The Sinner (TV series)
Title card for the first season
|Based on||The Sinner|
by Petra Hammesfahr
|Developed by||Derek Simonds|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||16 (list of episodes)|
|Producer(s)||Donna E. Bloom|
|Running time||40–46 minutes|
|Distributor||NBCUniversal Television Distribution|
|Original network||USA Network|
|Original release||August 2, 2017 –|
The Sinner is an American anthology crime drama mystery television series, based on the novel of the same name by German crime writer Petra Hammesfahr. Eight episodes of the program, originally conceived of as a "close-ended series", were ordered in January 2017 and premiered on USA Network on August 2, 2017. In March 2018, the series was renewed for a second season, also of eight episodes, which premiered on August 1, 2018, and concluded on September 19, 2018. In March 2019, the series was renewed for a third season.
The first season of The Sinner received two nominations at the 75th Golden Globe Awards: Best Miniseries or Television Film and Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film for Jessica Biel. Biel was also nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie.
- 1 Premise
- 2 Cast
- 3 Episodes
- 4 Production
- 5 Reception
- 6 References
- 7 External links
In the first season, Detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) delves into the past of a troubled young mother (Jessica Biel), in order to determine why she fatally stabbed a man during a beach outing but has no memory of why she committed the crime.
In the second season, Ambrose returns to his hometown, after a 13-year-old boy confesses to poisoning a couple, and learns secrets that the town's inhabitants are determined to keep buried.
The third season will follow Ambrose as he learns that his investigation of a fatal car accident has a much larger and disturbing case behind it.
- Jessica Biel as Cora Tannetti (season 1)
- Christopher Abbott as Mason Tannetti (season 1)
- Dohn Norwood as Detective Dan Leroy (season 1; guest season 2)
- Abby Miller as Sergeant Caitlin Sullivan (season 1)
- Joanna Adler as Captain Anne Farmer (season 1)
- Bill Pullman as Detective Harry Ambrose
- Carrie Coon as Vera Walker (season 2)
- Natalie Paul as Detective Heather Novack (season 2)
- Hannah Gross as Marin Calhoun (season 2)
- Elisha Henig as Julian Walker (season 2)
- Tracy Letts as Jack Novack (season 2)
- Matt Bomer as Jamie (season 3)
- Danielle Burgess as Maddie
- Patti D'Arbanville as Lorna Tannetti, Mason's mother
- Kathryn Erbe as Fay Ambrose, Harry's wife
- Enid Graham as Elizabeth Lacey, Cora's mother
- Jacob Pitts as J. D.
- Nadia Alexander as Phoebe Lacey, Cora's sister
- Rebecca Wisocky as Margaret Lacey, Cora's aunt
- Eric Todd as Frankie Belmont
- Robert Funaro as Ron Tannetti, Mason's father
- Ellen Adair as Bess McTeer, one of Julian's victims, who died by poisoning
- Adam David Thompson as Adam Lowry, one of Julian's victims, who died by poisoning
- David Call as Andy "Brick" Brickowski, an officer working with Heather
- Jay O. Sanders as Chief Tom Lidell, the police department's chief
- Brady Jenness as young Harry Ambrose
- Allison Case as Rosemary Ambrose, Harry's mother in flashbacks
- Brennan Brown as Lionel Jeffries
- Maceo Oliver as Garrett, the manager of the boys' home where Julian is held in protective custody
Season 1 (2017)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||U.S. viewers|
|1||1||"Part I"||Antonio Campos||Derek Simonds||August 2, 2017||1.63|
|Cora Tannetti, raised by religious zealots in upstate New York, is now married to Mason and mother of a toddler, Laine. At the lake with her husband and son, Cora almost drowns herself, but changes her mind. Back on the beach while cutting up a pear for Laine, she sees an amorous couple kissing and playing music. She uses a paring knife to repeatedly stab the man, a young doctor named Frankie Belmont, killing him, while shouting, "Get off her!" Detectives Harry Ambrose and Dan Leroy are assigned the case. With Cora's confession, Dan views the case as closed, while Harry wishes to learn why she committed a random murder. He must hurry, as she is soon to be arraigned in court.|
|2||2||"Part II"||Antonio Campos||Derek Simonds||August 9, 2017||1.41|
