‘Mare of Easttown’ Ending, Explained: Who killed Erin?


Mare of Easttown follows one of the most balanced narratives, combining an adequate drama, thrill, and humour. The basic plot follows a small-town detective, Mare Sheehan, who comes across a violent but mysterious murder of a teenage mother, Erin McMenamin. Easttown had shared the history of one missing girl in their small community. The death of another girl rumoured the possibility of a serial killer on the loose. 

Throughout the drama, Mare Sheehan struggles with her conflicting personal life while solving the mystery of missing girls.

Who was Erin McMenamin?

Erin was the daughter of an alcoholic single father, Kenny McMenamin. She was also the mother of a small baby, DJ, whose father was a teenage boy, Dylan Hinchey. When Erin got pregnant, Dylan pressured her for an abortion, but Erin decided otherwise. The act created a conflict between the two, and they broke up. Erin now lives with her alcoholic father, who resents her bitterly.

On January 10, Erin was brutally murdered, and her naked dead body was found in a local creek. A large wound on her head suggested a possible homicide. The case was assigned to local detective Mare Sheehan who was already investigating the disappearance of Katie Bailey.

Who kidnapped Katie Bailey?

Erin’s best friend, Jess Riley, informs detective Mare and her partner Zabel that before her death, Erin secretly created a profile on an escort website (side door website) to earn extra cash for her baby’s ear surgery.

Mare finds the website, a common link between the missing girls. Mare interviews a girl who managed to escape from the claws of this shadow man. He hired escorts to kidnap them. She tells the detectives about a blue van that the man used to drive. She also provides them with a license number.

Mare and Zabel reach Wayne Potts’s house, where sudden gunfire establishes that he was the real kidnapper. Mare’s partner loses his life, but the case gets solved.

However, Mare fails to link Erin’s murder with Wayne Potts. The mystery still haunts her.

Who killed Erin McMenamin?

While investigating the case, Mare found a hidden necklace in Erin’s secret drawer. The necklace was engraved with a date, “5-29-17.” Upon further investigation, Mare finds out that the ‘date’ tracks a family reunion at Lake Harmony. It was arranged after Erin’s mother’s death, to help her cope up with the tragedy. Other than the kids, the reunion was attended by five adults, namely, Lori (Mare’s best friend), John (Lori’s husband), Billy (John’s brother), and Kenny (Erin’s father).

Mare was already suspicious of Billy, who has been acting strangely for a long time. She investigated the necklace and found out that some “Ross” bought it from the jewellery store. But to her surprise, it wasn’t Billy Ross, but John Ross who bought it. Later in custody, John confesses that he was the father of Erin’s baby and shared a short sexual relationship. But after a point, she started threatening him, asking for money. He accidentally killed her when she pointed a gun at him.

While John’s version of the story was believable, there was something amiss. The murder weapon was still missing.

Later, an elderly resident of the community, Glen Carroll, called Mare to file a report of a missing gun. Upon arrival, Mare learns that the gun was missing for some hours of the night. It was the same night when he suspected intrusion in his backyard, and it was duly informed to Mare in the beginning sequence of the series. Marvellously, the end connects with the beginning.

Mare checks the CCTV footage and finds out that Lori and John’s son, Ryan Ross, trespassed the shed on the night of Erin’s murder and took the gun. Mare arrests Ryan who admits killing Erin from Glen’s gun, A Colt Detective Special.

Why did Ryan kill Erin?

Lori’s husband, John, indulged in an extra-marital affair with Sandra Elliot. They got separated for a brief moment. The split harmed their kids, Ryan and Moira. The 13-year old Ryan couldn’t handle his parent’s separation and got emotionally unstable (violent) in school. Fortunately, things got sorted between John and Lori, and they got back together.

But when Ryan learned about John’s relationship with Erin. He predicted another split between his parents, which got him scared. Ryan didn’t want to lose his family again, and thus, took a threatening step towards murder. He took the gun from the shed and threatened Erin to stay away from his family. But a panicked Erin tried to snatch the gun, causing her death, accidentally.

What happened to Mare’s son, Kevin?

Mare and Frank’s son, Kevin, was suffering from Tourette syndrome, often referred to as “tics.” A patient hears “tics” sound and suffers from a mood disorder. Mare’s counselling sessions suggested that Mare’s father suffered from similar syndrome and Kevin’s disorder was genetic. Mare’s father shot himself when she was 13 years old. Kevin hanged himself from the shed two years ago (according to the series timelines).

According to Mare’s counsellor, she never effectively grieved for Kevin’s death. She had been hiding the pain and looking out for an external solution for it, like engrossing herself in difficult criminal cases. Similar complications were portrayed visually as well, where we see Mare’s fear of walking in the corridor leading to the attic, as it refreshed the memories of her dead son. The trauma had played an impacting role in moulding Mare’s flawed character, giving an edge to her emotional spectrum. And thus, it needed to be solved too.

Her counsellor advised her that pain won’t leave her until she confronts it. That leads to the final sequence.

‘Mare of Easttown’ Ending Explained

A layer in Mare of Easttown followed the custody of Kevin’s son (Mare’s grandson) between Mare and her ex-heroin addict daughter-in-law, Carrie. Throughout the series, Mare tries to frame Carrie and prove that she is still a substance addict to gain custody of her grandson. But in the end, after a therapy session, she let it go. However, Carrie finally reveals to her that she has been using drugs again, and thus, morally wishes Mare to keep Kevin’s son. The confrontation bridges the gap between her and Carrie, leading to a new relationship.

Mare had been extremely cold blood and unable to remorse. But when her best friend, Lori’s son, is sent to juvenile detention, she tries harder to be more empathetic towards people. In the final moments, she holds an emotionally broken Lori that makes her remember her grief. The way Lori grieves for Ryan compels her to take a similar step.

In the closing visual, we see Mare climbing up the attic, where her son Kevin hanged himself. It symbolically reveals the closure of her internal pain, finishing the arc of her internal conflict.

Mare of Easttown is a captivating drama that entertains you, makes you laugh, and fills your eyes with tears. I suppose, for 2021, it is one of the best mini-series and worth recommending to others to feel the emotions.

If you have any other queries, do let us know in the comments below.

Also Read – ‘Mare of Easttown’ Summary & Review

Created by Brad Ingelsby, Mare of Easttown is a 7 part mini-series that follows a detective trying to solve the unusual disappearance of teenage girls and a mysterious murder.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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