SEASON 2: PART VI
Starring: Bill Pullman, Carrie Coon, Hannah Gross, Natalie Paul, Elisha Henig, Tracy Letts, Brennan Brown, Ellen Adair, Victor Williams
Director: Brad Anderson
Writers: Nina Braddock
Based on the book: The Sinner by Petra Hammesfahr
Reviewed by Sidney Morgan.
This review CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS.
At the end of the last episode, Harry (Bill Pullman) was asked by Chief Lidell (Jay O. Sanders) to leave town, allowing Heather (Natalie Paul) to be the principal investigator. It was a futile request given Harry’s investment in the case (he’s got a soft spot for Julian), and well, he’s also the star of the show. So it isn’t surprising to see him conducting some surveillance, namely on Glen Fisher (Marc Menchaca), the man who sold Lionel Jeffries the land on which Mosswood was established. It turns out that he’s a nasty piece of work, getting off on hurting women. But worse, Lionel Jeffries (Brennan Brown) facilitated this kind of behavior. But given he’s been gone a long time, Part VI is a flashback-heavy episode.
Harry’s involvement has made some people very uncomfortable. While investigating the source of an anonymous call to Carmen Bell (Jamie Neumann), Harry finds out that he’s been under surveillance since he returned to Keller. He finds pictures, personal information, and the missing videotape of Carmen’s deposition. After watching it, he forwards it to Heather, who rightfully feels a little dumb about her complaints about Harry during last episode (recall that she thought he was helping the defense at the expense of the investigation).
This leads to two important reveals. The first and quickest one to deal with is that Heather is able to identify the lake Carmen had mentioned during their interview. There have been plenty of clues suggesting something was in the lake, and sure enough, a car with a body in it is found. And the other reveal results from Harry confronting Vera (Carrie Coon) about the videotaped deposition.
Vera is a smart and perceptive woman. She quickly saw what Lionel was turning Mosswood into something she felt uncomfortable with. He used the commune women as puppets for the townsfolk, including one Glen Fisher, allowing them to play out their sadistic fantasies, in the name of therapy. The women were hurt, some seriously, but they remained quiet, believing it was their role to do so. When Vera confronts Lionel about it, he claims that it’s necessary to work. He even has the audacity to say that the pain inflicted is as therapeutic for the recipients as it is for the “patients.” The man is nuts. And when he takes Julian, knowing full well what it would do to Vera, she decides to act.
On the one hand, she admits to Harry to having been complicit with Lionel in letting harm come to Mosswood residents but then tries to absolve herself by claiming she’s changed and would never do those things again. She excuses her acts because she did them for the good of Mosswood. She may have a point, but if murder is on her résumé, I’m not sure that she’s on the moral high ground. And why Harry would believe her is a head-scratcher. Perhaps he’s so focused on Julian that he’s willing to let some things slide?
With only three episodes remaining, the story was bound to start wrapping up. And answers were given, even if only vaguely. D.A. Hutchinson (Victor Williams) has no choice but to acquiesce to Harry. Though the evidence is circumstantial, it’s an election year, and any bad publicity would harm Hutchinson’s chance for re-election. But is he the only high ranking member of Keller who’s guilty of wrongdoings? (Heather’s father certainly comes to mind.) And what about the body in the lake? Was it that of Marin or Lionel? Or was it of someone else entirely? It’s so badly decomposed, there’s no way to tell visibly. So sure, a few answers, but still so many unanswered questions.
Who is the dark hooded figure? Could it be Vera or is it someone else? What happened to Marin? If that’s not her in the car, where is she? Why is there tension between Jack (Tracy Letts) and Heather? She finally tells him how she feels, but is there more to it? And why would he so desperately need to ‘protect’ her? From what exactly? And let’s not forget that we still don’t know what Harry did on the night he was supposed to be with Vera, yet woke up in the hotel instead.
Meanwhile, through great sleight of hand, the producers have set our attention aside from the real questions. Did Julian murder Adam and Bess? If not, who? If so, why? And what was awaiting them in Niagara Falls? Two episodes left!
The Sinner is an outstanding show. But there are two issues that bothered me. First, it felt like lazy writing to have the person who’s been following Harry leave all the information on him out on his table. I get that with only eight episodes. Sometimes situations have to be contrived to move along the story. But c’mon. This is someone who excels in hiding and finding secrets, yet is so careless as to leave all of it out on a table for anyone to see. And leaves to run some errand? Right. But more bothersome, or perhaps uncharacteristic, is Harry’s behavior.
Harry is an excellent detective. He especially understands broken people and doesn’t necessarily buy the easy explanation or solution to their apparent crimes. He’ll dig and dig until he can dig no more. Perhaps this personality, this obsession results from his own broken past. It certainly made sense in season one, and here it explains his connection to Julian. However, to engage in self-destructive acts, ones that could lead to his death, is pushing it. And to have him consistently break the law, as a law officer, is a little baffling. I know this is fiction, but inadmissible evidence exists in fiction as well, and to help Julian, as he did Cora, making sure the evidence he finds is admissible should be a priority. Don’t get me wrong, Bill Pullman gives a brilliant performance and the show is absolutely riveting, but these little inconsistencies, they need to be ironed out.
Part VI has finally provided a few answers. The suspense is building at an increased pace, with the end of the episode an absolute shocker. Someone is clearly afraid of what Julian might say, especially to Harry. And action has been taken. A few suspects spring to mind (Vera and Hutchinson for starters), but in true The Sinner fashion, it’s probably someone else, who we haven’t considered. Who stands to lose most from Julian’s story? Only two episodes to answer that question. Keep watching!