The Sinner Season 3 Episode 1 Review: Dorchester

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If you thought the latest season of The Sinner would be any easier to figure out from the get-go, you're wrong!

The Sinner Season 3 Episode 1 got us caught up with Detective Harry Ambrose, and he's not letting a little sciatica pan, a crap family life, or some heartbreaking cases lead him down the road to retirement.

Even his move to the quaint little New York (and fictional) town of Dorchester didn't do him any favors in the reset and relaxation department.

Detective Ambrose Greets Someone - The Sinner

Ol' shifty eyes is never off the case, even when all of his compadres don't even think there is a case.

Something is always driving Ambrose to investigate. Is it his personal unhappiness? Is he so devoted to the job because he derives pleasure from pain?

That's something we've come to know about Ambrose after getting a peek at his sexual proclivities during The Sinner Season 1 and at his childhood during The Sinner Season 2.

Harry Ambrose on the Case - The Sinner Season 3 Episode 1

And the mystery he stumbles upon in his hometown while he should have been spending time with his daughter and grandson threatens to reveal even more layers to the complicated man.

Before the event even occurred, Ambrose was close to the situation when he and Jamie, the man at the heart of The Sinner Season 3 mystery, took the same train to Dorchester as Harry's family.

While he was home having a nice dinner with his family, Jamie Burns was considering burning his hand on a hot grill when he got a knock at the front door.

You can find all of the details when you click the episode link above that takes you to the recap.

Waiting for the Interrogation - The Sinner Season 3 Episode 1

Suffice it to say that old "friend" and visitor Nick from college has some kind of hold over Jamie, and by the time all was said and done, Jamie chose to allow the man to die rather than get him the help that would have saved his life.

Whatever happened between the duo will likely remain a mystery for a very long time, as that's how The Sinner plays its hand. We'll go around a lot of bends before the source of trouble shows itself.

But there are a lot of clues to work with, and who other than me to set them all on to the table?

My first inclination ties directly to the conversation that Leela started with Jamie about the possibility of a little tete a tete between the two guys during college.

Leela: Do you think maybe he was in love with you?
Jamie: Nah. It was never like that.
Leela: Why not?
Jamie: Because it wasn't.
Leela: Really? No college moment? No experimenting between friends? Nothing?
Jamie: Ok. If you really wanna know...
Leela: Yes. Yes, I want to know.
Jamie: Yeah, we tried once, and it didn't work. For either of us.

Nick Shares His Story - The Sinner Season 3 Episode 1

Jamie admitted that he and Nick dabbled. But does that mean he's hiding a double life in which he's squashing his desires to remain married to his wife.

That seems too easy for many reasons. If you can imagine it this early in the game, then it can't possibly be right. Or at least not entirely right.

Harry's deductive reasoning set him onto a path that included digging into Sonya's past.

Sonya is an artist seemingly specializing in males who owns 60 acres of land, part of which were the scene of the accident. And she likes digging into the men's vulnerability.

She probably doesn't think Harry can even imagine the lengths she goes to find the intimacy within men that she finds so fascinating. But we know that Harry knows a lot about vulnerability and intimacy in males given the previous two seasons.

Taking in the Scene - The Sinner Season 3 Episode 1

Harry also deduced that Jamie wasn't telling him the whole story about the way Nick died after Jamie shared his feelings in the wake of watching Nick succumb to his injuries.

It's weird. Everything looks different now. Like my house, I know it's my house, but it's not ... quite. My hands. They don't seem like my hands.


Why would his hands seem strange to him if he hadn't used them to do something unnatural or, at the very least, unpleasant? Jamie got so caught up in himself during that interview that he shared too much.

Jamie told Leela that Nick had a way of grabbing ahold of him psychologically, which made it difficult to extricate himself. He considered Nick bad news. It didn't sound like the kind of bad news that comes from an attraction he didn't want to pursue, but something more sinister.

The taunting at dinner and the conversation in the car on Sonya's road when Nick said to shut up and follow his lead.

Eye to Eye - The Sinner Season 3 Episode 1

And Sonya definitely recognized Nick and Jamie when she saw the photos. But any thought that they were going there to do something wild while she captures them on canvas disappeared when she asked Ambrose if they were armed.

So what happened in their past that connects the two men and Sonya? And how does that tie into her interest in vulnerability and intimacy between males?

Ambrose: Do you have any idea why those two were heading to your house in the middle of the night?
Sonya: I don't even know their names.

It's impossible to know at this point, of course, but it sure seems like it's going to culminate in something fairly explosive in which even Ambrose will find himself entangled before the season is over.

The premiere offered a lot to work with with all of the requisite tension and inscrutability we've come to love from The Sinner.

If possible, Bill Pullman is even more perplexing in his portrayal of Ambrose. His side-eyed gaze while leading his "suspects" to reveal their secrets is just grand.

A Disturbing Scene - The Sinner Season 3 Episode 1

Matt Bomer starts strong as a loveable history teacher with too many secrets (vaping marijuana in the school bathroom??), one of which shows up at his front door to threaten his peace of mind.

And Chris Messina's portrayal of Nick is very disquieting. He has a boyish charm that never completely dissolves even when he's playing a brooding, serious character which makes him the perfect enigma as the heart of the tragedy.

Have you created any theories based on the premiere?

What stood out to you while watching?

Will you watch The Sinner online and drop by for more episode reviews?

Share your thoughts in the comments. Let's get this party started!

Part I Review

Editor Rating: 4.75 / 5.0
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Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 (17 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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The Sinner Season 3 Episode 1 Quotes

It's weird. Everything looks different now. Like my house, I know it's my house, but it's not ... quite. My hands. They don't seem like my hands.


Ambrose: And the driver?
Officer: We're gonna need hydraulics to get him out. Idiot wasn't wearing his seatbelt.