TV Review: The Sinner – Season 2: Part III

THE SINNER 
Season 2: Part III

Heather (Natalie Paul) visiting Marin’s mother.

Starring: Bill Pullman, Natalie Paul, Elisha Henig, Tracy Letts, Carrie Coon, Hannah Gross, Samrat Chakrabarti, Richard Bekins.
Director: John David Coles
Writers: Bradford Winters,
Based on the book by Petra Hammesfahr

Reviewed by Sidney Morgan

This review CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS.

When we last left Mosswood, Heather had made her way into the mysterious barn, the same place Marin had gone that first time they’d visited the grounds as teens. After convincing Chief Lidell, Harry and Heather are able to obtain a search warrant for Adam and Bess’ living quarters, as well as Julian’s. However, the barn isn’t included, and Heather commits a breach by entering. Luckily, she isn’t caught. When she reports her finding to Harry, they’re both intrigued by what she saw. The barn is essentially empty except for a large upright rock in the middle, that reminded Heather of Stonehenge. And that’s about it. The two detectives return from Mosswood with just as many questions, though they are sure that the trip to Niagara was a lie. If that’s true, then where were Adam, Bess, and Julian going, and why?

Harry (Bill Pullman) isn’t enjoying himself at the party.

There are three distinct stories being told in The Sinner. The first, which so far seems unrelated to the crime, is about Harry’s (Bill Pullman) troubled past, centered around his mother. For reasons unknown, a fire burned down the house, and she seemed reluctant to do anything about it. However, if one thing is true in the world of The Sinner, it’s that memories are highly fallible. They hint at past events, but their true nature needs deeper analysis. Regardless, what is made clear is that Harry bolted from Keller as soon as he could, leaving behind every relationship he had.

Jack (Tracy Letts) tries to get Harry to reconnect with some of his past acquaintances, including an awkward, yet funny scene with an old flame, Carolyn (Lisa Emery). But Harry’s social anxiety gets the better of him. After a small confrontation between Jack and him, Harry finally admits that he isn’t fine. Shocker! We knew this already from season one. Nonetheless, this may be the icebreaker both of them needed for Harry to open up about his past. Whether it lasts remains to be seen.

Julian (Elisha Henig).

The second story is about Julian. In a serious turn of events, the district attorney decides to try him as an adult for second-degree murder, which means a sentence of twenty-five years to life. If Julian does end up being some kind of pawn, à la Cora Tanetti, there’s a chance the sentence might be mitigated. But we’re a long way from that at this point. So he’s arrested and placed in juvenile detention, much to the anger of both Vera (Carrie Coon) and Harry. An interesting dynamic appears to be developing. Though both of them don’t trust one another, they do care about Julian. In all likelihood, Harry sees similarities between his own youth and Julian’s, both victims of psychological abuse. But what about Vera?

The leader of the Mosswood community appears to care about Julian. But is it because of a maternal bond? Is she even the mother? Julian claims she is, but he did so with Bess as well, putting in doubt the reliability of anything he says. She finds out he’s to be interviewed by a court-appointed psychologist. She seems awfully worried about what he may say. Her pleas for him to remain quiet about the goings-on at Mosswood are desperate. But why? And there are consequences to this secrecy. The people of Keller certainly don’t care for it, suggesting the police do a Waco on it, and that didn’t turn out so well for the compound inhabitants. Admittedly, it’s still early in the show, and it could be that these are red herrings. However, it could also hint at some strange and dark events taking place at Mosswood.

Heather (Natalie Paul) and Marin (Hannah Gross).

The third and final story is about Heather (Natalie Paul) and Marin (Hannah Gross). It turns out that Part II was slightly misleading. When Marin enters the barn, it’s suggested she didn’t come out again. Ever. But she did and rejoins Heather the next morning. There’s no doubt she disappeared, as it’s confirmed by her mother, so watch for this storyline to develop. However, what’s intriguing is that Heather only really begins to investigate now, twelve years after Marin supposed disappeared (even this is unclear as upon joining Mosswood, she stopped giving signs of life, which doesn’t mean she’s dead…).Why has she waited this long? Marin’s mother sure wonders.

Verdict

The Sinner is a brilliant mystery, with Part III continuing to add layers. What began with an open and shut case, and the DA believes it to be that, is turning out to be anything but. Is Julian a victim? Was he a tool that was used to carry out the ghastly murders? His descriptions of the murders seem to show a lack of understanding, seeing it more as a transition to a better self. What 13-year old boy speaks this way? One that has been brainwashed perhaps? And if that’s the case, who is behind it? And why Adam and Bess? It’s infuriatingly brilliant! What happened to Marin? What happened to Harry? And what happened to Julian? Three questions that need answering as we slowly head to the most crucial question. Why did this crime happen?

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