The Sinner: Season 2 – Review

Season 2 of The Sinner premieres August 1st on USA.

By Matthew Stanford

The Sinner was initially intended to be a one season limited series. Last summer it was the most popular show of the summer and was well received by critics and viewers alike. I enjoyed the first season except for one plotline that was unnecessary and off-putting (if you watched you know the one). The second season is unrelated to season one except for the lead detective Harry Ambrose who is played by Bill Pullman. You do not need to see season one to watch season two.

The premise for The Sinner is relatively simple, instead of focusing on who committed a heinous crime, it focuses on the “why.” The murder in question for season two is a young boy named Julian who kills his parents. This show is challenging to discuss from a review perspective because so much of its charm comes from the endless amount of twists and turns it provides. I will not ruin any of the surprises but be warned… nothing is as it seems!

All of the new characters/actors/actresses added in season 2 are fantastic! My two favorites are Jack who is the father of female detective Heather and the very mysterious Vera. Jack is played by actor/Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts whom you may recognize as the father in Lady Bird. His character is a former friend of Harry Ambrose from back in the day. On the surface, Jack seems like a great guy, but something feels a bit off with him. Carrie Coon plays Vera. You’ll probably recognize Coon from HBO’s The Leftovers or the third season of FX’s Fargo. In my opinion, she is the best actress currently on TV, and this role is no different. Every scene she is in is electric, and she elevates the acting of everyone around her. Oddly enough Tracy Letts and Carrie Coon are married in real life!

Former fictional president Bill Pullman continues his magnificent performance as Detective Harry Ambrose. His journey this year seems to parallel both Camille Preaker’s journey in Sharp Objects and Henry Deaver’s journey in Castle Rock. In other words, he returns to his hometown to work a case, and traumatic childhood memories come flooding back. His character is a complex one, but at the end of the day, he seems to genuinely care and want to fight for those that may be cast aside by others.

I would be remiss not to mention the music in The Sinner. The crime this year isn’t driven by diegetic music like it was in season one, but tunes help drive the action in every scene. They’re never obnoxious or distracting, but the show would have a completely different feel if it weren’t for the soundtrack and sound design in each scene.

When I received the three episodes provided to critics, I wasn’t all that excited to jump in. I enjoyed season one, but the premise of these new installments didn’t grab me. The marketing seemed to imply shock-value with little substance. I planned to watch an episode and then another a few days later. I watched all three episodes back to back that night. My preconceived notions could not have been more off base. It is SO GOOD! Have you ever heard someone describe a book as “a real page-turner?” That is the Sinner. As each episode ends, you can’t believe you have to wait a week for the next one.

I give The Sinner Season 2 an A.