Last week’s episode ending on quite the cliffhanger: Harry had his first experience of “the work” with Vera, and ended up having zero memory of his night before waking up in the Rockford Lodge. But that was just a taste of what’s to come. Catch up on Part V of The Sinner below.
Marin is, indeed, Julian’s mother.
We may not know what happened to Marin during her time at Mosswood Grove, but we do get confirmation through a series of flashbacks—and a confession from Vera in present day—that Vera is not Julian’s mother. Marin is. It begins with a flashback to a young Vera living on Mosswood Grove and welcoming Marin into the community upon her arrival. Lionel Jeffries is also there, the clear leader of the commune. Vera immediately takes to Marin as a friend, confidant, and even maternal-like figure, showing her the dormitory, comforting her as she cries, and eventually bringing her to meet the Beacon, Jeffries. We don’t see the intricacies of their relations, but some time later, it’s revealed that Marin is pregnant. It’s not the first time the Beacon has impregnated a woman at Mosswood, but it’s standard practice to get Dr. Poole to perform an abortion, as he did with Carmen Bell. Marin struggles with the idea, expressing to Vera that her mother wishes that she was never there, and that she “can’t do that to a baby. Vera explains that parents pass their shadows down to their children, and Marin shouldn’t want to do that to a child. “Do you want to put every buried feeling and thought on a defenseless child who doesn’t have a choice? There are no children here. He doesn’t want it,” Vera says. Marin says if that’s the case, she “can’t stay here.” That changes, however, when Vera speaks to Jeffries at the end of the episode. It was also around this time that Jeffries arrived to the commune one day with a baby calf; he approaches Vera with the animal and explains that they’ll all raise him together. “The more we love him, the more he’ll embody all our human frailties, so when we offer him up, release. Do you understand?” he asks. The time for that release comes in the episode’s closing minutes when in a sacrificial ceremony, all members of Mosswood reach out to touch the calf and hold one another; Jeffries reveals a knife and the screen goes to black; the animal is presumably dead. Afterward, Vera speaks with Jeffries one on one and tells him about Marin’s condition. His response takes her by surprise: “Our work last night changed things. I can feel it in the air. The release, the clarity. We can go further now.” Instead of getting Dr. Poole to perform an abortion, he instead says that “if she doesn’t want to, she shouldn’t have to. She should keep it…. We’ll raise him. All of us, together. The child will bind us,” he says. “Has she picked a name?” The parallels between his explanation for raising the boy (who we now know is Julian) as a community and the calf as a community are a bit eerie, considering they ultimately sacrificed the calf. It’s unclear whether Jeffries envisions a similar fate for Julian—time will tell.
Harry’s relationship with Vera is further complicated.
Coming off of the confusion and blackout of last week, Harry is at first under the impression that Vera drugged him. He watches the security footage from Rockford back, and he seems sober enough; he drove himself there and he bafflingly insisted to the owner to sleep in the room of Bess and Adam’s murder. Vera was nowhere in sight. Speaking with her at the courthouse the next day (they’re there for Julian, and he pleads not guilty), she insists she didn’t slip him anything. But it’s not until they meet together in the park later on that they’re able to actually discuss the events of that night. “I realize you don’t trust me and I know what happened the other night doesn’t help,” she says, explaining that she had no idea that he’d react to the work the way that he did. But talk then turns to Julian: “I need to know if you’re on our side. On Julian’s side.” Their lawyer, Benji, is very concerned about the trial, and she asks Harry to help them by testifying on Julian’s behalf. They don’t stand a chance otherwise. “Just give me one good reason why I should believe anything that you say.” That’s when the truth comes out; Vera admits that she’s not his mother. “I raised Julian. I’ve done everything to protect him. I am his mother, and something as trivial as biology doesn’t make that any less true. She’s right, your partner.” (Heather approached Vera back in the courthouse accusing her of lying and claiming that Marin is Julian’s biological mother.) “Marin is Julian’s mother?” Harry clarifies, and Vera nods. “She left a couple of years after Julian was born. He doesn’t even know her. She was always troubled. She was distant.” Vera says that they don’t know where she went after then—but according to Carmen last week, this “purple lake” might have something to do with it. When word gets to Heather and Chief Liddell that Harry will be testifying on Julian’s behalf in the trial, Liddell gets Harry’s Dorchester precinct on the phone and determines that it’s time for Harry to go back home. Heather—perhaps understandably—feels betrayed that Vera, who at this point is a proven liar, is getting preferential treatment to their partnership. “We know you care for the kid. We do too,” Liddell says. “But this has gone far enough.” But before Harry is taken off the case, he does manage to piece together a bit more from that videotape Heather found in the storage unit…
The man in the video was Glenn Fisher, proving that there are more secret Mosswood members within Keller.
