Mare of Easttown spoilers follow.
After seven weeks and multiple suspects, the identity of Erin McMenamin's killer was finally revealed in the Mare of Easttown finale, but only after some additional twists were thrown in for good measure.
It wasn't Deacon Mark Burton, who had chucked Erin's bike into the river for fear of being found guilty after she had left it in his car. Dylan Hinchey, Erin's ex-boyfriend, also wasn't responsible, despite Brianna Delrasso's revelation that on the night of Erin's murder, he had gone awol in the early hours. It wasn't the man behind Katie Bailey's abduction, nor was it Erin's dad Kenny. His cousin Billy Ross also wasn't to blame, and the other Ross sibling, John, who had already been stuffed into an orange jumpsuit and convicted of the crime, hadn't pulled the trigger.
In a truly devastating turn of events, Ryan Ross, the son of John and Mare's best friend Lori, was unmasked as the killer.
Erin had been expecting to meet John at Brandywine Park after she received a text from him. She demanded that he meet her there and if he failed to show, she would tell his wife about them. At a family get together back in 2017, shortly after Erin's mum had died, the pair began having sex, with Erin later falling pregnant. John asked her to abort the baby, but she refused and led Dylan to believe that DJ was his child.
But it was Ryan who had arranged to meet her under the cover of darkness. On his way there, he swung by Glen Carroll's shed and collected the gun, before heading back out into the night.
Ryan told the police that he only wanted to frighten Erin. His parent's marriage had already hit a major stumbling block when John had an affair with another woman, and he was desperate to prevent that from happening again. Ryan pointed the gun at Erin and demanded that she leave his family alone, but a struggle ensued, with Erin grabbing hold of the weapon. A few seconds later, her heart had stopped beating.
It was John and Billy who shifted Erin's body, which is why their dad caught the latter covered in blood, tending to his soiled clothes, in the wee hours.
Billy had agreed to claim responsibility, but John was sceptical about whether he would stick to his promise. After it was agreed that his brother would go to the police, Lori's husband suggested that they go fishing together, one final time. But that was yet another coverup, and he intended to put a bullet in his brother to protect not only himself but Ryan, too.
That interaction between the two up at the cabin also gave audiences an insight into the power dynamic in their relationship. John had coerced his brother to take responsibility for Erin's death by manipulating him emotionally. He seized upon Billy's vulnerabilities to exert control over him.
"No one's going to miss a f**k up like me," he said as John waved the gun at him. "You'd be doing me a favour. Like you said, you've got a family and I've got nobody."
But eventually, Ryan's secret was exposed and the Ross family was shattered once again.
It's a heart-rending conclusion but for once, it looked like Mare and her family had found some solid footing. The detective had made a conscious decision to emotionally confront the death of her son, and the last shot we saw was of her climbing into the loft where Kevin took his own life.
It's a moment of hope in a series which largely traded in devastation, and while the reality of what Mare lost will never "get any easier" – a question that Mr Carroll asked her – she's learning to "live with the unacceptable".
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