USA Network’s Jessica Biel drama, The Sinner, is the highest rated new cable drama of 2017, and it’s ratings have inched up each week since its debut. There’s a good reason for that, too: It’s not only riveting television, but it features an engrossing, mysterious murder investigation harder to crack than anything since the first season of True Detective. It’s Peak TV catnip; every answer only raises more questions, and halfway through the 8-episode limited series, viewers are as confused as they were after the opening episode.
The opening episode presents a fairly cut-and-dry case. Cora Tannetti (Biel) is not feeling like herself one day, and on a visit to the beach, she abruptly stabs and kills a man named Frankie. At the time, Frankie was aggressively making out with his girlfriend, and a song that they were playing clearly triggered Cora. We know this because, during an interrogation with Detective Frank Ambrose (Bill Pulmann), Cora loses it when Ambrose plays the song again and Cora punches Ambrose seven times, in the exact same pattern that she stabbed Frankie.