"Five episodes into Mare of Easttown, it’s become clear the series is not quite what it first appeared to be," says Willa Paskin of last night's shocking episode. "You can see this most clearly in Mare herself, a character who is supposed to be a piece of work on a good day, and an asshole on any other. Good at her job, difficult at home, prickly and impulsive in both places, she’s one of those characters actresses get credit for playing “without vanity” or who kick-start conversations about likability. But in playing her, Kate Winslet has not fully dimmed her own star. Mare is supposed to be haggard, but her skin is luminous. Her roots are showing, but in a way some women would pay for. Every man she meets—the erstwhile novelist Richard (Guy Pearce), her eager beaver young partner Detective Colin Zabel (Evan Peters)—would like to take her to dinner and then to bed. Her family, who find her exhausting, don’t really hate her, and her beef with her mother is played for laughs. Mare, in other words, is not some grim, exhausted, depleted heroine—she’s Kate Winslet turned down to a 4, maybe a 3. This is not an insult. It’s why Mare of Easttown is kicky in ways it doesn’t seem like a dour, gray series should be—the TV equivalent of a person who says they hate gossip, but then goes and does it for an hour."
For what it’s worth, calling Mare of Easttown a murder show cheekily undercuts it: "The series has really been a slow-boil glimpse into detective Mare Sheehan’s messy existence, made messier by a murder," says Alex Abad-Santos. "Each episode has shown us how there are no boundaries between Mare’s personal, social, and professional lives. They all bleed into one another. The longer the murder in Easttown goes unsolved, the more damage bleeds into the other parts of Mare’s life. And without question, a lot of that damage is self-inflicted, as Mare is carrying the trauma of divorce, grief, and guilt. Perhaps that’s why this specific episode and its frenetic pace suggest the series is turning a corner."
Evan Peters reacts to Episode 5 and discuses being nervous starring opposite Kate Winslet, his favorite actress: "I obviously was a little stressed out because I have to be a scene partner with her, and I don’t know really what I’m doing," he says. "There’s a little bit of Colin in there, too, where I’m trying to learn from her. She’s an incredibly humble, real, down-to-earth person who cares deeply about the crew and the cast and everyone involved. It felt like a very comfortable place, and she kind of immediately nipped that stress and nervousness in the bud. It was like, We’re just all in this together to make the best show that we can."
Peters on the Mare-Colin dynamic: "In my head, it was always Colin in a dark place and Mare is sort of the light at the end of the tunnel, who is lifting him up out of this funk that he's in. I guess they're both sort of helping each other out in that way."