After last week's bomb that dropped, showing Cora (Jessica Biel) was being held by a masked man in that artsy-fartsy wallpapered room we've been seeing, The Sinner took a whole new turn in realizing she has quite possibly not been responsible for her actions. But first off, we are dealing with her husband Mason (Christopher Abbott) who has been trying on his own to get to the bottom of whatever caused his wife to murder a man at the lake in Episode 1. He found the mysterious JD (Jacob Pitts) that Cora had mentioned she was with to the police but in his confrontation of the man let his emotions get the better of him and got arrested after they both got in a fight at a bar. Mason tells the police that JD deals drugs and to just bust him for that so they can have reason to question him about Cora.
Detective Ambrose (Bill Pullman) and his partner Leroy (Dohn Norwood) question JD but he finds ways to dodge their questions until his lawyer shows up and he is released. So all this did was put JD on the police's radar but they make no progress from Mason's act. Have to give it to Mason who could just sit back and hate his wife for lying to him about her past but he must really love her to be putting so much effort to find out what caused her outburst.
In Part VI, Ambrose decides to follow up the meeting of JD with Cora and we find out that she lost her virginity to him at some point and that he was the man she had been seen with at Carl's Taproom that infamous Fourth of July weekend in 2012. So Ambrose deduces that all her previous talk of a pregnancy and a suicide attempt with this guy Frankie were made up. That it instead was this guy JD she was hanging out with that night. She took some drugs with him and they went back to a house (she can't remember where) and all she can recall is having sex with a random stranger. And when Ambrose asks her what about after that she draws a complete blank. The next thing she remembers is waking up on the street in Poughkeepsie right before the good samaritan who found her and took her to rehab. Well, it's baby steps but at least we're finally starting to get somewhere.
In an effort to try and find a way to uncover more of her memories Ambrose visits Dr. Chang (Mia Katigbak), one of the therapists who saw her previously and suggests using memory recovery techniques which she has experience in. Chang tells him that sometimes the memories are real and other times the patients just make things up, but Ambrose tells her how Cora has "nothing else going for her" so Chang agrees to help.
In her first meeting with Cora, Dr. Chang takes her back to Carl's Taproom on July 4th and she relives being there with JD and there is also another girl there with them. A girl named Maddie (Danielle Burgess) who is JD's ex and according to Cora does not like her because of something to do with her connection to him. She then has a random insert memory as a little girl trying to go to school but the bus that is going there just drives past her and doesn't stop. Dr. Chang advises her to let it be and just focus back on the bar where Cora tells her that JD is syphoning gas off a car so they can go somewhere but she doesn't feel comfortable going with them and in addition Maddie is getting in her face and giving her attitude suggesting that Cora is trying to get rid of her. This angers her and Cora tells the doctor that all she can feel is rage as she wants to "break her into pieces." Looks like maybe JD hasn't been the only problem in all of these problems in her head. But c'mon, where's the wallpaper in these memories?! I'm sorry but it's just fun to make fun of at this point since we're dealing with flashbacks.
With all of this new information, Ambrose goes to his partner Leroy and tries to get him to hop on board to investigate JD's ex Maddie and one of the water towers that Cora said she saw in her memories. Leroy gives him the look of crazy and desperate and tells him that he's not interested in following up on memories that they have no idea are real or not so he'll just go see the landlord with him. After Ambrose does a once over of discovering the water tower he and Leroy go talk to Maddie and JD's old landlord (Pamela Gray) about the charges she had pressed against them once for theft.
She had dropped them because she got physically involved with Maddie at one point and wanted to just forget about meeting them. She also told them that in the end, Maddie disappeared without any notice. Not like she packed up and moved but that Maddie just left one day and she never saw her again. All of her possessions were still at the house but she never returned. And you all get one guess on what weekend she disappeared--July 4th, 2012.
Meanwhile Cora's husband Mason isn't letting a brush with the law stop him as he goes to JD's house and plans for a sting of his own. He waits for JD to leave and then he goes up to the house and acting like a customer asks his wife if he can buy some drugs. While he does complete the transaction in time his wife gets a call off to JD and Mason's act is discovered that he has no legitimate connection to her husband and she yells at him to get out of her house.
