Let’s Lay Odds on Mare of Easttown’s Long List of Suspects

Not counting any of these three out just yet … Photo: Sarah Shatz/HBO

We’re now past the halfway point of Mare of Easttown the seven-part HBO miniseries in which Kate Winslet plays a detective investigating a string of disappearances, murders, and other crimes in a small town on the outer reaches of Delaware County, Pennsylvania — and its central mystery looks cloudier than ever. Created by Brad Ingelsby and directed by Craig Zobel, the series began with Winslet’s Mare Sheehan still haunted by the year-old disappearance of Katie Bailey, the daughter of her former high-school basketball teammate Dawn — to say nothing of the son Mare lost to suicide, Mare’s split from her husband Frank, Frank’s seemingly happy new relationship, and other troubles.

Still, Mare sometimes seems to be the only one really keeping order in Easttown, a place where everyone knows and/or is related to one another and old resentments are never far from the surface. The residents of Easttown may not all like Mare, who never does much to make them like her, but they trust her. And with that trust comes the burden of trying to set things right when they go wrong, as when — shades of Katie Bailey — a young woman named Erin McMenamin turns up dead in a creek.

Who killed Erin McMenamin? Does it have anything to do with Katie Bailey? Four episodes in, Mare of Easttown has thrown out clue after clue, but rather than clarifying the mystery, most have muddied up the waters. (Red herring-ed up the waters?) It’s probably not fair to say the culprit could be anyone — unless, say, Chief Carter has a dark side we just haven’t seen yet — but it could be almost anyone. (There’s also a real possibility, as Mare suggested at one point, that we’re dealing with separate crimes.) Since we’re closer to the end of the story than its beginning, now seems like a good time to lay down some odds as to who done it (even if some of them are extremely long).

Drew Sheehan (Izzy King): 100,000 to 1

Photo: HBO

Drew might inadvertently murder his turtle, but seems incapable of committing the horrific crimes at the heart of the series.

Detective Sergeant Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet): 10,000 to 1
Look, obviously Mare didn’t do it. But here’s the thing about Mare of Easttown: It seems like the sort of show where anyone could be the killer, so we can’t rule anyone out. (It’s not Mare, though.)

Dawn Bailey (Enid Graham): 7,500 to 1

Photo: HBO

There’s a lot of suffering on this show, but is anyone suffering more than Dawn? She’s lost her daughter (though perhaps not in the way she thinks she’s lost her daughter), she’s battling cancer, she has to mediate dustups at the convenience store where she works, and she’s injured from a brutal act of catfishing committed by Freddie Hanlon in a desperate bid to score some cash to feed his addiction. It seems highly unlikely she’s involved.

Beth Hanlon (Chinasa Ogbuagu), Helen Fahey (Jean Smart), Chief Carter (John Douglas Thompson), Officer Ronald Trammel (Justin Hurtt-Dunkley), Becca (Madeline Weinstein), Geoff (Drew Scheid): 5,000 to 1
Mare of Easttown generously spreads suspicion across a bunch of characters, but a few seem pretty safe to scratch off the list of could-be murderers. It’s probably not Mare’s friend Beth, who seems extremely nice. She’s generous with her time and she cares deeply about Freddie, no matter what awful acts his drug habits lead him to commit. It’s almost certainly not Helen, though she does have secrets, even if they seem not to extend much beyond hiding ice cream in a bag of frozen vegetables. Chief Carter seems like a solid type, one who’s willing to look the other way about Mare’s transgressions but only if the two of them come to an understanding about how badly she fucked up and she gets some serious counseling. And it’s definitely not the blood-phobic rookie Officer Trammel, unless he’s faking his squeamishness extremely well. Becca clearly needs to stop partying so hard — it’s hurt her relationship with Siobhan and doesn’t help their band’s chances of scoring a record deal — but she doesn’t seem like the kill-and-kidnap type. Ditto her fellow bandmate Geoff. He knows where the weed is, but probably doesn’t know where the bodies are buried (so to speak).

DJ Anne Harris (Kiah McKirnan): 3,000 to 1

Photo: Courtesy of HBO Max

Speaking of Siobhan, the killer probably isn’t the “older woman” she begins dating after dumping Becca, either. But what do we really know about DJ Anne? Mare’s at least a little suspicious of her when she arrives at the scene of Helen’s accident, but that’s probably just because she’s never seen her before. Probably.

Siobhan Sheehan (Angourie Rice): 1,000 to 1
As long as we’re talking Siobhan, she was among the last people to see Erin alive. Could it be her? She could be motivated by … well, nothing we’ve seen. And she probably couldn’t disguise herself as the big, burly figure hauling a victim into a bar at the end of the fourth episode. It seems pretty safe to scratch her off the list.

Kenny McMenamin (Patrick Murney): 300 to 1

Photo: HBO

A close relation to the Rosses, Kenny seems like a total jerk but almost certainly not Erin’s murderer. That’s not to say he’s incapable of murderer; he does try to kill Dylan, after all. He’s just not very good at it.

