USA’s The Sinner
Season 3: Part II
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Written by Nina Braddock
* For a recap & review of the premiere, Part I – click here
* For a recap & review of Part III, click here.
Jamie can’t escape memories of the accident. He keeps thinking of watching Nick die. He’s having a tough time trying to “stay clear.” Leela’s doing her best to look after her husband, even if he insists he’s okay. He keeps going on trying to live a normal life. Meanwhile, Harry and Vic are chatting about the case at the station. The injury to Nick’s hand is curious to Dt. Ambrose.
Then Sonya arrives to tell Harry about seeing Jamie on her property again. She’s worried about everything, believing there’s a reason why Jamie and Nick were headed to her place that night, and why Jamie came by once more. She’s also not thrilled nothing is being done, despite Harry looking into it all further. Does she know more than she lets on? Or is she a bystander in all this?
At school Jamie’s student Emma shows him the letter he suggested she should write. He’s not happy about the result. He thinks she wrote it too rigid like an algorithm wrote it, wanting her to project a better image of herself to the world. Lots of undertones here, as Jamie speaks about the letter and “fate.” This comes back to bite him in the ass when Emma talks about her mental health struggles in the letter, pissing off her parents.
Later that day, the teacher comes across Harry keeping an eye on him. They chat briefly about plants. Jamie quickly brings up dropping by Sonya’s place, where he saw some kind of search. He plays the cooperative part, hoping to deflect suspicion. But Harry goes on digging, too— always digging. And he goes so far as to get a little buddy-buddy with the teacher, though it makes Jamie very uncomfortable.
Flashback to a time before, when Jamie met up with Nick at a bar. It was their first meeting in a long time— 18 years, in fact. Appears that Jamie cut Nick out of his life back then, and it hurt the latter, deeply. In current day, Vic and Harry have a video of Jamie stumbling home late the three nights prior to the accident, around the time Nick got his hand injury. Vic likewise tracked down a bill putting Nick in Manhattan at the same time. This sends Ambrose off to the restaurant from the bill, looking for anybody who might’ve seen Nick. A hostess mentions Nick “attacked another diner” and there was blood on the table after he was gone.
More flashback to Nick and Jamie in that fancy restaurant. They talked about their present, as well as their past. Nick was confused about life after his friend left nearly two decades ago. He counted that as pushing him to pursue the career he did, for helping him achieve a high level of success. He only wanted to know why Jamie contacted him, and his old friend told him: “I don‘t feel anything anymore.”
At the dinner table, Jamie can’t keep past and present straight, collapsing to the floor. Leela and her friends get her husband to the hospital where a doctor tells them it’s all extreme anxiety. The whole thing doesn’t faze Jamie. He wanders out to the hospice area of the hospital, and ends up helping an old man take a drink of water in his room. The old guy thinks Jamie’s someone else who came to take him away from that place.
In a diner, Harry sees Sonya, so he tries to apologise for their encounter at the station. He tells her he understands why she’s concerned. She offers a bit about her past: a former stalker. This whole situation has her wary, and it’s no wonder due to the past. Harry smoothly hands over his number after a “stalker conversation” and I can never get enough of his amateurish way with women, bless his heart. One thing about him is he’s always trying to do his best.
That night at the restaurant, things got crazy. Nick had enough of Jamie’s tiptoeing around, urging him to go back to their old relationship. He dropped a couple peoples’ cellphones into their drinks, then gave Jamie a steak knife, forcing him to push it through his hand. All of this is cut with Jamie and Leela having sex, making this whole thing into one psychosexual nightmare. Did he and Nick have a wild BDSM relationship at one time? Well, the eerie visions happen while Jamie’s having sex, and while he’s at school, too. They follow him everywhere.
On Sunday, Harry arrives at Jamie’s place to help with planting. They get into a talk about how the teacher is coping with the death of his friend. Jamie does well shielding the truth from prying eyes. All the same, the detective’s very capable of getting people to open up, even when they don’t intend to do it. Jamie mentions it being “a relief” to get away from Nick all those years ago, because he was somewhat scared of his friend. In a way, Harry can relate because of his bipolar mother. Something beautiful in The Sinner is how it makes a point about damaged people, specifically through Dt. Ambrose, and how those with deep traumas can use that trauma to make the world around them a better place. Like Harry, trying to help the people in the cases he encounters, for better or worse.
More video evidence shows Nick and Jamie on a rooftop, after the ruckus at the restaurant. Jamie gets up on the edge of the roof, all but about to jump, and it’s like Nick is encouraging him. Was their relationship less one of BDSM, more one of two thrill seekers pushing each other to do dangerous, reckless, and frightening things? Either or, it’s a tantalising mystery.
Where exactly does Sonya fit into the puzzle? And what about the grave she’s found with the jacket hung on a shovel? She calls Ambrose right away, and the detective takes a look around while waiting for forensics. Harry finds another one of those folded paper games in the jacket’s pocket, like the one in Nick’s hotel room. Again, he goes back to Jamie and asks about the grave, getting lots of talk as usual. Jamie pretends he has no idea about the grave and acts like Harry is overstepping boundaries.
The description of being “hollow” earlier comes to bear on Nick and Jamie’s relationship further, when we get another glimpse at the night of the stabbing. Atop the building, the two men stood near the edge. Nick recited “Here we go ‘round the prickly pear / At five o‘clock in the morning” from “The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot.
At night, Jamie slips out to go back to the hospice where he brings the old man bourbon. They share a drink. When the old man goes to seep, Jamie sees a vision of Nick playing a song on the radio for them like a ghostly John Cusack. And then the teacher grips the old man’s throat, trying to choke him to death. He’s fought off, but just barely. Clearly, more than ever, there is something very wrong with Jamie.
Another intense chapter, pointing to dark, dark things.
What will be the real truth?
Part III is next time.