The 8 Most Jaw-Dropping Moments From ‘Mare of Easttown’

Mare of Easttown Episode 3 Suspended

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 1 of Mare of Easttown.]

The end of HBO’s mystery-drama Mare of Easttown gives us a fulfilling, twisty, and shocking resolution that makes it a little easier to let go of the characters we’ve gotten so attached to since the premiere. The Kate Winslet-led limited series is more than just a detective story, with a complex cast of characters and some incredibly juicy small-town drama that have us hooked throughout.

That’s not to say the central mystery isn’t gripping on its own though. From the crime to the investigation to the perpetrator, Mare of Easttown packs an incredible number of plot twists and startling revelations in only seven episodes.

Even though we’re still processing many of these, we’re breaking down the most jaw-dropping moments below from a show full of them.

Mare of Easttown, Season 1, Streaming Now, HBO Max

Mare of Easttown Season 1 Episode 1 Erin

The Murder (Episode 1)

Even knowing this is a mystery show going into it, the first episode makes it easy to forget Mare (Winslet) would soon be forced to investigate a tragic murder. We follow her as she deals with petty crimes and relationship issues while also getting a glance into the lives of the town’s residents. The story of Erin McMenamin (Cailee Spaeny) is particularly striking as we see her deal with the difficulties of being a teen mom and the brutal assault she experiences at the hands of her ex’s new girlfriend Brianna (Mackenzie Lansing). The moment when her naked body is found in the river is not only horrifying because of these circumstances but also stands as a sharp contrast from the mundane beginnings of the show.

Mare of Easttown Season 1 Episode 2 Kenny Shoots Dylan

Kenny Shoots Dylan (Episode 2)

Right from the onset, it’s hard to like Dylan (Jack Mulhern). He’s cruel to Erin, barely involved with his son’s health, and allows Brianna to brutally beat up and embarrass the mother of his child just for texting him. So when Erin’s dad Kenny (Patrick Murney) holds Dylan at gunpoint and forces him to drive out to the middle of nowhere, there’s a certain satisfaction to seeing him squirm. But Kenny takes it to another level when he actually shoots Dylan in the back as he runs away. Even though Dylan survives, the sudden violence in this moment definitely evoked a few gasps.

Mare of Easttown Season 1 Episode 3 Frank

Frank and Erin (Episode 3)

Despite Mare’s apparent resentment of her ex-husband Frank (David Denman), it’s hard not to believe he’s a likeable guy. When we see his goofy-yet-caring-dad demeanor and his happiness at his engagement party, he seems like the polar opposite to Mare’s constant bitterness. So when Mare discovers he may have had a relationship with Erin and lied to her about it, it’s kind of a big deal. It’s hard not to feel just as betrayed and shocked as Mare is when this is revealed. Of course, this turns out to be one of the mystery’s many red herrings, and Frank is simply helping Erin out of concern. Still, this moment shows us that no one in Easttown should be safe from suspicion.

Mare of Easttown Season 1 Episode 3 Mare Gets Suspended

Mare Gets Suspended (Episode 3)

If there’s one point that gets hammered in throughout the show, it’s that Mare is one hell of a good cop. She has the respect of the other officers, chases down suspects, and finds evidence at crime scenes that leaves her bigshot County Police partner Detective Colin Zabel (Evan Peters) astounded. So when the chief knocks on her door and asks her to come outside in the cold to reprimand her, it’s pretty clear she has seriously messed up. It turns out Mare stole heroin from the evidence locker and planted it on her grandson’s mother, Carrie (Sosie Bacon) so that she would be caught and fail to regain custody. That’s clearly not what a good cop does, and Mare is forced to hand over her badge and gun indefinitely. It’s a devastating blow to an investigation that is just picking up steam and leaves us wondering just how exactly is she supposed to solve it now?

Mare of Easttown Season 1 Episode 4 Katie Bailey

Katie Bailey Is Alive (Episode 4)

Before Erin’s tragic murder, another crime rocked the community of Easttown: the disappearance of Katie Bailey (Caitlin Houlahan) a year ago. It has tormented Mare ever since because she failed to produce any results. Katie’s mother and Mare’s old basketball teammate Dawn (Enid Graham) resents her for it, and it’s clear Mare carries some guilt over it too. So when another girl is kidnapped and locked in a dim attic by her assailant, there’s a startling revelation that Katie has been locked in that same attic for the past year. Katie’s survival is one of the few positive bombshells in the series, but it’s also the first time we get the hint that there might just be more than one criminal at large in Easttown.

Mare of Easttown Season 1 Episode 5 Zabel's Death

Zabel's Untimely Demise (Episode 5)

If there’s any single moment in the series that made everyone gasp out loud, it’s this one. Detective Zabel is a great foil to Mare; his youth and optimism are a strong contrast to Mare’s world-weary pessimism. Though she initially resents him and does her best to freeze him out of the case, Mare eventually warms up to Zabel to the point where they go on a date and share a kiss. Things start looking up not just for them, but for the case too. And then they go to Wayne Potts’ (Jeb Kreager) bar. While Mare is on high alert from the get-go and immediately suspicious of Potts, Zabel is a little slow on the uptake. So when the guns are drawn, Zabel gets shot unceremoniously in the head. A hugely unexpected and tragic end to a very likeable character.

Mare of Easttown Season 1 Episode 7 Erin and John Photo

The Photo (Episode 7)

Erin’s journals are the holy grail of Mare’s investigation, a look into the victim’s mind that could unravel the entire mystery and answer a lot of questions. Most importantly, who is her son’s real father? Unfortunately, Mare never finds the journals and all hope seems lost when Dylan and Jess (Ruby Cruz) burn them all to keep Erin’s secrets hidden. However, Jess has a change of heart and keeps a photo to show the police. The shocking truth is revealed that it was not her uncle Billy (Robbie Tann) who fathered Erin’s child, but her other uncle John (Joe Tippett). It’s a horrifying betrayal that shakes up the investigation at the last minute.

Mare of Easttown Season 1 Episode 7 Ryan

The Killer (Episode 7)

The final and most gut-wrenching twist of the series is also its saddest. The real killer is not Billy, John, or even a grown man. It’s Ryan (Cameron Mann), John’s son and Erin’s cousin who had discovered his father’s affair with her. Hoping to scare Erin off and end the relationship, Ryan steals a gun and meets Erin in the park only to accidentally shoot her. It’s a terrible accident that ruins many lives, including his. This final twist is so powerful because it is not a crazed serial killer or some evil creep that kills Erin, but an angry child who makes a terrible mistake. It’s a bold narrative decision that proves exactly why Mare of Easttown isn’t just a typical detective show.