Mare of Easttown is zooming toward a conclusion and, presumably, answers to questions like “Who killed Erin McMenamin?” and “Why did they kill her?” and “Who was the father of her baby?” It looked for a second in the penultimate episode like the show had already provided these answers. After a whole season of looking shifty and just generally like a guy who is hiding a secret as heavy as “committed murder and dumped a body in the woods,” Billy Ross confessed and left for one last fishing trip with his brother, John.
Which was nice. And seemed to settle things. And Mare was in a car speeding toward the cabin without backup, because Mare is a loose cannon who plays by her own rules and was, just a few episodes ago, literally told to turn in her badge and gun when she was taken off the case by a cranky chief even though, dammit, she gets results. It looked like we were all one tense stand-off away from a conclusion.
Young Jess showed up at the police station after getting chased through Easttown by a very angry Dylan, her cohort in the raiding and alleged burning of Erin’s diaries. And then this happened.
All of which raised an important question, one that was not answered by the show before the credits started rolling: Who and/or what was in that picture, and why was whoever/whatever it is so important that the chief would immediately shout for someone to get Mare on the phone? It’s one last big twist in a show littered with them. And it’s killing me.
So, in an effort to get it out of my own brain if nothing else, here are a handful of possibilities of what could be depicted in that photograph. Some of them are legitimate theories. Others… less so.
Something that implicates Lori somehow
I do not think — probably? — that Lori is involved in either the paternity-hiding fiasco or the murder, but it’s worth mentioning her right away for a few reasons:
- Every member of the Ross family seems to have some kind of secret or troubles they are carrying around like a sack of hoagies and I assume she is no different, and she was at the cabin for the reunion, and she might know something, and she, like every character on this show, gets really shifty when pressed with what appear to be simple questions
- There was that whole thing about the gun that killed Erin being an old police-issue weapon, like the one Mare’s father probably used, and Mare has an attic no one goes in anymore, and Lori seems like the kind of friend who would clean your attic after your troubled son committed suicide in it, so maybe there something there
- I needed a place to start this list before I get into the better possibilities
Richard doing something creepy
I’m sorry, but you cannot just go around casting Guy Pearce — GUY PEARCE — as some sort of famous one-hit-wonder author who now bounces from college to college as a lecturer and expect me to assume he doesn’t have an awful dark secret somewhere under that Professor Sweetheart exterior. Come on. What are we doing here? Come on.
And now he’s showing up with a hoagie gift basket and shrugging off Mare standing him up on his big day to go on a date with another guy? Come on. He’s just some extremely nice dude? No. No. I cannot square this information in my brain. I don’t think any character in television history has ever been more guilty of something on paper than “roving bachelor English professor played by Guy Pearce who shows up in a small town right around the time a teenage girl gets murdered.” This is outrageous. Come on.
Now, do I think Richard was actually involved in Erin’s murder? No. Probably not. Almost definitely not. There’s been nothing to imply that he was involved in any way and he probably has a slew of alibis. But that dude has secrets. He’s hiding something, somewhere. Like, I would not be surprised to learn that he’s in Easttown because he was run out of his last job due to unproven but very suspicious allegations involving former students and disappearances. Maybe there’s a whole string of missing teens that lines up perfectly with various colleges he’s taught at. I don’t see how we can rule any of that out at this point.
I guess what I’m saying is this: A last-second twist revealing that Richard killed Erin would still only be the second wildest twist I can think of, just behind a roving bachelor English professor played by Guy Pearce who shows up in a small town right around the time a teenage girl gets murdered somehow not being involved in the murder. I mean, again… come on.
This dog that was carrying a grocery bag
I swear to God this happened in the sixth episode, the one that just aired, smack between Lori and Mare talking about infidelity and John hauling a mattress into his dad’s house. I went back and checked again today just to be sure I wasn’t imagining it all. Nope. It was right there on the screen. And look at this guy! I choose to believe that bag contains two soft pretzels and a half-gallon jug of Wawa iced tea.
As to why the chief would want Mare to see it immediately, in the middle of a murder investigation, right as she’s thrusting herself into danger, I mean… I’m basically writing this entire article just to show it to you guys, so at the very least I would understand.
Proof that Brianna Delrasso orchestrated the entire thing like Keyser Soze
The overwhelming odds here point to Brianna Delrasso just being a screwed up teen who was playing Mean Girl to cover up whatever stuff she’s dealing with in her own life, and that her last-minute decision to tell the cops about Dylan not being in the house at 2 a.m. was an attempt to clear a guilty conscience, but still, consider:
- We saw her be a manipulative weirdo at the very beginning when she posed as someone else online to lure Erin to the woods for a videotaped ambush
- Admit it, you could totally see her walking out of that room after telling the truth about Dylan and breaking into a self-satisfied smirk about it all
- I kind of want her to be guilty of something?
I don’t know. The short version here is “I don’t trust her.”
Philly Mom watching Mare of Easttown pic.twitter.com/jHfyiWZy7k
— Kim Quindlen (@kimquindlen) May 21, 2021
I have watched that video maybe 800 times this week. I suspect you will too now. Anyway…
A picture of Dylan involved in something shady
So many questions about Dylan. Many of them will probably go unanswered and drive me nuts. Is he a sociopath or just your standard Delco dirtbag? What was he doing out at 2 a.m. the night Erin was killed? What kind of maniac makes up “I was driving around smoking weed” as his alibi right to the murder detectives’ faces? Why did he want to go burn the journals and why is he so threatened by Jess talking about it?
Further complicating matters is the thing where it was Erin’s picture and therefore has to be something she would keep hidden and stored away for her own reasons, not just “because it would wrap things up in a way that makes me happy,” although more shows should consider this when planning out their seasons. My working theory is that it’s a picture of the kid’s real father and Dylan has been blackmailing him. And that he’s both a sociopath and a Delco dirtbag. People can be two things.
The sliver of me that loves chaos and watching things burn would absolutely adore if the show hooked a hard left in the finale and just introduced extraterrestrial hijinks in like the last 20 minutes of the finale. It’s not that I think it would improve the show in any substantial way. It would do quite the opposite, actually. It would be awful, just the stupidest thing ever, and somehow the second show Jean Smart has appeared in that featured surprise aliens in the finale. The difference is that Fargo is weird enough to make it work.
No, the allure here is that people everywhere would be so, so mad about it and it would make me laugh very much. I recognize this is a character flaw I have. I’m not exactly proud of it. And yet, here it is anyway, complete with a terrible drawing of an alien I made in MS Paint. I do not know why I am like this. I’m sorry. Kind of.
Billy with Erin
Too easy. Too convenient. Entirely too simple. Especially since Mare already suspects him. And he had that strange confession. No, this will not do at all. Let’s connect some other dots here. Like, for example, why Billy was so mad at John about John not ever facing consequences. And why John was so pushy about making Billy confess. And why John has that gun in the tackle box.
This brings us to…
John with Erin
It adds up. Kind of. It explains why the chief would be so desperate to get Mare on the phone right after seeing the picture. It explains why Billy was so cranky about John’s repeated infidelity. It explains the gun and the fishing trip, probably, if John was nervous about Billy cracking. I’m still not sure which one of them is the father and why Billy was covered with blood the night of the murder, although I have a number of suspicions. I feel like they’re both guilty of something and covering all of it up. And I’m still not sure exactly how Dylan was involved in it all but I’m sure he is somehow. Probably.
Unless he wasn’t.
But he was.
Unless it was an alien.