This week on The Sinner we finally get to relive what happened on that mysterious night of July 4, 2012, that was the turning point for whatever caused Cora Tanetti (Jessica Biel) to kill Frankie Belmont (Eric Todd) on the beach in episode 1. My favorite thing about this week's show was the fact that I had THOUGHT I had a pretty good grasp of what was going on and what the reveal was going to be-I was so wrong. But, that's what I love is when a show totally has me fooled.
As Cora slowly walks down the stairs that lead down to what happened, she stops for a minute and thinks back to her sister Phoebe's (Nadia Alexander) birthday. She sees her Mom (Enid Graham) walking the infamous room where we know all the events with the cake and with a smile tells Cora "Come on." And just like the white rabbit taking Alice down were off, back in time to her house she grew up in. Her family is singing to Phoebe as she blows out the candles for her 19th birthday. The mom a little buzzed on wine talks about the day Phoebe was born and how glad she is that her daughter is still here with them. A super rare moment of their mother showing that even though she has a harsh way of raising them that she does genuinely love her daughters. Cora gives her sister a nice new dress as a present but while Phoebe smiles at it, she still makes the remark of how she'll never get to wear it out. Cora keeps eyeing the clock for the time and it's not lost on Phoebe who asks where she's going later. But Cora dismisses it and says she isn't going anywhere on her birthday.
Later that night after their parents go to sleep Cora gathers her things because as seen last week JD (Jacob Pitts) has asked her to run away and move in with him. Phoebe asks to go with her because it's her birthday but Cora tells her that she can't. When Phoebe threatens to scream and wake up their parents Cora is forced to let her come along. She puts on the new dress that Cora has just given her and they sneak out of the house together. You can see the smile of anticipation on Phoebe's face that she is so elated to be finally going out somewhere.
They go to Carl's Taproom to meet up with JD and Maddie (Danielle Burgess) as well. Now immediately this is weird because there has never been a mention or a flash of memory about Phoebe being there at the bar with them. But it just makes things more interesting!! After they make pleasant introductions JD offers them both pills which he tells them are "Molly and some other stuff." One of the first differences in Cora's previous story because it had just been one pill. While Cora turns down the pills, Phoebe is fine to snatch it up and drink it down. Cora is very upset with her over this because of her condition but Phoebe's look of satisfaction appears that she doesn't care. I think it's easy to say this is not going to end well when this USA Network series comes to a close.
Inside the ladies room, Maddie goes up to Cora and feels the need to tell her about "JDs Ex" who got pregnant and was all thrilled about having the baby. But when JD told her he didn't want to be a father she threw herself into traffic, killing the child. Well, I guess we just got the origin of where Cora got that story from that she told Ambrose about earlier in the season. Maddie claims that JD is never going to be the man Cora wants him to be and that she's just trying to help her. Since when has Maddie shown any reason to care about Cora's well-being? While they are talking Phoebe comes out of the bathroom and she is clearly feeling the effects of the drug already. She looks at Maddie and tells her that she looks really sad and that she feels bad for her. Damn, it's always a tough one when the wasted stranger calls you out. They go back out to the dance floor and Cora is having to hold her sister up because she is so drunk from the pill. Eventually, the 'last call' bell rings and we're shown a shot of the bartender looking right at the two of them which is our next discrepancy from Cora's previous story. Cora had said she was dancing with Maddie but the bartender, when interviewed by Ambrose, did say it was a blonde woman who looked really wasted.
As the sister's head outside, we are shown the shot from Cora's memory of JD siphoning off gas and Phoebe plays the Maddie part of Cora's memory again (This continues to happen often) telling her that she is just trying to get rid of her so she can go off with him. When Cora tells her she needs her to go home, Phoebe tells her that she doesn't care and "wants her to die anyway." Wow, that's hitting below the belt Sis.
All four of them drive off in JD's truck, with the two sisters in the backseat, followed by an additional car with more of his crew. We don't know exactly where but I'm sure it's a safe bet to be the Beverwyck Club. Cora is already on edge having her sister out with her so to make matters worse Phoebe tells her that she pissed herself. Cora doing the responsible thing asks JD to pull over as they walk down to a stream so that she can wash her sister's dress. As Cora walks up to a nearby tree to grab her bag she looks back at Phoebe standing in the stream and has a moment where you can tell she considers just leaving her there. Instead, she comes back and when Phoebe notices the extra clothes in her bag Cora reveals to her that she is going to move in with him. While this brings Phoebe to the brink of tears Cora still says to her "I'm not letting you ruin this for me." I think waiting till she came off the drugs would've been a better time to tell her, no?
