The finale actually had a big chance of being a letdown, or at least a little anticlimactic, after the riveting shootout that closed its fifth episode, but the two that followed, including Sunday night’s conclusion, still had a lot of business to get done.
Over the course of the show, she found a new potential romance — actually two, but never mind — developed sympathy toward the struggling mother of her grandson, and even managed to let go of her daughter (Angourie Rice) enough to allow her to go away to college.
The resolution of the murder mystery, meanwhile, presented Mare’s friend Lori (Julianne Nicholson) with her own moral dilemma, as she was asked to raise the child that her husband, John (Joe Tippett), had with someone else.
Still, the show saved its biggest surprise for last. After John had confessed to the murder, it was revealed that while he had an illicit and incestuous affair with Erin (Cailee Spaeny), he took the blame for her killing to spare his young son, who had stolen a gun to rid his family of the girl he saw as a threat to his parents’ marriage.
If that sounds like a lot, it was, and perhaps one twist too many. Not that it marred the show’s overall effect.
That element of grace included Deacon Mark (James McArdle), who came under suspicion during the investigation, prompting Mare to tell him, “Wherever you go after this, I hope they treat you better than we did.” But he chose to stay, accepting the town for all its failings, with parishioners seeming to reciprocate that generosity.
“Mare” was also defined by its peculiar tics, from the local accent to Mare’s vaping to her relationship with her mom (Jean Smart, having a moment between this and “Hacks”), who literally fell out of her chair and cackled at one point.
While the broad description didn’t sound particularly original, as with the best entries in this genre, the execution and details were. A decade after Winslet starred in HBO’s “Mildred Pierce,” that combination has again turned out so well the wait hopefully won’t be quite as long before they get back together.