*the following article contains major spoilers for the HBO limited series Mare of Easttown.*
Sunday night’s fifth episode of the HBO limited series Mare of Easttown, “Illusions,” left viewers reeling. Quickly trending on twitter, the episode came to a shocking conclusion as detective Colin Zabel, portrayed by Evan Peters (American Horror Story), was shot and killed in the line of duty. Peters sat down with Entertainment Weekly to discuss those final moments of episode five, and his take on his character’s death.
Throughout Mare of Easttown, Peter’s character Zabel has always stumbled. The young newcomer to a small Pennsylvania town, he joins forces with the hard boiled detective Mare, portrayed by Kate Winslet (Ammonite), to solve a string of kidnappings and the murder of a young woman. As the two work together on the case, Zabel develops feelings for Mare and takes her out on a date in Sunday night’s episode. Suffice to say the date goes terribly wrong, and it ends with Mare walking out on him. Another revelation that came within the episode was Zabel unearthing that the previous case he gained acclaim for solving was a lie. He comes clean to Mare, telling her he took the credit for another man’s work. After his confession, it seems like he may be able to turn over a new leaf, but as we now know, that will never happen.
Later on in the episode, the two hit a break in the case and unknowingly stumble upon the man who has been kidnapping the young women. Already inside the kidnapper’s home, a confrontation turns deadly as Zabel doesn’t draw his gun fast enough and the kidnapper shoots him in the head first, killing him instantly. It came as a complete shock to anyone watching the show, as it seemed that Zabel and Mare were about to catch the culprit and come home victorious.
Peters described that final twist to Entertainment Weekly, explaining how when it comes to Zabel, he always falls just short of greatness: “Yeah, it was pretty shocking. It felt like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, where they’re having that standoff and staring at each other. We played with time a little bit there and slowed it down. But Colin is not a quick draw. That is for sure. He is not a quick draw. Poor Zabes.”
Peters went on to further tell Entertainment Weekly why it’s such a devastating end for his character: “Yeah, it is pretty sad. It’s incredibly tragic. We wanted to bring a little levity in with him. Originally, we toyed around with the idea of making him overcompensating for his imposter syndrome as a little more cocky. And it just felt, when he dies, you want it to be shocking and tragic. So we decided to make him a little bit more of a bumpkin, trying to figure it out. He’s okay. He’s not the best detective. You know, he’s good. He gets the job done, but he’s not Mare. Mare is an incredible detective. But, it’s that arc of him finally getting better. And I think at the end there, he does some really good detective work. He at least got that.”
Though Peters work is done on Mare of Easttown, the actor is still very busy. He is currently working on the FX anthology series American Horror Story, which is shooting its upcoming tenth season. He will also play serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in an upcoming Netflix series created by frequent collaborator Ryan Murphy (Ratched).
There are only two more episodes of Mare of Easttown remaining. The limited series airs on Sunday nights at 10 pm E.T on HBO. Episodes are then made available to stream on HBO Max.