By JASON MARTIN (@JMartZone – September 12, 2018)
Last week, I mentioned with the utmost nonchalance that we never got confirmation as to whose body emerged from the Purple Lake. It was presented to make us believe it was Marin, complete with Heather’s reaction to the skeleton being the right size to have been her friend. I honestly assumed that would probably be what happened, but the fact it wasn’t known by the end of the episode left me more inquisitive than I otherwise would have been.
It turns out, the open-ended nature of that scene was by design, as Marin is alive.
Correction: Marin was alive.
This was an episode on a fast track to push us close to the final confrontation, and to get there, we had to meet the real Marin, listen to her get to know her son just a little bit, only to be gunned down in the final few minutes. This was the essence of what a good penultimate episode should be and how it should tell its story. We learned a great deal, we were almost continuously inundated with tension and high stakes, and we hit the biggest sadness of the series thus far.
That’s how the next-to-last should conclude in an ideal sense. It should leave us struggling for air, which enables the finale to hand us the snorkel and drag our own bodies out of the lake. The Sinner has been stellar in its second season, and it has played the right notes consistently since this story began.
We find out the hooded woman isn’t a myth, but Julian’s birth mother attempting to see him, to touch him, just to try and connect with him. Vera tells him over and over it’s just a nightmare and a dream, because her ultimate goal is to ensure he never knows her and thus never cares about her. When Marin shows up at Mosswood to see him and is turned away, you see in that moment how protective Vera is over “her son.” She points to her own legal rights and is incensed at the idea he isn’t hers, even though we all know he isn’t.
She knows he isn’t. But she lactated when Marin couldn’t. She took care of him when Marin was afraid to hold him. She fell in love with the boy and raised him once Marin left after feeling like she had failed. As Heather Novack told Harry Ambrose, all she ever wanted was a family. She spent all her time with her friend and her friend’s father, rather than in her own broken home. So, it stands to reason that a chance to be a mother, once she was cleaned up from drugs and was prepared to be the woman he needed, is totally appropriate for that character. She wanted to be something her mom never was for her.
Julian’s guilt over murdering Bess and Adam doubled when he realized after he allowed his mother to speak that they were taking him to her. When Harry had told him, “It’s more complicated than that” when he was feeling his worst about the crime, knowing he had done it, it was true. But, unfortunately, the truth imprisoned the boy as he had misinterpreted the situation and reacted in a fatal manner. Once that happened, he freaked on the bus and we were set for the Amber Alert to turn up Marin before much more time passed.
It’s interesting that Vera gave Harry the tip about the grey daughters, but at that point, she just wanted him to find Marin, because he’s basically the only person she trusts to get Julian back. She knew based on the camper and just the overall situation exactly what had happened, because Marin had been caught at Mosswood trying to steal some time with him at night. She was dragged away, but Bess saw her, which would lead to the Niagara Falls trip and all the problems.
Heather’s guilt and belief she should have done more to help her friend continues to plague her, right up to the moment she sees Marin’s dead body outside the motel. At that spot, she can no longer offer anything else to her. Marin told her it wasn’t her fault, but she doesn’t want to believe that. One thing you can see in that character is that she feeds on her own guilt. That hurt never went away. She bottled it up and it has held her captive ever since. She loved her, but her friend also cut her deep and then vanished.
Who did Marin call at the Five Nations Motel? “Hi, it’s me. We’re here.” That person’s identity is going to tell us a lot about what happened to Marin, because even though we saw Julian stare down that gun while she was on the phone, we also saw Heather stare down that body last week and it turned out to be misdirection. It may have been him, but it may well have been someone from Mosswood, or even Vera herself, but likely someone else there. Maybe she was calling Jeffries? Can you even imagine? I’ll say no, but the show clearly wants us to think Julian shot his mother and escaped.
I don’t buy that. It’s too clean and we didn’t actually see or even hear that gunshot for a reason. It’s the way to create just one more twist as we wind this story down next week. If it turns out to be him, that’ll be fine, but the way The Sinner has operated during both seasons, there’s something else up the show’s sleeve before we say goodbye to Harry Ambrose for another year.
Also, one loose thread is why exactly we’ve spent so much time learning about Mosswood and Fisher’s family and the rock and all of these things if in the end it’s just going to be Marin wanting her son back and not tying back from there into the cult. It will be just a little disappointing if all of the backstory was to show us why Marin ended up screwed up and why she left. There is more here. Mark my words. All of the lead-up is building to something that will make at least portions of it worthwhile. The tale itself may have been its own purpose, and it’s been intriguing to watch if that’s the case, but I have got to think we’re not done just yet with Mosswood and its philosophies and history.
I hope not.
This was a great episode. As long as we land the finale, it’s easily one of the best limited series efforts of 2018.
I’m @JMartZone. This is the only thing I want.