The advent of television streaming has lead to a true golden age of television, with the quality going far beyond what came before. Crime and drama are two genres that have been revitalised and the first season of The Sinner was a riveting ‘why-dunnit’ and managed to tell a different kind of crime story. Going into season 3 after the solid second season The Sinner struggles under the weight of it’s premise.
Like season 2 The Sinner does away with the characters of the previous season, barring detective Harry Ambrose who anchors the show. Season 3 centres on the aftermath of a car accident involving two old university friends Nick and Jamie and their complicated relationship with religion and fate. Aspects of the story are fantastic, challenging both the characters on screen and the audiences expectations, like the prior seasons the plot twists and turns in unexpected directions. It’s all held together by stellar performances, Bill Pullman and Matt Bomer in particular, who have great on screen chemistry. Bomer is a particular standout as Jamie, a troubled teacher who struggles under the weight of his own mortality and whose mental health questions how masculinity and men’s relationships with one another can affect those around them. The romantic subplot involving Jessica Hecht’s Sonya could have been explored further and comes across as an after thought, under-utilising the actresses talents.
The Sinner is generally a good watch and is constantly engaging, the central mystery will keep you on the edge of your seat, but there are bumps in the road. The series often makes you suspend disbelief, I often questioned whether some of the events that take place would ever happen in real life and whether Harry’s methods for solving his cases are not only inappropriate but against protocol. Characters do mention that Harry’s methods are unique but it just doesn’t seem feasible, it’s an issue I felt throughout the first 2 seasons but the most recent one intertwines Harry and Jamie so tightly it’s hard to imagine it ever unfolding in the real world.
The season also suffers from characters constantly monologuing about their thoughts and beliefs, this can make the pacing a little on the slow side in the mid-season but it does pick up again in the final 2 episodes, cumulating in an exciting season finale.
I’ll be interested to see if The Sinner goes for the fourth season, the quality is still high but the ideas are beginning to wear a bit thin. The intrigue of the working out why people are involved in the deaths of others has dampened considerably and with both seasons 2 and 3 not quite living up to the Jessica Biel fronted first season.