Major, major spoilers are ahead. Katie Bailey is alive. In the final moments of the last episode, it was revealed to viewers that Katie had been kidnapped by a man with a connection to Bennie's Tavern. But Detective Colin Zabel (Evan Peters) and Mare (Kate Winslet), who is still gun- and badge-less after planting drugs on her son's girlfriend, don't know this yet. They still have to put in the legwork to solve this case themselves.
Luckily, they're firing on all cylinders. Their investigation leads them to another girl who barely got away from this monster. She wrote down part of the license plate of the blue work van he drove and said the guy smoked Winston's.
After checking in with other blue van owners in the area, Colin and Mare end up at Bennie's Tavern, which, we know, means they're on the right track. There is this sense that the year-old case will finally be closed. That Colin, who admitted he didn't really solve the missing girl from Upper Darby case, will get to redeem himself. That he'll finally get to absolve himself of the guilt that came with playing the hero he never felt he was. That he'll finally get to do, as he tells Mare, "something great."
Mare will also get to be the hometown hero she so wants to be. Not the one who won the winning shot in a basketball game 20 years ago, but the one who brings Katie Bailey home to her mother after years of feeling as if she failed her own child.
However, things feel off from the moment they walk in the door. As if they shouldn't be there yet, as if they're not quite ready. As if things are moving too fast. Something fans might feel too since there are still two more episodes left in this season. Colin kisses Mare and now they're about to solve the case? It's all just a little too perfect for these Easttown dwellers. After all, this isn't a place that gets happy endings.
When Colin spots the Winston's on the coffee table, they know this is their guy. But Mare is unarmed and Colin seems nervous. When the pipes start to shake uncontrollably — a desperate SOS from Katie and the latest missing girl, Missy — they know that this guy won't go down without a fight.
Just as Colin raises his gun, the man shoots him and he's down. I'll admit I gasped when he fell to the ground after the kill shot. But there's no time to mourn Colin because this guy's still shooting.
Mare, who was wounded, somehow gets away and it becomes a cat and mouse game in which she is at a great disadvantage. He has cameras all over the premises and he can see exactly what she's doing. Somehow she is able to stun him just long enough to get back downstairs. She grabs Colin's gun and shoots him seconds before he would have killed her too.
The episode is titled "Illusions," and the final moments almost feel like an hallucination, a fever dream. After Mare finally opened up to her therapist, talking about her son and the depression that runs in her family, she is forced to grieve another young man.
The police who she texted while trying to save herself, knowing she might not make it out alive, enter the home, asking her questions about what just happened. All she can hear is her son's voice. It's the same moment we saw in the documentary Siobhan (Angourie Rice) is making about him. It's his birthday, he looks no older than 10, and they're at the beach. You imagine it might be one of the few good memories Mare has of her late son. All of the other flashbacks she's had of him are him yelling at her in a drug-induced haze. She seems almost catatonic, unable to be in the present because it's just too painful.
They solved the case of Katie Bailey, but it came at a price. "Doing something great is overrated," she tells Colin before the gun fight, which sounds rather depressing. Especially since Colin's finally did his "something great" and it's the last thing he was ever able to do.
But, the rest of Mare's statement signals that those therapy sessions are working. "People expect that from you all the time," she tells him. "What they don't realise is you're just as screwed up as they are." You get the sense that Mare was starting to work through her hero complex, realising she won't ever be able to live up to other people's expectations of what she should be as a detective. She won't be able to solve every case, she won't save everyone, and she has to come to terms with that.
So, what will the expectations after the events of this episode be? Everything seems to have just changed, but yet, there is so much that is still the same. It's unlikely that Erin McMenamin's murder is tied to Katie's kidnapping, which means her killer is still out there. Her ex boyfriend Dylan (Jack Mulhern), who, we learn from Brianna (Mackenzie Lansing), disappeared that night, needs to be further questioned.
As does Erin's friend Jess (Ruby Cruz), who pocketed a photo from the journals she helped Dylan burn, and Deacon Mark Burton (James McArdle), who revealed he was with her that night. Someone should also request a paternity test from Erin's uncle Billy (Robbie Tann), who she lived with for a short time and seems very cagey about the details of that stay.
But Mare Of Easttown has never just been about solving these cases, it's about the people who are affected by them. Mare can no longer ignore the effects her job has had on her, which means it's impossible for the final two episodes of the series to do so either.