The Sinner TV TV Recaps

“The Sinner” Ep2.03: “Part III”

Have I mentioned how much I love the way this show really parses out clues and information? Second only to the performances, it’s my favorite thing about “The Sinner.” Every time we get more information we also get a whole host of additional questions that I know won’t get answered for weeks, if ever, and it’s so much fun! It also helps that, as mentioned, we already know who killed Bess and Adam. Julian did it. But it’s still so much fun to try and figure out why he did it, and every extra piece of information we learn about his life and Mosswood in general. The answer to that question becomes both clearer and muddier at the same time.

What’s most interesting to me about this season, in particular, is how the story with Julian appears to be working as a kind of funhouse mirror version of Harry’s own childhood. We keep getting slightly longer looks at his memory of a house fire and a woman who we assume is his mother. This episode opens by going one step further: having Harry dream that he prepped his mother’s body in the same way Julian did for Adam and Bess. It’s very clear Harry feels a connection with Julian the same way he did with Cora in season one, but the shadow of Mosswood hangs over every interaction.

There’s another shadow over this season that didn’t exist in season one: the whole town of Keller. It’s more than obvious that Harry does not enjoy being in Keller and were it not for the murder he would never have come home. It’s something Jack can see plainly, despite the good show Harry believes he’s putting on. Unfortunately, Jack’s solution is to make Harry join him at a Rotary Club meeting to hang out with all the people he clearly never wanted to see again. It’s the only part of the episode that doesn’t land for me, mostly because it makes Harry finally break down in a way that shows his “unconventional” sexcapades last season were keeping him more tethered than either he or we realized.

The first important information we get in this episode is the revelation that Julian has finally been charged with two counts of second-degree murder. Because of that, his case has been moved from family court to normal court and he’ll be tried as an adult. Harry finds out as much when Vera calls to ask him why he’s done it. Only he hasn’t done it; it appears the DA has made the decision. Harry assures Vera that he had no idea it was happening and it’s not what he wanted. Then he makes good on these statements and meets them before Julian is taken away. He’s able to give Julian his phone number to use if he needs anything at all in the juvenile detention center.

The whole scene with Julian getting processed is pretty hellish as well. He’s so little for a 13 year old and he looks terrified the whole time; Elisha Henig is doing incredible work. They take his fingerprints and his picture and he gets an orange jumpsuit and everything before being led into a large dormitory full of boys who are all much bigger and probably several years older than he is.

The Sinner - Season 2
(l-r) Natalie Paul as Heather Novack, Hannah Gross as Marin | Photo by: Scott McDermott/USA Network

In the meantime, Heather, with much prompting from Harry, has gone to see Marin’s mother to ask some questions. Neither of them has heard from Heather in over 10 years, and even then it was just a few voicemails. It’s immediately clear that Marin’s mother is not great but she’s as helpful as she can be and gives Heather a box of Marin’s things to look through for clues.

Back at Mosswood, Vera meets with one of the other residents named Benji, who it turns out used to be a lawyer. She asks him to be “the old Benji” again for Julian and he’s conscripted into the defense. They talk with the DA in town for a while about a possible deal and, though it seems excessive to me, the best possible deal is 15 years to life for Julian. Before any decisions are made though, he had to go through a psych evaluation. Before they leave Harry basically lays all his theories out for Vera. He thinks Vera knows that Bess and Adam weren’t coming back and that they weren’t going to Niagara Falls (which we already knew). Harry presses the point though and Vera says they weren’t saving Julian from Mosswood – they were abducting him and Julian saved himself.

During what appears to be that night, Vera does some wildly incorrect looking yoga in the barn with the big stone. Once she reaches what I can only call her climax she seems to calm down and goes to see Julian at the detention center the next day.

She explains to him about the psych evaluation before telling him he can’t talk about Mosswood or of “The Work” because they’ll think there’s something wrong with him and all the other residents. Julian asks about Harry but Vera says it’s his job to send people to jail. She’s not completely wrong, but it’s also kind of a reductive explanation. Though it’s clear that Harry only wants to help, Julian doesn’t share with Vera that Harry offered him help.

As mentioned above, Jack kind of insisted that Harry accompany him to a Rotary Club meeting and the less said about it the better, except that he gets accosted by some gross dudes who think they should “Waco” the Mosswood compound. I think cults are just as creepy as the next person, but honestly, up to this situation with Julian, it doesn’t appear the Mosswood residents have caused any trouble at all in the town and even counting the murders, it’s still confined to only Mosswood residents. Needless to say, killing all the residents is rather an exaggeration. We also meet a former high school flame of Harry’s and honestly this cougar is the last thing in the world he needs. Harry does not need to think any further on his past right now. It’s lucky he still has fingernails given all the stress he’s under. He ends up in a fight with Jack after he just straight up abandons the cougar but they seem to actually air their grievances this time and end up in a better place than they started.

When it’s time for the psych evaluation on Julian, Harry is already there simply because he felt he should be. We get some glimpses of inside and outside during the interview but, to me, the outside is more interesting. Julian answers everything pretty succinctly, though strangely. Outside, however, Vera brings up Cora and how it seems Harry went above the call of duty for her. Harry insists he could just tell she had a story. It appears they’ve reached something of a detente which is nice. I’d like for them both to be a little more honest with each other, though I’m sure it won’t last. Back in the exam room, the psychologist asks why Julian gave them the tea if he knew it was poison and we get a short flashback to Adam and Bess’s conversation outside the hotel room, where Julian heard them saying they were never going back to Mosswood, before Bess told Julian it would only be a short delay. When Julian finally answers the psychologist he says only “because she lied.” He then has a full on fit, effectively ending the interview.

While the interview was happening, Heather finally sorted through the box of Marin’s things. It’s mostly normal stuff but there’s also a romance novel with the name Julian circled and underlined at every instance. She obviously gets a notion and meets Harry at the evaluation, where she explains that she believes Marin was actually Julian’s mother, not Vera. She says the timing all fits and there was always something familiar in Julian’s face and mannerisms.

Harry agrees to see Heather’s hunch through and they find the doctor listed on his birth certificate. Unfortunately, it turns out he didn’t actually witness Vera give birth, he only showed up after the fact and signed the birth certificate. When they ask him about any other births at Mosswood he gets super shifty and goes to get his records. When he’s gone too long both Harry and Heather go to look for him and find him dying after cutting his own throat with a scalpel. While the house is being turned upside down for clues, Harry stumbles on a small altar with a tiny version of the huge rock in the Mosswood barn AND THEN THE EPISODE ENDS!

As usual, some of my questions got answered but I’ve still got more than I started out with! Who was that doctor? Why did he leave Mosswood? What did he know about Marin and the baby Julian? Hopefully, Harry will shake some answers out of Vera next week if the previews are anything to go by!

I’ll be live-tweeting “The Sinner” every Wednesday on Shuffle Online at 10/9c. You can follow me at So…I’m Watching This Show

Featured image credit: Peter Kramer/USA Network

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