Taking the initiative he also recorded the whole transaction on his phone and meets up with his friend on the force Caitlin (Abby Miller) and tells her the police can use it to arrest JD. She instead gets upset with him for trying to do this on his own and leaves him without any indication she will take this to her superiors. Oh, NOW she wants to be a by-the-books officer? While she was scolding him for "using her" she makes a comment about them previously sleeping together which explains why she's had a soft spot for helping him.
We haven't talked about our weekly flashback to Cora's childhood so let's get to that for a moment. We are shown our now teenaged Cora walking home from school and noticing her neighbor across the street making out with a girl. When she gets inside the house her sister Phoebe (Rileigh McDonald) gives her grief about the fact that she should try to get with their neighbor Kevin (Granit Lahu), since he seems to have so many girlfriends. That evening they are watching porn on their laptop downstairs (what...the...???) and Phoebe takes this moment to tell Cora how it's unfair how she has to option to go outside and try to have sex with a boy but she doesn't even bother. Before Cora can respond their dad William (CJ Wilson) comes downstairs and walks out the front door, he goes across the street and to a female neighbor's place. The two girls watch as their father embraces a blonde woman before they disappear into another room of the house. "I didn't know how to tell you," Phoebe tells her. I guess the strict religious side of their mother has worn thin on their father so he had to look elsewhere for female companionship.
So maybe in an effort to shut her sister up Cora goes across the street to Kevin's house and he takes her in a back room where he drops his shorts for her. We don't get to see what exactly happens but she comes back to her sister and tells her that she had two orgasms. They giggle like teenagers over this but considering we were just told about Cora losing her virginity to JD this smells like she was learning to fib very young. In another memory, later on, Cora is downstairs as her dad is about to leave again in the middle of the night. She begs him not to leave but he just tells her he has to fix the neighbor's sink and for her to go back to bed. So even early on she learned about infidelity and growing up in a broken home. So many seeds being laid for a tough understanding about love and relationships.
Back again with Dr. Chang, they're ready to do another session but this time Ambrose wants to sit in on it. While Chang opposes this and even Cora is hesitant, Ambrose is so good at convincing her that he's trying to help her so in the end agrees to let him stay. The Doctor tells him to be quiet during the session but how much you want to be that doesn't hold up? They start the session and we are again taken back to Carl's Taproom where Maddie and Cora are getting ready to leave to go to parts unknown. Cora is still hesitant about going with but she does anyway. Somehow her memories place them in a swamp later on and Maddie is freaking out saying "they" poisoned her.
While she is trying to calm her down a searchlight shines on them and gunshots ring out. After that, the random memory of the school bus driving past her as a child appears again. When she tells them that Ambrose steps in (told you) and tells her to stay on focus and Cora recalls being in a house with Maddie and they go downstairs to some room but she has a terrified feeling of going inside. She can hear that song again that she heard from the beach and it makes her feel anxious as she's about to open the curtain to go in the room. She wants to come out of the session but Ambrose pushes her further and as she starts to grow agitated from the memories, the last things she sees are the masked man again, THE WALLPAPER, and someone stepping on Maddie's chest. Cora finally pops out of the trance and comes back to real time gasping for air like she was drowning in the memories.
Afterwards, Cora and Ambrose go over everything she saw in the memories and he seems dissatisfied with the results and she reminds him she is giving him everything she can. He apologizes because he knows she is right She makes a comment that he's married as she spies his ring and he tells her "trying," which is interesting since earlier in the episode we see him and his wife Fay (Kathryn Erbe) are having dinner together and they seem so distant like they're past whatever love was able to put them together originally. "Please don't give up on me," Cora tells him. It's tragic how alone and lost she has become since she has been given the realization that she doesn't know how she got to this moment.
Finally, because we know a detective never sleeps Ambrose is out walking with Fay in the woods and they are in the same location where the water tower is. Something tells me that Harry picked this spot on purpose to take a stroll. As they are talking about Fay wanting to go on a trip without him he spies something in the distance and walks off. As Fay keeps calling for him he wanders further and discovers a yellow school bus overgrown with trees and vegetation. He notices a spot of grass that is gone which looks like it had been possibly dug up. Like the responsible investigator, he is Ambrose has a CSI unit come out and dig up the spot where they find a skeletal human hand covered with a towel. Maddie.....is that you? Guess will find out next week on USA.