[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Mare of Easttown Episode 4, “Poor Sisyphus.”]
There are a couple of points in Mare of Easttown Episode 4 where it’s almost like you can hear director Craig Zobel whisper to composer Lele Marchitelli, “Look, that was pretty dark, maybe can you give this scene a little quirky bit of score?” It doesn’t quite work to lighten the mood, but the show still remains compelling as more clues and suspects mount up.
After the last episode’s super-fun conversation with the Chief, Mare lies paralyzed in bed — after all, now that she’s suspended (and sounds like in serious danger of losing her job), what is there for her to do? Beyond, that is, complain to her best friend Lori, attend some now-mandated counseling, and, oh yeah, not actually letting go of the case.
Of course, the small-town rumor mill quickly spreads the word about Mare getting kicked off the case, but the news doesn’t reach her pal Detective Zabel before he shows up at the station with an extra cup of coffee for her. Zabel doesn’t like the new guy who’s been brought in to help in Mare’s place and instead seeks out a conversation with Pastor Mark on his own. Pastor Mark has been ducking Zabel’s calls recently but he’s got a pretty good reason, considering that up until the end of the last episode, Pastor Mark had poor dead Erin’s bike in the backseat of his car.
In fact, there are secrets in addition to that which seem on the verge of being revealed soon, specifically in relation to the reasons behind Mark’s transfer from his previous diocese. Let’s be concise about it — there are a lot of good reasons to consider Mark a suspect right now, to the extent that he almost seems innocent? Of killing Erin, at least.
Another person who’s still on the potential suspect list but feels like a red herring is Freddy, the struggling addict we met in Episode 1, who’s now back to crashing with his sister Beth, following yet another overdose. All episode long, the struggling Dawn has been getting phone calls from a mysterious unknown person, demanding $5,000 in exchange for information about where Dawn’s long-missing daughter Katie is. Dawn agrees to meet, the show even teasing for a moment that she was stealing money from her job at the gas station to answer the blackmailer’s demands, but when she arrives at the remote location given to her it’s a world of disappointment: Out of nowhere, Freddie reveals himself as the blackmailer and grabs her bag, leaving with no money (the bag of cash was actually filled with Find Katie flyers) but leaving her with no answers about Katie’s whereabouts.
Overall, “Poor Sisyphus” is filled with small but key character beats, like Drew’s mom, Carrie, trying to rebuild her connection with her son, while Mare is haunted by the memory of Kevin and Carrie, high and furious, attacking her for money. Mare’s daughter Siobhan’s romantic life also takes a dramatic turn or two, with Siobhan officially moving onto Anne the cute college DJ and ex-girlfriend Becca catching the two of them making out — a chaotic scene which leads to innocent bystander Jean Smart (her character’s name is Helen, but it’s hard to think of her otherwise) having to take a trip to the hospital.
It’s just another aspect of Mare’s complicated life, as observed alongside the furthering of the investigation into what happened to Erin that night. On a fun note, this upcoming Saturday Mare’s making date plans — but the question is, with who? Richard the writer asks to take her out for dinner on the occasion of his birthday, while almost a bit out of nowhere an increasingly cuddly Zabel steps up with his own impromptu dinner offer for that same evening. Jean Smart’s down to babysit Drew, but which remarkable set of cheekbones will prevail?
It’s not the biggest cliffhanger of the episode, to be clear. No, that’s actually related to the case — or cases, as they may end up being. Still, one important detail confirmed this week is that Erin, desperate for money to cover her baby son’s ear surgery, had looked into making some extra cash via the Side Door app used by other girls, though her best friend claims Erin never went through with it.
It does connect Erin to other girls turning to sex work and being met with brutal results, such as young Missy, who at the beginning of the episode was preparing to service an unseen customer and was instead attacked. At the end of the episode, said unseen attacker drags Missy into some sort of soundproofed backroom for a location known as Bennie’s Tavern, dropping her there to make the acquaintance of none other than Katie Bailey! Alive, but after a year of captivity not exactly looking that well. Still, though, that deeply resembles good news, on a show that could always use it — until, that is, whatever’s going on with said unseen attacker gets properly revealed.
Mare of Easttown airs Sundays at 10 PM on HBO.
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