Watching the video tape back where the man is going through “the work” and he beats up a bystander thinking it’s his father, Harry and Heather together i.d. him as Glenn Fisher, the same man who hosted the Keller get-together that Jack dragged Harry some days prior. (We all remember how well that went.) The man in the video, however, is clearly not the Glenn that the two of them know; he seems possessed or hypnotized somehow. But identifying him still doesn’t answer the question of why the tape was in that storage unit in the first place; Heather believes that Bess and Adam may have been heading to Niagara Falls after all to stay in the unit, and someone was waiting there for them. Could it have been Glenn? Their first stop to try to figure it all out is to visit Glenn himself, and they show him the tape. He’s obviously taken aback that the tape exists and that they have it in the possession, but he admits that he went to Mosswood once or twice—he describes it as therapy, but he didn’t know they were teaching kids to murder people, he says. He asks how many tapes there were and plays coy about how many times he actually went. That’s when he gets defensive, too, refusing to discuss it more unless there’s an actual problem and telling them to leave. They comply, but not before Harry clocks the metronome on his desk. Could that be for his work? That inspires Harry to take things with Glenn one step further, and he stakes out his house. When he sees Glenn leave for the day, he enters the home and goes through some files, eventually finding documents and photographs confirming that the Fisher family had owned Mosswood for generations until they eventually sold it to Jeffries. That’s all we get about Glenn this episode, but Heather is decidedly wary of Harry’s methods of breaking and entering and thinks that he should be focusing more on Vera.
Harry has two more climactic confrontations by episode’s end.
Their time in the part is not Harry’s last interaction with Vera this hour; he gets a late-night phone call from her one evening, and she’s absolutely distraught. Julian has been put in solitary confinement after he began punching a fellow teen inmate for making fun of him and pretending to be dead and placing stones over their eyes. But Julian is refusing Vera’s company, accusing her of being a liar. The only person Julian agrees to meet with is Harry, so he obliges. “I don’t understand this place,” Julian tells him. “Everything I do is wrong, and I can’t figure it out. Maybe that doctor’s right. Maybe there’s something wrong with me.” But Harry assures him that there’s nothing wrong with him, there’s something wrong with “this place.” That’s when Julian reveals what Vera is lying to him about: She wants him to believe that the hooded figure in his dreams is just a dream, but he knows that was real at one point. “They tried to take me,” he says, citing an incident a few weeks ago in the middle of the night. “I was half asleep, but I saw him come in, and then they dragged him out of the room.” Julian unfortunately didn’t make out his face. The unanswerable question, then, is left to Harry: “Why would your mother lie to you about this?” And all Julian can manage is to shake his head.
The second confrontation comes from his old friend Jack. After Liddell fires Harry from the case, he makes his way back to Jack’s, who’s waiting up for him on the sofa. He admits that he wishes Harry had left town sooner as he first suggested and things wouldn’t have ended this way. “She’s protecting her career, which is what she should do,” he says of his daughter’s collaboration with Liddell. “You weren’t exactly helpful in that regard.” Then things get tense: Harry—paranoid from the revelations surrounding Glenn Fisher—begins asking Jack if he’s ever been to Mosswood Grove or if he knows anyone who’s ever been. Glenn comes up, and Jack jumps to his defense as a “stand-up guy,” and he gets angry. He stands up eye to eye with Harry and dares him to “grow a pair” and say what he actually means, but Harry backs down. “I’m such an idiot,” Jack laments. “All these years wondering what I did. You never thought about anybody but yourself.” Harry leaves Jack’s and—considering his limited options of allies in Keller—he goes back to Rockford and spends the night where he was before: at the scene of the crime.
—While last week revealed the final time Heather saw Marin before she moved to Mosswood, this week shows that Heather never gave up. There’s a flashback to her coming to Mosswood to see Marin and to try to convince her to move in with her and her father, but Marin refuses. “Heather—grow up,” she says. “None of that matters anymore. