In interviews, Kate Winslet always said it wasn’t a thriller. And she was right. Yes, Mare of Easttown (Sky Atlantic) began with a murder in a small, dark Pennsylvania town, and Winslet Police Detective Mare Sheehan was called in to investigate. But it was almost immediately clear that the seven-part drama was shaping up to be so much more – and even clearer soon after, it was likely to be successful in all its endeavors.

It was a character study, on how a woman dejected by life after the loss of a son to drugs and suicide, the consecutive divorce of her husband and the education of her grandson faced in a custody battle with his mother (her son’s former son). girlfriend, rehabilitated but fragile) endures.

It also supported more ordinary constraints and constraints. Mare lives with her teenage daughter, Siobhan, and her mother, Helen (Jean Smart), who – although their scenes together were generally played out for a slight relief – possessed in maternal full measure the ability to push each of the buttons on her. Mare. In addition to domestic charges, Mare had her professional charges. The assassination of his colleague Colin Zabel during the rescue of two missing girls, one of whom Mare had been investigating the disappearance for a year, only replaced one weight of guilt with another. The show has been compared to Sally Wainwright’s Happy Valley for its deep understanding that real life, especially for middle-aged women with their accumulated worries, usually doesn’t offer much respite.

It was a study on bereavement. Mare, of course: explicitly in some painful scenes with the mandatory therapy sessions which, in one of the many subversions of standard crime drama tropes, Mare decided to take advantage of rather than ignore; implicitly in every dark, frozen line of his face and in every step of his weary walk. But also a study on the suffering of the mother of the missing girl, Dawn Bailey – knowing too little about the fate of her daughter Katie, while Mare knew too much about that of her own son, whose body she cut off the rafters. of his attic – and, at the end of the seventh episode, the grief of many, many other individuals and a whole community.

He showed a part of America we usually don’t see – moodless, inglorious, its collective health and well-being eroded by poverty, the opioid crisis, and other intractable issues no one has. the power to control. Creator and writer Brad Ingelsby is originally from Pennsylvania and every beat of Mare of Easttown is imbued with love and written without feelings of the heart.

The finale gave us answers, if not the ones we wanted. Most of us, I suppose, would have gotten off pretty happy after the first arrest for the murder of Erin McMenamin, Dylan’s motives had been revealed, and the Sheehan family were celebrating the rare avoidance of a seizure after the ‘Drew’s custody hearing (and afterwards Smart showed him equally powerful non-comedic chops at the table, conjuring up a life of regret in a few lines – crashing in seconds because no one has the time or the time. energy for more). But we knew two things: that there was half an hour of racing time left, and that life doesn’t offer much respite.

Soon more clues to the matter appeared in Mare’s sight. There were parts of that final twist that you had to squint to get to work, but it remained emotionally true. If you have to choose between a slightly flawed plot and some failed emotional gains, choose the former. It all fell apart and reluctantly pieced together to form a far worse and far more tragic story than Mare had to lead to its terrible and deeply moving conclusion.

I’m not sure if this will be a point of contention picked up by the general public, but in the debate with others who have invested themselves fully in the series and the woman, there seemed to be a fairly quick and strict division between those who thought that Mare should and would have done what she did… and those who thought that she should not and never would have done. Chat, probably through tears, anyway, once the credits roll.

Winslet’s performance as a complicated, loving, fallible and at times unpleasant mare has been rightly praised. So subtle, sober and multi-layered: it was a privilege to witness it. The same is undoubtedly true for the whole series.