The following contains spoilers for Mare of Easttown Episode 6, “Sore Must Be the Storm”
It was hard watching tonight’s Mare of Easttown and even more to sit here and discuss it because there were a lot of things that hit really close to home with me. I keep having the words Mare’s therapist says repeating, “I think you’ve sought out an external solution for your internal pain. You’ve been hiding behind other people’s grief.” Episode 6 certainly explores Mare’s (Kate Winslet) and Siobhan’s (Angourie Rice) ways of processing their grief and work towards overcoming their trauma.
This has been quite a journey for Mare, who has gone from a clenched fist with hair (my favorite description that was used to describe Theo Crain in The Haunting of Hill House) to someone who is beginning to confront her demons. The true test of how far Mare has come happens when she is faced with the aftermath of Detective Zabel’s (Evan Peters) death from last week. The old Mare, the Mare that would hide behind her work, would have thrown herself deeper into Erin McMenamin’s murder case as she had done in the beginning.
This new Mare is someone who has decided to take responsibility. She is the type to understand that she needs to work on herself before she could be in a relationship, and more importantly she is someone who will confront her emotions. Mare decides to visit Zabel’s mother to give her condolences and is met with a grieving mother. There is no fighting to be had because Mare understands where Judy Zabel (Deborah Hedwall) is coming from. Instead, she takes her beating because it was a bad call and she knows it and heads home to openly grieve with her mother.
I knew once Kevin’s death had been mentioned that it was only a matter of time before the show would go into details. It was inevitable given the fact that Mare’s emotional blockage had stemmed from it and as her therapist said, she had yet to “effectively grieve her son’s death”. I was still not prepared, with Mare of Easttown taking us on a journey in Episode 6 where we got to feel every ounce of Mare’s pain. Watching her discuss with her therapist the moment-by-moment play of the day that Kevin committed suicide, seeing her relive it, and think “what if”. The entire scene hit a lot of emotions I had not felt in a long time.
What if she had gone home when the neighbor called to tell her that Kevin was seen around their house? What if she had been a better mother who cared just a little bit more? “What if she never walked away?” Sorry, that last one is part of Kate Winslet’s song that made its way into my head just thinking about all this, but I digress.
All these “what ifs”, but at the end of the day, Mare needs to come to terms with the fact that Kevin’s death was not her fault.
The human mind is a complex thing and it creates these huge emotions that can become really loud and overwhelming. I know this because I was there at one point. I had been in that dark mindset where I felt I couldn’t give or receive love. It was while I was in foster care and being bullied at school. I felt I couldn’t trust anyone and I didn’t have the energy to continue on. I really wanted it all to just go away and stop hurting. Talking to people didn’t help because I felt as though no one was listening. I hid my feelings behind other things and pretended as much as I could, but even that got too hard.
Sometimes there is a moment where one can be pulled back from that point. There is still so much that we don’t know about Kevin. What we’ve been told has been through the lenses of Mare, Siobhan, Carrie (Sosie Bacon), and Frank (David Denman). For me, funny enough, it took a story that Kate Winslet had told about being bullied in school and years later (around Titanic) confronting her bully for me to realize that I wanted to live long enough to get that satisfaction for myself. That’s my story though, and Kevin’s is much different. We don’t know if he wanted to be pulled back. We don’t know what drove him to that pushing point in the first place.
Where Mare can have the safe space of her doctor’s office to explore these questions and help her mind come to terms with the guilt she self-inflicted, Siobhan’s journey has been quite different. She’s been crying for help but in her own way.
The thing with Siobhan is that like her mother, she has built a wall for herself. The physical manifestation of Siobhan’s wall is seen through her relationships. She is the protector. With Becca she found herself being the emotional support for a young woman who refuses to grow up and be responsible for her actions. Every time Becca would take something to get high Siobhan would be there to nurse her when she was coming down. At home, she threw herself into protecting her mother from potentially being hurt with the news of Carrie wanting custody of Drew or that her father was being re-engaged.
She put herself into these situations because it allowed her to have some control over the outcome. It allowed her to focus on caring for someone else because if she were to stop then she would be faced with what happened to Kevin. The thing that has broken this pattern for her is her new relationship with Anne (Kiah McKirnan), who is having a similar effect on her that Richard Ryan (Guy Pearce) had on Mare. Anne has allowed Siobhan the chance to be the vulnerable one, but it’s in this vulnerability that Siobhan now is confronting the grief that she had managed to keep at bay and process on her own time.
Her documentary about her brother has been her way of slowly dealing with her thoughts over what happened. In it, she is examining him and breaking down his character to ask the question that has haunted her—why? The answer is no one knows, but that can’t be it for her. There had to be some event to have triggered this spiral for him. Anne is not there to help her process this lack of an answer.
Siobhan is left to throw herself into a downward spiral of drugs and alcohol as she tries to scramble back over her emotional wall. I found it really difficult to watch because her resentment towards Mare having made her check on Kevin instead of Mare coming home to check herself is similar to something that I had experienced with my mother when I was younger. My experience also involved a bathtub which made that scare with Drew very difficult to watch.
I understand Siobhan wanting to hate Mare for making it her to have found her brother. It’s a horrible responsibility to have, to be the one to discover a deceased person and to have to make the phone call for help. It’s a burden that Siobhan shouldn’t have had to carry. Mare’s apology brought me back to how I wish my own mother could be that aware of her past. That she could find it in herself to take that leap Mare had done and start on the journey to recovery. Sadly, that is not the case and so I am left to watch Mare of Easttown create a situation in which I could live out my wants.
I went into Mare of Easttown thinking I was going to get some great Kate Winslet content and a good murder mystery. There’s certainly been a lot of the first. When it comes to the second I had a feeling with last week’s jittery Billy Ross (Robbie Tann) trying to avoid questions that there was something deeper between him and Erin. I didn’t think they were going to give us the entire who-done-it with one episode being left but if Mare of Easttown has proven anything to us it’s that nothing is as it seems.
Then again I also didn’t expect to be hit with an episode that brought back the constant shadow of my childhood that I keep trying to pull myself out of. I understand we never fully conquer our demons, but Mare Sheehan is beginning to show me how to live with them. If she is able to reach a point in her life where she can allow Carrie the second chance at being Drew’s mother, and develop the courage to take responsibility for the parts of Kevin’s death that could have been avoided (Siobhan’s involvement) then maybe there is hope that I will also one day get to that point where I won’t let my past fully dictate my actions in the present.