Or Nah? is a feature where we watch and review the first episode of a new TV show. We’ll let you know if it’s worth checking out. As always, these reviews are the opinion of the reviewer, but we’ll try to adequately explain why you should or shouldn’t give the show a chance and provide shows for comparison.
What’s It About?
Cora Tannetti (Biel) leaves her spot on the beach where she’d been sitting next to her husband Mason (Abbott) and slicing fruit for their toddler son, and stabs to the death the man sitting on the sand in front of them. There’s dozens of witnesses and Cora immediately confesses when the police arrive, so by all accounts it should be an open and shut case.
Detective Harry Ambrose (Pullman) isn’t so sure. No one, not even Cora, knows why she killed Frankie Belmont. Cora claims to have never seen him before and Ambrose is unable to find any prior connection between them. As Cora is processed through the system, Ambrose digs to find out why Cora would impulsively murder a stranger.
By the end of the first episode, it’s clear Frankie Belmont knew exactly why he was being murdered.
The premise. It’s not trying to be clever: All signs point to Cora having some repressed memories and trauma that involved Frankie Belmont. If the first episode is any indication, this will be an 8-episode journey peeling back the layers of a mystery and not a series trying to trick the viewer or plan some major twist.
Jessica Biel. I couldn’t tell you one thing she’s done — I know I’ve seen her in at least two movies, but I can’t name them — so I had no expectations for her performance. This feels like the type of role that could earn lots of critical praise and award nominations if done right. So far, Biel is Cora Tannetti. Everything about her is believable: the strain in her marriage, her mental issues, her annoyance with Mason’s overly close relationship with his mother. She feels like a real person and Biel plays Cora as both dark and vulnerable to great effect.
Limited Run. Again, just 8-episodes so hopefully this means tighter writing and no filler.
I’m not sure I care about Ambrose’s unhealthy obsession with dominatrix sex worker.
I’m staying with it. I’m invested enough that I want to know why she did it, and I hope Biel’s performance remains this good.
What This If You Like: The Affair and Jodi Piccoult novels
Don’t Watch If You: … don’t like limited series, otherwise, give it a shot.
The second episode of The Sinner airs tonight at 10pm on USA Network.