Jamie gets away with choking the hospice patient, and in Episode 3 of The Sinner, he becomes a new father. But given his rapidly declining mental state, there’s little to celebrate, and the birth of his son Kai only brings more stress than happiness. All that and more in this week’s recap below.
Jamie and Leela find unstable but common ground—for now
The close of Episode 2 had Leela confronting Jamie about his erratic behavior and absence from the home. And Episode 3 picks up with Jamie apologizing: “I’m sorry, I know I’m not easy to be with right now. I’m just trying to figure things out.” But Leela isn’t having it; she’s empathetic to the fact that Jamie just lost a friend and that he’s stressed about being a new father, but she insists that he get help before they can begin to mend the damage he’s done. Her impression of his mental health is further amplified by the fact that he meets her justifiable concern with dark philosophical questions: “Do you feel like you know why we’re here or what happens when we die? We don’t. It’s all a total mystery. We don’t know anything. But despite that, we’re gonna have a child?” He says that the birth of their son will be nothing more than a “spiritual bandaid.”
The next day, Jamie comes home from school to find that Leela’s water has broken; she’s being tended to by a midwife and Brian, their gay friend from the dinner party. While he’s at first offended that she called Brian before him, he takes Leela’s hand and promises that he’s there for her; their baby son Kai is then born. What should be a happy moment for Jamie, though, is clouded by memories of him digging a grave with Nick; it’s unclear when this memory was. Watching his wife and his newborn hold one another, his face turns grim; is he stressed about being a new father? Where is this darkness coming from? The dread overtaking Jamie later presents itself as overprotection. He stays up for nights on end watching Kai sleep, making sure that he doesn’t stop breathing; he refuses to let Brian hold him.
The darkness reaches its climax when Jamie hallucinates that Nick is in the nursery with him, demanding that he hand Kai over. “He needs to learn,” the ghost of Nick says. Jamie hands him the baby and watches as he twists Kai’s legs and body until bones snap and he cries out. Jamie collapses in tears at the sight. That’s when Leela comes in to find her husband on the floor holding Kai. The baby is fine, but Jamie is clearly distraught. “Take him!” he yells before exiting the room.
Harry finds Jamie’s DNA at the site of the grave, and the two men face off once again
Harry gets a few more leads this hour that put Jamie at the scene of the grave dug on Sonya’s property while also gleaning some information on his past. While waiting on the site’s DNA results (which ultimately come back positive, indicating that Jamie was the one who dug the grave), Vic and Harry learn that Jamie dropped out of college mid-term after attacking his roommate, Daniel Combs. Daniel is now a dermatologist in New York City, and he agrees to meet with Harry. (Despite fighting sciatica and being in constant pain, Harry refuses Vic’s offer to come along.) Daniel is at first hesitant to speak with him, but soon enough opens up, explaining that Jamie and he were roommates sophomore year, and that they got along well enough to re-up their junior year. That’s when Jamie met Nick. He says that Jamie completely changed that year and fell under Nick’s spell; they were inseparable, and Jamie’s worldview seemed to darken. One morning, Daniel woke up early to find Jamie sitting cross-legged facing the wall; he was covered in dirt, and his hands were bloodied. He seemed to be in a sort of trance: “He seemed almost too alive,” Daniel recalls. He took a Polaroid of Jamie to document his roommate’s strange behavior, then tried to snap him out of it by grabbing his shoulder. That’s when Jamie snapped and attacked Daniel with a lava lamp. At the end of their conversation, Daniel agrees to forward Harry the photo from that night, and adds that if he needs someone to come in and testify against Jamie’s character, he would be willing. The image that Daniel later sends Harry is rather haunting and cryptic: a 20-year-old Jamie is sitting there staring at the wall, just as Daniel said; beside him is what appears to be PVC piping, and etched into his headboard is the word, “UBERMENSCH.” (More on that later.)
Now having the ammo to really catch Jamie in his lies, Harry posts himself outside of the suspect’s home and follows him down the road one night when Jamie leaves to go for a walk. Approaching Jamie as he sits, dejected, on the side of the road, Harry implores him to stop lying. Then he builds his case: he attacked his roommate, and something happened the night Nick visited that made him equally snap; after the accident, he killed Nick and then wiped his prints off his cellphone; they found is DNA at the site of Sonya’s grave. “That’s true, isn’t it?” Harry asks, and Jamie nods his head. Harry accuses him of manslaughter. “How do you even prove that? What kind of evidence do you have? You don’t, do you?” Jamie asks back. “I just want you to know that I’m watching you,” Harry says, suggesting afterward that he let Nick die because he didn’t like that Nick had a hold on him, but that even in death, he still does. He really seems to have Jamie pegged there.
