Mare of Easttown episode 5 recap – “Illusions”

May 17, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
HBO, Weekly TV
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“Illusions” shocks with an explosion of violence after a largely morbid episode, and one can only imagine that there’s more trauma to come.

This recap of Mare of Easttown episode 5, “Illusions”, contains spoilers.

Given everything we know about Mare of Easttown, it’s exactly the kind of show that would unceremoniously kill off a major character like Colin Zabel. But I was still shocked to see it in the ending sequence of “Illusions”, which played like the big exclamation point at the end of a wordy but meaningful sentence. The episode didn’t actually confirm that Colin was dead, but I’m not sure it takes a doctor to determine that getting shot right in the face isn’t exactly conducive to one’s health.

And all that after a truly terrible date with Mare. Given what happens to him later, Colin’s confession that he ultimately had his career-making case solved for him reads like a Death Row inmate finally revealing the extent of his crimes. Colin’s a nice guy, though. However unviable he was romantically, it always seemed like he’d be good for Mare; someone as haunted and cynical as her could do with his chipper attitude. It’s a shame that – assuming he is dead, which seems likely at this point, though remains unconfirmed – his name will be etched on an increasingly long list of those Mare feels personally responsible for.

There’s a fine line the show is walking here. On the one hand, Wayne Potts (Jeb Kreager), who is revealed to be the kidnapper of Katie and Missy, was clearly bonkers and dangerous before Mare and Colin knocked on his door. On the other, though, Mare isn’t even supposed to be working on the case after fitting Carrie up for drug possession. She was unarmed and underprepared. At first, I figured “Illusions” was doing that classic crime drama thing of having the cops stumble right on top of the killer but walk away at the last moment. As has been true all throughout, though, this isn’t your ordinary small-town mystery. Katie and Missy making their presence known actually mattered, for once, but Mare and Colin going in half-cocked seems to have got one of them killed.

I said in my recap of last week’s episode that Mare of Easttown is very funny when it wants to be, and that holds true here in a scene in which Glen confesses to having an affair with Helen at the funeral of his wife, but the last-minute burst of violence makes you feel bad about laughing. So, too, does a lot of what happens elsewhere, from John cheating on Lori to Ryan showing flashes of barely restrained violence in defending his sister, Moira, all the way to Dylan being generally despicable and Deacon Mark confessing to being with Erin on the night she died but not killing her. It’s an unrelenting procession of bleak developments, many of which don’t even have anything to do with Erin or Katie or Missy. There are layers upon layers of lies and obfuscations and self-serving cover-ups. No one would envy Mare’s position even before her partner ends up getting shot in the face.

That sequence, though, is Mare of Easttown episode 5 showing a side of itself that it hasn’t until now. As it turns out, Craig Zobel can direct the hell out of a chase. Potts’s house quickly took on surreal dimensions, like it was an endless warren of dead ends with an innumerable number of armed and dangerous men patrolling them. Luckily, there was only one, and he turned out not to be impervious to bullets, but with Colin dead on his floor, Erin dead in a ravine, and Mare, wounded and distraught, left to answer for the technically illegal case she had continued to investigate despite being told not to, Potts didn’t get taken down without causing a great deal of injury and trauma. With another two episodes to go, there might be plenty more of that to come.

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