TV: The Sinner Season 2 - Reviewed

The Sinner proved to be one of the most intriguing summer hits of 2017. Based on the novel by German crime writer Petra Hammasfahr, the 8 part limited event series was a compelling mystery that unraveled in several dark layers. 

Starring Jessica Biel and Bill Pullman, the show was a critical success for the USA Network, earning Biel a Golden Globe and Emmy nomination for her performance as Cora Tennetti. Not to be overshadowed, Pullman gave Biel a run for her money and proved to be the perfect fit as Detective Harry Ambrose. The complex role of a man struggling to keep his failing marriage together while tackling a high profile murder case gave Pullman one of his most challenging roles in recent memory. 

It was not long after the series wrapped that rumors began circulating about a second season. While Petra Hammasfahr never explored the characters beyond her original novel, producers felt the show could continue with Detective Ambrose taking on another case. There was a lot of speculation if another season would work without Biel. Her performance was a major factor in the first season’s success. Now that season two has concluded, that answer can be confirmed with up most certainty. Hell yes it can!

After a 15 year absence, Detective Harry Ambrose returns to his hometown to assist in a double homicide case involving a 13 year old suspect. While getting reacquainted with old friends, Ambrose must face the demons of his childhood, while trying to uncover hidden truths in a town full of secrets. First things first, Pullman surpasses his performance from season one. This is largely due to the series digging deeper into Ambrose’s gritty past. Pullman runs with the opportunity and delivers on each and every scene with his signature cool yet intense demeanor. Like season one, Pullman is once again up against some stiff competition. Coming off her Emmy Award nominated performance in Fargo season 3, television/ film/ stage actress Carrie Coon stars as Vera Walker, the head of Mosswood Grove, a mysterious peace loving commune established just outside of town. 

The banter between Pullman and Coon is everything intriguing television should be, with each delivering standout performances. As impressive as the veteran actors are, 13 year old Elisha Henig steals the show. Henig stars as Julian Walker, a troubled boy preparing to stand trial for murder. It’s a dark role full of multiple emotions and Henig gives an impressive mature performance. It ranks up there with some of the best performances by a child actor in recent memory. Actually, I’ll take it a step further and say it’s one of the greatest television performances by a child actor of all time. He is that good. The only thing more impressive than Henig’s performance is the resume he’s put together in the last 4 years. With a mix of dramatic and comedic performances, Henig has proven he has a bright future in the television and film industry.

The team of writers have really created something special with The Sinner. The series evolves throughout each episode with just enough resolution, but never gives too much away until the finale. Episode to episode, it is one of those shows that seem way shorter than it actually is. It’s a compliment to the intrigue and pace of a well written series. It keeps viewers wanting more, but gives just enough to satisfy. So far each series finale has ended with a closed book, keeping true to its advertised “Limited Event Series.” It’s a refreshing take in a market full of cliff hanger endings. 

It has a story to tell, and it tells it. No gimmicks and straight to the point. It may not be the blueprint of modern commercial success, but there is a satisfaction to such story telling, especially from a viewer’s standpoint. With the high expectations set from the success of season one, The Sinner had a lot to live up to with its sophomore season. Defying the odds, season two delivers on all levels and lives up to the hype, proving this series is no one hit wonder. 

-Lee L. Lind