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The Sinner - Part VIII - Season Finale Review: We Just Wanted To Live

"It's gonna be okay."


Hey, guys, so this is the last review and it's a bit bittersweet, it has been a pleasure watching Cora's story and debating with you all, but it's nice when things have a proper conclusion, and this was definitely the case. They obviously had a clear idea of where they were going from the very beginning and they took us there through a beautifully shot journey filled with amazing moments. This finale might not have been mindblowing but it certainly was satisfying enough. So, without further ado, let's get to it.

First, I need to talk about one of the best moments of this finale, the one where Cora's mother visits her in jail and they finally speak, this was such a necessary moment, after all those years, after all the pain and the lies Cora told herself, it was nice to see them finally be honest with each other and see Cora free of that all-encompassing guilt, telling her she didn't regret talking Phoebe out and letting her have the best night of her life, even if it meant it was her last. Cora asks Elizabeth why she didn't look for them when they went missing, and she says she knew they wanted to run away like she was a monster, and I have to say, I kinda think she is, after all, there is no remorse in her, even after finding out the truth. Cora says all they wanted was to live, Elizabeth points out Cora's situation but Cora responds that she feels freer in jail than she did living with her (ouch).

The investigation continues, the blood is confirmed to be Phoebe's and the cops track down the two men who killed JD, it turns out they had a shady drug business with him and they got scared he would lead the cops to them, but none of them apparently connect to the Beverwyck and Todd wasn't even in the country the month after Phoebe's death so he couldn't have been the one keeping Cora captive. I do have to appreciate that Detective Farmer finally understood Harry was mostly right and stopped getting in his way, which is not something I expected to happen.

At her sentencing, Cora tries one last Hail Mary, appealing to the people in the courtroom and to the judge, finally being able to say she's not a killer, that if she could she would take back what she did. It doesn't really matter to the court, but the important thing here is that she's finally able to believe that herself, that she's not a killer, now she understands there was a reason behind her actions and she wasn't just a dangerous time-bomb, but it makes no difference to her sentencing since she waved her right to a trial, so she gets 30 years. I imagined something would change this, but it was still a bit surprising to witness the sentencing, there was truly a finality to it that felt disheartening.

Both Harry and Cora can't believe it was all for nothing, she can't do much else and takes solace in the fact that Mason isn't willing to move on and promises her he and Laine will visit her every week (one point for Mason, though I'm pretty sure he's still on negative numbers). But Harry is not willing to give up, so he continues to dig until he finds Maddie, thanks to her new baby's name, Winter, (did she ever lose the first one?). It turns out she was alive after all, and she doesn't want to know anything about the investigation but she tells Harry, JD's pill business started right after that night, and this sparks something in Harry's mind.

Somehow, Harry gets a warrant to take Cora on another field trip to Frankie's parent's house, which if he wasn't an asshole would be super cruel and is almost unbelievable he would be allowed to, but anyways, she searches it all and finds a little guest room, it is very bright now but it wasn't always so, the wallpaper is different but when she peels it off, she finds the exact same wallpaper of her nightmares. They both seem horrified and relieved at the same time.

Apparently, it was Frankie's father the one who cleaned up his son's mess, this was the final reveal, and though I hadn't really seen it coming, it wasn't as shocking as I hoped. As expected, Frankie was freaking out and wanted to call the cops but JD convinced him that wasn't a good idea, Dr. Belmont agreed and kicked Frankie out. He and JD took the girls to the woods and Cora was groggy, unable to move, while JD and Dr. Belmont buried Phoebe next to the school bus.

Then JD left and Cora tried to escape, but she could barely move and Dr. Belmont was almost about to hit her with a shovel, but decided against it. Instead, he took her home, sent Frankie away to L.A., and nursed Cora back to health, trying to trick her mind with drugs, manipulating her to forget, once he was fairly sure she had no memory of what happened, he left her lying next to the dumpster where the old man found her. Of course, the disgusting JD saw this as an opportunity to use the leverage against Dr. Belmont and that's how he got his free supply of pills.

Once the last piece of the puzzle is connected, Cora faces Dr. Belmont and instead of yelling at him in anger, she just looks him straight in the eye and tells him she knew he did it for his son, Frankie's father breaks into tears and apologizes in front of Harry and two more cops, so there goes his possible future defence. Then, Harry and Cora have one last road trip while he takes her back, and he explains why he took her case so personally, because he recognized the guilt in her eyes, a guilt he recognized in his own, but a feeling he knew was not well placed, that the traumatic events they both went through happened to no fault of their own. This, of course, points to some sort of trauma in Harry's past they might address if there is another season, but in this case, it was necessary, it was important for us to understand what drove him to care so much about Cora's case when nobody else would give her a second thought.

In light of the new evidence, Cora's lawyer pleads her case as a survivor and the judge reduces her sentence and assigns her to a psychiatric facility, with a biannual review of her case and the possibility of release once she's no longer deemed a danger to herself or others, which is probably all the time she'll need. Once she is being transferred, Harry and Cora have a very sweet moment where she thanks him and they hug. Then he gets into his car and looks at his fingernails paralleling the first time we saw him but, this time, with a different outlook on his own trauma.

This is the perfect reminder of how useless the whole mistress storyline was, and they committed to it till the very end, which was quite disappointing, all I can think of as an excuse is that if there is a second season, they said Bill Pullman would continue to play Detective Ambrose, even if the case would be different, so it might be a way to present things that will get addressed later on. But firstly, there are a lot of ways to make such a character interesting, and this wasn't the case, it was not well done at all, and secondly, if it turns out there's no second season, all they did was diminish the value of the first one as a unit, so I believe there was nothing to be gained with that particular storyline and a lot to be lost, I do understand what they were trying to do, but I think it was poorly handled, which is a damn shame.

But I really need to talk about the positive here, because that's what I want to remember about this show, and truly the little details weren't enough to take away from the enjoyment of it all. Jessica Biel was amazing, and will now have a place on my watchlist, and I'm sure many more people will now take her into consideration when deciding to give a show a chance, at least more so than before, Bill Pullman was also a standout and maybe even enough to carry this possible anthology. The Sinner was utterly enjoyable, in the end, all our questions were answered (the ones that mattered anyway), it was entertaining, satisfying, chilling, and a study on deep misconstrued faith, family, guilt and penance, among other things. The acting, directing and writing were masterful and I, for one, ended up quite satisfied with it all.

How about you?

I look forward to reading your thoughts.

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