film / tv / politics / social media / lists / web / celeb / pajiba love / misc / about / cbr
film / tv / politics / web / celeb


Review: USA Network's 'Sinner' Starring Jessica Biel, Bill Pullman

By Dustin Rowles | TV | August 7, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | August 7, 2017 |

I have not watched screeners, nor read any reviews from critics who have seen ahead on USA Network’s new Jessica Beil series, Sinner, but after one episode, I am fully intrigued.

This is a series I checked out on a whim (after Kayleigh’s write up of Jessical Biel) not expecting much, and the first half of the pilot episode barely met even those lowered expectations. It’s another horror series, and I’ve found those to be decidedly hit and miss, so far. The first half of the pilot sets the tone: Sinner is meant to be one of those creepy, atmospheric supernatural series. Biel plays Cora Tannetti, a typical mom and wife. But something is not quite right. She’s seeing things. She’s not into her husband, Mason (Girls’) Christopher Abbott), she’s downing sleeping pills, and she seems to be having one of those low-energy days.

Continue Reading After the Advertisement

When she wakes up, she and her family head out to the beach. She takes a swim in the lake, and she spends a lot of time underwater, like you do when you’re feeling out of sorts and seeing things. When she gets back to the shore, there’s a couple in front of her who won’t stop making out and playing their loud music. This seems to really annoy Cora, who gets up and — using the knife with which she was cutting her son’s apple — stabs a guy seven times.

That’s when Sinner transforms from mild curiosity to WHAT THE FUCK, LADY?

Cora, who is mostly catatonic by this point, doesn’t deny murdering a stranger on the beach, but she can’t really offer an explanation, either. This is were Detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) comes in. He’s one of those troubled detectives with a drinking problem types, and he has a thing for prostitutes who abuse him by stepping on his fingers. I don’t really get the kink, but every troubled detective needs one, you know?

While the rest of the quiet town’s police department wants to treat the murder as an open and shut case, Ambrose thinks there’s something more to it. Ambrose is right. We don’t know exactly what’s going on, but we are able to surmise that Cora has to do what Satan tells her to do because maybe Cora’s mom sold her soul to the devil in exchange for her sister’s life.


That remains shrouded in mystery, as is the fact that maybe the guy that Cora murdered wanted her to murder him.

What’s so intriguing about this series for me right now is that this is a USA Network series, so I can’t figure out where it’s going. If this were a typical USA Network show with a detective and a woman who seems to be controlled by Satan, I’d gander that it’d be a very odd police procedural where the Devil helps Cora and Harry Ambrose solve crimes. But this is Mr. Robot era USA Network, so I have no idea where it’s headed, and that is part of the intrigue right now, because this could be a great, nasty little demonic possession drama, or it could be a procedural with a very strange buddy-cop dynamic. Or it could be both. But I am stoked about its possibilities, and even more stoked that eventually Biel will provide something more to the series aside from catatonic stares. What I do know is that the series got under my skin (the image of a devil-baby will do that), and that I cannot wait to find out what comes next.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.