Lori Ross (Julianne Nicholson), Billy Ross (Robbie Tann), John Ross (Joe Tippett): 250 to 1

Photo: HBO

Can we eliminate the entire Ross clan? Probably. They seem like a supportive bunch and Lori appears to truly care for Mare no matter how much Mare does to push her away. But are they too supportive? TBD.

Dylan Hunchey (Jack Mulhern): 200 to 1

Photo: HBO

Dylan, of course, had it coming. He both was cruel to Erin before her death and let Brianna have at her in the woods. Eff that guy. He even seems to think about killing Erin’s child with a pillow before picking him up and comforting him, which provided the series with a rare sweet moment. But still: Eff that guy.

Brianna (Mackenzie Lansing), Jess (Ruby Cruz): 175 to 1

Photo: HBO

And while we’re at it, Brianna sucks, too. But while she might have helped Erin on her way to her death, she almost certainly didn’t kill her. On the opposite end of the being-mean-to-Erin spectrum, Jess seems equally unlikely.

Frank Sheehan (David Denman), Faye (Kate Arrington): 150 to 1

Photo: HBO

Why did Frank lie to Mare about Erin? He’s not the father of her child, but he was less than forthcoming about their relationship. And what doe Faye know? We never really get her thoughts on this revelation beyond a few hard-to-parse reaction shots. Maybe Mare’s irrational hatred of her isn’t irrational, just the result of good instincts.

Freddie Hanlon (Dominique Johnson), Carrie Layden (Sosie Bacon): 125 to 1

Photo: HBO

Freddie appears to be more pathetic than malevolent. And even if he did set his mind to murder and kidnapping, he probably couldn’t get his act together long enough to pull off the crimes. (Still, that catfishing did take some planning, even if it failed miserably.) Carrie similarly seems like a victim of substance abuse rather than a murderer. Mare’s flashback to the moment when Carrie and Kevin terrorized her while in the throes of addictions is truly chilling: A tower of strength, Mare’s laid low by those closest to her. But whatever awfulness she has in her, Carrie doesn’t seem like the murdering type.

The Peeping Tom we haven’t heard much about since the first episode: (100 to 1)
Did you forget about this guy? He’s still out there, maybe serving as misdirection, maybe waiting to resurface.

Father Dan Hastings (Neal Huff): (50 to 1)

Photo: HBO

Mare’s cousin and Helen’s partner in drinking Manhattans, Father Dan seems like the sort of down-to-earth man of God that makes going to church tolerable. But how complicit has he been in the cover-up of the accusations against Deacon Mark? Seemingly not that complicit. He’s pretty concerned when he learns the allegations might come to light. But he’s still part of the system, and who knows what other cover-ups he’s known about over the years.

Someone We Haven’t Met (?): (30 to 1)
Is Mare of Easttown playing fair as a mystery? With three episodes left, it’s still possible for the series to throw a curveball by making the killer someone we’ve never met before. (Or, alternately, revealing it was someone like the duck-paté-serving cater-waiter we met briefly. Can’t rule him out. Can’t rule anyone out.) In some ways, the fourth episode comes closer than any previous episode to revealing the culprit by showing the big, burly van-driving man who kidnaps victims and brings them to a run-down-looking tavern. On the other hand: Does it? Does anyone we’ve met before match that description?

Detective Colin Zabel (Evan Peters): (15 to 1)
Detective Colin Zabel breezed into Easttown like a gust of fresh air, eager to help (the initially reluctant) Mare, then equally eager to take her out on the town. He’s smart and sweet and nice to his mom … oh no! He’s probably hiding some dark secret, isn’t he?

Deacon Mark Burton (James McArrdle): (5 to 1)

Photo: HBO

In addition to lying and lying and lying about his relationship with Erin, Deacon Mark dumped Erin’s missing bicycle off of a bridge in the middle of the night. He’s obviously super-guilty — or would be if the most obvious suspect was ever the actual perpetrator in this sort of mystery story. Still, the evidence against him is pretty damning.

Richard Ryan (Guy Pearce): (3 to 1)

Photo: HBO

Richard is a charming outsider who’s been a bit awkward in his courtship of Mare, sure, but has done nothing to raise suspicions about his involvement in Easttown’s crimes. He’s played by Guy Pearce, the series’ highest-profile guest star, and he’s mostly been hanging around the margins of the story, signing books, hoping to land some more time with Mare, being professorial, and looking pretty innocent. By Murder, She Wrote rules, all of the above makes him the most likely suspect. (The only thing that would make him more suspicious by these criteria would be if he earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for some half-forgotten movie released in 1954.) But is Mare of Easttown playing by Murder, She Wrote rules? Who knows? By this time next week the odds might have shifted dramatically.

Let’s Lay Odds on Mare of Easttown’s Long List of Suspects