I can’t believe we’ve made it to the end already! It feels like only yesterday we were watching little Julian poison people we thought were his parents. We’ve gotten a lot of answers and some more questions in the process but all in all it was a pretty satisfying season of “The Sinner.” Maybe not quite as good as season one, but certainly not an embarrassing second outing!
Let’s jump right in! We open immediately after the ending of “Part VII” with the processing of Marin’s crime scene. Heather is having a very hard time with it and at one point imagines herself leaning over and putting her hands in Marin’s blood, and coming away with literal blood on her hands. It’s certainly not true that Heather had anything to do with Marin’s death, but she feels guilty all the same. Harry startles her out of her imagination to tell l her it looks like there was a struggle for the gun.
Deputy Brick calls them to explain he found some documents that show payments of $1000 going into Mosswood for years but he doesn’t have anymore information than that. Before they have a chance to think too deeply on that they find out Vera’s car has been found and they join a standoff in progress along a back woods road. Harry seems to think there’s a kid in the car but it turns out it’s just weird Mosswood ponytail guy who is swiftly arrested.
In the meantime, Vera has taken Julian to New York City where she has a friend who’s agreed to help her. We find out that help only goes so far though. Once the friend turns on the news and sees that Vera and Julian are both wanted she makes them leave but not before they can get some sweet illegal documents! While Vera is getting their stuff together Julian remembers the night of Marin’s death. We see out the window, through Julian’s eyes as there is a struggle for the gun and Marin is killed. Julian then runs to the bedroom and hides under the bed. Whoever shot Marin comes in. It’s a man judging by the shoes and he comes up to the bed and just before he kneels down to find Julian we’re pulled from the flashback.
Back in Keller, Heather wants to question ponytail guy but the chief continues to be the most suspicious man in the universe and says she can’t. He sends her home to rest and dismisses Harry as cordially as you can while still being a huge dick about it. Harry thankfully will not leave until they find Julian so he’s still there when Brick approaches him and says he found the information about payments to Mosswood on the chief’s desk which is clearly withholding information from a police investigation.
Harry immediately confronts the chief about the payments and we find out he was a red herring all along! Turns out he didn’t really have anything to do with Mosswood but he wanted to be sure of who the payments were coming from before he said anything about it. Which brings us to Heather doing laundry at her dad’s house. When she empties the dryer a key falls out of Jack’s pants and, you guessed it, it’s from the Five Nations Motel.
The next day Harry and Heather go to the bar to confront Jack and he won’t discuss anything until Heather leaves the room. Then he basically comes clean to Harry. He’s the one who killed Marin, but it was an accident. He gave Julian back to Vera. He’s the one who’s been paying Vera $1000 a month.
It does take Harry just a smidge too long to realize that Jack is Julian’s father and in the meantime we have to sit through what starts out as kind of a creepy seduction scene and then turns into a full on rape of his daughter’s best friend. On the one hand it explains and confirms so much, on the other hand I wish they hadn’t made Tracy Letts do that because it was awful and I had to watch it twice. Jack is obviously arrested for Marin’s murder.
The chief is finally being relatively helpful and it looks like all hands on deck back at the Keller PD when Harry gets a call from Julian. They talk for a little while until Vera comes back in the room and Julian has to hang up. Harry is able to trace the call to NYC. When Vera and Julian head back to the apartment there are cops waiting for them so they go to a diner.
What follows is possibly the best scene of the season thanks in no small part to Carrie Coon and Elisha Henig’s performances. Julian admits he doesn’t want to escape to Washington state and then maybe Canada. He wants to go back to Keller and face responsibility for his actions. He doesn’t want to run away forever. Vera tries to talk him out of it by saying they’ll put him back in jail. He says he knows. She tells him they won’t let her be his mother anymore. He says he knows. In the end, Vera agrees. Writing about it won’t do it justice, just go watch it. It’s incredible.
Julian and Vera make it back to Keller and Julian goes with Harry to answer some questions, but not before he says he doesn’t want Vera to get in trouble. While Vera waits in the station she remembers teaching Julian all about plants in the woods in the near past. He asks about jimson weed and she says a little bit can make you hallucinate but too much will make you “pass on.” After this the timing of the episode gets a little wonky. At some point Vera goes back to Mosswood and burns what looks like all the Mosswood teachings and session tapes, except Harry’s which she sends to him. She also sets the barn with the mystery rock on fire.
Julian’s final hearing goes pretty well. Harry speaks on his behalf and says he chose to come back and face the consequences and it’s clear he shows remorse despite his radical upbringing. Much like Cora in season one, the extenuating circumstances in his case help him get off pretty light: four years in a juvenile center with the chance for review in three. Vera will face no charges.
Our final scene of season two is Harry, Heather and Julian driving somewhere in the car. They won’t tell Julian where but it’s pretty clear they’re finally taking him to Niagara Falls. He is adorably excited when they get there and it’s lovely to watch all three of them relax a little. It’s clear Heather and Julian will eventually bond as siblings and Harry certainly seems lighter at least for a start. It’s not long though before he’s brooding into the middle distance and we know it won’t be too long into season three (hopefully!) before he’s drowning in his past and getting his fingernails stepped on again.
Like I said above, I think season two was just as good as season one and while I don’t think it was better I do think it was handled in a slightly more deliberate manner than the first. There was a lot more heartbreak involved with Cora’s case and her sister’s death being a complete accident and no fault of any of our heroes. Every single thing that happened to Julian or anyone else in this season was the direct result of different people making numerous actively terrible decisions which potentially took some of the heartbreak and despair out of the season. Despite
Read all of “The Sinner” recaps here! What did you think of Season 2? Let us know!
Featured image credit: Peter Kramer/USA Network
Kristin was a military brat growing up but now she lives in Orlando with her husband Will and their dog Egon. She and her best friend Wil (not the husband!) have written a novel together and recently started the podcast “So…I’m Watching This Show” where they discuss movies, TV shows and pop culture in general. Most nights you can find her drinking wine and live tweeting way too many things.