|Cora pleads guilty to second-degree murder to avoid a trial, but the judge orders a competency evaluation after a call from Harry. Cora reflects on her childhood, when her little sister, Phoebe, was chronically ill and their mother was obsessed with sin, convincing her that Phoebe's illness was God's punishment for Cora's sins. After learning that Frankie seemed to recognize Cora at the lake, Cora admits that, in 2012, she had sex with Frankie after meeting him in a bar, only he called himself "J. D." She claims it resulted in her getting pregnant and that she walked in front of a car and had a miscarriage. There is no record of a hospital stay, and Cora claims a man found her and took care of her. Frankie's father insists his son was in California in the summer of 2012. Harry, who is separated from his wife but undergoing marital counseling, regularly visits a sex worker who inflicts pain on him. Harry confronts Cora, forcing her to listen to the music that caused her to stab Frankie, and she violently attacks Harry. Harry realizes the pattern of his bruises from Cora's punches are identical to the stab wounds she inflicted on Frankie Belmont.|
|3||3||"Part III"||Antonio Campos||Derek Simonds||August 16, 2017||1.64|
|Harry visits Cora's parents, who Cora had claimed were dead. They tell him about Cora's late sister, Phoebe, who died of cancer a month after Cora disappeared in 2012. Cora has dreams of a foot crushing a woman's sternum and wakes up screaming. While attempting to sedate Cora, the prison staff expose scars on her arms. When Harry visits Cora, she admits she had a heroin addiction, but begs him not to tell Mason, who thinks the scars were from a bacterial infection. Harry visits the detox center Cora was taken to after she reappeared and is surprised to hear she had clean hair and new clothes when she arrived, in contrast to the homeless addicts typically found at the state-run facility. He finds the man who checked her into rehab, confirming her story of being taken in and cared for after being found in the street. Harry confronts Cora with drug paraphernalia to see if she actually knows how to shoot up; she has no idea how it is done. Mason's friend points out the real J. D. at a bar, and the two provoke each other into a fistfight.|
|4||4||"Part IV"||Brad Anderson||Liz W. Garcia||August 23, 2017||1.76|
|Both Mason and J. D. are arrested and questioned. Mason tells Dan that J. D. is a drug dealer. J. D. tells Harry he has never met Cora, even though Harry says Cora remembers meeting him in a bar on the third of July. J. D.'s lawyer, Mr. Herting, who Dan recognizes as an affluent hedge fund lawyer, ends the interview. Dan and Harry wonder why J. D. has such a high-powered lawyer. Harry questions Cora and realizes she does not remember anything between July 3, 2012, and waking up in an alley in Poughkeepsie two months later. Harry convinces Dr. Chang, one of Cora's competency evaluators, to try memory recovery with Cora. Harry looks for J. D.'s ex-girlfriend, Madeline Beecham, and Mason tries to get J. D. arrested for drug-dealing. Cora begins to remember pieces of the missing two months during her recovery, including a room with strange wallpaper and a man in a balaclava. Harry reunites with his estranged wife, Faye. They go on a hike to survey the woods he believes Cora was remembering and discovers an abandoned school bus Cora has mentioned in therapy and what looks to be a grave.|
|5||5||"Part V"||Cherien Dabis||Jesse McKeown||August 30, 2017||1.84|
|The police uncover a body buried in the woods, believed to be Maddie Beecham, last seen in 2012. Harry wanders from the crime scene and discovers an exclusive country club, the Beverwyck Club. He is later reprimanded by his chief, who is friends with the club's lawyer, Mr. Herting, who also represents J. D. State Police Captain Farmer takes the lead on the investigation and unsuccessfully attempts to get Cora to confess to both murders. After Mason's father is beaten with a baseball bat by J. D., Mason goes to J. D.'s house with a gun. Faye tells Harry she wants him out of the house again. In 2012, Cora and Phoebe secretly plot to move to Naples, Florida, and Phoebe pushes Cora to meet men online and steal from them. The repressed Phoebe tries to live vicariously through Cora. When one man gets angry when Cora tries to leave, J. D. intervenes. She loses her virginity to J. D. that night. She doesn't come home until the next day, upsetting Phoebe and their mother, who calls her a whore.|
