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The Sinner - Parts I & II - Review: Hollow

"Have you ever had a person in your life who is totally exciting, but you knew they were bad for you? When you're around them, you feel more yourself, or the opposite of yourself."

I must admit every time I watch this show I end up wondering what goes on in this writing room, often there's such brilliant writing here, but there are always choices that escape my comprehension. I might be way off here, but sometimes I think there's one person there who just doesn't get the show and their ideas must be included for some reason other than cohesion. To me, this season's mystery it's a bit lackluster, but I can't deny there's a mesmerizing thing about watching Jamie battle his demons and getting to know Nick's character, Matt Bomer and Chris Mesina are just amazing, intoxicating even.

Also, is anyone else wondering why the opening, shows a face that looks nothing like Bomer's? Or is it just me that can't see the resemblance? Anyway, we first meet Bomer's character, Jamie, a high school teacher who seems to be loved by everyone but is clearly not transparent, he looks as if he has some sort of functional depression, perhaps related to him trying to escape from his own identity. He's married to Leela (Parisa Fitz-Henley - Midnight, Texas) and has a child on the way, but it all looks like it's about to come crashing down when Nick (Chris Mesina) comes to visit, a friend from college who's apparently much more than that, and who ends up dead in a car crash right after.

"Move on?"

Ambrose gets called in on the case, and he interviews Jamie who looks quite shaken, he might even still be in shock since he's having hallucinations and then anxiety attacks. He also interviews Sonya (Jessica Hecht - Friends), a painter whose house Nick and Jamie seemed to be heading to the night of the crash. She denies knowing anything but she does seem to recognize someone. She has a fear that someone's going to kill her which is not helped at all when she finds an empty grave in her property. Later we learn she had a stalker, a model who mistook the relationship for something else, and though he was arrested and later apologized, she's often suspicious.

Detective Vic Soto (Eddie Martinez) asks to tag along so he can learn from Ambrose, who he clearly admires, they go to inspect the car and find some inconsistencies with Jamie's story. They find quite a few suspicious facts, a phone with no prints on it, an older knife wound on Nick's hand, and we also learn he'd been in town and had seen Jamie a few days prior to his death.

In a flashback, we get to see the crash, it seems they were on their way to see Sonya for some reason and Jamie was losing his nerve which is why Nick sped up, leaving Jamies with only one idea on how to stop the car, pulling the hand brake which is what caused the accident. After that, Jamie got out of the car and, at first, he seemed quite upset about seeing Nick had gone halfway through the windshield, but then he took his phone and instead of calling 911 he turned it off, he put some music on and just watched his friend die.

"I finally saw him for the first time."

We also see a flashback of the first time they met in town, we learn Jamie had cut Nick off for 18 years and then, suddenly, he had started to contact him again, so Nick wanted to see him explain what happened face to face, something Jamie wasn't expecting. We see them meeting again, a little more chipper this time, but Nick is intense, and not the kind of guy that'd let things just be. He asks again why he called and Jamie admits he just doesn't feel anything anymore, no matter how great this life he built for himself is.

Nick proposes something to wake him up that Jamie considers too intense and then Nick appears to go insane in a sort of performative way, he looks like someone who can turn a switch off and defy every societal norm, he drowns people's phones in their drinks and makes Jamie stab his hand with a knife. After that, they go to the roof and stand on the ledge referencing T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men" which is quite fitting and I urge you to check it out if you don't know it. Nick can tell Jamie was missing this intensity and he's clearly right, given Jamie's following actions.

Ambrose starts inserting himself in Jamie's life, and though it creates some suspicion, he opens himself up enough to create a sort of rapport. Jamie talks about Nick the same way Ambrose felt about his mother. He says there was a way he felt with Nick he didn't feel around anybody else, like he wasn't himself, and though he was relieved when he cut him off, he also felt hollow without him.

"It just feels like a lie."

Following on Nick's footsteps, Jamie tries to kill an old man at the hospital as if he's trying to get that feeling back, the one he felt watching Nick die. Perhaps he though with his death he'd get rid of him but, ironically, now he seems to accompany him wherever he goes, calling on him to do crazy things since a long time ago there was no such thing as too crazy for them.

Here's my theory so far, Jamie and Nick loved each other in college but Jamie wanted the white picket fence and what he considered a "normal" life. Also, at some point, something happened with this teacher and they wanted to confront her about it, maybe some kind of abuse. And though I am somewhat interested in knowing what happened I just can't find the same level of mystery I found in previous seasons. Still, the level of intensity they're offering is enough to make it worth my time, and hopefully yours too. I feel some of this dialogue needs some appreciation so I felt I'd highlight it here since I love it when shows take the time to go beyond entertainment and defy us to think about things in a deeper way.

"It's like the only thing that matters is getting over things as fast as you can.
I mean, death isn't going away.
If anything, it's getting closer.
And everyone I know is terrified, but no one wants to talk about it.
We just hide it away in hospitals and old-age homes."

"You know, we spend our entire lives wondering what's at the top of the mountain.
We imagine this beautiful view up there, money, safety. Some kind of answer.
And there's nothing to do up there but jump off."

What did you think about the beginning of this new season? Let me know in the comments.

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