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The first episodes of Easttown Sea suggested creator Brad Inglesby had come up with a herky-jerky-paced solution that tends to stumble upon episodic murder mysteries. Alas, “Poor Sisyphus,” by far the weakest episode of the show so far, reminds us that in a story with so many revelations to spread, there can be no peaks without valleys. “Sisyphus” is certainly not a bad hour of television. But he spends most of his time developing subplots that initially seemed to serve more as a showcase than concerns.
The lull is not terribly surprising, because if Easttown was going to hit a speed bump, the best place for that to happen is after Mare was relieved of her duties after recklessly attempting to frame Carrie for heroin possession. To quote Bacharach and David, Mare just doesn’t know what to do with herself now that Colin has been elevated from stalking horse status to senior detective in the McMenamin case. Mare is refreshingly and transparent about her massive transgression. By the time we see Mare and Lori chatting in the park, Lori already knows what happened and before long she broke the news to Helen and Siobhan.
This is where the first dubious detour takes place, as Siobhan decides that while people get rid of things, she will let the family know that she and Becca are going their separate ways. The conversation gave Mare a great moment of humanity at a time when she needed it most. Even at her lowest point, she has time to soothe her child during a difficult time. That thread could have ended there, but instead it evolves into a full-fledged love triangle that sort of ends in a concussion from Helen being transported to the hospital. It’s great when this show gets to sprinkle with its dark humor, and god knows I’ve never laughed louder at this show than when Becca saw Siobhan’s basement date and screamed like Jamie. Lee Curtis in his prime.
But is this a good use of Easttown immovable? As with all subplots in a story like this, most viewers will decide that some characters and plots could be removed entirely, but few will agree on the weakest connection. And there are quite a few candidates for possible exclusion, most of whom appear in “Sisyphus”. The biggest target could be Dawn Bailey, who is wondering if she should deal with a shady anonymous caller who claims five stacks are all that separates Dawn from her long-lost daughter. As suspicious as it all is, Dawn pretends to accept it because she can’t help but investigate every potential lead. But we’re only learning things we already know: Dawn will do anything to find her daughter, and Freddie Hanlon will do anything to get money to feed her habit.
Mare is equally relentless, of course, but the time devoted to her is well spent and enlightening. The same can be said for Colin, who takes stock of the investigation and goes so far as to ambush Deacon Burton at the drugstore to ask more questions about his rushed move. As it turns out, there have been accusations of impropriety linked to Burton’s relationship with a teenage girl from his last ward. Apparently Burton prefers his hard-learned lessons, because otherwise, why would he forge another ambiguous relationship with a teenage parishioner? Even Father Dan, Mare’s cousin, can’t get Burton to talk about his shady past and perhaps his darker present.
The episode comes to life when Mare and Colin are finally reunited and pursue these answers together. To her credit, Mare does a half-decent job honoring the terms of her suspension and even makes a serious attempt to open up to the new therapist she is now forced to see. She might have continued to walk the straight, narrow path, except for the disappearance of Missy Sayers, another raven-haired young woman missing in the area. Whispers of a possible serial killer begin to emerge, which is understandable given the double punch of the anniversary of Katie’s disappearance and the discovery of Erin’s body.
A pattern begins to emerge when Mare and Colin discover that Missy and Erin both had profiles on Sidedoor, an escort site where Erin did business as Jasmine. But as Missy actively meets clients, including the one who abducted her, Jess insists Erin never had a date. They created the page together in a moment of desperation, once it became clear that the money for ear surgery would come from her alone. For a while, it looks like the investigation is starting to solidify.
More Easttown is full of surprises, so the final scene reveals a more complicated picture. When Missy Sayers is first attacked, it is assumed that she was killed. Instead, a very lively Missy is led to a dark bunker where she will be held captive with none other than Katie Bailey herself.
- SNL‘s « Stop Murdur“Parody is pretty big, including the absurd (but hilarious) shot of ‘Care’ inhaling the vapor of a soft pretzel. Seems like the consensus is that Furthur Burtun murdered the tough guy, which… fair.
- Colin officially asked Mare on a date after their work together was done, meaning Colin didn’t just let Captain Morgan speak through him when he flirted with her at the bar. Exciting times for everyone ‘shipping of these two.
- Colin’s mom is super sleazy, but that’s what I’m here for.
- Frank Sheehan and Dylan Hinchey were left out as the father of Erin’s baby. Therefore… yeah, that’s something to chew on. Maybe Faye will let him sleep in the bedroom again.
- At least Dawn was smart enough not to carry real money to the meeting, filling the deposit bag with clippings of coupons instead. The Red Flag was probably the amount requested by Freddie, which is only a third of the official award.
- I saw the pilot again with my mom and noticed, for the first time, that the Carrolls had a fridge magnet announcing Delrasso’s delivery. Very nice touch.