THE SINNER Review: “Part VI”

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Every week gets weirder, and every week I think it’s not possible to get weirder, and this week will give us some answers — but nope. Just endless weirdness on the horizon, and not an answer in sight. After leaving vigilante Mason marching toward J.D.’s house with a gun and a grudge, we take right back up with him. When he approaches, two guys run out of the house and into a black car and drive off. Mason enters the house anyway, only to find a guy dead on the ground and a baby crying somewhere in the house. Mason dials 911 from the guy’s phone, wipes off his fingerprints, and throws his phone in the water, but not before fantasizing about spending cutesy couple time at a lake with Cora. This will signal his transition back into being on Cora’s side, which is nice, because anybody who can take her side who isn’t creepy creepy Harry Ambrose is a win in my book.

Speaking of Harry, he’s getting choked out by his dominatrix in a motel room. Only he doesn’t tell her to stop in time, and she renders him unconscious. For her, this marks a crossed boundary, and ends their relationship for good. We’re in episode six of eight, so this is episode ends up nearing Harry’s dark night of the soul, or whatever — he loses his dominatrix, Farmer continues to belittle him and wrest control of the case, Cora promises him a lead but doesn’t deliver, his wife kicked him out last episode. Harry’s got nothin’ by the end of the hour, which, frankly, is more than I feel he deserves, but whatever.

We then flashback to Phoebe watching Cora (still have questions about how old Cora is once Jessica Biel is playing her — Jessica Biel just looks like a thirty-five year old woman. A stunning thirty-five year old, but the fact that she’s aged twenty years while Phoebe still looks like a lil’ kid is more than a little confusing to place) getting ready for a date with J.D. Cora’s new and improved love life is placing a strain on their relationship, and Cora has to reassure Phoebe that she still wants to move to Florida with her. I know Phoebe’s super sick and trapped in the house with their nutty parents, and that sucks for her, but I have so much trouble finding any sympathy for her creepy, manipulative, controlling ass. I guess, in her defense, Cora clearly has lived a life where she lets everybody control her, so Phoebe’s only one of many, but still. (Warning: their relationship only gets weirder. I hate it. That’s all.)

The flashback also includes Cora and J.D. getting intimate, with some uncomfortably cardboard and porny dialogue, but they’re interrupted by Maddie who claims to be looking for her shoes. She’s clearly just jealous. J.D. tells her that jealousy is holding her back from her potential, and this is one of those times in TV where you just want to slap somebody upside the head and say “you have every indication that this creepy looking dude is a total weirdo why are you still laying naked in his bed?” Alas, nobody does.

Back in real time, Ambrose and Farmer bring Mason in for questioning after seeing him on J.D.’s security camera. He explains that he only went to avenge his father, because he’s actually Jon Snow, not Mason Tannetti. Sorry, let’s pause here, because this has been driving me nuts. They’re definitely clones.

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Anyway, Farmer and Ambrose believe Mason that he didn’t kill the guy, which is super convenient since Farmer believe Cora about literally nothing. But I guess she watches Game of Thrones, and so subconsciously feels Mason is trustworthy or something. This leads to an altercation between Ambrose and Farmer where he explains all of the points that he’s trying to pull together to make sense of Cora killing Frankie Belmont and of her two missing months. Farmer responds that literally none of these details solve that question, and she’s super right. It’s really frustrating to have been presented with this dichotomy, because we know that Ambrose is correct, narratively. There’s something else going on here, Cora probably didn’t kill Maddie, or if she didn’t she wasn’t in her right mind, but we know this because we’ve been living with Ambrose. From Farmer’s perspective, there’s this creepy dude who’s got nothing going for him who’s spending an inappropriate amount of time off the record with a hot prisoner and keeps presenting her with more borderline nonsensical information that neither explicates nor exculpates Cora’s behavior, but rather makes her look more guilty. So technically, she’s also right. But clearly we’re meant to side with Ambrose, but I don’t want to side with Ambrose. And, again, I resent that they’ve put these two main female characters at odds, and that they keep having Farmer mention that Cora’s hot and therefore has control over Ambrose, because it’s just some garden variety sexism that I really don’t need a weekly dose of. I work in Hollywood; I get enough of that already, thanks.

Cora and Mason chat, and seem to sort of make up, which is nice. I don’t know. It’s not a very meaningful conversation, but again, it’s nice to see somebody else on Cora’s side who seems to have at least some of her best interests at heart, instead of just trying to be another controlling ghoul.

Another flashback shows Cora going to the hospital to see Phoebe, who’s in bad shape. She talks to J.D. afterwards, and he convinces her that her attachment to Phoebe isn’t normal. Which… it isn’t. But also alienating people from their friends and family is grade A psychopath/abuser/both behavior, so again, I just wish somebody would point this out to Cora. J.D. suggests that after they go out on Saturday, she just shouldn’t go back. Thisssss seems like a GREAT plan, Cora.

In the present, Ambrose gets permission to take Cora out of prison to bring her to the Beverwyck and see if it dislodges any memories. The rules about this seem to be sort of lax, considering Ambrose has been nothing but sketchy in his dealings with this case, and I have a real hard time believing at least Farmer wouldn’t be like “absolutely not happening, I’ll take Cora myself.” But whatever, they go to the Beverwyck. At first nothing clicks. They stop by Cora’s old house on the way back, which spurs us into another flashback, and in my opinion, the worst one yet by a mile.

THE SINNER -- "Part VI" Episode 106 -- Pictured: (l-r) Bill Pullman as Harry Ambrose, Jessica Biel as Cora Tannetti -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/USA Network)

Phoebe continues to express insecurity about Cora and J.D.’s relationship. It’s clear that Phoebe is living vicariously through her sister, and Cora’s just trying to care for her, but MAN does nobody in Cora’s life have boundaries, and MAN does she have no idea how to enforce them. Phoebe pitches a fit about being left alone all the time so Cora can date, and Cora tries to console her. When she does, Phoebe asks Cora to show her how J.D. kisses and touches her when they’re alone, and Cora does. I like this show, I’m somewhat invested in finding out what happens, but the fact that everything in it seems to revolve to greater and lesser extents around themes of sexual abuse or control (Harry’s BDSM, his wife’s control over their relationship, Cora’s relationship with Phoebe, Cora’s relationship with J.D., Harry’s relationship with Cora) is either well done and thematically consistent or, like, really gross. Not sure which.

THE SINNER -- "Part VI" Episode 106 -- Pictured: Jessica Biel as Cora Tannetti -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/USA Network)

Cora’s memory gives her some extra gumption, and she insists Ambrose take her back to the Beverwyck. There, she finds a house out back, and finally spots the real basement. We don’t get to go all the way down in this episode, but jesus, here’s hoping we finally get somewhere next week, because if we get to the penultimate episode with zero answers, I’m going to lose my mind.


Season 1, Episode 6 (S01E06)
The Sinner airs Wednesdays at 10PM on USA

Read all of our reviews of The Sinner here. 
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