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Mare of Easttown - Fathers - Review

Remember how Easttown didn't seem particularly friendly in the season premiere? Turns out, we were only skimming the surface of how dark this creepy sleepy little town can be. This week's episode of Mare of Easttown demonstrated the depths of despair these people have been brought to, but also how despicable they can be. Hi Brianna, I mean you, but not just you, if that jaw-dropping cliffhanger is anything to go by. Fathers. Loving, unconcerned, absent, violent, dead. Every kind of father was seemingly present in this episode, and yet was the first, and what we'd hope would be the only qualifier, really ever there? If Erin's father is anything to go by, the answer is no.

After Mare was called on the scene where Erin's body was found, broken, frozen, and ghostly white, the next step was warning her family, i.e. Kenny McNemamin. The weight on Mare's shoulders, from having a second young girl in this state in less than a year shows heavily as she makes her way to the body, and then to Kenny. In Easttown, as in most small towns, everyone seems to know each other. What's more, everyone seems related to each other. Lori is not only Mare's best friend, but her husband is Kenny's cousin apparently, and she asks for him to come over with her in order to soften the blow, if anything can even help to soften that kind of news. Being with family does provide support, but the way Kenny attacks his in the face of his daughter's death feels extreme, even in the worst throws of grief. So it doesn't come as much of a surprise when Frank, who had Erin in one of his classes, reveals that he got the feeling Erin's homelife had been pretty miserable. It's a wonder how this child, because that's what she still is at 17, despite having a child of her own, even got up in the morning. A violent father, an ex-boyfriend who at best tolerated her, a vindictive bitch who despite being "all bark and no bite" was pretty freaking terrible to her, no mother, almost no friends, and only her baby and best friend to get her through life. Thinking about how her short, miserable, life ended on top of how it was when she was still alive, is almost too much to bear. That said, when the big Frank reveal comes along, it's also chilling to think back to how he described barely knowing Erin. Of course, he wasn't going to tell Mare "Oh yeah, I used to have sex with a 16 year old on the downlow and btw, I'm her kid's dad!". Because yeah, that reveal at the end of the episode? Guess who becomes suspect number one if Dylan isn't the father, and would have an even more valid reason to want her dead on the night of his engagement. Frank, that's who.
The very same Family-Man, Father/Grandfather of the Year recipient (probably), Favorite Teacher (most likely), is now rumored to be Erin's child's father. On one hand, I was not expecting this (and now need next week to hurry up and get here already so we can know more about this), on the other, it felt vaguely reminiscent of other similar pots in other shows (Broadchurch, to name just one) and it's not unknown as a plot device. Still, the punch it packed was undoubtedbly effective, especially since Mare has no idea, and it's going to be another heavy blow in a life that's already rife with them. If she felt betrayed by Siobhan being part of the people who last saw Erin and not telling her, one can only imagine how she'll feel about this. This new element in the case is also especially jarring since we finally get a glimpse into Mare and Frank's marriage, or what it used to be. They have custody of their grandkid, Drew, because his father, and their son: Kevin, killed himself two years ago. Brianna, once again displaying cruelty you'd rather never hear about, let alone witness, let alone be the recipient of, is the one to bring this particular information as vengeance upon Mare for dragging her out of her job once she realized Brianna had assaulted Erin on the night of her death. Kevin displayed a set of neurological symptoms that led to a wide variety of diagnosis, that Mare lists out to a pediatrician out of concern for Drew who... is displaying the same kind of tics and issues. Mare blames Carrie, Drew's mother, for her son's drug use and eventual suicide. The same Carrie who is now trying to stay sober, and who wants custody of Drew. I'm not sure how any judge could grant her this, but then again, in the U.S. the law doesn't seem to go by what should happen, if the Kristin Smart case is anything to go by. That child needs stability and a caring home, and even with all the goodwill in the world, there's no way his mother is ready to take that on right now. That said, if Franck does turn out to be DJ's father, one could seriously wonder if he should be anywhere near other children. I'm not looking forward to Mare finding out, in any case. Every single part of her world seems to be crumbling, whether personal of professional.
On the professional front, her boss lets her know that the higher ups have decided to bring in another detective, since the Katie Bailey case was never solved, and two young girls meeting this kind of fate in a small town, are two young girls too many. Enter Craig Zobel, played by Evan Peters (yay!) as a dorky, excitable, and yet still competent addition. Mare doesn't take too kindly to his presence at first, but eventually warms up to him. It's a relief, because at this point Mare doesn't have much left to cling on to, or anyone to count on. Richard, her one night stand who of course didn't stay a one night stand, invites her to some kind of party celebrating his book, to which she reluctantly ends up going (which you know is significant), but he barely has time for her. After getting all done up (and unearthing a particularly disgusting lipstick that had seen better days when it wasn't covered in hair) she spends almost the entire evening alone, stuffing duck liver in an unsuspecting couch after tasting it and not liking it (we've all been there, but we usually carry a purse around or have pockets in order to not, um, disregard every possible hygiene rule there ever was).
Before the Frank reveal however, and thus for most of the episode, Dylan was the prime suspect. According to Kenny, he hated Erin for having the baby and ruining their youth by taking on responsabilities no 17 year old should have (I'd like to point out here that things were even worse for Erin since she apparently quit high school and never went back. Dylan, at least, was still getting some kind of education, if not relationship advice for how to dump Brianna). I don't believe Dylan is a (or the) killer though, but he might end up being killed if Kenny doesn't stop trying to make justice himself. Brianna's status doesn't look too great either after the video of her assaulting Eric surfaces, and her father seems just keen on bypassing the law, albeit in a less conspicuous way than Kenny. That milk jug flying through Mare's window and showering her with glass is not going to help that family stay outside of prison though. Just saying, Tony.

All in all, not a great day in Easttown, for Mare, or anyone else, but a great follow up to the premiere. I really wish Mare took that pediatrician's advice and went to therapy, because you'd need a lot of it, for a lot less trauma. Surprisingly, Dawn is one of the people who defends Mare when she faces Tony's wrath, and I hope we see more of this unlikely alliance. So, what are we expecting for the next episode(s)? Frank being confronted with Jess's revelation? Dylan being safe and sound (I have a soft spot for the actor, he was such a nice guy on The Society)? Craig coming up with more awkward phrasings such as "Good night, Mare!" (Yes, I did crack up, he's so cute)? As usual, sound off in the comments!

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