Over the four episodes of Mare of Easttown he appeared in, Detective Colin Zabel (Evan Peters) became easy to fall for. Director Craig Zobel did. “I’m, like, in love with Evan Peters in this show,” he told me over Zoom. “The entire game was making him as lovable as possible because of what ends up happening in episode 5.”
And it sure is a heartbreaker. Zabel is killed just as he and Kate Winslet’s Detective Mare Sheehan discover the man responsible for the disappearances of two young women in their community. A tip regarding a blue van leads them to an old house with a shuttered dive bar attached where they question a suspicious man who matches the description of the person who has been abducting sex workers. They know they’ve found the right guy when they spot a pack of cigarettes of a brand mentioned by the tipster and then hear banging coming from the pipes that could only be caused by people. But as Zabel pulls out his firearm to arrest him, the suspect shoots first, seemingly hitting Zabel in the head. What follows is a Silence of the Lambs–style hunt where Mare is battling for her life. It’s not until the final moments of the episode that you realize Zabel is really truly dead.