By Samantha Highfill
May 16, 2021 at 11:01 PM EDT
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Warning: This post contains spoilers from the May 16 episode of Mare of Easttown.

Well, that's one way to shock an audience.

In Mare of Easttown's fifth episode, Colin (Evan Peters) and Mare (Kate Winslet) found themselves face-to-face with the man who's been kidnapping young girls in town. And when it became clear that the man knew he'd been found out, things escalated quickly. Before Colin could pull out his gun, the young detective was shot and killed instantly.

Mare eventually took down the shooter, but it was too late for Colin. It was a tragic end to the life of the detective who'd really taken a liking to Mare. EW spoke with Evan Peters about his time on the show and his character Colin Zabel's death. (As for the internet's obsession with his drunk acting, Peters laughs and says, "I've done a lot of research over the years.")

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What made you want to get involved in the series?

EVAN PETERS: I was sent the materials, and it said, "Kate Winslet as Mare." And I was like, "Okay, I got to really bust my ass and try to get this one." I jumped at the chance to work with Kate. It was [also] a great whodunnit and it takes place in a small town, and I come from a small town, so it felt like it was going to be a very real experience. The material was very grounded.

I know you got to film in Pennsylvania, which feels so rare in Hollywood. What did it add for you to actually get to be in Pennsylvania to do this?

Oh, it was everything. It was so nice to be able to just walk outside and hear people speaking. The energy of the city, eating all the food, and seeing the beautiful buildings helped get into the headspace of living in this town. You get close contact with the actual people who are living there, and I think it's everything. I wish we could shoot always on location.

Let's talk about the Colin-Mare dynamic, because I feel like she's in such a dark headspace and Colin helps lighten her up a bit, but I'm interested in your perspective.

It's funny because I actually think it's the opposite. [Laughs] In my head, it was always Colin in a dark place and Mare is sort of the light at the end of the tunnel, who is lifting him up out of this funk that he's in. I guess they're both sort of helping each other out in that way.

Well, now that you say that, it is kind of both. He just maybe on the outside can sometimes present as more optimistic.

Yeah. And I think, even in her haste, she is dealing with a lot more. Her stuff is just so much heavier than his. But I think he's putting on a nice front, trying to seem like he has it all together and everything's all good. But, at the end of the day, I think he has some demons.

Mare of Easttown
Evan Peters on 'Mare of Easttown'
| Credit: Michele K. Short/HBO

Of all the things that happened in this episode, I didn't think I was going to survive that date. Colin seemed so crushed!

Poor Zabes. [Laughs] Kate would always be like, "Aw, poor Zabes," which is true. He's trying so hard to just be a great detective, and he's not the best detective. And he's trying to go on a date with Mare, and she's just not really interested in him. He's kind of a tragic character in that way.

And then, of course, the ultimate tragedy: He dies. I assume you knew going into this that he was going to die?

I did, yeah. They gave me the first five [scripts], so I knew that he would die in five.

It feels so sad that he's taken out just as they're about to get the bad guy.

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.

The way you all shot that scene, I couldn't immediately tell if he was dead.

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.

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