Season 1 and 2 only
I admittedly watched the first two seasons in the wrong order, but that did not diminish The Sinner at all for me. Though the main character is featured in every season, you could watch the seasons in any order, as it is an anthology TV show. This is a detective show like no other. Most detective series deal with the how and the who of the crime. But The Sinner flips this around and asks its audience, why the suspect committed the crime – adding a human element that is often lost in crime TV shows.
Bill Pullman was really the star of the show for me. However, the rest of the cast in The Sinner are excellent. You will change your opinion of people more than once throughout the 10 episodes in each season. And any of the twists that came about were quite a surprise to me, which was very refreshing. It reminds me of the game Heavy Rain, with its secrets and slowly unfolding twists and turns – if you have ever played that. Every character is flawed, but you can’t help me watch and hope they save themselves, as well as others.
Every season of The Sinner starts with an inscrutable murder by someone who you wouldn’t expect to be capable of murder. You get a sense that something is under the surface which explains why this happened. And each episode reveals a bit more of the puzzle but also adds to the questions you have. You also learn more and more about Bill Pullman’s character Harry Ambrose, who is determined to find the truth whatever that may be.
Season 1 stars Jessica Biel as our main troubled character, Cora, who without provocation stabs a beachgoer to death. Season 2 follows Elisha Henig, playing Julian, a young boy who kills his parents in a motel room.
Season 1 and 2 felt a bit different for me. Season 1’s ending felt a bit final and felt a bit more neat and tidy. And although Jessica Biel’s character was intriguing, I felt it lacked a little something. Watch out for the Jon Snow lookalike that plays her husband. Not gonna lie, that actor reminded me too much of Kit Harrington and with his whiny personality, I guess I did not connect with the husband’s character as well as I should. Having said that, it is possibly the personalities of the characters, that diminished my appreciation of the first season. A lot of the characters were pretty unlikeable – even considering their unfortunate circumstances.
Whereas with season 2, the story had more depth, intrigue and had compelling side characters such as Vera Walker played by Carrie Coon, which made the experience so much richer. And you get more insight into Harry Ambrose and why he is so awkward, dysfunctional and empathetic to these suspects, that was left out of season 1. Although season 2’s ending left me with more questions, I felt more satisfied with that season. Hopefully the season 3 can top the previous seasons.
Now, The Sinner isn’t a typical detective show. Don’t expect lots of time on crime scenes, or going through evidence. This show is about people and their motivations. A lot of The Sinner focuses on the accused and Ambrose talking. A lot of the show is also atmospheric using music, sounds, and images to create a sense of foreboding in the viewer. Often repeating an image or song that is a part of the hidden story. And I have to say it does it quite well, it helps intensify the mystery of the whole series.
I would say if you enjoyed psychological detective shows like True Detective or Mindhunter, you will enjoy The Sinner immensely.
The Sinner and all its 3 seasons is available to stream on Netflix.