Part IV of The Sinner’s third season is one of its best-constructed episodes yet, with an hour-long cat-and-mouse game between Jamie after he flees the hospital as Harry stays tight on his tail. Plus, we get a closer look at Nick’s last night with Jamie and the real-world power their whirlybird holds.
The whirlybird sent Nick and Jamie on a hunt for Sonya.
The Sinner Season 3’s fourth hour opens with a flashback of Jamie and Nick sitting in a diner. It’s the night of the incident at the hotel restaurant where Nick picked a fight with neighboring diners, stabbed himself through his palm, and eventually brought Jamie to the hotel’s roof and sang about prickly pears while standing along its edge. Sitting in the diner, Nick orders a bottle of whiskey for the table and continues pushing Jamie on joining him on a yet-to-be-determined journey. “I’m not gonna let you ghost on me again,” he says. Jamie is reticent, though. He can’t screw his life up with Leela and Kai; they’re not in college anymore. But Nick persists, saying that Jamie called him after 18 years because he needed to “feel the truth” again. “Nothing else can matter until you do that.” That’s when Nick says that he has everything they need in the back of his car. (We now know he’s talking about a shovel for grave-digging.) He then takes out the paper whirlybird and tells Jamie to pick a number.
The combination of numbers and letters and colors and arrows drawn on the answer key to the whirlybird must have somehow sent Jamie and Nick on the path toward Sonya’s wooded property. The next time we see them, Jamie is nearly done digging the grave in the woods. As he wipes sweat from his brow, Nick catches him off-guard: He wants to bring the woman who owns the property (Sonya) down with them “for good,” saying, “This is how we break through.” But Jamie resists; he’s never killed anyone before, despite the teachings of Nick and Nietzsche preaching how morality is an invention and any resistance to murder is a learned response. “Have I ever lied to you?” he asks. “Forget everything else and have the courage to step out of the box you’ve been living in and wake up. You have to look death in the face. Trust me: You’ll be free.”
Jamie gets in the car with Nick who’s speeding toward Sonya’s house which, as we know, leads to Jamie pulling the emergency break and crashing the car. In the flashback’s next scene, Nick is splayed and bloodied on the hood of the car while Jamie tearfully kneels on the ground. Nick is ready to die, though, telling Jamie not to call the police and to leave him be. “You’re almost there,” he says. “Just wait.” Then, in his final breaths while falling unconscious, Nick mumbles to himself, “It’s in my back pocket.” It’s the end of the flashback for now, but our bet is he’s passing the whirlybird off the Jamie. All action that’s followed is Jamie not only dealing with his friend’s death, but contemplating leaving his every move up to chance.
Harry tracks Jamie into the city.
The present-day action of the episode picks up right where we left off, with Jamie fleeing the hospital and Harry calling Vic to track his phone. Jamie, it turns out, makes his way down on the train to the city, and while it’s technically out of Harry’s jurisdiction, he follows him in, knowing there’d be blood on his hands if Jamie did something and he wasn’t there to stop it. Jamie’s night in the city begins at an art gallery he stumbles upon after exiting the train station, which, it turns out, is being hosted that evening by an old student of his, Sophie. Now a young 20-something making her way in Manhattan and living in Brooklyn, Sophie’s rapport with Jamie is overly friendly for a student-teacher relationship, flirtatious even. (Hint: Their reunion at the gallery doesn’t last long, but it’s not the last time they see each other that night.) Then, Jamie heads to the hotel Nick first took him to; Harry follows the signal and catches him up on the roof, standing on the edge just like before.
“Isn’t it strange how when we stand at the edge like this, we all feel like we might lost control and jump?” Jamie says. “That impulse to jump into the void. To step in front of a car. What’s that about?”
“We want relief,” Harry responds, in a surprising moment of understanding between to the two men. “But those are just feelings. They’re not reality.”
“That’s what Nick would always say. But if feelings aren’t the truth, then what is?” That’s when Jamie pulls out the whirlybird and tells Harry to pick a color. Opening the red flap, there’s just an arrow pointing forward, telling Jamie to step off the ledge. Jamie, apparently unable to live as fearlessly as Nick wanted him to, backs off the ledge before taking the plunge. Harry doesn’t give up, though; he follows Jamie to a nearby bar and begins probing him for answers. We learn that he and Nick had no connection to Sonya: It was a game of chance that brought them there through the whirlybird. Offering more insight on their worldview, Jamie continues: “Everyone wants to believe that there’s some kind of order to all this or divine will. This is chaos.”