|6||6||"Part VI"||Jody Lee Lipes||Tom Pabst||September 6, 2017||1.84|
|Two men quickly leave J. D.'s house, and Mason enters to find him dead. He anonymously calls 911 from J. D.'s phone and quickly disposes of the gun. Security cameras lead the police to Mason, though they suspect drug dealers. DNA on the blanket wrapped around the body believed to be Maddie matches Cora. Cora convinces Harry to take her to the Beverwyck Club in an attempt to recall her memories. Cora is convinced the basement is not the place she remembers. After briefly stopping at her parents' former house, Cora remembers Phoebe celebrating a birthday and asks Harry to return to the Beverwyck Club, where she finds a separate building on the grounds, which she remembers. In 2012, Cora's relationship with J. D. intensifies. Phoebe, jealous of Cora, urges her to share intimate details of their relationship but accuses her of abandoning their plans to move to Florida.|
|7||7||"Part VII"||Tucker Gates||Liz W. Garcia||September 13, 2017||1.84|
|Cora remembers the events of the 4th of July 2012. On her 19th birthday, Phoebe convinces Cora to take her out for the night. Maddie attempts to warn Cora about J. D. with the story of his previous ex-girlfriend, who walked into traffic and had a miscarriage after J. D. abandoned her – the same story Cora previously told Harry as her own. Cora later discovers Maddie is the one who had the miscarriage. Phoebe takes drugs before Cora can stop her. Cora confesses to Phoebe that she plans to move in with J. D. and leave home for good. At the Beverwyck Club, they are welcomed by Frankie, who is hiding at the club, and who immediately connects with Phoebe. The group does drugs in the basement, and Cora realizes it was Phoebe in her hallucinations instead of Maddie. Phoebe overdoses while having sex with Frankie, as his song plays. He tries to perform CPR but breaks her sternum. Cora attacks him in the same manner as the murder before J. D. knocks her out as Phoebe dies.|
|8||8||"Part VIII"||Tucker Gates||Jesse McKeown & Tom Pabst||September 20, 2017||2.44|
|Harry tracks the men suspected of killing J. D. to a fake medical clinic. One of the men, Duffy, is killed and the other admits Duffy killed J. D., who was running a major opioid ring. Harry then finds Maddie alive, who tells him J. D. started the ring immediately after the night Phoebe was killed. All of the doctors whose licenses were fraudulently used by J. D. were colleagues of Dr. Patrick Belmont, Frankie's father. The body found in the woods is confirmed as Phoebe, disposed of by J. D. and Dr. Belmont. Harry takes Cora to the Belmont's house, where she remembers the remaining events. Unable to kill Cora, Dr. Belmont held her captive for two months in the wallpapered room, giving her drugs to prevent her from remembering and hiding his identity with the mask. J. D. blackmailed Dr. Belmont to support his opioid ring. Cora's sentence is reduced due to extreme emotional disturbance. The judge orders her transfer from prison to a psychiatric facility where her case will be reviewed every two years until she is deemed fit to be released when she will not be of harm to herself or others.|
Season 2 (2018)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||U.S. viewers|
|9||1||"Part I"||Antonio Campos||Derek Simonds||August 1, 2018||1.15|
|After almost 15 years, Detective Harry Ambrose returns to his hometown of Keller, Upstate New York, to help investigate a double murder with Heather Novack, an old acquaintance's daughter who has just made detective. A couple were found dead, apparently poisoned, in a motel room. The man is identified as Adam Lowry, but the woman has no ID. Their 13-year-old son, Julian, tells the police they were on their way to Niagara Falls when their car broke down. After Harry notices Julian has a rash, he admits he used jimson weed to poison his parents' tea — but won't say why. Harry asks the DA's office for more time before arresting Julian. No identification can be found for Julian's mother, and Harry realizes that, among all the luggage, there is not a single item related to Julian. At his foster home, Julian has flashbacks of a woman, apparently his therapist. The same woman later appears in the police station claiming to be Julian's real mother.|
