Thursday, February 13, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Sinner' - Nick Pulls Jamie Out of His Hollow Life and Into One of Death and Trauma in 'Part II'

USA's The Sinner - Episode 3.02 "Part II"

Ambrose looks into Jamie and Nick's relationship before the crash. Jamie begins to unravel.

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 next episode of USA's The Sinner.

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

Jamie and Nick's relationship was initially presented as a big question mark. It was intense enough for Jamie to think it was reasonable to let Nick die instead of calling for help immediately after the car accident. But it was unclear to the audience why things were this way between them. The rest of the season aspires to better flesh out that dynamic and the influence they had on one another. In this hour, it makes the case that Jamie felt more alive and himself with Nick than anyone else. That was because they were thrill seekers together. They walked up to the line of life or death. It's paralyzing to watch. Nick describes it as breaking out of the mold of what society hopes for people to conform to and accept. He views the picture perfect lifestyle that Jamie created in Dorchester with Leela as disingenuous. This isn't who his friend actually is. And yes, Jamie clearly suffers from depression and anxiety. He doesn't know how to cope with this trauma especially when dealing with his friends and their trivial conversations about grief. That doesn't help him feel real and connected to the world. It just makes him feel disassociated with his life and the boundaries that keep him from doing even more drastic things. He views death as this taboo subject that the world is afraid to talk about or even deal with. People send their old relatives away in order to die. They don't have to deal with the responsibility of caring for them in their final days. And yet, that's not exactly what is fueling Jamie at the moment either. Part of it is disruption from the norm. He still conforms to what is expected of him as well. He runs errands for Leela. He backs down to the demands of an arrogant parent. Jamie is a teacher trusted to inspire the next generation to find their own identities and sense of self-worth. He is given that task even though he is spiraling right now. Plus, it's just weird to see how close he is with one of his students. That showcases a vulnerability that allows him an outlet to discuss everything that has happened to him. But he still keeps a fair amount of it bottled up too. That's what he thinks is required of him because he has too much to lose to let it out. He views Nick as a freed man. A person who isn't burdened by the niceties of life. He has no problem taking a stranger's phone and dropping it in water. That helps a person feel better connected to the world around them. It's also such a heinous thing to do. It's one boastful person believing that he knows what's best for others. Jamie is under that spell though. He got out from it once. He built a new life for himself. He has a career and a family. Nick worked to get to the top of the finance world as well. But again, this thrill they seek together is a rush that is exhilarating for them. It does so much harm though. It tangles up all of these emotions that Jamie projects onto Nick to the point where he sees him as a hallucination to continue wanting to hurt others. Jamie ultimately does try to choke a man on hospice to death. That is gruesome. He is pushed away eventually. He doesn't succeed. However, the grave found on Sonya's property continues to tease that death swirls around Jamie's life. There is the hope that a celebration of life would be more apparent because his wife is bound to give birth any day now. They are preparing for the arrival of their child. And yet, Jamie is lashing out at the world in a way he doesn't understand. It's traumatic and destructive. He scoffs at the idea of treating these emotions and feelings. He doesn't want to disconnect further. Leela can feel him pulling away. Ambrose understands that something much more menacing is going on here. He knows that Jamie isn't the innocent man distraught after the death of a close friend. Instead, it's a release of energy that may only reveal just how hollow life can be. That just runs the risk of the show being hollow as well. That is very precarious and means the weight of the story hangs especially on the actors to sell it. These first two episodes have talked around the facts a lot of the time. That is the way this show usually operates. And yet, there are some fundamentally intriguing and psychologically complex ideas at work as well.