After 'The Sinner' Season 1 was acclaimed by critics and became popular among viewers, Season 2 called for a whole new wave of madness when it comes to the characters of the show. The show might feel like a movie that has been broken down to create an anthology series. However, the very essence of the show lies in its question "whydunnit" as opposed to "whodunnit."
While Season 1 made the viewers realize that a criminal mind might be the result of a lifelong case of abuse and torment, Season 2 has opened up space for more speculation into the mind of a criminal as young as an 11-year-old boy. Cora Tannetti won the viewer's heart through her subtle denial of innocence and consistent pursuit of a memory, but Julian is a different case altogether. After he killed his parents in cold blood, Julian is neither in denial of his crime nor would he deny himself as innocent. The other characters surrounding Julian are just as mysterious.
In case you have missed out on the first season, or just signed out in between, and are hoping to get your head around the show, here are five reasons why you should put Season 2 of 'The Sinner' on your monsoon binge-watching list:
1. Because "whydunnit" sometimes matters more than "whodunnit"
'The Sinner' isn't a cat-and-mouse-game. There are victims but no villains, just a shattered piece of history which drives an individual to the point of losing their sanity and sense of justice. Finding out the reason as to why a murderer commits the crime in the first place takes the central place. Clues do not lead to a crime scene or a suspect. In 'The Sinner,' the clues often tend to lead to a backstory which played a big role in giving birth to a cold-blooded murderer.
Detective Harry Ambrose serves as an anecdote to the concept in the sense that he tries to understand the workings behind a murder. He isn't interested to know who or when the murder took place, his main concern remains the simple question "But why?" While trying to solve the case in Season 1, he consistently emphasized upon the fact that sometimes people do things because there are reasons behind it. As he tells Cora in the first episode of Season 1, "I'm guessing that this isn't where you thought you'd be when you woke up this morning, is it?
I think you would agree that people don't usually stab other people because they're playing their music too loud." As Jess Joho of Mashable has said, "'The Sinner' is one of the few crime series more interested in innocence than in guilt. It's exactly what makes it feel so compelling and fresh in an oversaturated genre."
2. It is a perfect balance between gore and plot
What sets 'The Sinner' apart from any other crime/psychological thriller is that it is an easy watch despite its convoluting plot structure. The mystery lurks at every corner of every episode, yet there is a uniformity in the plot. It doesn't meddle up with your head or make you chew on your nails until the murderer is revealed. That has already been accomplished in the very first scene.
But the show lures you into understanding another person's perspective. When Heather discovers Julian in the woods following his parents' death, Julian does not appear to be a bloodsucking killer. Instead, he is just an 11-year-old boy who is trembling behind a tree frightened by the deed he has committed. However, Julian's character continues to remain under layers until the end of the first episode. According to its requirement, as the plot continues to progress, the gory act of murder starts to take shape as a result of past experiences.
At the same time, the setting of each murder scene is such that the viewer cannot help but feel disgusted about it. In the first season, a mother kills a man in front of her son, and sisters are raped and killed in front of each other. You don't want to cringe when you see these scenes, you feel sympathy for the characters, as you realize that you too could have been them.
That is exactly where 'The Sinner' strikes the chord, as Hank Stuever from Washington Post would say, "The Sinner’s pace and writing lure you in and resist the urge to drift, promising a conclusive wrap-up. Characters tend to say only what is needed, rarely more."
3. The story is not the same in Season 2
It is often agonizing when you are required to watch a show from the middle without having any clue about what went on in the previous Season(s). However, it is a big relief that 'The Sinner' is not like that. While the first season spoke about a young mother who kills a stranger in broad daylight in front of her son and husband, the second season is a whole different story where a young boy poisons his own parents to death. The only connections between the two are the question "why" and Ambrose's quest to find the answer to that question.
Detective Harry Ambrose certainly is back to solve this case. But if you do not know much about Ambrose, then that is not a problem because Season 2 is actually where Ambrose's character receives its deserved time. While Season 1 was based on the book 'The Sinner' by the writer who is fondly addressed as the German Stephen King, Petra Hammesfahr, Season 2, is not based on any original source material and almost began from the scratch. It could be said that creator Derek Simonds and director Antonio Campos have chosen the middle ground by keeping one of the characters in the book intact and introducing a trail of new characters with new backstories. Christopher Lawrence of Las Vegas Review rightly said, "Despite taking on an entirely different case, The Sinner maintains its huh! factor with a whole new batch of startling revelations."
4. It is a whole new bunch of misfits
'The Sinner' has a lot of reasons to make someone uncomfortable: the murder scenes, the gory tales, the flashbacks, and of course Ambrose's slanting smile. But what the show has probably stood out for is its compelling cast who have managed to portray the characters with utter precision. At a glance, it can be said that nothing is right with any of the characters and everyone is troubled by something. Probably that is what makes them misfits in their social circles.
Season 2 has an even more powerful cast, and the most charming thing about it is that it features two veteran actors: Carrie Coon and her husband Tracy Letts. Although the two are not seen together in the first three episodes, the couple paired up with Bill Pullman will certainly be an enthralling watch. Coon has already established herself as a tough competitor for Pullman with her convincing straightforward dialogues and her magnetic presence as Vera. It is yet to find out if this cult leader will be the show stealer or share the stage with her competitor Bill Pullman.
However, Elisha Henig cannot be overlooked entirely. The boy with his sullen face and sunken eyes is the perfect portrayal of a disastrous childhood. He doesn't fall short even in front of the actors who are leagues ahead of him, as he delivers the 11-year-old puzzled boy through quite a cogent performance. Ed Bark from Uncle Barky rightly pointed out, "Henig, who recently co-starred in Zach Braff’s quickly canceled ABC sitcom Alex, Inc., is already quite an actor as a pre-teen. His scenes with Pullman are both assured and increasingly revealing as they probe each other’s fractured psyches." Other than them, the cast also includes Natalie Paul and Hannah Gross who have given a plot a whole different twist.
5. A perfect watch for the season of Leo
As summer is almost coming to an end, and the rain is just about to set in, 'The Sinner' might just be the perfect show to watch this Leo season. 'The Sinner' has everything to offer. A relatable yet not charismatic protagonist, a cop with his own personal crisis, a mystery that does not reveal itself until the last episode, and of course, an excellent background score. Big Black Delta's dark electronica 'Huggin and Kissin' almost acted like a cue for the murderer to leap on to her prey and attack. As Cora Tannetti explains the reason why she murdered, she says, "I stabbed him with a knife I was using to peel fruit for my son...Because they were playing that music and they kept turning it up.”
All the elements together make 'The Sinner' a fulfilling watch. It neither overdoes with the criminality of the human mind nor does it underplay the gruesomeness of a murder. what could be more fun than watching a crime story set against a grey palette on a grey monsoon in August!