USA’s The Sinner
Season 3: Part IV
Directed by Andrew McCarthy
Written by Jonathan Caren
* For a recap & review of Part III, click here.
* For a recap & review of Part V, click here.
Back to Nick and Jamie, talking alone together, post-steak knife dinner. “You feel the things other people miss,” Nick told his friend. Their relationship was obviously a deep, intimate one. Whether that means they were physically intimate is another as-of-yet determined part of the story. But whatever their relationship was, ultimately it was intimate, and it altered them both in significant ways. Nick explained to Jamie he had everything they’d need in the car. Then he took out a folded paper game to start playing.
Today, Jamie’s off on the run somewhere while Dt. Ambrose and Dt. Soto are trying to keep an eye on him. Harry feels responsibility: “If he does something tonight, it‘s on me.” What will Jamie do out there in the street? He’s ignoring his wife’s calls and wandering through crowds of people like a lost, lonely soul. He heads into a gallery, where an old student named Sophie finds him staring at a piece of outsider art. They catch up for a minute before she has to get back to work. Nearby, Harry’s following, and he soon finds Jamie back at that fancy restaurant, up at the edge of the building. The teacher can’t stop wondering why it’s human nature to feel drawn towards facing our own mortality, like when we think of stepping in front of a bus, or stepping off a ledge. Thankfully, he doesn’t step off this building right now.
“But if feelings aren’t the truth,
The detective will not leave Jamie alone until he gets answers. The teacher explains the paper game being “random” and representing “chaos” in the world rather than the illusion of order. He claims that the little folded paper contraption is the only reason Sonya ever became part of the picture— simply an “unlucky person,” the un-luck of the draw. He also thinks everyone’s a sociopath, unwilling to believe Nick, or himself for that matter, is one. Jamie wants to prove something to Harry, so he chats up a couple dudes at the bar, then some women at a nearby booth.
But what’s he looking to prove? And how long can this tension LAST?
More flashback to Nick and Jamie digging a grave. They were almost ready, but Nick wanted to go check out a house nearby— Sonya’s place. He said they were going to “bring her down here, for good.” He wanted to take the “next step” in their dark exploration of morality. He’d done it before. Exactly how many times, though? Easy to see Nick’s psychosis here. He was far over the edge, not to mention a murderer. And he wanted Jamie to join him as one, too.
Uncle Harry has to go off with Jamie and the crew to a party. They’re all getting along fairy well, even if the detective’s nervous about what could happen. Nervous is a good state of being when with Jamie, considering he gets into one of his existential rants until a guy calls him a “faggot” and he explodes. First, Jamie cuts the guy’s throat with a knife. He then deflects Harry’s gun, putting a bullet in a girl’s stomach. He smashes the other guy’s face in, and the scene is a mess. EXCEPT THAT’S A HOMICIDAL DAYDREAM!
Jamie and Harry get out of there before the former’s head pops off. Unfortunately, the teacher slips away in a cab, leaving the detective tracking him once again and winding up at a crowded house party. Upstairs, a man is conducting a medium session and connecting with the dead loved ones of a woman to whom he passes on messages from them. This interests Jamie, so he sits down, and the medium can feel a presence near him— “an old friend” who’s all but attached to him. When the medium starts reciting a line from “The Hollow Men” like Nick once did, it drives Jamie out of there fast.
“Morality is an invention”
And once more, Jamie’s off in the wind with Harry following. This time driving Sophie in her car. Jamie has an idea for a “bonding thing” to do with his former student. He’s driving very fast, near running red lights. He’s going on more about his existential struggle with death, and poor Sophie isn’t into it. Jamie floors it, flying through intersections and cutting sharp turns, and he’s forced to swerve to a stop when he finds Dt. Ambrose gunning straight for him. Nobody’s hurt, but Sophie’s scared shitless, and Harry knows they all just dodged a figurative bullet.
Flashback to the night of the crash. Nick was lying in the windshield bleeding out to the radio and telling Jamie not to call 911. “Just wait,” he said. Jamie didn’t want to watch him die, but Nick seemed to finally realise how much he damaged his friend with his dark influence, all too late. Slowly the life drained out of Nick, though not before he told his friend there was something in his pocket. (What was it? If I somehow missed something there, please let me know!)
Harry and Jamie continue to understand one another, to what extent the detective can manage anyway. Yet nothing’s solved, and the things eating Jamie alive continue to do so no matter how closely the detective keeps watch over him. The new father returns home with all the same thoughts in his head, and Dt. Ambrose stays outside overnight watching in his car despite the sciatica plaguing him. When Harry wakes he has messages on his phone from a contact in the NYPD. There was a homicide around Brooklyn early in the morning. So Dt. Ambrose rushes off, hoping he didn’t fall asleep and miss Jamie sneaking out to go murder somebody. The victim? The medium from the party the night before.
“Tell me I’m not crazy”
Another intense episode. That moment in the hotel room where Jamie went nuts really had me for a moment, and it’s surprising bits like that which keep The Sinner fresh three seasons deep. Of course Bill Pullman is a major reason why the series stays solid, and Matt Bomer’s presence this year only helps bolster an already excellent show.
Part V is next time.