The Sinner episode 1 review: Jessica Biel series off to compelling start

The Sinner episode 1 reviewCreating cable limited series at this point is almost routine. You get a big-name star, a shocking mystery, and then let things unravel from there.

Given the success of some recent ones, including Big Little Lies and The Night Of, USA’s new limited series The Sinner carried with it a great deal of expectation. Yet, through its first episode, it delivered on almost all promises — becoming quite possibly the best new show of the summer in the process.

The story, despite the potential complications that could unravel, is at its very essence rather simple. Jessica Biel stars as Cora Tannetti, a mother and wife who inexplicably snaps in the middle of a beach outing. A group nearby starts to play loud music, and she goes over and stabs one of them, a young man seemingly innocent of wrongdoing, repeatedly to death. She allows the handcuffs to lock in, she’s taken to the station and confesses to the crime. She holds nothing back in terms of her recount of what happened.

Still, there is one big mystery: Why? She doesn’t have any recollection as to what compelled her to do this, and as the investigators are already beginning to figure out, but there’s little evidence of a motive, a connection between the killer and the victim, or even suggestions that she has a history of violence. She wasn’t on medication and had no record of committing atrocities. By most estimations, she wasn’t a sinner at all.

The first episode was largely the story of Cora committing the act, arriving at the police station, and trying to grasp what happened. The same goes for her family. Her husband Mason Tannetti (Christopher Abbott, Girls) didn’t even visit her for a stretch of time and struggled to process what happened. Nobody knew what to make of it, and the only real evidence that the police have for now of a larger conspiracy is the victim briefly grabbing Cora’s arm when she began the stabbing. Per one account, he almost wanted it to happen. This is your jumping-off point for the remainder of the series, since there may have been some secret connection there.

In terms of quality…

Everything was well-shot and exceptionally-acted. Biel was fantastic and carrying Cora’s weight and suffering, but also the confusion that comes with the inexplicable crime. Meanwhile, Abbott was haunted in just the right way, and Bill Pullman could eventually be for the show one of the true standouts in Ambrose, this show’s version of Box from The Night Of.

With a series like this, the primary goal should be establishing the pieces on the chessboard and watching the moves unfold over the coming weeks. The Sinner did that in its premiere, and now, we are eagerly awaiting what the remaining moves will be. Premiere Grade: A-.

What did you think about the premiere of The Sinner, and does it excite you for the remainder of the series? Share in the comments below!

Also, head over here for further news, including a tease of what lies ahead. (Photo: USA.)

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