Be warned: Major spoilers for “Sore Must Be the Storm,” episode six of Mare of Easttown, lie ahead.
Do we even need this column after the penultimate episode of Mare of Easttown? It looks like we now know the killer following Pop Ross’s revelation that he saw Billy making a blood-drenched trip to the washing machine on the night of Erin’s murder and Billy’s subsequent confession to his brother John that he killed her. At episode’s end, Mare’s hot on Billy’s trail, though she may or may not reach him before the trip takes a violent turn. It’s hard to know how to read the moment when Billy spots the pistol in the tackle box. Did he pack it? Or is he surprised to see it and now realizes John’s prepared to give him the Fredo Corleone treatment in the interest of covering up his family’s shame? Similarly, John definitely reacts when Billy grabs the tackle box after he asks for it, but is it because he knows there’s a gun in there or fears there’s a gun in there? Either way, Billy has admitted to being the killer and, as the episode ends, Mare’s seemingly moments away from getting her man.
Except, wait a minute: While Mare’s catching up with the Rosses, Chief Carter gets a visit from Erin’s best friend Jess who, again, has some information that might be relevant to the crime that, again, she’s been keeping from the police. It’s the photo she saved from the fire when she, Sean, and Dylan were burning Erin’s apparently quite incriminating journals.
What does it all mean? We’ll have to wait for the series finale next week to find out, but the closing moments of “Sore Must Be the Storm” shatter any sense of surety created by Billy’s confession. Clearly something is wrong with the Rosses, but there might be more to the story — probably something involving whoever’s in that photograph that shakes Chief Carter so. With just one episode left to go, let’s take a last look at who might have done it (and who almost certainly did not).
Detective Sergeant Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet): 1,000,000 to 1 (Last week: 15,000 to 1)
It’s not Mare. Maybe it could have been Mare at some point, but the series would have to take such a hard turn for the stupid to bring in that twist now.
Drew Sheehan (Izzy King): 125,000 to 1 (Last week: 150,000 to 1)
Drew still seems like an unlikely culprit, but we have to narrow the odds on him just a little since he demonstrated an ability to hold his breath for a long time, a skill we’d never seen before. Why has he been hiding this?
Freddie Hanlon (Dominique Johnson): 75,000 to 1 (Last week: 250 to 1)
R.I.P. Freddie, one of the most tragic figures in a tragedy-prone part of the world. While it’s technically not out of the question that he might have been involved in Erin’s death in some way beyond providing a wearable clue that points Mare in the direction of Billy, nothing seems to cast suspicion his way.
Detective Colin Zabel (Evan Peters): 75,000 to 1 (Last week: 1,000 to 1)
For Mare it would almost be a relief if Zabel was somehow mixed up in the crime. Instead, she seems destined to be shaken by his loss — and unlikely to find comfort in talking to his mother — for the foreseeable future.
Glen Carroll (Patrick McDade): 70,000 to 1 (Last week: 1,000 to 1)
This is a huge drop for the recently widowed Glen Carroll. In retrospect, it seems unfair to cast even the slightest suspicion on a man in mourning who seems mostly tangential to the story. Sorry, Glen.
Wayne Potts (Jeb Kreager): 65,000 to 1 (Last week: Not in consideration)
The Easttown PD have eliminated the town’s serial kidnapper as a suspect, and there’s really no reason not to believe them — apart from the department’s demonstrated ability to spend a year trying to catch him then only stumbling upon him because they were investigating another crime. But they’re probably right.
Dawn Bailey (Enid Graham), Beth Hanlon (Chinasa Ogbuagu), Chief Carter (John Douglas Thompson), Officer Ronald Trammel (Justin Hurtt-Dunkley), Becca (Madeline Weinstein), Geoff (Drew Scheid), DJ Anne Harris (Kiah McKirnan): 50,000 to 1 (Last week: 5,000 to 1)
At this point in the story, it’s probably safe to all but eliminate much of the supporting cast. Dawn, for instance, mostly seems grateful to have her daughter back. DJ Anne Harris is largely focused on mercy killing her relationship with Siobhan for Siobhan’s own good. Barring a twist that practically splits the fabric of space-time, there are no killers here.
Helen Fahey (Jean Smart): 30,000 to 1 (Last week: 1,500 to 1),
Helen has reclaimed her long-shot status after a week of doing nothing suspicious, not even sneaking ice cream on the sly (that we saw, anyway).
Siobhan Sheehan (Angourie Rice): 10,000 to 1 (Last week: 1,000 to 1)
While we’re at it, we can also almost certainly eliminate the heartbroken Siobhan, who finds herself ghosted by DJ Anne Harris and haunted by the memory of finding her brother’s body. She really ought to consider getting out of Easttown before it crushes her.
“Sandra” a.k.a. “The Same Woman As Before”: 500 to 1 (Last week: 200 to 1)
The woman John’s been sleeping with has a name and that name is Sandra. (Sounds about right, apologies to all the Sandras out there.) Beyond that, we don’t know anything about her. Is there any chance a special guest star could show up next week, swoop in, and play the part of the murderer? Probably not. Sandra sounds like a troublemaker, but not that kind of troublemaker.
Carrie Layden (Sosie Bacon): 500 to 1 (Last week: 250 to 1)
This week, we see Carrie turn down drugs and try her best to act like a responsible parent only to fall asleep on the job. The outcome isn’t the tragedy she thinks she’s woken up to (or those watching at home might fear, thinking, yeah, this show could go there), but Carrie seems gripped by a growing revelation that she might not have it in her to raise Drew on her own. There’s a lot of drama going on in Carrie’s life, none of which seems to have any relationship to Erin’s death.
