Mare of Easttown Episode 2 recap: Is [SPOILER] really dead?

John Douglas Thompson, Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown Episode 2 - Photograph by Michele K. Short/HBO
John Douglas Thompson, Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown Episode 2 - Photograph by Michele K. Short/HBO /

Mare of Easttown Episode 2 takes a look under the surface of Easttown as a whole. We start to see just how deep the rot in this town goes from Brianna to her equally disturbed father, Tony (Eric T. Miller). Erin’s death has made it evident that Easttown’s inhabitants are full of dark secrets.

Erin is dead, and now the question is, who killed her? And who killed/kidnapped Katie? Is the same person responsible for whatever happened to both of these teenage girls? Since Mare is tasked with solving yet another murder, the town revolts against her as she starts making new enemies left and right.

The biggest new enemy is Tony, Brianna’s father. Brianna becomes a key suspect in the investigation when a video surfaces online of her violently accosting Erin in the woods just before her death. Tony can’t seem to fathom that his daughter is capable of murder and decides his best course of action is to stalk and intimidate Mare until she backs off.

Then there’s Dylan, the alleged baby daddy of Erin’s son. Dylan immediately becomes suspect number one in the case, particularly for Erin’s dad, Kenny. But is Dylan the real father? This case might hit closer to home than anything Mare could have possibly imagined when Erin’s best friend Jess (Ruby Cruz) reveals that she thinks Mare’s ex-husband, Frank Sheehan was the baby’s birth father.

Mare of Easttown Episode 2 recap: Mare visits the grisly murder scene

Mare of Easttown Episode 2
Jean Smart, Angourie Rice, David Denman, Izzy King in Mare of Easttown Episode 2 – Photograph by Sarah Shatz/HBO /

Meanwhile, Mare has plenty of challenges to deal with in her home life. Her grandson, Drew, is starting to display tics similar to her late son Kevin’s tendencies as a child. Mare is terrified that Drew could one day kill himself the same way his dad did. And Drew’s biological mom, Kevin’s ex-girlfriend Carrie (Sosie Bacon), isn’t going away anytime soon.

Now that she’s off drugs and clean, she wants to fight Mare for full custody of her son. Adding fuel to the fire is Mare’s annoyance that her family has stayed close to Carrie even after her son’s death when Mare clearly blames Carrie for what happened to him.

Mare of Easttown Episode 2, aptly titled “Fathers,” opens with the discovery of Erin’s body. It’s immediately apparent that finding out who killed Erin isn’t going to be easy because her body was dumped in a creek. As anyone who has watched crime series knows, water is physical evidence’s worst enemy. But what Mare dreads most at the moment is telling Erin’s father Kenny the news. She enlists the assistance of her best friend Lori and her husband to break the news to Kenny.

Mare of Easttown Episode 2
Patrick Murney in Mare of Easttown Episode 2 – Photograph by Michele K. Short/HBO /

Mare of Easttown Episode 2 recap: Mare questions the kids present during Brianna & Erin’s fight

He handles the news as badly as one would expect, and who can blame him? Even though Kenny is an angry and volatile personality who didn’t always treat Erin right, he still loved her. He immediately suspects that Dylan killed Erin because he’s the only one with a motive. Dylan supposedly never wanted Erin to keep the baby. Again, based on their interactions in the first episode and the fact Dylan happily let his current girlfriend Brianna assault Erin in the Sharp’s Woods, it’s not hard to believe he could have killed her.

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Since this episode is fittingly named “Fathers,” it’s easy to compare and contrast Dylan and Kenny. Both men are fathers (well, we find out later Dylan might not be), and both treated Erin like trash. I don’t think Kenny killed his daughter, but he yelled at her regularly and was against helping her pay for her kid’s needs. Similarly, Dylan didn’t respect Erin or feel obligated to assist their son more than necessary.

Mare starts investigating her leads, which revolves around the incident in Sharp’s Woods and Dylan and Brianna by extension. Even her own daughter Siobhan is involved since she broke up the fight between Erin and Brianna and was captured on the recording. She’s paired with a detective from outside the force, detective Colin Zabel (Evan Peters). Since Katie’s case isn’t going anywhere, the higher-ups have seemingly lost faith in Mare’s abilities and saddle her with additional help. The public outcry over two missing teen girls is cacophonous, and they don’t want to risk another standstill. They need a solve.

Mare of Easttown Episode 2
Evan Peters in Mare of Easttown Episode 2 – Photograph by Sarah Shatz/HBO /

Mare and Colin start questioning all the kids who were there in the woods that night. Dylan repeatedly lies. Brianna refuses to talk without a lawyer present, and all the other witnesses have scant to say about the incident. At most, they seem to establish a timeline and figure out that Erin’s pink beach cruiser is missing. Mare is livid with Siobhan for not telling her she was there that night, but according to her, she has nothing to tell because Erin turned down Siobhan’s offer of assistance or a ride home and wandered off into the woods alone. I’m not sure I believe Siobhan is telling the complete truth.

Mare of Easttown Episode 2 recap: Is Dylan dead?

In the final moments of Mare of Easttown Episode 2, Tony’s rage culminates in him throwing a gallon of milk through Mare’s window, sending a shower of glass all over Mare and her living room. Across town, Kenny takes Dylan hostage at gunpoint in the same gas station parking lot where Mare arrives minutes later (and where Dawn works), forces him to drive to the turnpike and the woods then shoots him as he tries to run. Is Dylan really dead? It would be an easy way for the show to skip over what is obviously a red herring suspect.

I also loved the gas station scene because it drives home how small a town Easttown is. The gas station where Dylan gets cigarettes and kidnapped sees a confrontation between Mare and Tony only minutes after.

And then, of course, the biggest shocker of the episode: Jess visits Lori to tell her that Erin confessed Dylan was not her baby’s real father. While she didn’t tell Jess who DJ’s bio dad is, Jess suspects it’s Frank Sheehan. Earlier in the hour, Frank, who we find out was Erin’s algebra teacher, mentions to Mare that he thought things were bad at home with Erin and Kenny. Did Frank become a source of comfort –– and something more, to Erin? What is Jess’s reasoning behind her accusation?

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Odds & Ends from Mare of Easttown Episode 2

  • Mare and Richard have another “date” of sorts. He invites her to a posh gathering that is so not Mare’s scene to celebrate his book but then ignores her in favor of chatting with some tittering young women fawning over his work. Mare isn’t impressed and bails. But when Richard notices her leaving, he flags her down and apologizes for ignoring her, eventually coaxing her to come back inside. “You’re not getting laid tonight,” Mare promises as she goes back in.
  • Honestly surprised that Mare opted to try duck pâté anything.
  • Why did Jess choose to tell Lori about the Frank thing instead of someone else?

New episodes of Mare of Easttown air Sunday nights at 10 p.m. on HBO.