Finally, they come to the end of their drive and end up at the Beverwyck Club (nailed it) where apparently they don't bother to have any kind of security guarding the place! But, this is a TV show so I guess I'll just go with it. When they are let in the person who opens the door is none other than Frankie Belmont! I feel like there should be a large collection of horns that go off to announce him. He has been squatting at the club for two days ever since he had a panic on his way to Los Angeles. Everyone rolls into the club with bottles in hand as they go about laughing and exploring the massive place.
Frankie and Phoebe spy each other and have one of those instant magnetic attractions that are out of some teen heartthrob movie-of-the-week. They laugh, flirt, and make googly eyes at each other. Frankie takes her to a room where they trade in their personal inadequacies of him being a failed med student and her being a virgin with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Aw, the sweet things that bring people together. I want to take a quick second to mention how Nadia Alexander is really charming as Phoebe. We've previously just seen her moping about and crying a lot but this episode brings out her comedic side and really brings more life to the character. It makes sense that someone who is so depressed all the time would have to find a way to find laughter just to get through daily life. There talking gets more intimate and in no short amount of time, they start kissing. Happy Birthday, Phoebe!
Upstairs JD and Cora are talking to a friend of his named Tod (Gary Hilborn) who is a real estate developer that he does "business" with sometimes. Tod shoots up some drugs and puts his hand on Cora's knee which JD has no reaction to at all. What a swell guy that JD is. Maddie comes in and sits on Tod's lap as she apparently already knows him. JD gets stone faced mad and asks her to leave as he tells her she is not welcomed. He tells her she should go home because he is tired of her always being around. She starts crying and asks what she has done wrong because in her eyes she has done more than Cora has for him. That's when it gets ugly as JD tells her that getting pregnant and jumping in front of a car doesn't make her important. Seems like this story gets tossed around a lot but we have found the real owner of this tale. Cora excuses herself as well to go look for Phoebe.
After quite the search she finds her slow dancing with Frankie in the big stone building that is away from the main house. The same one that present day Cora and Ambrose are technically standing in as we are reliving this flashback. Phoebe has a smile on her face so big that it would make the Cheshire Cat jealous. Cora tells her it's time to go but she says she's not going anywhere. Phoebe tells her that she is sorry for letting her give up so much of her life over the years. But now "you have to think about yourself." JD finds his way to where they are and when he arrives Phoebe suggests everyone go downstairs to listen to Frankie's music from his band. In one of the more haunting moments of this flashback, the two men head down while Phoebe stands in the doorway and looks back at her sister. Using one of the most frequent images we saw from Cora's memory Phoebe is standing right under the two lamps and says "Cora, are you coming?" Again, that's not Maddie.
Once downstairs the two sisters end up on the couch with Frankie while JD cuts rails of cocaine, and Tod roams like a creeper. When did Tod get down there?! Anyway, Phoebe tries to convince Cora she should do some coke saying the famous phrase, "Give her a hit, it will loosen her up." Still, hesitant Phoebe gives her the "let yourself go for once" line and that seems to be enough because then she's all for it. After that, she entices her and Frankie to kiss, then Frankie and Phoebe kiss, and the whole time JD is a happy spectator.
Then the Infamous Song comes on. The trigger song that got us reliving all this crazy in the first place. Cora is lying on the big red carpet as JD takes her panties off and starts getting on top of her. As she looks over she sees Phoebe and Frankie have started having sex and the two sisters smiled at each other like fraternity brothers making a score. With her being in a drugged out haze Cora is turned over and put on all fours by JD but then she realizes that he's not the one having sex with her and instead it is creepy Tod. As she looks over again at her sister, she sees her hands are hanging lifeless by the side of the couch and Frankie is pushing on her chest trying to revive her! He eventually pushes so hard he crushes the ribs in her chest as we hear them break. Cora leaps up and starts pounding on Frankie with her fists which we are then shown the scene on the beach from before where she stabbed him in the same pattern. JD tries to pull her off but she smacks him back in the face as well. So with that, he grabs a large ashtray and hits her over the head knocking her unconscious. Who else is excited to see how this finally ends?!