USA’s The Sinner
Directed by Tucker Gates
Written by Liz W. Garcia
* For a recap & review of Part 6, click here.
* For a recap & review of the finale, Part 8, click here.
Cora (Jessica Biel) remembers one of Phoebe’s (Nadia Alexander) birthdays, the big 19! At the dinner table, after blowing out the candles, the birthday girl has to listen to a depressing story from her mother Elizabeth (Enid Graham) about when she was born. Then Phoebe opens her present from Cora, a beautiful sun dress for the beach. Only the girl doesn’t want to hear about her being “a miracle” or anything else. She’s sure she’ll die soon. And it’s as if she’s starting to resent her older sister, rather than being her close confidant.
That night, Cora is going out. She and J.D. (Jacob Pitts) have plans to run off. Phoebe wants to go out. She effectively blackmails her way into Cora taking her. So she puts her nice dress on, sneaking out quietly while their parents are sleeping. They go to a bar together. Music plays (“We Live Underground” by Lights On), people are swarming around them. Of course J.D. is there, greasy as ever. Then he offers the girls a couple pills. Cora declines, but her sister swallows one back before anything can be done. Holy fuck. That ain’t good.
In the bathroom, Maddie (Danielle Burgess) starts getting into Cora’s head more. She talks about J.D’s previous girl, a pregnancy. Apparently Mr. Grease didn’t want any part of it, so the woman committed suicide, killing herself and the baby. That is some ugly shit. Things go haywire later when they’re leaving the bar. Phoebe pees herself, so they have to pull over. She’s peaking on the ecstasy, that doesn’t help. Then she figures out her sister was going to take off with J.D. and live together.
Back in the vehicle, they wind up at that big estate out in the woods, the Beverwyck Club. And who’s inside waiting in the dark? Frankie Belmont (Eric Todd). Looks like the place is deserted, he’s broken into the place. Everyone’s drinking, still taking pills. Frankie takes Phoebe on a tour while Cora trails behind. But J.D. hauls her off, to help with business, leaving her sister upstairs. Although for now Frankie seems like a nice guy. For now. Downstairs, Cora meets Tod Richter (Gary Hilborn), a prospective business partner to whom J.D. sells drugs.
Phoebe: “Life‘s too short to be good, said the dying girl who has barely lived.”
When Tod shoots up he starts groping on Cora. Luckily, Maddie shows up. But that’s when J.D. tells her to get lost, very abruptly. The darker side of his personality, though we knew it existed, begins coming out for all to see. Plus, we can tell there’s something far more sinister happening in that room. I worry, a lot. We also figure out the story Maddie told earlier about the pregnant woman? That was about her, trying to kill herself. Everything starts getting scarier when J.D. becomes forceful.
So Cora heads to look for Phoebe, whom she finds slow dancing with Frankie in the small cabin nearby on the club’s grounds. It’s a sweet moment. Little sister doesn’t want to go home. Maybe ever again. When J.D. gets there they all head to the basement. Down that staircase we saw Cora remember last episode with Dt. Ambrose (Bill Pullman).
They relax, they drink. Creepy Tod’s there. More drugs, a bit of music. Cora lets loose a bit when her sister urges. Things get a bit freaky once the sisters kiss, then Frankie and Cora kiss. And it seems like everyone’s having a bit of youthful fun together.
Then, we hear it. The song, “Huggin and Kissin” by Big Black Delta that’s become the signifier of some trauma. On the floor, high as hell, J.D. and Cora start to nasty. On the couch, Frankie and Phoebe lay together, kissing. Everything’s getting hot and heavy, all around. Little sister finally loses her virginity. A veritable sex party going on.
Frankie: “There‘s nothing bad about this heart”
That all changes when Frankie’s no longer thrusting. He’s trying to give Phoebe CPR. He pushes so hard that he cracks her chest. This prompts those familiar movements, the same ones Cora did while stabbing Frankie on the beach that day. After a moment J.D. cracks the older sister with an ashtray, knocking her out.
What happens next, we can already begin piecing together. Just never saw THIS coming, exactly.
WHOA. The craziest, most intense, nerve wracking episode of The Sinner! Can’t get any better than that. Really looking forward to the finale, I wonder how it’ll all play out. Surely going to be another intense chapter. I won’t get over this episode for a while.