|10||2||"Part II"||Antonio Campos||Ellen Fairey||August 8, 2018||1.10|
|Vera Walker, who claims to be Julian's mother, says that Adam and Bess (the second victim) lived with her and helped watch Julian and were taking him to Niagara Falls. Heather is shocked to hear that Vera lives at Mosswood Grove, a notorious "utopian" commune near Keller. Flashbacks reveal that Heather and her girlfriend, Marin, snuck onto Mosswood out of curiosity. In the present, Vera visits Julian and whispers intensely in his ear; he changes his story and claims no memory of making the poisoned tea. In court, Vera shows Julian's birth certificate, but, with no record of residency, is denied guardianship. After Harry reveals to Julian that he was also in a foster home, Julian shares his nightmares of a hooded figure visiting him. Police search Mosswood, where they learn that Julian was the only child there. Harry deduces that Adam and Bess were actually fleeing from the commune and getting Julian out. Heather spots a ponytailed man she also saw at the motel following the murders. Plagued by memories of Marin going into a large outbuilding on the property, Heather now sneaks into the building and finds a large stone column.|
|11||3||"Part III"||John David Coles||Bradford Winters||August 15, 2018||1.01|
|Julian is arrested and sent to a juvenile detention center, awaiting to be tried as an adult for second-degree murder. After Harry tells Vera that Julian will undergo a psychological evaluation, she tells Harry that Julian was abducted by Adam and Bess and that Julian "defended himself". Julian admits that he liked Bess more, but that she died because she lied, which causes one to be "split in two". Meanwhile, Heather collects a box of Marin's belongings from her mother and finds a book inside with the name "Julian" circled throughout. She deduces that Marin was Julian's biological mother. Heather and Harry talk to Dr. Poole, an obstetrician who handled Mosswood births, but Poole steps out of the room and kills himself; a miniature stone column is found in his attic.|
|12||4||"Part IV"||Jody Lee Lipes||Jesse McKeown||August 22, 2018||1.09|
|A journal from Poole's attic bears an emblem, and a passage mentions entering the "labyrinth". A woman, currently institutionalized, is the only connection between Mosswood and Poole through a dropped malpractice lawsuit. She mentions "The Beacon", founder of Mosswood. Heather's father Jack draws a tattoo that he recalls seeing on Marin's wrist. The tattoo matches the emblem (the labyrinth), which leads Heather to discover "The Beacon" is disgraced psychiatrist Lionel Jeffries and that Marin was present during his group Mosswood meeting. Vera plays Harry a recording of Bess's therapy. He requests a session, and she leads him into the woods but abandons him. He finds her in a cabin that Jeffries once used as an office. Harry's "session" results in him blacking out and waking in the same motel room where the murders occurred.|
|13||5||"Part V"||Cherien Dabis||Samir Mehta||August 29, 2018||1.14|
|After learning that he willingly checked himself into the motel, Harry is vague in answering Heather's questions about his visit with Vera. He later breaks into Mosswoodian Glen Fisher's house to find a photo connecting his family to the stone column. At Julian's arraignment, his lawyer enters a not-guilty plea. Julian gets into a fight in jail and is put in isolation, where he tells Harry that his nightmare visitor was actually real two weeks prior. Vera later asks Harry to be a material witness for Julian; as a reward, she confirms that she is not Julian's mother. Chief Liddell removes Harry from the seemingly closed case, and Harry is later shunned by Jack for suspecting a town-wide cover-up. In flashback, Marin cuts ties with Heather, becomes a Mosswood member, and is soon impregnated by Jeffries. Vera tells her that babies cannot be a part of the commune, but Jeffries allows it, just this once.|
