Wednesday, August 15, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Sinner' - Ambrose and Heather Keep Finding Shocking Information About Julian's Parentage in 'Part III'

USA's The Sinner - Episode 2.03 "Part III"

Heather makes a startling realization about Marin. Vera and Julian are dealt a hard blow.

The relationship between a child and their parent is a complex thing. That is the core theme for the show this season. The question of parentage has been so vital to the audience's understanding of the new case. At first, there was the perception that Adam and Bess were Julian's parents. Then, Vera came in to dispel that notion and claim that she was his mother. And now, Heather finds evidence that may point to the missing Marin actually being Julian's biological mother. It's all such a mess. The detectives are really struggling to get a handle on the situation because their perception of the case keeps changing every week. The community at large wants to believe that the investigation is a done thing. The prosecutor and sheriff have the confession and the willingness to present a case against Julian as an adult. That's absolutely scary and terrifies everyone closely examining the case. But those wheels are already spinning. Julian is now in a juvenile detention center. It's a strange and foreign environment to him. He cannot see any trees. He looks to his mother for comfort. Instead, Vera is mostly telling him how to beat the psychological exam that the system is now forcing him to do. She is telling him to avoid answering any questions about Mosswood because the outside world simply couldn't understand what they are trying to do there. And yes, it's alienating and foreign to the audience as well. We caught a glimpse of the majestic stone that holds so much power and reverence amongst this community a week ago. And now, we witness Vera wailing at it with everything she has both physically and emotionally. It's disorientating to experience and highlights how this isn't a traditional world that Julian comes from. This is the life he has allows known. Vera is a proud defender and champion of her cause. But she is also condemning anyone who tries to understand because she doesn't believe anyone else could possibly be looking out for Julian's best interests. She may be reading up on Ambrose's work with Cora's case. But this situation is very much different than that one was.

Of course, Ambrose is still going to confront Vera about the work she is doing to deceive the investigation. He's more than comfortable confronting her about making it seem like this was just a normal road trip when it was actually a kidnapping. Sure, that once again inspires the idea that Julian could have killed Adam and Bess out of self-defense. He feared for his life because they were taking him away from his mother and he didn't know why. Once again though, cracks continue to build around Julian's story. It's so difficult watching him try to compose himself while undergoing this psychological exam. It's pretty similar to the way things turned out for Cora a season ago. It's just enough to tease the audience with the truth while keeping us hooked on the mystery for a couple more episodes. The show has to be very careful not to use too many of the same tricks from the first season this time around. Again, the circumstances are different. The weight of this case is different because there is a child involved. Even though everyone is aware that he killed two people, there is still sympathy for him being tried as an adult and possibly serving the rest of his life in prison. That's a reality that Vera doesn't want to face. She isn't seriously considering the options presented by the prosecutor just yet. She still thinks it's horrifying if he has to spend at least fifteen years in prison. She treats that as a barbaric byproduct of a society she has long left behind. But she still finds herself navigating this world. She does so quite well too. She is very formidable and able to go toe-to-toe with Ambrose and his investigation. But again, the focus thrives when it is on Julian and trying to understand the way that he sees the world.

Julian understands and can answer the basic questions asked of him. He knows the days of the week. He knows who to trust and who he can't. But he's still confused about everything that is happening to him as well. He understands that he killed Adam and Bess. But he didn't want there to be pain. He wanted them to die but it was still agonizing in the moment watching Bess suffer. He didn't want that because he was closer with her. But he still poisoned the tea and gave it to them. He explains that he did that because Bess lied. That's such a huge betrayal for him because he has been raised with the belief that if a person lies they are split into two. That's so destructive for him. That's even more damning than actual death. He believes in resurrection and next lives. He believes in the power of the universe and the ways in which all of humanity is connected. He believes that Adam and Bess will rise again in this world. He doesn't have remorse for the actions he took. In fact, he may feel justified because he was protecting them from the tear within their souls. Again, he puts such value on lying. It's just a simple lie too. Bess only says that they are taking a brief detour from their trip. But Julian can sense that they are lying about Niagara Falls and that they have more sinister intentions with this escape from Mosswood. He's teasing that all of this is important and led to him feeling the need to kill them. And yet, the interview quickly goes awry simply by Julian being asked if he has lied at all during it. It's the logical question to ask considering his fear of the consequences. Vera did ask him to conceal aspects of their lives. That makes it easy to understand how he feels like he is splitting apart into many different directions. That just also happens to present itself through him almost becoming feral and only being able to calm down once in his mother's embrace once more. But that could also be considered significant psychological trauma influenced by the way he has been raised by Vera.

