Warning: This post contains spoilers for Sunday’s Mare of Easttown finale.
So a Ross did kill Erin McMenamin… but not the Ross we thought.
Mare of Easttown‘s finale — check out our full recap here — revealed that the killer was actually John and Lori’s son Ryan, who was angry about his dad’s cheating ways and tried to scare Erin away with Mr. Carroll’s gun when the gun went off. (John first tried to claim he killed Erin, to protect his son from prosecution.) It was a twist we didn’t see coming, but director/executive producer Craig Zobel says that Ryan was the killer all along in writer Brad Inglesby’s scripts. “My understanding is that he had always had that idea from the very, very beginning,” Zobel tells TVLine, adding that the whole series “really did grow out of that being the idea.”
But Mare wasn’t just a simple whodunit: Even after we learned the killer’s identity, the finale took its time examining the emotional fallout for everyone involved. And that was deliberate, Zobel says. “Just as in the beginning of the series, when you get to learn about the town and the people before you dive into the murder mystery, we felt like it was similar on the other side,” he explains. “So it felt like we needed to have some time after the end of the murder mystery to talk about Mare and Easttown, really the things that also drive the show. In some ways, that was the important stuff for us, as much as obviously fulfilling the murder mystery.”
The finale ended on a hopeful note as well, with Mare at long last dealing with her son Kevin’s death by pulling down the attic stairs and going up there for the first time since she found him hanging there. We only saw her go up the stairs from afar before it cut to black, but Zobel reveals “there was discussion at different times” about the camera following Mare all the way up. “I remember thinking about whether or not we needed to actually go up into the attic and be up there. But I always felt like [her] just making the choice was enough.”
With the mystery now solved, we can clearly see all the red herrings that Mare laid out along the way, from Erin’s ex Dylan to Deacon Mark. The theories got pretty wild online, with fans picking apart every frame for clues. “I have to admit, that happened more than I even thought,” Zobel says with a laugh. “There certainly have been times where I’ve seen people write about stuff, how it was shot… It becomes a little bit of a thing in the edit. It’s like, when are we hiding the ball too much? Because there’s a satisfaction in being able to play that game, I think.”
One twist that still stings, though, is the abrupt death of Evan Peters’ detective Colin, who was shot and killed in Episode 5 by the man who kidnapped Katie Bailey. “Having people become so attached to him on a week-by-week [basis], it’s been a fascinating experience,” Zobel notes, because “we all knew that’s where it was going. I can’t say that I was around any kind of conversations of not [killing him off], because that was baked into the idea.” The EP admits that “we were trying to make him as charming as possible, so that it would be surprising,” adding that poor Colin was just starting to find his groove when it all ended for him. “He gets to kiss Mare. His life was going upwards!”
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