As Mare of Easttown Season 1 Episode 4 began, Mare was barely coping with losing her job, but she's got people in her corner looking out for her.

Lori thought that that taking a step back could be the best thing for Mare, who had become a closed book in the wake of her son's death.

Everyone fears they're losing her.

Any family tragedy is difficult to manage. Mare of Easttown deals with open-ended tragedies that are almost impossible to get past.

Kevin's suicide will leave the family searching for answers forever because they'll never have the opportunity to ask what happened.

Taking your own life is as personal as it comes, and from the outside, wrapping your head around it is grueling and how you might have influenced that decision, nightmarish.

But the Sheehan family is hardly the only one suffering in Easttown. Every family seems plagued by difficulties that lead to even more complicated actions.

If Mare has been down the road to recovery before, she can't be alone. She started therapy hoping that the therapist didn't get discouraged when she failed to have a hallelujah moment.

Let the healing begin.


Still, something about how Mare initially approached it suggested that she's not going to fight the process, even it seemed like she was resigned to its failure.

At least she has some things to keep her mind off of her grievous errors.

Richard is still interested and commiserates with her. He's had his shot at success, and he's just riding the wave of what could have been after is own failure to produce a follow-up novel stopped stinging.

Mare: You like bein' a teacher?
Richard: Well, I've grown to. Um, I always used to look at teaching as the thing that you did if you couldn't do the thing you wanted to, so it's kind of a nice reminder that my life is steadily declining.
Mare: Ha. Lucky me. Catch ya on the downslide, huh?

And she's got Colin, both professionally and personally, should she decide to go that route.

The official word was that Mare was stepping back to take care of personal business. That shocked Colin, who never imagined he'd be leading the case let alone without the lead detective.

But he carried on in her absence by visiting with Deacon Mark, warning him that he should get his shit in order because if he got the tip on his past, so will everyone else.

Little does Deacon Mark know that he fits right into Easttown, so full of secrets and regret. It's a town that finds its youth raising families well before they're able to deal with that kind of pressure, and it leads to all sorts of disasters.

Is that something unique to small-town eastern Pennsylvania? Hardly, and I'm not sure that it's even indicative of it. But seeing how the kids suffer as a result of irresponsible family planning is painful nonetheless.

They all suffer enough without a crazed psycho on the loose taking advantage of that pain, but that is the direction this story is progressing, as we learned that Dawn's neverending hope has paid off.

Katie: No one can hear you in here.
Girl: Who are you?
Katie: I'm Katie. Katie Bailey.

Katie's alive, not that she knows it for sure. Something inside of her says that it's true, but she's suffered in the year since Katie went missing, grasping at straws and raising Katie's daughter while battling cancer.

Yet she still feels guilt over any part she played in Mare's breakdown. She proves that these are good people, shaken down by uncertain circumstances.

There had to be a reason that Beth and Freddie were introduced again, but it's still unpalatable to believe that drugs could cause anyone to do something as vile as playing into Dawn's desperation to find her daughter like that.

Was Katie, too, stepping into a sordid life? The newest victim, Missy, was turning tricks, and Erin, too, had dipped her toes into that water.

It's hard to imagine how someone like Erin, who we saw to be a sweet and caring young woman who knew right from wrong thought that turning tricks could be her ticket out. If she was susceptible, then how would that leave others who haven't the same sense of responsibility to handle similar pressure?

Erin pulled Dylan into her world by lying about him being DJ's father, not for any feelings she had for him but because his parents are good people, the kind of couple that she'd want influencing her child.

Dylan wasn't handling the news about DJ well, but Dylan isn't a bad kid. He's caught up in something that he never asked for, and even if he did have sex without protection, he didn't deserve to pay for Erin's mistakes, either.

But his parents' reaction to the news spoke to the fact that Erin had a good head on her shoulders, even if she was misguided. They've fallen in love with DJ, and there's no reason to believe they won't do that long after DJ's real father is revealed.

Deacon Mark's lot in life shows that it can be damned hard to outrun your past, and no matter what you did or how hard you try to overcome your mistakes, sometimes, they'll live with you forever.

It's concerning since lying runs in Mare's family. Siobhan wasn't honest with her family about things with Becca.

Up to now, her story is the least interesting because it doesn't tie completely into the narrative.

I'd expect that, as the season and Mare's therapy continues, Siobhan's documentary will be more important, and it will provide a reason for her to escape similar mistakes as other girls in Easttown.

The title of this episode, "Poor Sisyphus," suggests that the people in Easttown will be pushing those rocks up the hills only to be struck down for all their efforts over and over again.

Maybe Mare's therapy advocated that there is still hope. It can't be a coincidence that there are four generations living together in their home.

Helen is Mare's conscience. She dares to say out loud what others would keep bottled inside, and that trait keeps the entire family from falling apart.

Helen: Maybe it's a serial killer.
Mare: Christ! Mom!
Helen: Well, it is the third girl, Mare. Just sayin'.

Helen is a beacon in the storm that is Mare of Easttown, and Jean Smart is an absolute delight as the plainspoken matriarch.

Mare's relationship with Carrie is so contrary and the lengths she went to in her attempt to keep the girl out of their lives backfired.

But it was hard not to feel her giving just a little as Carrie spoke for every other young woman in Easttown when she said, "You know, I'm trying really hard to get my life together. So stop, just stop."

Is there hope for this woebegone town and its misguided residents?

Hit the comments below, and let us know what you're feeling after watching.



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