All of this is very complicated and detailed character work. And then, the show is also continuing to add onto the personal difficulties for Ambrose and Heather. There is probably more to Ambrose's story of why he hasn't wanted to return home in a long time. But right now, it seems a little too basic and straight-forward. Of course, the show has presented straight-forward stories in the past only to eventually surprise the audience with how twisted it is all capable of being. For the moment though, the show is leading the audience to believe that Ambrose's mother died because of injuries sustained during a fire. That fire is a significant part of his backstory. It's something that Jack and the rest of the town talk about when Ambrose is just out at a social gathering. Ambrose hasn't wanted to be with these people in a long time. But now, he is having a full-on homecoming. Everyone is welcoming him back while also being patient when it comes to talking about his past and the tragedy that happened within his family. But again, it seems like Ambrose was the reason why the kitchen caught on fire. That action has forever haunted him especially because of the consequences that came for his mother. He is still an accomplished detective. But he's also losing himself in these memories. That displacement and out-of-body experience could be very disorientating for him and change the way he can conduct himself on this case. Jack believes that his daughter has a solid enough handling on Julian and Vera that she could handle this case by herself. She may no longer need Ambrose around especially if it is traumatic for him to be here. And yet, he is continuing to press forward. He is still waking up from nightmares every night. But he knows that there is a story that needs to be told with Julian. He needs to be here to witness it.

Elsewhere, it definitely seemed like things came to an abrupt end with Heather and Marin's story last week. And yet, it was wrong for anyone to suspect that was the end of their story. Marin didn't just go into that shed with the stone and never came out. She did return to Heather. The friends continued to support each other. But it's also clear that Marin's mother is so spiteful and resents her daughter. She pushes her away. That's what makes her so susceptible to this cult even though Heather wants to be the woman to take care of her. She feels like she has the strength to support them. And yet, she lacks the courage to actually come out to her father who tries to make nothing out of seeing the two of them in bed together. It's awkward and shows that it took years for Heather to really have this conversation with her father. As evidenced from the premiere, they are in a better place now. However, he doesn't really know the extent of Heather's feelings towards Marin. Ambrose doesn't either. He believes that Heather has never gone over the file despite now being in law enforcement. But Heather has used her place in the police in order to examine everything pertaining to the case. Marin just disappeared. She was associated with Mosswood. But nothing ever came from those suspicions that something happened to her there. And yet, no one has heard from her in ten years. That's a long time to go unnoticed especially with more police presence surrounding the community. Heather wants answers and is pointed in a meaningful direction with the discovery that Julian may be Marin's son. That could further highlight the twisted nature of this community. They may be forcing people into uncomfortable positions. The town doctor is also involved and knows that it's possibly immoral. He ends up killing himself in order to avoid answering any more of Heather and Ambrose's questions. That too is very suspicious. It proves that there are followers of Mosswood amongst the town as well. They are living all throughout this environment. The connections are present. They just need to all be tied together somehow.

Some more thoughts:
  • People from all walks of life are living in the Mosswood community. Again, Vera is welcoming to everyone - including a sex offender. And now, one of the members is revealed to be a lawyer whom Vera believes can help Julian through this situation. Of course, she's still the one doing most of the talking and driving the negotiations forward. This guy is just present to offer some semblance of truth to the proceedings.
  • The show is definitely making an effort with Heather and Marin's relationship as two women who love each other. But it still feels too tepid with conflicting feelings about how the community feels about them. It's mostly just something that isn't talked about or inferred with passive aggressive comments. That's awkward and makes the entire story seem stiff. There is even a disconnect between Ambrose and Heather about it even though they are both aware of it.
  • Ambrose didn't know that Julian was going to be arrested and tried as an adult. That's not the outcome he wanted for this case. As such, he feels the need to give Julian his phone number so that he can call him should anything happen in juvenile detention. So far, things have been pretty okay for Julian in that environment. He is keeping to himself and not provoking any conflicts. But it's so absolutely polarizing to him as well.
  • It has only taken three episodes but the show is already introducing a new potential love interest for Ambrose. It's actually his old high school sweetheart whom he abandoned soon afterwards. He escaped from this town just like he escapes from this moment with her. As such, it may not be a dynamic that lasts. Meanwhile, it's just more important to know that Jack wants to be Ambrose's friend while still being sensitive to what happened in the past.
  • It's nice to know that Ambrose does have attention out in the world because of the way he handled Core's case. It's a story that was in the news and made headlines. He was able to get her out of prison despite killing someone. That was a huge accomplishment. And now, he is trying to be humble as a way to further intimidate Vera into knowing that he will get to the truth eventually because that's what he does.