USA’s The Sinner
Season 2: Part VII
Directed by Tucker Gates
Written by Jesse McKeown
* For a recap & review of Part VI, click here.
* For a recap & review of Part VIII, click here.
Vera (Carrie Coon) is in the middle of working when sirens start flashing and police have arrived to look for any sign of Julian (Elisha Henig), who’s gone missing from the foster home. Detective Heather Novack (Natalie Paul) and the troops swarm the place, and Vera’s surprised to hear about the boy going missing. Vera causes a scene, getting cuffed and dragged out by the cops.
Dt. Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) goes over to the foster home to look around the boy’s room, asking the man running the place a few questions. The man says the kid seemed “dissociated” the night prior. Then he notices a sunflower seed shell on the window ledge.
Out on the roof, he looks for a sight line, and he sees a parking space with a fresh stain and a pile of sunflower seed shells. Kids nearby say there was a camper van parked in the spot recently— “shitty brown” colour. This sends Ambrose right to the precinct telling them to issue an “Amber Alert.” Naturally, Chief Tom Lidell (Jay O. Sanders) won’t listen, but Dt. Novack takes it upon herself to call in the alert.
Dt. Ambrose sits with Vera. She’s pissed beyond compare, though Harry’s had no involvement in raiding the Mosswood Grove commune, nor with any of the legal nonsense Julian’s been wrapped up in, other than believing the boy. Harry tries to get Vera to level with him, believing she knows who was driving that van. She refuses to talk. Later, she tells her lawyer to get a message to Terry: “Tell him to go see the Grey Daughters.”
On the road, the camper van is found. It has Canadian plates, as well. But there’s nothing of significance inside upon first glance, and definitely no kid. The police start a search, combing the woods with people and dogs to look for evidence. Harry and Heather stumble onto a knotted rope, similar to a cincture “worn by monks.” This has five knots, as opposed to the Franciscans who wore three.
The five knotted cincture comes from a convent of nuns. When the detectives go looking at the convent, they find a picture of Marin (Hannah Gross)— the nuns knew her as Laura. Marin came to get sober, then stayed for three years at the convent working with the nuns in a secular position. The timeline shows us Marin went back to the commune to get her son, not sitting well with the surrogate cult mother. Moreover, we see the real mom was the one donning that black hood and driving the brown van. Oh, damn. She sneaked into Mosswood, hovering over her sleeping son who didn’t even realise she existed. The boy was told it’s “only a dream” by Vera, denied his real family. We’re beginning to understand Bess (Ellen Adair) and Adam (Adam David Thompson) were trying to help Marin by taking Julian away.
Father Gore wonders if Vera, using suggestive hypnosis + heartbeat machine, might’ve planted homicide in Julian, in case someone tried taking him away from the cult. Or, did he figure out Bess and Adam were trying to take him from who he believed was his mother and acted out of rage? Still hard to tell. In that storage unit, Marin waited to hear from her friends, but we know how things went. She was witness to all the aftermath, until slipping inside Julian’s window to take him away with her.
Once they fled he freaked out, wanting to know her identity. This made her tell him bluntly she’s his mother. He ran into the woods, where the cops later found the van nearby. He doesn’t believe her story until she sings a song Bess once sang— the song Marin sang for him as an infant. Afterwards they went back to the vehicle and saw police already waiting, so they went into the forest on foot instead.
Vera gets further leads on Marin, from the Grey Daughters and a few of her belongings. There’s a matchbook, suggesting where she may be headed. Yes, they’re going to Niagara Falls, as it was in the original plan. Meanwhile, Marin and Julian are on a bus towards their destination, having a bonding chat about why she left the commune for many “not so good” places where she got hooked on drugs and went through a bunch of different experiences. She was never able to forget her child. The talk leads Julian to realise what Bess and Adam were actually doing, which drives him into guilt for being the one to kill them. And he goes into hysterics.
From the roadside, Marin calls Heather on her cell. Long time for these two. Heather’s almost just glad to hear her friend’s voice, though she can’t forget her police duties. Marin tries asking for a little help. She wants time to get away with her boy, to live a normal life, but Dt. Novack can’t offer the help she needs.
Marin and Julian make it to the Five Nations Motel. They setup inside to spend the night. She calls someone on the phone and lets them know they’re at the motel. Who could it be? Someone to help cross the border? Dt. Ambrose believes she’ll used the Native reservation straddling the border to try getting across. They head for the Five Nations Reservation, seeing a police vehicle pass with their lights on as they go.
What do they find? Marin, dead by gunshot, and no sign of Julian. Maybe the hypnotised theory isn’t so far from the truth after all. We’ll just have to wait and see. One thing’s for sure, Dt. Ambrose is starting to see the case in a very different light.
What a goddamn chapter of this season! There’s always such excellent pacing, I say it time and time again with every passing episode. Truly loved Season 1. Now I think Season 2’s even better. One last chapter left.