crumbs at the viewers. From episode 5, things pick up and one after another there are many twists and turns, finally leading to the resolution of the main murder plot. There are several occasions when one feels that the case is solved but it is not solved until the very end. The fun part is the final episode, when it seems in the first 10 minutes as if the end is there but not quite, one has to wait till the end.
For those who love watching carefully, here is a clue: One of the first scenes in episode 1 holds the clue to the central plot. Now off you go, watch it if you haven’t and yes, don’t bite those fingernails or scratch your heads. It’s not worth that much!