The Sinner is a deceptively unique show. The first season featured Jessica Biel as a happily-married woman who murdered a man on a busy beach. The crime was witnessed by dozens so it seemed like an open and shut case. However, as the program continued, questions came to light about her connection to this man and what led her to commit homicide. Those questions fueled the success of the first season.
In the program’s second season, there’s also a seemingly open and shut case. A young boy named Julian (Elisha Henig) seemingly poisons his parents in a hotel room on a trip to Niagara Falls. In the first episode, he even confesses to the crime. But soon questions come up about Julian’s past: questions that lead Detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman, who returns to the role) to suspect something strange is afoot.
The setting for the show is Ambrose’s hometown. He’s called to support Officer Heather Novack (Natalie Paul), who was assigned to Julian’s case.
Even when the case seems solid, the writers have this tremendous ability to twist the narrative, offering plenty of unique surprises. In this new season, Carrie Coon also joins the program as Vera Walker, a woman whose distrust of authority plays a key role here.
Derek Simonds, who created the show and executive produces it, shows that he can easily maintain the urgency of the first season even while setting up a new mystery. This new mystery eventually leads to a communal home that other residents are fearful of and a cult-like environment that draws in people and sometimes never lets them go (Novack, for one, has a history with the place that she doesn’t want to relive.)
Unlike other mystery shows, The Sinner focuses much of its attention on character-building, delving nicely into the backgrounds of the main players. The addition of Novack, Vera Walker and even Heather’s father Jack (played by the brilliant Tracy Letts) add a level of depth to this season that makes it stand out.
The show continues to thrill with its ability to deceive viewers into believing they know where the story is headed. They don’t and that makes The Sinner worthwhile.
Review by: John Hanlon