HBO’s Mare of Easttown, nominated for 16 Emmys this year including for Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series, kept the audience on the edge of their seats with a mystery filled with twists and turns. Kate Winslet stars as Detective Mare Sheehan as she investigates the grisly murder of a teenage mother in her small town. Winslet is nominated in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series category for her role in the seven-episode drama.
The season finale, titled “Sacrament” and written by series creator Brad Ingelsby, is a nominee in the Outstanding Writing for a Limited of Anthology Series or Movie category, and sums up the series and pulls together all of the clues to solve the mystery. After the events of the previous episode, it seemed like the murder of Erin McMenamen (Cailee Spaeny) had been solved. Parts of the case, however, didn’t add up for Mare, and her continued investigation leads to a devastating realization of who is actually responsible. Mare attempts to find a way forward for her and her family, while dealing with the fallout of the arrest.
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Here, Ingelsby answers some questions about his work on the finale as part of Deadline’s It Starts on the Page, a series showcasing scripts from this year’s Emmy-nominated programs and the writers who brought them to life.
What was the inspiration for the series?
It came from a desire to write about home — the rhythms and rituals of life in this particular part of the country. I wanted to write about the people with whom I grew up. It started there and, emotionally, Mare was my way into the story. I was interested in a character tasked with solving crimes in a community where she knows most of the people and has years and years of shared history. That idea felt like fertile soil for conflict.
What is your favorite line from the script?
Probably “I’m here,” which is spoken by Deacon Mark in Episode 2’s homily and then again by Mare when she’s holding Lori in the kitchen in Episode 7. To me, that line always represented the themes of the series — community, forgiveness and mercy.
What was the most difficult scene to write?
I found the interrogation scenes at the police station particularly difficult to write because you’re fairly limited in terms of what you can do in that setting. Essentially, it’s two actors seated across from one another. The pressure is fully on the dialogue to thrill and engage. That limited scenario can be exciting for a writer, but also daunting, especially when you have as many interrogation scenes as we had in Mare. I always breathed a sigh of relief when I finished writing an interrogation scene. Conversely, the big emotional scenes were catnip.
How many rewrites did the script go through?
Dozens and dozens. Too many to count, really. We did all the normal rewrites that occur in any production when you see what’s possible and what’s not logistically and financially. Then the actors weigh in, of course, and they bring ideas to their characters and help further shape the world. And then we did multiple Covid rewrites because there were many scenes we could no longer shoot in the midst of a pandemic. We wanted to keep a crew safe and limit scenes with large numbers of extras — weddings, concerts, etc…
Click on the script below to read it.