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The Sinner - Part II - Review: Temporary Insanity

"What makes you think I want my life back?"

Part II

We pick up right where we left off, right before the plea. As expected, Cora pleads guilty but Judge Baird, just as Detective Ambrose said, is not aiming towards just locking her up, she sees Cora is not fighting for her freedom and decides she should be further examined to determine if she's psychologically fit to stand trial. Then we find out Detective Ambrose called ahead and made his case to the judge, which actually makes more sense, I'm glad they're going for the more logical explanations when they can.

After that, Detective Ambrose finally gets to speak to Cora one on one for the first time. He tries to make her understand she has choices and that eventually, she could even get her life back, but she looks at him like he doesn't understand, and asks why she would even want her life back. Which throws him (and us) for a loop, Cora gets more intriguing by the minute and it's glorious.

The other detectives are worried because the examination gives Cora time to change her plea, and even if they have a lot of proof and witnesses, they know if they go to trial they'll have to establish motive, and they're not even close to doing that. The show keeps focusing on weird stuff about Detective Ambrose that makes no sense, like a strange connection with nature, and his weird relationship with his mistress, but it doesn't seem like it's pointing anywhere. In the beginning of the episode he's crashing at his partner's house but he's going to couples therapy with his wife, Fay, and by the end of the episode they're staying in the same house again, so I guess they're doing better? I still see no point in this character development but I hope they surprise me here.

Dve. Ambrose presses Cora telling her she's putting her family through hell until she gives in and tells him she met Frankie five years before, she says he was going by a different name, J.D., and that they met at a bar where they took some pills and went to somebody's house. That is where they played the song from Frankie's band over and over again, which makes sense. The story seems messed up but pretty straight forward, she says they slept together and after a couple weeks she found out she was pregnant, she couldn't tell her parents or get an abortion since she was raised Catholic, and when she went looking for him, she realized he'd given her the wrong name. She remembers she just wanted it all to end, so she jumped in front of a car, but she woke up in the hospital with broken bones, a concussion, and no longer pregnant.

This makes sense to everyone else but Harry, who's not willing to let it go. He talks to Leah, Frankie's wife, who's of course traumatized by it all, he asks her about any other women in Frankie's life and she remembers a woman he talked about with his colleagues, someone he had a very strong connection with who was apparently messed up. She says there was an accident five or six years prior that had changed their lives, though it's unclear how much he knew about her story or how. Not content with that, Detective Ambrose goes to the bar where Cora says she met him but the bartender remembers Cora being with a blonde guy, not Frankie. Then, he talks to Frankie's parents who say their son was in Los Angeles that weekend, and they also find out there's no record of her being hospitalized around that time. So it all starts to look like she's lying.

So Detective Ambrose goes to see Cora one more time, he knows she's lying now so he pushes harder, and she's all cocky bullsh*tting him until he plays the song for her and she loses it again, she attacks him and tells him she's going to kill him. And man, Biel is killing it! The transition, from confused, to entranced, to completely psycho, is seamless and stunning. Later, Harry realizes she hit him in the exact same places she stabbed Frankie (though the marks are way too clear for it to look real) and makes us wonder what could possibly create that kind of a pattern without her realizing it.

Speaking of trauma, we see a lot more of her family dynamics this time. We see flashbacks of how her mother's over-protectiveness of Phoebe drives a wedge in her parents' marriage, Phoebe sleeping with her mom in the big bed and the dad sleeping in a twin bed next to Cora, and there's just something creepy about how they show it. We see prayer groups for Phoebe who was always sick, we see her aunt Margaret (Rebecca Wisocky - The Mentalist, Devious Maids) for the first time, the one who gave her treats in secret because her mother didn't let her have anything that could be even close to a sin. We see her mother reminding her that they couldn't give God reasons to punish them because otherwise, Phoebe would die, which is, of course, a lot of pressure for little Cora, and of course she gets blamed for her sister not getting better, which we knew was part of the trauma, especially since she starts doing bad things on purpose to rebel against it all, so there aren't many surprises there.

We also see flashbacks of how Cora and Mason met, she was working as a waitress having moved because she needed a change, probably after the traumatic event, and we see them flirt, we see them go to bed together, and it all looks fine until she almost chokes him to death in a panic. I guess she gave him some sort of explanation of why that happened because it would make no sense for him to just write a murder attempt off, conscious or not. He does look a bit slow but he does question her in general.

In the present, Mason doesn't understand his wife's logic and he's not just going along with her craziness, but once again Christopher Abbott is underwhelming, which is a pity since it would make every scene he has with his wife so much better if they'd just picked a better actor, I thought of the possibility of that being a character trait, but there's no excuse that would make this casting choice good one, I hope there's something down the line that proves me wrong, but for now I'm disappointed, and opposite to the brilliant work Biel is doing, the bar is just set too high. So, Mason is interrogated by a female cop he used to know and she ends up telling him about J.D., which is the only thing that pans out since he knows the guy (who's apparently a real person) and, by the end of the episode, he's on his way to confronting him, even though J.D. sounds like someone you don't want to mess around with.

In jail, Cora continues to dream of patterns (it's not clear whether they're patterns on a ceiling, a wall or a rug), and that music, over and over again (which by the end of this show will probably give us nightmares too). And we know this is all somehow related to that night but the fact that she's lying about so much is disconcerting, at first it seemed like she just didn't remember, and maybe she still doesn't, but the fact that she lies changes our perspective of her completely. She's also having trouble in jail since she doesn't join any group and so they mess with her and they steal her mattress, but to add to our disconcert, she just lays on the metal and sleeps, which makes her all the more chilling.


"I'm gonna kill you."

"Stop showing your wang to my woman."

"Sane people, they have motive for what they do, whether they hide it or not."

So, what did you guys think of the episode? Are you as confused by Cora as I am? What are your thoughts on The Sinner so far? I look forward to debating with you.

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