The Sinner recap: House of cards
Following last week's “Hipster House Homicide,” as headlined this episode in the New York Post, things immediately start spiraling out of control for Jamie Burns. And life's not looking much better for Detective Harry Ambrose.
In the wee hours of the morning, Burns slips inside his office at school before pulling a blood-soaked bookend from his jacket. He changes his clothes, clips his nails, washes the blood from his face, and tosses all incriminating items into a trash bag. After following every step in the evidence-hiding handbook, he chucks the bag into the Hudson River, then heads home to his newborn baby and wife.
He apologizes to Leela profusely for staying out all night, says he was with Harry the entire time, but fails to mention the part about murdering a medium at a house party. Leela seems cautiously open to his pleas and promises of receiving help to get better ... until she finds blood on his earlobe. The tense exchange isn't helped any by Jamie unconvincingly blaming the discovery on an over-scratched mosquito bite.
Meanwhile, Harry's still at the crime scene, remaining in the shadows while DNA swabs are taken and Sophie Greenfield's questioned by an NYPD detective. He immediately calls Jamie, leaves an urgent voicemail, and heads back to the station. He tells Detective Soto that Jamie must have slipped by him while he was knocked out by a sciatica-soothing pain pill. The always well-intentioned Soto attempts to steer him on the right path, encouraging him to connect with the NYPD.
Having received Harry's message, Burns is waiting outside the detective's house. He's flashing back to the night of the murder, where he did indeed sneak out of his suburban home, slip past a sleeping Ambrose, and return to the Brooklyn bash. He tracks down the medium in hopes of finishing the session that'd freaked him out earlier. The man reluctantly invites him upstairs to continue their conversation with beyond-the-grave Nick.
Harry arrives home, snapping Burns back to the present. Jamie begs for Ambrose's help, admits he “f---ed up,” but swears “it was just a moment” unrepresentative of who he really is. Harry stresses the only path forward is turning himself in and confessing, an option Jamie won't even consider. Upset Harry won't help him, Burns takes off, determined to get his life back to normal despite it steadily falling apart around him.
His strategy quickly proves unsustainable, as he heads off to his cushy private school teaching job. Walking to work, he spots the aforementioned New York Post front page. Worse, he's pulled from class at the request of a visiting detective. It's not Harry, but Jones, the detective investigating the house party homicide. She grills Jamie, catching him in multiple lies about his whereabouts that night and his relationship with Ambrose. Things don't go well for Burns, and that's before he's asked for a “totally routine” DNA swab.
Things aren't going much better for Harry, who seems to be making one bad decision after another. He visits Sonya, pastries in tow, to let her know she needn't worry. He shows the artist the paper fortune teller, explains its use, and assures her that her role in Jamie and Nick's sick game was completely random. But Sonya's smart, and after deducing Harry and Burns had been at the gathering that ended in murder, she's not feeling especially comforted by Ambrose's assurances.
In an episode brimming with awkward conversations, the next one takes the cake. Sonya shows up at Leela's boutique. The latter attempts to sell the former some moisturizer, but Sonya's not there to discuss dry skin. She quickly realizes Leela knows only about the accident, and nothing else — including the grave her husband helped dig. “You really don't know, do you?”
Before the other shoe can drop in that scene, we catch up with Ambrose, who's about to engage in the episode's second most awkward conversation. He arrives at the NYPD, looking to share what he knows with Jones. She happily accepts this intel but doesn't display the sense of urgency Harry had hoped for. She coolly dismisses him, before reminding him to leave his statement and get a DNA swab before he leaves. Ouch.
The uncomfortable encounters just keep on coming, as Jamie arrives home to find Leela fresh from her meeting with Sonya. She knows everything and isn't about to indulge his lies and excuses. He turns to manipulation, mentioning an incident from two years ago “when all of that s--- went down” and “I stayed by you.” Nice try, Jamie, but Leela isn't having any of it. She boots him out.
Fast-forward to Burns' new home — at the Haven Residence Hotel — where he's enjoying a hot shower and another flashback from his encounter with the medium. The man immediately makes another connection with Nick. “He's hooked on to you, but he's agitated.” After eerily touching the same spot on his torso where Nick sustained his injury, he continues with the creepy revelations. “Something's unfinished.”
Things are going a bit better at Ambrose's backwoods home. Sonya's shown up to apologize and confess she's spilled the beans to Leela. She calls Harry out on his unusual connection to the case and Jamie. “He's really gotten under your skin, too.” She also forces him to confront the unorthodox nature of their detective/victim relationship. Awkwardness ensues, but the two ultimately share a couple of soft kisses, finally surrendering to the feelings that have been building between them.
While things are looking up for Ambrose, Burns continues his downward spiral. His superior asks him to take a leave of absence, as he's a “distraction” at the school. He refuses, and storms out of her office — “I have a class to teach” — just as he gets a call from Detective Jones. He meets the NYPD sleuth at Ambrose's station in Dorchester. Armed with reams of security footage from the night of the murder, she catches him in more lies, backing him into a corner. “It isn't looking good for you.” With options running dry, Jamie says he'll need to call a lawyer.
Done with Burns, for now, Jones approaches Ambrose. The detective's at his desk, navigating a difficult call with his daughter concerning his grandson's coming visit. Jones hovers, ultimately luring him away for questioning. She comes at him hard, treating him like a suspect due to his presence at the crime scene, as well as his unusual connection with Jamie. Harry doesn't appreciate being grilled or her insinuation of a “relationship” between the two. Jamie overhears their heated exchange and realizes she's got no hard evidence against him. She takes another crack at getting a confession, but he calls her bluff before walking out of the station.
Burns returns to his temporary residence, where we're treated to one more flashback from that fateful evening in Brooklyn. The psychic's still connecting with Nick, almost channeling him. “He wants you to keep going.” In a flashback within the flashback, Jamie sees those bloody hands clutching that length of hose again. “You need to follow through because you're almost there,” continues the medium. But then his eyes widen, he looks spooked. He won't continue the session despite Jamie's desperate protests. Burns loses it, grabs the bookend and repeatedly introduces it to his victim's face.
Upon being put on “modified duty,” Ambrose picks his grandson up at the train station. The two head home, where the boy questions the unopened box from Harry's deceased dad (the box mystery continues). While washing their dinner dishes, Harry hears laughter from outside. In the yard, Jamie, who's “just dropped by for a visit,” is charming the pants off the kid. Ambrose orders the tyke inside and has it out with Burns. “Don't come near my family.”
Not only does Jamie stick around against Ambrose's wishes, but he calls the boy back outside. Harry hits him hard in the gut, grabs him by the throat, and looks embarrassed as his grandson watches. But Jamie's pleased as punch: “Harry Ambrose just showed up. It's about time.” He then says goodbye to the kid, flashes Harry a sinister smile, and disappears into the night.