Jamie invites Harry into his chaos.
Still sitting in the bar, Jamie decides to show Harry exactly what he means with his nihilistic manifesto; he believes that freedom comes by giving yourself over to the chaos of the world and by staring death in the face. Putting it to the test, Jamie invites himself into a circle of two businessmen and strikes up a conversation with a pair of women eying them from a booth. Libations and flirtations flow heavily within the group, and Jamie, getting a kick out of the situation, even invites Harry into the booth, introducing him as his straight-shooting uncle. Eventually, they move the party up to a hotel room; that’s where Jamie begins overstaying his welcome. He takes the opportunity between the buesinessmen’s lines of cocaine and champagne to lecture them about how all their evening’s antics are a means of distracting themselves from death: “It’s a bit desperate, like we’re all trying to escape something.” Obviously, it’s not quite light party talk, and Jamie is told to leave when he doesn’t calm down. There’s a flash of Jamie imagining how he’d follow the impulse to violently kill all the partiers, but instead he obliges, and Harry follows him out.
Outside, Jamie determines that there’s “something about” Harry; there’s some common ground between the two men. He prefers the pain in his limp to actually taking his pills, for instance. Does it make him feel more alive? And Jamie soon enough takes Harry down a notch: he’s miserable, alone, divorced, aged, and unfulfilled. But Harry refuses the bait. Thinking that Jamie is all talk, he tells him that he understands that he’s angry at the world, but that he’s not doing anything about it. That’s when, with a glint in his eye and with what he’s perceived to be permission from Harry, Jamie decides to do something about it. “Fine, you and me,” he says, jumping into a cab, and Harry reluctantly follows in his car.
Jamie’s long night ends in murder.
Harry tracks Jamie to a house party in Brooklyn where Sophie from the art gallery is. Here among these drunk millennials, Jamie doesn’t try to hide Harry’s identity. He openly tells Sophie that he’s a cop who’s obsessively following him before giving her a similarly grating speech on morality and civility. He’s cut short, though, when she tells him that there’s something upstairs that he should see. Turns out, there’s a medium at the party, and he immediately connects with Jamie, saying that there’s a close friend who recently died—so close that he’s practically attached to him. From the afterlife, he’s saying something about a prickly pear…. “No, not now!” Jamie exclaims, rushing out of the room. Nowhere is safe for Jamie to escape the hauntings of Nick. From there, he and Sophie leave the party and jump in her car, and Harry follows close behind.
Driving along, Jamie is quiet, distracted. Sophie asks him what’s wrong, and he admits to her that they don’t know each other very well, but that he’s thinking about his friend who recently died. Then, instead of going the proposed route for some late-night food, Jamie tells her he wants to play a game that he and this friend used to play: “Taconic Roulette,” which would have them driving along the highway as fast as possible just to see if they’d make it. “Are you serious? That’s insane,” Sophie replies. But that’s when he begins to speed up: “People always stop when they’re right on the precipice,” he says, explaining that he doesn’t want to die, he just wants to face death. That’s when Sophie begins freaking out and begging him to stop; Jamie continues speeding, nearing 100mph through intersections and back roads. Harry, meanwhile, plans to cut him off, and he eventually does. The two cars screech to a halt. “What is wrong with you!?” Sophie yells, as Jamie stands outside the car, catching his breath and staring down Harry.
Finally deciding to bring his games to an end, Jamie gets in Harry’s car and has him drive him home. Pulling up to Jamie’s house, where Leela is surely anxiously waiting up inside, Harry tells him that he needs to stop what he’s doing, and he needs to tell his wife what’s been happening to him. “I’m going to wait out here until you do.” There’s a pause before Jamie gets out of the car. “Will you be honest with me for a second? Just tell me the truth: Do you ever feel lonely?” he asks. “So lonely you could scream? Tell me I’m not crazy. Tell me you know what I mean.”
“I do,” Harry says, defeated. As Jamie exits the car and heads up the steps, Harry, now resigned, finally takes his pain medication and falls asleep. Jamie, meanwhile, is shown standing in his front foyer, frustratingly beating himself in the head. Where he goes next is anyone’s guess, but Harry awakens the next morning to a voicemail that there’s been a murder in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood. Returning to the same home that played host to the party the night before, Harry flashes his badge and enters the scene of the crime. There, on the floor in the bedroom upstairs, is the bloodied corpse of the medium.