SEASON 2: PART V
Starring: Bill Pullman, Natalie Paul, Carrie Coon, Hannah Gross, Tracy Letts, Elisha Henig, Brennan Brown
Director: Cherien Dabis
Writer: Samir Mehta
Based on the book: The Sinner by Petra Hammesfahr
Reviewed by Sidney Morgan
This review CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS.
In a flashback-heavy episode, we finally get some glimpses of Vera’s (Carrie Coon) past at Mosswood. Until now, she’s come across as a strong, determined woman. She was quick to show up at the sheriff’s office, quick to find someone to act as Julian’s defense attorney, and quick to recognize that Harry could be the key to Julian’s future. Her desperate approach to wanting her child back is both admirable, but also suspicious. Heather (Natalie Paul) has found enough evidence to question the veracity of Vera’s claim. And if that evidence turns out to be true, how would she explain those claims? Why is Vera protecting both Julian and Mosswood, knowing what could be at stake? Well, we’re in luck, as the seeds to those answers are found in the past.
The flashbacks take us back to a time when Lionel Jeffries (Brennan Brown) was the leader of the compound, and Vera, his apprentice. Two things are made clear about that time. First, Lionel runs the compound like his own private realm. He does what he pleases, all in the name of The Work, some kind of end state he claims they should all be aiming to attain. He uses his status to manipulate people into satisfying his every whim, including having his way with young new female recruits. But the real control seems to come from using some kind of psychotherapy which requires the use of a mechanical metronome. Oh, right. It’s the same method Vera employs in earlier episodes on Julian (Elisha Henig) and Harry (Bill Pullman). And the other thing that’s clear? Vera’s body language and facial gestures imply that she isn’t ‘sold’ on Lionel’s ideas.
The Mosswood community accepts Lionel’s rule. But Vera is hesitant, even though she does follow his lead. Whether it’s to get involved in frightening, even dangerous role play during his sessions, accepting to raise a calf for eventual sacrifice, or even going against the most primary rules of the compound, she does as asked, without question. But silently, she wonders. She questions. And when she realizes what he plans to do with the first and only child that’s to come into Mosswood, her slight emotional reaction betrays her. How this translates to future actions has yet to be revealed, but with the few crumbs The Sinner has laid out so far, it doesn’t look good.
In the present, Vera manipulates, just like Lionel did. She’s crafty with Harry. Every time those two meet, it’s like a chess game. And for now, Vera is winning. The way she manipulated Harry into testifying for Julian was brilliant. Not only does she give up a simple piece of information Harry and Heather already strongly suspected, but inofficially listing him as a defense witness. It gives the chief (Jay O. Sanders) the ammunition he needs to get rid of Harry. The icing on that cake is that it causes a rift between Harry and Heather. She played masterfully. Except that there’s one thing she didn’t count on. She never thought Julian would reject her help in favor of Harry’s.
Part V puts to rest any doubt that several high ranking members of Keller are involved with Mosswood. The video Heather found in Niagara Falls confirmed the identity of a second prominent Keller resident (recall that Dr. Poole was the first). Confronting Glen (Marc Menchaca) seems to have put pressure on them to act. How else to explain the sudden shift in Chief Lidell’s stance, asking Harry to leave town? When pressed, he can’t even give Harry the name of his supervisor, with whom he claims to have had a discussion about ending Harry’s involvement.
And what about Jack? Not only is there the odd conversation with Harry, but why is he always trying to distract Heather from her work? And let’s not forget, he was as interested in what Marin was doing on the night she joined Mosswood as Heather was. There’s too much smoke for there not to be a fire. And with only three episodes left, those secrets (at least some of them), will have to be exposed.
The Sinner continues to excel. The mystery created this season is as intricate and suspenseful as in the first. The cast continues to impress with their performances, especially Carrie Coon, Bill Pullman, Hannah Gross, and Natalie Paul. The story is addictive, and with the end so near, there are still many outstanding questions. What is Vera up to? Is she a caring leader or some kind of criminal mastermind? How many Keller residents have connections to Mosswood, the place they all seem to despise? What happened to Lionel and Marin? I can’t believe Harry will be banished from the case, even if the chief wants him gone, so how will he justify remaining behind? Will they all be answered, or just a few? This is both frustrating and brilliant. The Sinner continues to be a strong must watch.