We open The Sinner Part 3 with Cora Tannetti (Jessica Biel) getting her psyche evaluation from several different therapists as they ask her very annoying mental questions that would seem more to drive someone to insanity than prove they are not. But the results come in and she passed, meaning the doctors conclude that she is fit to stand trial. But Detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) still has many questions, such as why does the song she hears from Frankie Belmont's band always trigger her into a frantic rage? The doctor he's speaking with concludes it must be a form of PTSD from a traumatic event that happened to her and the song makes her relive the memory.
Continuing his investigation in Part 3, Ambrose goes to see Cora's parents, Elizabeth (Enid Graham) and William (CJ Wilson) at their home where we see that her mom is very ill as she is hooked up to an air tank to help her breathe and has sores on her hands. We learn that Cora ran away at the age of 23 on that famous July 4th weekend in 2012. We just keep coming back to that date like it needs a whole episode by itself! Her sister Phoebe was very sick at the time with lymphoma and Cora still ran away on the girl's birthday. Phoebe would die a month later and according to her parents, Cora was dead to them the moment she ran away.
In the continued style of this show, we get our first random memory flashback to two people engaging in sex and then the image of a blonde woman whispering in a man's ear, "Give her another hit, it'll loosen her up." After that, a foot steps on a woman's chest and appears to crush her bones from the pressure. Boom! Cora wakes up in her cell and starts yelling as she jumps from her bed. The guards have to rush in to sedate her and as they are about to stick a needle in her we get the first look at a large scar on the inside of her arm. So what's this story about?
The next day when Ambrose goes to see her he first apologizes for their last meeting telling her he overstepped and then he asks to see her arms noticing the identical scars in the same place. He guesses heroin use and she confirms saying it started five years ago. Ambrose asks her if it was after she ran away letting her know he spoke to her parents. She tells him not to listen to them and explains how she went to Dorchester and Kingston hooking up with random guys just to get her drug fix. She asks him not to tell her family since she lied to Mason (Christopher Abbott) about how she got the scars and doesn't want her son to know about this. Ambrose tells her he can't do that since its part of the investigation. And with that, she gives him the stare of cold death and says "I hate you." Well, they're getting along just splendidly.
Later Ambrose gets a call from the prison telling him that Cora had a visit from her aunt Margaret (Rebecca Wisocky) so he uses this a reason to visit her next. She tells him how Cora lived with her for a short time after she turned up at a detox center in Poughkeepsie two months after running away on, you guessed it, July 2012. Cora's mother would not take her back after leaving and turning up with those scars on her arms calling her "a whore" and "a degenerate." Margaret tried to take care of her as best as she could but did not know how to deal with the nightmares that would have Cora wake up in the middle of the night and was afraid to ask about the scar she now had on her forehead. She felt like she failed her niece when she should've done more.
Back at the prison Mason shows up to visit Cora but does not bring their son Laine to see her because Ambrose has told him about her lying to him about the drug habit. He asks her if JD was the one who got her hooked on the drugs but she just stays quiet and does not answer. Mason clearly frustrated by the lack of answers from his wife tells her he did not bring their child because by pleading guilty and giving up she's not even thinking about how going away for murder will affect their son. How down the road this will have terrible consequences on him. Abbot does a fine job of brimming with resentment with his words but showing the pain of a hurt husband on his face.
In our next flashback memory we are in Cora (now almost a teenager) and Phoebe's bedroom and her little sister asks if she ever saw their Dad naked admitting she did once but "never saw his thing." What the hell is with this little girl's mindset? I think it's more than the lymphoma messing with her head! She pulls out a fashion magazine from underneath her mattress that she said she took from the hospital. She giggles when she talks about the articles about "anal foreplay" that are in it and asks Cora to read to her. That's some weird bedtime stories going on in that house.
Eventually, their mother would discover the magazine and ask where they got it from. Cora caves under pressure and confesses to reading the articles to Phoebe about "orgasms in the vagina." Sounds like the name of the new stand-up album from Amy Schumer. As punishment her mother makes her kneel down in a pile of rice kernels and pray to a crucifix of Jesus for forgiveness. I don't know where this is all going but it's very obvious how this girl got screwed up in the head. That evening Phoebe would ask Cora why she didn't try to lie to get out of the situation and she explained if she had lied that God would punish her by making Phoebe sicker. Her sister told her that it doesn't matter because God doesn't listen, citing a girl in the hospital that prayed all the time and still died.
Back in the present, it is the day of Cora's hearing to enter a plea now that she has been deemed competent. The judge asks her how she wants to plea and while she searches inside herself to think of a reason to not say it she looks into the audience inside the courtroom and notices her parents there, staring in disappointment back at her. After that, she simply looks back at the judge and announces "guilty."
After moving back in with his wife we thought Ambrose was finally past whatever sexual demons were inside him but after a brief encounter with his Domina-tress Sharon (Meredith Holzman) at the supermarket, he winds up back at her place again to get his kink back on. While he is canoodling with her post act he tells her "you really got me" which is strangely puzzling since he even just had sex with his real wife for the first time in ages. There's no way he's going to be able to keep this double life up without eventually getting caught.
While his wife is going to jail Mason still is continuing his side of the investigation by tracking down the infamous "JD" who he finds at a local bar. As he confronts him he asks how he knows Cora Lacey and JD plays coy and says he doesn't know what he's talking about. When Mason reveals that Cora is his wife, she told him things, and wants to know what he did to her JD just sits back and calls his bluff asking what she said about him. When he has nothing to say JD laughs and tells him the ever famous line of "You have no idea," which sets Mason off as he tries to fight him and throws him to the ground and JD smartly says back "she still like three guys on her at once?" Of course, the cops get called and both men are hauled off for let's hope some interesting questioning.
Back to the actual detective Ambrose goes to the detox center that Cora had been checked into those years back and asks about her stay there. The attendant that remembers her talked about how strange her case was compared to others because not only did she get clean very quick and easy in two weeks but, instead of coming in like a poor, derelict junkie from the streets she came in wearing new sweats and all cleaned up like a normal person. Ambrose is given the name Caleb Walker who is the man who found and admitted her so there our detective goes off again. After listening to Walker's story of finding Cora it gets a little more peculiar as he says he just found her there, laying on the street one day by his house.
Returning to the prison Ambrose sits down with Cora and in what can only be his veteran detective mind at work gives her a makeshift "heroin starter kit" and asks her to show him how it's done. She tells him she doesn't need to show him because the scars on her arms are her proof. But he still wants to see her show him right now. After she stares blankly at the instruments in front of her and tries to solve the puzzle of making the drug he calls her out and asks her "You really don't know, do you?" She quietly nods in agreement and he tells her that addicts develop the scars in their feet and hands BEFORE their arms.
He replays for her the events of running away and ending up lying on the street two months later but not knowing how she got there. He asks her what she remembers and she answers "fragments." He reaches out to her and tells her that the only story she knows is because her mother told her she did drugs and slept with men for her fix and she's been blaming herself ever since without really knowing the truth. "So what really happened to me?" she asks.
Cue to that damn weird wallpaper we've been seeing during her flashbacks and images of her just staring off in a room looking back at it. But then the wallpaper moves as we're surveying the room that it covers from Cora's perspective and there is a creak from the sound of the door opening. A man comes in wearing green scrubs and a mask made of brown wool, sort of resembling a deer or a type of animal. He asks "How are you feeling today, Cora?" The screen goes black and I might sound like a wuss but I definitely got a chill. I have now fallen down the rabbit hole in my commitment to this show. Can't wait to see it play out as USA continues this enthralling series. Does anyone else think the voice sounded like Mason?!