The Sinner -- 2017's number-one new cable show -- is back on Wednesday with an all-new story featuring Det. Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) as he takes on a case involving a boy (Elisha Henig) who shockingly murders his parents. As Ambrose realizes there’s nothing ordinary about the boy or where he came from, the investigation pulls him into the hidden darkness of his hometown. He’s pitted against those who’ll stop at nothing to protect its secrets -- including the mysterious Vera (Carrie Coon), a complicated, enigmatic piece to this haunting puzzle.
Whether you watched The Sinner last year, just discovered Season 1 on Netflix, or heard about Jessica Biel's Emmy nomination earlier this month, you should plan on diving into the next installment this summer. But don't take out word for it! Here's why critics are loving The Sinner...
The 'why' is just as -- if not more -- compelling as the 'who'
"There’s no race to catch the killer; the show reveals the culprit up front and makes its central pursuit the question of why. This twist on the usual formula makes The Sinner much more meditative than the standard procedural." -- Karen Han, Vox
"It features fractured, elliptical storytelling. There’s none of the usual question of “whodunit” in the murder mystery that serves as the main plot. And it bucks some of the standard conventions of style and aesthetic in cable mystery dramas, thanks to the bolder choices of arthouse provocateur Antonio Campos." -- Alex McLevy, AV Club
"The Sinner is one of the few crime series more interested in innocence than in guilt. It's exactly what makes it feel so compelling and fresh in an oversaturated genre." -- Jess Joho, Mashable
It’s a balanced drama with an intriguing mystery
"The core mystery is complicated but not overly so; the ambiguities are presented in terms of human flaws rather than philosophy tracts; the gore is politely measured out in necessary doses; the twists are plausible enough to pass muster; and, above all else, The Sinner’s pace and writing lure you in and resist the urge to drift, promising a conclusive wrap-up. Characters tend to say only what is needed, rarely more." -- Hank Stuever, Washington Post
"The exploration is carefully laid out so each twist is effectively teased, and it’s also made to be a good time, even when it gets dark." - Ben Travers, IndieWire
"For his part, [showrunner Derek Simonds] manages to craft a fresh and unusual story with which to fill in the parameters of the series’ framework. -- Alex McLevy, AV Club
"If the first few episodes are any indication, this is yet another disturbing/thought-provoking mystery worth unraveling." -- Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times
"Drama fans, especially those who love a good murder mystery, would be well advised to give The Sinner Season 2 a chance. Even from the first three episodes, it’s clear there’s more afoot than meets the eye—and not solely in terms of plot." -- Laura Bradley, Vanity Fair
You can (and should) jump in, even if you didn’t see Season 1
"It’s a smart way to mix and match elements of the original so the sequel doesn’t just feel like a rehash of what worked the first time… Though there are oblique references to Harry’s failed marriage and the Tannetti case, Season Two is completely newcomer-friendly." -- Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone
"Do you actually want to jump right in for the second season of The Sinner? You just might... Jumping back for this new season was easy, and with Coon, Henig and the fertile religious history of the region, my curiosity in The Sinner is rejuvenated thus far. " -- Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter
"The Sinner is no one-hit wonder; for a series where someone always dies right out of the gate, this franchise has a lot of life left in it." -- Ben Travers, IndieWire
"Despite taking on an entirely different case, The Sinner maintains its huh! factor with a whole new batch of startling revelations." -- Christopher Lawrence, Las Vegas Review-Journal
The New Cast is Excellent
"Simonds assembled a helluva team for an intriguing follow-up season.The big draw this season is the addition of real-life couple Tracy Letts and Carrie Coon, two phenomenal actors (who actually don’t share a scene in the first three episodes)." -- Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com
"It's like The Sinner is the Los Angeles Lakers and Coon is LeBron James. She's magnetic as the inscrutable Vera and expresses the fascinating ambiguity of Simonds' writing." -- Liam Mathews, TVGuide.com
"In particular, there’s a moment in the third episode inside the barn where Coon is so physically alive, it’s mesmerizing." -- Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone
"Though he shares few scenes with his real-life wife, Letts brings a measure of warmth and compassion to the proceedings as Harry’s best friend, even as his underlying role is, for now, also unclear." -- Nick Schager, The Daily Beast
"Henig, who recently co-starred in Zach Braff’s quickly canceled ABC sitcom Alex, Inc., is already quite an actor as a pre-teen. His scenes with Pullman are both assured and increasingly revealing as they probe each other’s fractured psyches." -- Ed Bark, Uncle Barky
"Natalie Paul's Heather, the amateur detective who brings Ambrose into the case, is another new addition, bringing some much-needed human interest into the cryptic mystery." -- Jess Joho, Mashable
It’s the perfect summer show!
"As the circumstances of Julian’s relationship to the murder victims grows darker, The Sinner again becomes an irresistibly compelling show to watch, very much a late-summer treat." -- Hank Stuever, Washington Post
"The Sinner is a hell of a lot of fun, and it anchors its sensationalist material with grounded performances and dispassionate camerawork. It’s the summer-TV equivalent of an artfully constructed novel that nonetheless contains the pulpy can’t-put-it-down subject matter of a dishy beach read. And at only eight episodes in length, like an irresistible page-turner, it’s over before you know it." -- Alex McLevy, AV Club
"Cora might be gone, but the creeps you’ll get from Ambrose, Vera, and Julian will more than sustain your summer Sinner obsession." -- Ariana Romero, Refinery29
"It’s a simple structure with a twisted story, and it’s good. The bottom line for fans of immersive, well-paced crime stories regarding The Sinner should not be a question of “why?” but rather, “when do I tune in?” -- Allison Keene, Collider
Tune in Wednesday, August 1, to The Sinner on USA Network!