Brianna (Mackenzie Lansing): 500 to 1 (Last week: 300 to 1)
There’s no forgiving Brianna for her treatment of Erin, which probably indirectly led to her death. As for any direct involvement, Brianna appears to be clean and deeply concerned she might have been sleeping with a killer. Hopefully she’ll change her life, but she’s an unlikely murderer.
Frank Sheehan (David Denman), Faye (Kate Arrington): 150 to 1 (Last week: 150 to 1)
Once again, we still don’t know the whole story about Frank’s relationship with Erin, just as we don’t know what went on between Erin and Deacon Mark. Of the two, Frank seems less likely to have killed her, but we can’t rule him out. Is it fair to lump Faye in with him? Probably not, but what do we really know about her?
Father Dan Hastings (Neal Huff): 150 to 1 (Last week: 100 to 1)
Turns out Father Dan is willing to go to the police with what he knows about Deacon Mark and his relationship with Erin. Unless he’s trying to hide his own involvement by throwing them off the scent, this makes him look less culpable than before.
Kenny McMenamin (Patrick Murney): 50 to 1 (Last week: 500 to 1)
Kenny’s odds keep jumping all over the place. That he was at the Ross family reunion commemorated by the T-shirt Mare finds in Freddie’s bedroom makes him a little more suspect, but not as suspect as the Ross branch of the family tree.
Jess (Ruby Cruz) 75 to 1 (Last week: 75 to 1)
Jess retains her odds from last week, but that’s a little deceptive. Of the trio of Jess, Sean, and Dylan, Jess is the only one who feels guilty about whatever role they played in her death (or some other aspect of her downfall), so guilty she’s compelled to confess to the cops. For what it’s worth, she now appears to be attempting to peel herself away from her no-goodnik friends.
Lori Ross (Julianne Nicholson): 30 to 1 (Last week 200 to 1)
It would be shocking if Lori were directly involved in Erin’s death. But consider this: She’s not exactly eager to volunteer to Mare that Erin was at the family reunion. Mare has to press to get that info. And she seems to go along when John tells her they have to keep this info away from Mare for the sake of the family. Yet Lori also seems shocked by what she learns about Billy, and when Mare comes calling again, she tells her the whole story: That Billy came home covered in blood the night of Erin’s murder. That he’s DJ’s father. That Erin started threatening to tell everyone and that the relationship started at the reunion. That Billy shot Erin. Here’s the thing, though: Yes, Billy confessed to killing Erin. Yes, Pop Ross saw him washing bloody clothes. But those other details: This is the first time we’re hearing them from anyone. Did Lori learn them between scenes, or is she creating a plausible story for Mare? Hmm …
Sean (Sadat Waddy) 25 to 1 (Last week: 75 to 1)
A sidekick willing to follow the orders of Easttown’s alpha jerk, Sean’s waist deep (or deeper) in whatever horrible acts Dylan has committed (and Jess has at least witnessed).
Deacon Mark Burton (James McArdle): 10 to 1 (Last week: 8 to 1)
Deacon Mark dumped Erin’s bike, continues to lie to the police, and is still being unclear about what went on between him and Erin (or with others at his previous posting). But while the winds of suspicion are blowing mightily through the streets of Easttown, it doesn’t quite feel like they’re going to start blowing Deacon Mark’s way.
Richard Ryan (Guy Pearce): 8 to 1 (Last week: 5 to 1)
Richard shows up to comfort Mare, provides a sympathetic shoulder for her to lean on, then buzzes off. Great guy, or is Mare of Easttown just reminding us he’s still on the scene and maybe not as extraneous to the murder plot as we might believe?
John Ross (Joe Tippett): 5 to 1 (Last week: 150 to 1)
Let’s take a second to consider John’s arc on this series: He’s gone from mournful relative several degrees removed from Erin’s life to someone who’s volunteered to help cover up the crime his brother has confessed to committing — and maybe even commit murder to do so. His connection to the actual death of Erin McMenamin remains hazy, but would it be shocking if he was involved in the murder in some way or another? And did he reveal details of Billy’s confession to Lori in moments we weren’t allowed to see, or is that a story he helped her construct? Something’s not right in the house of Ross.
Dylan Hinchey (Jack Mulhern): 3 to 1 (Last week: 8 to 1)
If somehow Billy isn’t the killer in spite of his confession — and it’s important to remember Mare of Eassttown is a whodunit at heart and we haven’t gotten to its final revelations — Dylan sure seems like the most likely suspect. He teamed up with Sean and Jess to burn Erin’s diary then terrorized Jess when he suspected she was squealing on whatever they were trying to cover up. But what were they trying to cover up? The answer would seem to lie in the photo Jess shared with the police, and while we don’t know what’s in that photo, it’s possible it links Jess, Dylan, and the others to another character, maybe one we haven’t previously been considering. Still, Dylan looks guilty in about six different ways.
Billy Ross (Robbie Tann): 2 to 1 (Last week: 5 to 1)
Motive? Check? Means? Check. Opportunity? Check. Sobbing admission of guilt? Check. Billy has to be the odds-on favorite. Except that just feels too obvious, doesn’t it? Maybe instead of trying to solve this on our own, we should take a deep drag on a vape pen and let Miss Lady Hawk Herself do her job (if she makes it back from that fishing trip alive, that is).