As the third season of The Sinner unravels, we meet Jamie Burns (Matt Bomer) a college professor and his wife Leela (Parisa Fitz-Henley). Leela is pregnant and is a few days away from giving birth to their first child. One evening, Jamie’s old college friend, Nick Haas (Chris Messina) comes uninvited to his house and Jamie looks disturbed to see him. Nick is then invited to join them for dinner, and the conversation is intense and uncomfortable. Later that night, Jamie and Nick go for a drive and meet with an accident. The accident takes place on land belonging to local artist Sonya Barzel (Jessica Hecht). As the investigation takes place, chilling facts emerge throughout the series keeping the viewer guessing and speculating. Detective Ambrose (Bill Pullman) limps along trying to get to the heart of ‘what happened that night.’
Over its three seasons, “The Sinner” has to a great extent been based on the concept of an onion, where you have to peel layer after layer to get to the truth. The main characters in each season, have been people who appear normal on the surface, but later seem afflicted and confused by the crimes they are purported to have committed. In each, you wonder how someone so normal could be capable of something so drastic?
In the first three episodes , Jamie is a chameleon, going from charismatic school teacher to an anxiety ridden husband at home. The chemistry between Nick and Jamie is electric from their first scene together. Messina’s performance as Nick is mysterious and mesmerising. The direction also builds sufficient intensity, while giving breathing room for the story to flesh out and move forward.
Detective Ambrose is convincing as he battles sciatica while investigating the case. When he speaks to Jamie, he sees how disturbed he is and begins to delve deeper into Jamie and Nick’s history. He discovers that Nick had an emotional hold on Jamie, forcing him to examine his personal philosophies on life, leading to some hazardous encounters. It appears that Jamie attempts to leave his past behind by seeking normalcy through his marriage to Leela.
However, after the accident, we notice that it’s not possible for him to do so. It appears that Nick’s hold on Jamie becomes stronger after the accident and Jamie hallucinates about Nick throughout the day.
With each passing scene, Jamie becomes increasingly unhinged. When Ambrose gets him to see a mental health professional, things don’t go as planned, leading to disastrous consequences.
The unwavering focus, like the previous seasons, is more on the “why” than the “what.” Why does the suspect do what he does? Why is he the way he is? Get ready for some discussions about Nietzsche, human will, higher purpose, guilt and God. En route, there are deaths and unusual curves to the story.
Season 3 of the Sinner fills you with an unsettling disquiet, with shots of arranged ghastliness and profoundly agitating queries about life and death. It moves seamlessly across genres, indicating an uncommon dominance over the specialty of narrating and acting, making the excursion of The Sinner as exciting as its ultimate destination.
My Honest Opinion
While I personally preferred Season 1 of The Sinner for its shock value, Season 3 was a better watch than Season 2.
It’s almost as if there is a looking glass pointing at you. Both Jamie and Cora are normal people with a lot of stuff going on underneath. They could be you or me. I felt a whole range of emotions including compassion, disgust, surprise and fear. Like the producer Jessica Biel opines, it takes you through the whole gamut of the human experience.
You get to see the complexity of human behaviour at close quarters and how it can display itself in ways where you can’t draw inferences at first glance.
The true beauty of the series, is that the line between good and evil is blurred. There’s no black and white but the entire rainbow of what it means to be human, that we have to contend with.