Kate Winslet as Mare Sheehan in HBO's 'Mare of Easttown'

Billy's Big Mare Of Easttown Confession Seems V Sus

Is anyone buying it?

by Ani Bundel
Michele K. Short/HBO

With the Katie Bailey case wrapped, Mare of Easttown's penultimate episode turned the show back to Erin McMenamin's murder. Episode 6 finally narrowed to a suspect fans were suspicious of from the start — Billy Ross. By the end of the hour, Billy had even confessed. There was just one problem: Viewers don't believe it. So, did Billy *really* kill Erin on Mare Of Easttown? There's enough to suggest Mare is chasing down the wrong guy.

Warning: Spoilers for Mare of Easttown Season 1, Episode 6 follow. Episode 6, "Sore Must Be the Storm," provided a break in the McMenamin case, and it came from an unlikely place: Freddie's house. Beth's brother had passed away, but he left behind a garbage bag of clothes taken from the McMenamins.

For once, it wasn't theft; Kenny told Freddie he could have them as hand-me-down clothing for his kid. But one of Erin's old t-shirts was lying near the top, and it stopped Mare cold. It read, "Ross Family Reunion, Lake Harmony. 5.29.17."

Mare recognized that date because one of the few items Erin treasured was a heart-shaped necklace inscribed with that same date. Mare realized Erin had fallen in love with someone at that reunion who might be DJ's birth father.

Michele K. Short/HBO

Over at the Ross house, Lori had thrown John out for cheating, sending him home to his father. It put both Ross brothers under one roof, and Billy was unhappy about it; he yelled that John should have to face the consequences for his actions for once. But Billy's outburst might have been hiding something. Papa Ross told John he'd seen his younger son the night of Erin's murder. Billy had been standing in the laundry room, stripping his clothes off, "covered in blood."

The pieces seemed to come together once Mare tracked down the jewelry shop that sold the necklace. The buyer was "Ross, Billy." But by then, John had already gotten Billy to confess, telling him the police were asking about the reunion and that Dad had seen him that night.

Or... did he?

Let's rewind the tape. Look at the sheer amount of beer bottles in the room, and note how sober John is. Billy is clearly super drunk and John is threatening him, pressuring him. Moreover, John doesn't seem surprised Billy came home covered in blood. Instead, he's primarily mad Billy got caught.

Michele K. Short/HBO

Listen to what John says: "Billy, you got to say it. I need to hear you say it. I need to hear you say, 'I killed her.'" That's not a man demanding a confession so that he can believe the unbelievable. John's coercing a drunken man. "You have to say it, Billy; you have to say it out loud." He's coaching him, drilling into him, the same way John drilled Ryan to keep quiet over his affair.

Moreover, listen to what he tells Lori. He specifically instructed her not to tell Mare, as if he knows it will ensure she’ll do just that. It's almost as if he's setting up things so Mare will hear that Billy confessed as soon as the two leave Easttown, guaranteeing she’ll follow them down to Papa Ross' fishing spot.

The question is whether or not John is the real murderer. On the one hand, he's not surprised Billy is covered in blood, suggesting he and Billy were both with Erin and may know who killed her. But did John shoot her? Or is he directing Billy to cover for someone else, a third party? Either way, whatever is about to happen down at that creek seems engineered to close the case and pin the murder on Billy.

Mare of Easttown continues Sunday at 10 p.m. ET on HBO.