You know, Jean Smart is on this as Mare’s mother Helen. I haven’t seen fit to mention her before because she isn’t really much tied to the plot. Instead, she just appears in various scenes and knocks her stuff out of the park. Of course, I thought she was great on Fargo, Legion, and Watchmen, so there’s nothing really surprising there. If getting Kate Winslet in something is a good thing, then adding Jean Smart makes it a better thing.
She does more good work in this episode, but again, that’s not surprising.
Anyway, for this episode, I think the theme may be something about parenthood and what it really means. Dylan learns he isn’t the father to Erin’s baby. Neither is Frank, but the important one here is Dylan. And despite his initial anger at his own parents continuing to care for a baby that isn’t theirs, in a very scary scene where he stumbles out of his hospital bed looking like he might smother the baby with a pillow, instead he picks the crying child up to comfort it.
Given the way this series depicts a lot of depressing stuff everywhere, that was a nice moment. We might have needed that one.
After all, we see a bit more of how Mare feels about her dead son, and isn’t all rosy as she remembers how he verbally abused her as he and Carrie robbed Mare for drug money. It’s a bit surprising, not so much because it explains why Mare is so reluctant to give Drew to Carrie, something Carrie seems to be desperately trying to make amends for and move on with her own life, but it was a little surprising to see Mare seem to wince and wither the way she does.
See, there are a lot of complex emotions at play here, and that’s the sort of thing that really hammers that idea home. Case in point, we also have Dawn Bailey, the woman fighting cancer and demanding to know what happened to her daughter when the girl disappeared a year ago. And for this episode, when she wasn’t being duped into giving money over for a ransom that was really a local drug addict’s efforts to get drug money himself, she actively questioned whether or not she’d been too hard on Mare. I appreciate things like that.
Then again, this is the episode where a third victim seemed to disappear. Mare, though on suspension and telling her therapist to manage her expectations because Mare hasn’t had much luck with therapy before, is still looking into things, helping Detective Zabel look into things, like how that shifty Deacon Mark got sent away because he, um, did sexual stuff with an underage girl. Mare’s big contribution was a simple discovery: Erin, like the other two girls who disappeared, was doing a bit of prostitution on the side.
That leads to a rather surprising discovery at the end of the episode as the third victim, last seen having a shadowy man lunge at her, is still alive. Said shadowy jerk locked her in an attic somewhere…in the same room as Dawn’s missing daughter Katie. So, whatever happened with Erin, she’s the only one who died.
If it’s all being done by the same person.
And there’s no guarantee the other two won’t die before all this is over.
This is, to put it bluntly, good stuff. Mare is good at her job from the looks of things, even when she’s told not to do it. Is there a connection to that locket with a mystery date written on it that she found? Will she get off suspension before the case is solved? Does she care? Can she get help? How much will her mother (rightfully) curse her out for her own stupidity when it comes to Drew? Which of the two men in her life with Mare date?
Wait, I am not as interested in the last two unless the shadow man is one of those two.