Mare of Easttown: What’s in the box?

Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown Season 1, Episode 5 -- Photograph by Michele K. Short/HBO
Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown Season 1, Episode 5 -- Photograph by Michele K. Short/HBO /

After the utterly insane ending of Mare of Easttown’s fifth episode, the question of who killed Erin McMenamin still remains unanswered. Could there be a clue hidden in plain sight?

Four minutes into Mare of Easttown, we meet the ill-fated Erin McMenamin (Cailee Spaeny). She’s hanging out in her room with her young son DJ and musing adorably about how very much she loves him. She’s a doting mom living in a problematic situation, but we can clearly see that she’s doing the best she can with what she has.

In those first few moments, Erin gets up so she can get DJ ready for a weekend with his drag of a dad. As she turns around to make a funny face at her little boy, she walks out of frame. Yet, the camera lingers on a giant orange diaper box in the corner of her room.

Is a simple diaper box the key to unlocking who killed Erin McMenamin on Mare of Easttown?

Sure, ok, new parents have stacks of diaper boxes piled high in every corner of their house on the regular — I’m a new parent, can confirm — but why would director Craig Zobel choose to take the moment to refocus the camera lens on this exact pile of baby stuff? Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.

In the latest episode of the series, titled “Illusions”, we see the box again. As Dylan rummages around Erin’s room, looking for her journals, his flashlight illuminates the brightly colored box. However, instead of sitting on the top of a pile, it’s now on the floor. Could someone have moved it since her death? We’ve seen both Mare (Kate Winslet) and a troupe of teens tramp through the McMenamin house since the murder took place. Who else could have been in there since then?

Seems like Mare (Kate Winslet) and the Easttown P.D. should have closed off the house to the public — or at least slapped up some of that neon yellow caution tape on the doors to deter potential creepers. Or, alternatively, the room should have been throughly searched at some point. Neither of these things happened. (Side note: Is Mare actually bad at her job? Discuss.) Therefore, there is a very large orange box that is just begging to be opened.

Perhaps the box is just full of diapers. But given its prominence in not one but two episodes, it seems more like a big fat clue.

We know that, at one point in time, Frank Sheehan (David Denman) was seen driving Erin home with a supply of diapers and formula in tow. He says that it was because he felt bad for her, yet if the box is in play as a secret stash of some sort, then another alternative might be possible. Frank has been ruled out as DJ’s father, but could he have been involved in something else?

Given the rampant opioid problem in Easttown it might be possible that Erin was selling drugs on the side to help pay for sweet DJ’s ear surgery. Erin’s friend Jess did tell Mare that Erin was on Sidedoor, but she also told Mare that Erin had never met up with any of the men on the site. Dylan finds a stash of cash along with the journals, which means Erin was making money somehow. She could have been lying about Sidedoor, or maybe she was earning another way.

Ok, so given that Frank and Mare’s son Kevin died in the midst of a struggle with addiction, it seems unlikely that Frank would be peddling drugs via a young girl in town, but stranger things have happened. Instead, it might be within the realm of possibility that Kevin is actually DJ’s dad.

Kevin committed suicide in February of 2018, and DJ was born in November of 2018. That’s nine months. The math feels too coincidental to ignore. Was Frank passing along some of his son’s old belongings to Erin? Even though the math works out, this does seem unlikely, but the shocking nature of this series makes anything seem possible.

Next. 37 Characters with the Best Last Words in TV History. dark

Right now, there are approximately one thousand suspects on Mare of Easttown. Erin’s shifty uncles are certainly high on the list. We’ve also got our eyes on Deacon Mark, the mystery ferret prowler, and DJ’s faux father Dylan. However, we shouldn’t rule Frank out simply because he’s not DJ’s daddy. The diaper box might eventually tell all.

Mare of Easttown airs on HBO Sunday nights at 10/9c.