Thursday, February 6, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Sinner' - Ambrose Begins Investigating Why Jamie Would Let His Friend Die in a Car Accident in 'Part I'

USA's The Sinner - Episode 3.01 "Part I"

Detective Ambrose investigates a tragic yet suspicious car accident on the outskirts of Dorchester.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of USA's The Sinner.

"Part I" was written by Derek Simonds and directed by Adam Bernstein

Why does Jamie let his friend Nick die? That is the central mystery that propels the third season of The Sinner forward. It's the latest extremely graphic death that revolves around some kind of psychological trauma. Up until that point, it's clear that Jamie has some morbid fascination with self-harm and disassociation from his life. He has his students do the work for him. He watches people with extreme intensity on the train. He demands Nick leave as soon as he presents himself on his doorstep. None of these answers come easily. The audience's first suspicion may be that Jamie and Nick were in love during their college days until Jamie broke things off in order to fall in line with the heteronormative demands of society. He is married to Leela and expecting his first child. Nick can craft a tale of how this is the life that Jamie wanted to escape to. It wasn't a decision made by a couple. In fact, it may even be a burden on the business Leela is trying to start. And yet, there is a sense of love and normalcy between Jamie and Leela as well. She is genuinely concerned about his well-being following this tragic accident and Ambrose showing up in their lives. However, she doesn't know her husband as well as she thinks she does. He is hiding something from his past. She too believes this dynamic could be one defined by love. Nick refused to let those feelings go even though Jamie moved on. It's arousing for her to think of her husband with another man at one point in his life. That can foster more intimacy between them. And yet, that doesn't appear to be the direction this season is pursuing. Instead, the dark twist that defines this friendship may be something else altogether. It may include mystery woman Sonya who lives on an isolated piece of land outside Dorchester. Detective Ambrose can relate to that ambition. He too has moved into a new home that is isolated and may actually be a hassle for others to navigate. He may aspire to be a social creature who wants to prove to the world that he still has something to offer. He may not always be there for his family when they need him. This season may better examine him as a father. He has previously been seen as a husband and a son. The department may even be pushing for him to retire sooner than later. That's not what he wants though. He doesn't want to be replaced by the next generation who are eager to prove their worth to a veteran on the force. Detective Soto seems incredibly competent and more than willing to pick up the slack when Ambrose has other concerns in life. He wants to learn from him for as long as he can. He already sees so many insights into this case because of Ambrose's unique perspective on the world. Ambrose understands immediately that Jamie may be omitting some crucial details about what happened and what his relationship with Nick truly was. It wasn't a surprise when Nick showed up at Jamie's home. He's been in town for several days and Jamie probably saw him earlier. Jamie was the one who pulled the emergency brake which caused the car accident. He may not have been trying to kill Nick in that moment. Later on, he felt he needed to in order to release this burden from his shoulders. That may have only amplified the trauma though because now he believes he's being haunted by this ghost pushing him to even more lethal confrontations. He sees Nick slitting Leela's throat. That's graphic and disturbing. It's jarring to Jamie as well and paints a stark picture of how this anxiety may consume his world at the precise moment when Ambrose is trying to understand what all of this means. He has been successful in solving these mysteries in the past. It should be fascinating to see how this season subverts expectations with the various twists and turns. Ambrose still has a ton of shortcomings as well. He may cave to the demands of his personal life without truly living it. He remains devoted to the job. His instincts are right in this case. That isn't always a good thing. Instead, more lives will be destroyed because of whatever secret Jamie is keeping.