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HBO’s ‘Mare Of Easttown’ Is The Best Mystery Of The Year

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With its moody atmosphere and a phenomenal star turn, HBO’s “Mare of Easttown” is a phenomenal tale of intrigue, tragedy, and the challenging move toward acceptance.

In a dangerous Philadelphia town where everyone has their own secrets, one embittered detective, Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet), watches the ruins of her own life while attempting to solve the mystery of a disappearance of a young woman. When another teenaged girl winds up dead and hotshot detective Colin Zabel (Evan Peters) is brought in to help with the case, Mare’s dark past — along with those of her neighbors — is brought to lights as long-held secrets resurface and suspicion is directed everywhere.

The HBO series balances effective mystery with moving character study in an outstanding show. Mare is an extraordinarily well-drawn character; she is gruff and cold, holding onto deep trauma from her childhood and her son’s untimely passing a few years before the show. Winslet portrays the central figure masterfully, in a career-best turn. Several emotional scenes just leave the camera trained on her expressive face, stripping away any fancy editing or cinematography in order to allow the brilliant actress to bring the audience directly into her pain. The show is as much about her facing her past and reaching a place of self-forgiveness as it is about solving the case. And what a brilliant case it is.

The mystery is intriguing without ever forgetting the tragedy. Many offerings of the genre indulge in the fun of crime-solving while downplaying the cost of human life. “Mare of Easttown” doesn’t make that mistake, spending a good portion of the pilot episode with the likable murder victim, Erin, before her untimely death.

A struggling teenage mom who only wants to do right by her son, Erin is a heartbreakingly sympathetic character. Her first-episode appearance so clearly telegraphs her kindness and tragic circumstances that a sign may as well have followed Erin detailing her impending doom, but this foreknowledge does not at all harm viewers from investing intently into her story. When her body is found at the pilot’s end,

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