Mare of Easttown Season 1 Episode 1 Review: Miss Lady Hawk Herself

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As the lead detective in the small eastern Pennsylvania town of Easttown, Mare has a lot on her plate.

Her gloried past allows her a wide berth to do her job, but one year after a young woman went missing, things are starting to catch up with her.

Our introduction to her on Mare of Easttown Season 1 Episode 1 finds Mare dealing with mundane, annoying calls on the anniversary of the disappearance, which coincides with another anniversary that shaped her life.

Mare on the Job Single - Mare of Easttown Season 1 Episode 1

It was one of those days that kept piling more and more aggravation onto her already full plate.

Mare's a single woman, living with her mother, Helen, her daughter, Siobhan, and her grandson, Drew. Her ex, Frank, lives across the backyard, and the news has just erupted that he's getting remarried.

On the day we meet mare, the local news carries an interview with a woman named Dawn, desperately clinging to hope that her daughter, Katie, who went missing one year ago that day, might be found.

It's also the day that Mare and her former high school basketball teammates were to be honored for their championship win, which was so stupendous that Mare's number was retired. She has a lot to live up to, and that makes Katie's case the ultimate thorn in Mare's backside.

Mare Nurses her Ankle - Mare of Easttown Season 1 Episode 1

Mare thinks Katie will never be found, and she's not shy about it.

Mare: I'd only say this to you, Lor. We're never gonna find her, never. She's a needle in a thousand fuckin' haystacks.
Lori: Yeah, I would keep that to yourself.

She'll tell everyone from her captain to Dawn that finding Katie is like looking for a needle in a pile of needles. None of it matters to her captain or Dawn. They want action.

That was already underway well before Erin McMenamin got killed, but the circumstances of her death and that it happened one year to the day after Katie went missing will kick both cases into high gear.

Dawn might have thought Katie, a known prostitute and drug addict, didn't deserve more attention, but Erin is another case altogether.

By all accounts, Erin was a good girl who did one questionable thing that landed her the love of her life -- her son, DJ. Many teen mothers flounder in the wake of responsibility, but Erin rose to the occasion. Caring for her son and loving him filled her with hope and joy.

Erin and Kenny Face Off - Mare of Easttown Season 1 Episode 1

The baby's father didn't have the same passion for their son, which might have contributed to her death.

Everything was stacked against Erin. Her dad made her feel guilty that baby-daddy Dylan was so useless. Dylan seemed to blame her for bringing DJ into his life, and his girlfriend, Brianna had no business dating a guy with a child.

Brianna only saw an obstacle between her and Dylan, unable to accept that conversations between Erin and Dylan were unavoidable in their situation. As many young women do, she used that against Erin, grievously hurting her, which seems far too convenient to amount to much.

Mare spent the day of Erin's murder dealing with cases well under her expertise.

Other officers are better suited to calls for looky-loos on private property or the family drug addict returning for something else they can pawn to for their fix. But for every good deed that Mare does, she gains access and scores points.

Erin Dreams of Better Days Ahead - Mare of Easttown Season 1 Episode 1

Those points have kept Mare afloat in the wake of Dawn's devastating loss, and Mare's going to need all of the access she can get when the investigation into Erin's murder goes into full swing.

It's not hard to see the juxtaposition of celebrating Mare's most memorable life achievement on the anniversary of Katie's disappearance. Still, it didn't excuse bringing up Dawn's press conference earlier that day while they stood in line waiting to receive their accolades.

Mare is a lot to handle, and she's going to be tested like never before with the new case before her as the town bears down on the open-ended nature of Katie's case and the possible connection between the two. If she couldn't solve a disappearance, how will she solve a murder?

Then there's the aspect of Mare's personal life. For reasons yet unknown, she's raising her grandson, a boy whose struggles might mean he's on the autism spectrum.

She's still smarting from her divorce, and it's made more difficult since her ex is so close physically and actively involved with her mother and daughter.

Mare: Since when is he a fuckin' cook?
Danny: He just needed a good woman to bring out the best in him. [laughter]

Mare Puts Drew to Bed - Mare of Easttown Season 1 Episode 1

Frank's engagement was one more sliver of the pie adding to Mare's less-than-stellar day, and it undoubtedly contributed to her openness toward letting someone new into her life, even if it never progresses beyond that night.

Richard, an author, had one good book in him, an achievement that he never recreated, is the perfect match for Mare. They both know the highs of the ultimate acceptance and the difficulty of trying to stand tall when you're never able to attain that same glory again.

Mare, though, is going to get a do-over. She's going to have the opportunity to make right what she failed to do in Katie's case as she investigates what happened to Erin.

And if Mare didn't give it her all to find Katie due to her proclivities, she won't have that same excuse with Erin.

When Mare thinks she spots the elusive prowler, we learn that perceptions of Mare might be off-kilter when she pulls one of Katie's reward signs from her car, posting it where another sign has become worn and unreadable.

Mare Has a Drink at the Bar - Mare of Easttown Season 1 Episode 1

With the veracity that Mare searched for the prowler, you know that if she could find Katie, she would.

Leaving Katie's disappearance unsolved has to eat at Mare, and in response, she works extra hard on the cases that she can solve. Still, it's not the same, and that unsolved case is like a weight around her neck, and it's only one of many.

The premiere offers a lot of backstory going into Mare of Easttown Season 1 Episode 2. The production goes to great lengths to recreate an eastern PA setting, right down to the sometimes difficult accent, which Kate Winslet does very well.

We may not have known Katie before she disappeared, but what knew of Erin makes her murder unbearable. It's a perfect jumping-off point to explore the crimes and the Easttown residents in detail.

Is it possible that there is a sinister undercurrent in Easttown that even the residents don't realize?

It's a Family Affair - Mare of Easttown Season 1 Episode 1

I've seen the first five episodes of the series, and we've barely dipped our toes into the water.

Mare needed the release she got with Richard for what lies ahead. It won't prepare her, but at least she had a moment to herself. That's about to change.

By the end of Mare of Easttown Season 1 Episode 5, you'll care deeply for these people and the town, and you'll be on the edge of your seat clinging to the hope that Mare can and will make a difference, setting things right for everyone.

There were all kinds of clues that we'll examine as the case gets underway.

What did you think about the premiere? Will you continue watching? Hit the comments and share your thoughts.

Miss Lady Hawk Herself Review

Editor Rating: 4.25 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (30 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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Mare of Easttown Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

Mare: Did ya get down on one knee? Because you skipped that part when we got engaged.
Frank: Yeah, well, I was 20 Mare. I didn't do a lot of things right.

Mare: Since when is he a fuckin' cook?
Danny: He just needed a good woman to bring out the best in him. [laughter]