|14||6||"Part VI"||Brad Anderson||Nina Braddock||September 5, 2018||1.13|
|Harry learns that he is being followed and manages to find the missing video of the malpractice suit. He sends a copy to Heather and shows it to Vera, causing her to recall and relate previous Mosswood events. Julian's birth is shown, but he rejects being breastfed by Marin as Vera has also been doing it. Vera realizes that the "work" done in the Mosswood sessions are forms of abuse. Jeffries takes Julian from her and retreats to his cabin. In the present, Heather has a dive team to search a lake mentioned in the video; a woman's corpse is found there. Harry forces the DA, who was bribed to bury the malpractice suit, to change Julian's murder charge to manslaughter. Julian is returned to the orphanage, and despite Harry's reassurance that the hooded figure is a manifestation of guilt, Julian is later seemingly abducted by it.|
|15||7||"Part VII"||Tucker Gates||Jesse McKeown||September 12, 2018||1.04|
|Keller Police raid Mosswood to search for Julian. Concerned for his safety, Vera is confrontational and gets arrested. Harry surmises the cloaked figure has Julian and learns a brown van was parked near the orphanage that night. The cloaked figure and van owner is shown to be Marin, who left Mosswood three years prior to live in a convent. She had asked Adam and Bess to bring Julian to her at Niagara Falls, but they were murdered. Now, after convincing Julian that she is his mother and armed with a gun, Marin is intent on driving him into Canada to meet someone. Harry deduces her crossing point, but he and Heather find her shot dead there and Julian still missing.|
|16||8||"Part VIII"||John David Coles||Bradford Winters||September 19, 2018||1.13|
|Julian is shown in Vera's care in New York City. She tells him of her plan for them to live in Washington State. Back in Keller, Harry learns of documents of a regular sizeable monthly payment via a shell corporation to Vera at Mosswood over 10 years. At home, Heather finds a motel room key in Jack's laundry, the same motel where Marin was shot. Both detectives question Jack, but he refuses to answer with Heather present. He confesses to accidentally shooting Marin with her own gun, after she called asking for money and he saw that she was unstable. He also admits to being Julian's father, after he raped Marin following her drunken argument with Heather. Julian calls Harry to inform him of Vera's plan; Harry tells him that it is solely his choice to go or stay. Harry traces the call, as Julian tearfully refuses to go with Vera. They are returned to Keller, and Julian's trial resumes. Harry vouches for him, and he is placed in a rehabilitation home for four years. Vera is not charged, and she torches the Mosswood therapy recordings after delivering Harry's to him, wherein he resented her close relationship with Julian as he didn't have one with his own mother. Harry and Heather finally take Julian to Niagara Falls, as Vera touches the stone column in the building's ashes.|
The series, described as a "close-ended series" by the network, was adapted from the novel of the same name by Petra Hammesfahr; however, the book's darker outlook was toned down and the location shifted from Germany to Upstate New York in the United States. It is the first time that Biel has served as an executive producer on a series, a role she said was "gold". Biel stated that she moved into production so that she could develop projects with challenging and interesting roles rather than wait for them to happen.
The series was ordered on January 17, 2017, and the eight episodes were broadcast on USA Network between August 2 and September 20, 2017. Originally, the series was created as a miniseries; however, in March 2018, it was announced that The Sinner would return for a second season. The second season premiered on August 1, 2018, comprised eight episodes and concluded on September 19, 2018. On March 6, 2019, USA Network renewed the series for a third season.
In May 2018, Carrie Coon, Natalie Paul and Hannah Gross were cast for the second season as Vera, Heather and Marin respectively. With the announcement of the third season renewal, it was announced that Matt Bomer would star in the third season.