“Assuming you’re right,” Jamie says, “what would you do about it if you were me?”
“I’d accept the help I’m offered.”
“You mean confess?” Before he lets the conversation end, Jamie stands and walks away.
Jamie finally does accept the help he’s been offered, if only momentarily
After the episode where he hallucinates Nick killing his baby son, Jamie goes down to the Dorchester precinct to beg for Harry’s help. “I’m trying to keep it together, I really am,” he pleads. So Harry brings him down to be admitted to St. Emelia’s Hospital. Harry expresses that he wants to help Jamie because he’s a father now: “You’re going to have to get better for him.” But Jamie blames Nick: “It’s like Nick infected me. I didn’t want it, but now I can’t get it out of me.”
Once in the waiting room at the hospital, Harry discreetly asks a nurse to call security because Jamie is a threat to himself and to others; he needs to be detained as quickly and quietly as possible. That’s when Jamie is summoned by the doctor. “You’re doing the right thing,” Harry assures. Inviting the detective to join him through the intake procedure, it’s just Harry, Jamie, and the doctor asks Jamie preliminary questions about his mental health. “I have this feeling all the time like I’m trapped, like there’s this big thing looming over me and I’m the only one who can see it,” Jamie says. “ It’s the fact that we’re alive, that we’re going to die.” The doctor asks about suicidal thoughts and hallucinations. While the whole scene is intercut with Jamie’s racing mind—memories of digging the grave, of holding the PVC pipe—he says that he’s thought about suicide, but would never follow through. That would be giving up; he says his “friend” taught him that pain is the “gateway.” (Remember the knife through the hand?) Jamie gets increasingly agitated and defensive, particularly when asked if he ever thinks about hurting others. Instead of answering the question, he provides the doctor with an explanation of how he feels while holding a baby: “You get this jolt of fear because you know you could drop him, let him break on the floor,” he says, adding that he dreads that there’s a part of him that wants to drop the baby just to relieve himself, just to make it go away.
“You know that feeling, don’t you? We all do,” Jamie says, turning to Harry. “You should lock us all up.” That’s when Jamie stands up and leaves, feeling betrayed that Harry would put him in a position where he could be committed. He accuses the detective of trying to lock him up instead of helping him. Harry insists that Jamie can’t figure his thoughts and hallucinations out by himself, but it falls on deaf ears. “Nick was right,” Jamie says, and he turns to run away.
As Jamie gets further from the hospital and into the woods, Harry takes a call from Vic and orders an emergency warrant to search Jamie’s phone and to get someone posted to protect Sonya’s property. “He’s out there, he’s gonna do something,” Harry says. “We have to find him.”
ADDITIONAL TAKEAWAYS, ADDITIONAL CLUES
● Jamie is bringing his darkness to more than just his own home. Reconnecting with his student, Emma, after last week’s mishap with her parents, he essentially tells her that college and overexerting herself to meet others’ expectations will only make her unhappy. He says none of it matters. The pep talk reduces Emma to tears, and he’s later called into his boss Fiona’s office to explain why Emma is being removed from his class. He’s told not to speak to her anymore. The news doesn’t go down easily: Jamie snaps: “Well f*ck you then!” to Fiona’s surprise. He also lashes out at a fellow commuter who gives him attitude in the parking lot by following him onto the train and sitting across from him. Jamie’s deadly stare eventually pushes the stranger to change cars.
● We still don’t know the details of the night Jamie attacked his roommate, but his flashes of memory appear to be showing he and Nick digging a grave. With the PVC pipe, it seems possible (and just dark enough) that they were burying each other alive and using the pipe to breathe. Could this be them trying to make themselves their own gods, per their philosophy?
● Speaking of that philosophy, Harry learns more of Jamie and Nick’s beliefs after visiting with their college professor. Turns out, the two took a strong liking to Friedrich Nietzsche and his teachings of breaking yourself free from others’ limits of morality. “Ubermensch,” as found on Jamie’s bedpost, is translated to “the highest form of man,” otherwise known as someone who becomes their own god and dictator of morality.
● And lastly, Sonya inserts herself further into Harry and Jamie’s world. She flirtatiously befriends the detective as he goes about the investigation, accepting his help to add security cameras to her property while also finding a way to show off her nude portraits of men. Her intentions to that end are unclear, but could be innocent enough. Furthermore, she gets lost in a Google rabbithole of researching Jamie, and is later shown following him to the train station and sniping photographs of him on the platform. Could she be taking photos of him to reference as portraits down the line?