When 7th Heaven alum Jessica Biel transformed herself into a blood-soaked killer in Season 1 of USA’s The Sinner, we had to sit up and take notice. It was a dramatic shift and a triumphant one as Biel dug deep to produce a powerhouse performance. And now, USA is back with a second season of the series, with new players taking the lead.

The crime is still murder, but this time, more disturbingly, committed by a 13-year-old boy – Julian (Elisha Henig). The two victims are his adult caretakers. The method is poisoning, with Julian offering up two deadly cups of coffee. But the big question is why? What would drive a wide-eyed child, with his future in the front-view mirror, to kill?

Heather (Natalie Paul) has just made detective and catches the harrowing case. She calls in reinforcements, asking Detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman), who is an old friend of her dad’s (Tracey Letts), to help her unravel the mystery. Pullman returns for a second go around, having been charged with solving the Cora Tannetti murder case in the show’s first season.


Harry is still the broken man we left him, reeling from a failed marriage and finding solace on the edge of a bar stool. Flashbacks to past trauma begin to give us a window into understanding him.

But it might be his own dark past that allows him to connect with the killers he investigates, including Julian whom he begins to probe about what happened in that motel room.

Henig as young Julian arrests with his big, brown eyes, the fear and terror piercing though making it hard to look away. He makes for a compelling central figure that will propel the show.

Showing up at the very end of the first episode is another figure that the series will turn on – an out-of-towner claiming to be Julian’s mother, Vera, played by Carrie Coon. We are only given breadcrumbs over the episode in flashbacks, into the dynamic between the two, with Vera chastising Julian for something he has done. She is the leader on a rustic compound which we will find out more about as the season unfolds.

Coon is a powerful addition to the show, with her stellar, emotional work on The Leftovers and Fargo preceding her.

The Sinner‘s second installment sets up to be even more complex and compelling than its predecessor, with a first-rate cast of characters to pull us into the mystery.


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