In the last episode of The Sinner, we left off with the moment of the judge asking Cora (Jessica Biel) how she wanted to plea and as what I'm sure was not a surprise to anyone, she says "guilty." After Cora says she does not want a court appointed lawyer and cites her reason because, "I just know that I did it" the judge is so puzzled by her lack of fight that she orders a psych evaluation to prove she is competent to stand trial. This came off like a kind, small town judge was feeling sympathy for her, but then we come to find out from Detective Leroy (Dohn Norwood) that this was Ambrose (Bill Pullman) who had a hand in convincing the judge of this action. Well played Harry.
Later Ambrose talks with Cora in her cell and tries to convince her to get a lawyer and try to get at least a reduced sentence. "You could get your life back," he tells her. "What makes you think I want my life back?" Cora responds.
Oh wow. This seems like such a big personal reveal for whatever is the motivation behind her stabbing Frankie (Eric Todd). If she was THIS unhappy, maybe she felt this was the only way out?
In another scene from Part II, Ambrose is discussing the case with his colleagues and they are saying that even though Cora admitted guilty they still want to find a motive for her action just so they have a solid case to put her away. Not that Ambrose needed the motivation he goes off to continue his investigation by talking to Frankie's girl, the now awake Leah Belmont (Teri Wyble). He asked about Frankie's past relationships if there was any woman from his past that could have a link to Cora. Leah tells him that Frankie kept it from her, but there was a woman he talked to his friends with that he had an "intense connection with" some time ago. But there was an accident and it almost ruined Frankie's life so it ended whatever the relationship was.
Taking our focus over to Mason's (Christopher Abbott) side of life, he's deciding to go back to his business even though there are still dozens of reporters outside his home. As he's working at a client's house he overhears her speaking on the phone about how she is uncomfortable with him there because of his story in the news. Unfortunately being the husband of a murderer is not good for business. Since we are focused on Mason though, we are taken back to show how Cora and Mason met for the first time at a restaurant that she was a server at. Even though the production team of this show TRIES to make Jessica Biel look like an average working class server, her natural radiant beauty just shines through and it is no wonder why Mason is drawn to her. The key information in this scene though is how she decided to move to this new town from where she was because she "needed a change." From what will be the question.
This episode we get a lot more about Ambrose and his personal life as we get introduced to his wife Faye (played by Law & Order: Criminal Intent's Katheryn Erbe) who he is in couples counseling with and is living with his partner Leroy's family at the moment. His wife tells the therapist how Harry wasn't even there for her when she was in the hospital for a knee replacement. He was at home worrying about spraying his dogwood plants? Sorry Harry, that's pretty bad husband duty. She also says how they haven't had sex in a very long time so that explains the waitress that Harry has been seeing on the side. Which speaking of Harry makes the effort to go see at her job and tell her that he won't be seeing her anymore because he's trying to fix things with his wife. Well, I guess we'll give him some points for this. But as much as he's trying he's not there yet as we're shown later on when they are back at their house to see their daughter and nephew for his birthday and Harry takes this opportunity to try to ask Faye if he can move back in. But is she ready to let him back in?
Well after that loving exchange it's back to the prison where Ambrose is back at Cora again with his new information. When he reminds her about all the press following her friends and family she decides to finally confide in him. She tells him how she actually HAD met Frankie before. She was at a bar named Carl's Taproom on July 4th weekend in 2012 but he had introduced himself as JD, not Frankie. They took some pills, had sex at his place, and she remembers hearing that same song from the beach because he kept playing it over and over again. Two weeks later she found out she was pregnant but didn't have his phone number to contact him and also found out in trying to locate him that "JD" had given her a fake name.
Since she was raised Catholic, she couldn't have an abortion or tell her parents so distraught with emotion one night she threw herself in front of a car to end it. She ended up in a hospital with a fractured hip and had lost the baby. But unfortunately, she was still alive so she had to live with what she had done. She explains how when she saw Frankie on the beach and heard that song get played again that she just snapped. Well this all makes sense now, right? Now we're only on episode two so that would be too easy.
Back over at Mason's Memory Lane we flashback to a time when he and Cora are kissing in bed and he goes down on her to perform oral sex but as he does her face turns to terror and she grips him tightly with her thighs and starts to suffocate him. Thankfully for Mason she lets go but if that isn't a red flag for a relationship then what is? Back in the present, he is sitting down with his cop friend being questioned and he starts trying to get information out of her about the case. He wears her down and the cop tells him about the man that Cora slept with and got her pregnant which obviously hits him pretty hard and his face just goes stiff. Great police work, Lady Small Town.
Ambrose again goes back on the trail and goes to Carl's Taproom to question the bartender that worked there that night. She remembers Cora because she saw her on the news and that jogged her memory about that particular evening. But the flaw in Cora's story is when Ambrose shows her a picture of Frankie she says that wasn't the guy she was with. The guy she was with was blonde. Strike One, Cora.
So next Ambrose goes to Frankie's parents' house and speaks with them and of course, they can't believe their son would abandon a pregnant girl. He was too good of a person. Well besides that let's stick with the facts, ma'am. And the facts that Ambrose learns is that there is no way that Frankie could've been the guy because he was in Los Angeles doing volunteer work at a clinic for two months. And of course, the resourceful father has paperwork to prove it. Strike Two.
As Ambrose is leaving he gets a call from Leroy who did his own research and comes to find out there is no record of Cora staying at any hospital around that time. Plus the fact that in the first episode she said both of her parents were deceased. Apparently not and they only live 30 minutes away. That's a big Strike Three!
So Ambrose upset with being lied to goes back to the prison and tells Cora all the holes in her story. Of course, she tries to skate around them so he pulls a rabbit out of the hat and plays her the song from the beach that triggered her rage. He continually drills her with questions about who Frankie is and how does she know him?! As this happens we're shown images flashing over in her mind of bodies having sex and a blonde girl leading her down some stairs to a room. He pushes harder and harder and with the song still playing she loses her nerve and starts beating on Ambrose. She gets pulled off by security but that was a ballsy move by the detective for sure.
During this entire episode, we've had recurring flashbacks to Cora's life as a small child. Suffice to say she seems like she was raised by Carrie White's mom. Her mother (Enid Graham) keeps making Cora think that every single sin she does is what keeps her younger sister in poor health. She is given a chocolate bar from her aunt Margaret (Rebecca Wisocky) and since her mother disapproves of her having it she scolds Cora for damning her sister to sickness when she discovers it. I never knew chocolate and Satan had a link but it appears so.
When Mason comes to visit Cora in prison he asks her why she's lying to the cops about Frankie and talking about this other JD person. He tells her how he knows JD and wants to know if that's the guy that got her pregnant. She shuts him out so he decides to go digging himself and talks to a friend of his that also knows him. He lies and asks if the guy can put him in touch with JD so he can talk to him about some work related stuff. Now everyone is becoming a detective!
Finally (we're almost there) there is a moment when Ambrose makes a big discovery as he looks at the bruises in the mirror that Cora left on his chest from punching him earlier. He calls Leroy to the office and shows him how the pattern of bruises on his chest are in the exact same pattern as the stab wounds that Cora did to Frankie. That is one hell of a strange coincidence, right? How good is this USA show getting?!