The series received critical acclaim, with Biel's performance being praised. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the series has an approval rating of 94% based on 35 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Smartly unpredictable and led by powerful performances from a talented cast, the darkly compelling The Sinner sinks its hooks in fast and doesn't let go." Metacritic, which assigns a rating to reviews, gave the series an average weighted score of 71 out of 100, based on 23 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". In August 2017, it was announced as the No. 1 new cable series of 2017, according to Nielsen delayed viewing data.
A 100% approval rating for the second season was reported by Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 7.54/10 based on 26 reviews, and a critical consensus reading, "In its second season, The Sinner establishes itself as an engrossing why-dunnit thriller series with staying power." Metacritic assigned a score of 75 out of 100 based on 16 critics for the second season, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Once again praising the writing and performances, several critics noting that the follow-up series surpassed expectations for season two, as star Jessica Biel's character did not return from the first season. That series had used up the source material from the original book.
Alex McLevy of The A.V. Club wrote a rave review of the first few episodes, in particular the performance of Carrie Coon as the mysterious Vera Walker. McLevy wrote that the second season could be even better than the first, noting,
"Two things keep it from feeling like a rehash of season one: the excellent choices in new narrative twists made by writer-creator Derek Simonds, and the caliber of talent involved in bringing it to life. Chief among the latter group is Carrie Coon, who... brings a wonderful fusion of frazzled humanism and sinister duplicity to the part, another magnetic performance by the actor that elevates the material and lends gravitas to some of the more daffily implausible turns."
Ben Travers of indieWire wrote,
"Derek Simonds assembled a helluva team for an intriguing follow-up season. The first three episodes of Season 2 match the tone and intensity of the writer's gripping debut, while new cast members Tracy Letts, Natalie Paul, and Carrie Coon more than make up for any holes left by the original cast. ... Season 2 has enough going on it could spin off the rails, but the mere fact it has so much working for it thus far is a big win for everyone involved. The Sinner is no one-hit wonder."
|1||"Part I"||August 2, 2017||0.4||1.63||0.8||2.35||1.2||3.98|
|2||"Part II"||August 9, 2017||0.4||1.41||0.9||2.52||1.3||3.93|
|3||"Part III"||August 16, 2017||0.5||1.64||0.8||2.37||1.3||4.02|
|4||"Part IV"||August 23, 2017||0.5||1.76||0.9||2.58||1.4||4.34|
|5||"Part V"||August 30, 2017||0.5||1.84||1.0||2.78||1.5||4.62|
|6||"Part VI"||September 6, 2017||0.6||1.84||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|7||"Part VII"||September 13, 2017||0.5||1.84||0.8||2.55||1.3||4.39|
|8||"Part VIII"||September 20, 2017||0.8||2.44||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|1||"Part I"||August 1, 2018||0.3||1.15||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|2||"Part II"||August 8, 2018||0.3||1.10||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|3||"Part III"||August 15, 2018||0.3||1.01||0.6||1.97||0.9||2.98|
|4||"Part IV"||August 22, 2018||0.3||1.09||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|5||"Part V"||August 29, 2018||0.3||1.14||0.5||1.75||0.8||2.89|
|6||"Part VI"||September 5, 2018||0.3||1.13||0.5||1.90||0.8||3.03|
|7||"Part VII"||September 12, 2018||0.2||1.04||0.5||1.86||0.7||2.91|
|8||"Part VIII"||September 19, 2018||0.3||1.13||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Awards and nominations
|2018||Critics' Choice Television Awards||Best Actor in a Movie/Miniseries||Bill Pullman||Nominated|||
|Best Actress in a Movie/Miniseries||Jessica Biel||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film||Jessica Biel||Nominated|||
|Best Miniseries or Television Film||The Sinner||Nominated|
|People's Choice Awards||The Bingeworthy Show of 2018||The Sinner||Nominated|||
|Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie||Jessica Biel||Nominated|||
|Saturn Awards||Best Television Presentation||The Sinner||Nominated|||
|2019||Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie||Bill Pullman||Nominated|||
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