The Sinner S01E01 Recap

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By the end of the episode I was thinking of Rashamon. Between what we, the audience, saw of the attack and Cora, Mason and Patrick’s accounts of different parts of it, it felt like everyone who spoke said something different from what we saw.

Cora was unsure of where she stabbed Frankie except for in he neck. She guessed that she had stabbed him in the face, but we didn’t see her stab him there. Mason said that Cora went up to Frankie’s girlfriend, Leah, afterward and spoke to her, saying that she was okay and that Frankie was gone, but we didn’t see that. However, at that point the camera had been behind Cora so she could have. Patrick said that Frankie grabbed Cora’s arm on the first stab and then let go when he recognised her. That part did happen as far as we saw.

Since this is a thriller, such a technique would be fitting; some extent of unreliable narration on the part of one or multiple characters. I don’t think that’s what happened here, however.

Cora’s account could be chalked up to her having been in a heightened, trance like state at the time of the stabbing and thereby being foggy on the details. Mason’s could be explained away by the fact that we didn’t see Cora’s face when she approached Leah. She could have said something, but we didn’t see it.

I was surprised that Cora retained any memories from the stabbing; she seemed to be very out of it and unaware of what she was doing at the time. I considered that she had a moment of temporary insanity during the attack and that she was just parroting what she heard others say. Or that she was putting on an act; pretending to have lost a few of her marbles in order to escape culpability.

After Mason told Harry, the detective, that Cora had spoken to Leah, I thought that perhaps he was lying. By that point he had more or less abandoned Cora (which was understandable) and I wasn’t putting anything past him. I did think that maybe we didn’t hear or see Cora saying anything to Leah because we saw the stabbing from her perspective, but that doesn’t account for why we were able to hear her telling Frankie to let got of Leah.

Cora herself seems to be a little unstable, but I don’t think that the show will necessarily go in that direction. Just because it’s too straight forward an answer. She only seemed to be “normal” and happy for a few minutes in the episode and that was up until returning home for her son.

She went from seemingly depressed when she showed no interest in having sex with Mason and taking sleeping pills just before doing it, to seeming a bit obsessive compulsive with her cleaning and laundry folding, to temporarily insane when she stabbed Frankie, to completely losing it when she was jailed and couldn’t get her sleeping pills.

It seems obvious that the answers to why she killed Frankie, her apparent mental instability and why she keeps seeing that wallpaper, lie in her childhood. Her mother could have been mentally ill herself and filled young Cora’s head with unhealthy ideas (no wonder she didn’t want her mother to return home).

Harry has his own messy life and problems, despite being pretty good at his job. I really liked how he handled questioning Patrick at the hospital. He got him to sit down and give new information when he was more than ready to leave. I wondered why the camera lingered on his bloodshot fingers. Now we know.

So far I am definitely intrigued by the series and am looking forward to watching more of it and seeing how the mystery unfolds.

Random thoughts:

  1. Does she not like his parents?
  2. That stabbing was brutal.
  3. Is Cora trying to isolate herself?
  4. I get the impression that Cora was trying to save Leah as well.
  5. I already don’t like Cora’s mother.
  6. Mason finally went to see her!
  7. Mason looks a bit like Kit Harrington.

The Sinner airs Thursdays at 10 PM on USA.

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An avid reader who accidentally discovered her love and talent for writing and has loved movies for as long as she has been watching them. Stumbled into film-making and found her second love because she decided to read for a degree in it on a whim - kind of.