The Sinner: Pilot Review
USA Network’s The Sinner: Season 1, Episode 1: ‘Pilot’ begins with a regular day on the beach where a murder takes place and the suspect is a mother who had a knife in her hand and stabs the man to death. So why does this single mother end up killing a random guy? Well, that’s the whole idea behind USA Network’s upcoming summer limited series The Sinner. Based on Petra Hammesfahr’s book, the adaptation stars Jessica Biel as Cora Tannetti, a mother who gets arrested for murdering the man, but this isn’t treated as any other homicide. That is where Bill Pullman comes in, who portrays Detective Harry Ambrose.
Right off the gate, we have this murder scene, which is pretty brutal to watch with some more surprises in store. If the murder kick starts the whole series, The Sinner would’ve already given the first big reveal. We don’t get much background into Cora and what her motives are in the first episode. Rather than dragging this out for multiple seasons, this is being marketed as an eight-episode limited series so expect to get some answers. Don’t worry because there’s just enough interest to keep investing in the series, especially with Jessica Biel’s thrilling performance as we find out why an ordinary person would do something out of the ordinary.
The episode opens up going into the loving relationship between Cora and her husband Mason (Christopher Abbott) living regular lives. We find Cora working at a decent job with her husband. She likes to joke around with him on the job, especially making fun of him living with his mother. He often makes fun of himself as well and does the same routine every day. They seem really close with each other and their son. By the looks of it, Cora is living the perfect life.
But like all stories, there’s always something serious that happens. In The Sinner, the show manages to pull you into this mystery as they tease you with clues into what happened and why this is happening. Even cops find it so weird that a mother would lose her mind and kill a random person. The thing is, she’s not just a mother and she probably isn’t nuts. During the first installment, the show focuses on trying to rule out any causes like mental illnesses, an affair, and financial issues. It makes sense that The Sinner is looking to go beyond what is on this case.
Cora begins to phase in and out by an unknown trigger. When she’s making love to her husband, she mind starts wandering elsewhere with a expressionless face looking up at the ceiling, focusing on one image up there. However, she’s not losing it. She does appear to remember the murder and doing it. After she gets arrested, Cora does what she is told by the authorities, including giving a confession and accepting whatever punishment the court gives her. She’s not too thrilled about it but she knows the consequences. There is that one cop who looks outside the box and tries to find meaning into the crime. What looks like an easy case ends up being more complicated than anyone guessed. That’s where Detective Ambrose comes in as he investigates further into the murder case.
The Sinner doesn’t entirely feel unique like other crime shows with a cop trying to figure out what happened in the scene of the crime. We have all these characters that have something to hide. Relevant information is kept under wraps to keep the style of the show going. There are some hidden secrets if you look carefully. Cora’s reaction to the murder isn’t due to anything emotional, something that comes off as an offensive term. Perhaps Cora has a reason for stabbing that man. It could have something to do with her past, which we get in flashbacks. Thanks to the direction of Antonio Campos, the show is interesting enough to keep going further.
The performances are what really bring the show together. Biel commits to her role with ease and becomes the heart of the show. Bill Pullman manages to get into the shoes of Detective Ambrose, who also has some secrets of his own. He doesn’t seem like a moral detective, but he is good at his job. He is the only cop to suspect that Cora might’ve killed the man because there may be some factors in play. Ambrose didn’t have to take that case, but he does it anyway and thinks this isn’t your typical murder. As Cora waits for her judgment in court, Ambrose will be busy trying to prove that Cora has motive.
The show’s first hour has already given a reason for us to tune in for the rest of the season. The plot flips on itself to ask the question of why this murder occurred rather than who did it and how it was done. Biel comes off as the highlight of the series with her standout moment from the murder to jail. We hope to see more of the mystery as the season progresses and keep the momentum going after the first outing.
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