TV: Biel Evolved - The Sinner Episodes 1-3 Reviewed

Horror and heartbreak both come in all different packages and sizes. Now they comes in the form of Jessica Biel evolved as the actress we always knew she could be. If you're not watching this show, you are damned to suffer.  

From a network that has mostly missed the revitalization of television through the current trend of cinematic experience event like series, USA Network offers up a beautifully rendered vision of evil unleashed in its new entry, The Sinner. From uncontrolled religious zealotry to the flesh damaging wounds of a fruit knife, a new chapter in televised misery is born of perfect scripting and Emmy caliber acting. Biel and Pullman both dig deep and brandish their finely tuned dramatic skills like a deadly weapon ready to strike. 

Over the course of the first three episodes, the everyday life of a normal family is thrown to the wind as an unrelenting killing takes place and a mysterious past begins to unravel. Using a phenomenal and wholly eccentric cast that is both endearing and relevant to modern times, this small town mystery is one of the best things to hit television since the first season of True Detective. Employing a kinetic but slow burn to tell the story, Derek Simonds' tale of Cora Tannetti's mental break is a dark character study that's frightening and also slightly cynical, playing to consistent tropes and themes of misguided motherhood. 

Starting from the first shocking few moments of episode one, the show pulls no punches. Jessica Biel immediately sheds her normal image, turning herself from the woman we've come to know into a deranged killer. This is nothing we've seen her do before. And it all feels so right with her performance here. At long last, Biel becomes the actress that's been hiding under the skin this entire time. From everyday rural mom to unhinged slasher, her role as Cora is the best thing she's ever done over the course of her career. As we've seen with many current shows, sometimes this format lends itself to giving actors the room to truly become their character. Biel is convincing and nearly unidentifiable from anything she's been involved in before. Through episode three, she continues to change and prove her worth as a leading performance artist. 

Unleashing a brutal beach death within the first act of episode one sets off a chain reaction that builds a stage for what's to come. Using the always endearing Bill Pullman to full effect, he captures the emotive ins and outs of a love lorn detective that's been on the skids with his relationships, his marriage and his professional career. Never one to play a boring role, Pullman is once again in fine form treading through weighty subject matter with ease as he jumps through hoops to outperform his own resume with a part that seems like it was written specifically for him. Mixing his keen sense for drama intertwined with moody presence, he's on top of his game here. 

In the first three episodes, we've gotten one of the most shocking televised sequences ever, the beginning of a great mystery, tons of back story, and the setup for what is one of the most captivating things I've personally seen in a long time. Like a long winded murder piece that takes its influences from many genres and eras, The Sinner is the one show that has my mind working right now. With so many new series hitting all the time, it's hard to keep up. But The Sinner struck a chord with me that won't let me stop watching. 

Again, if you're not watching this, you're truly missing a perfect combination of excellent writing and acting. 

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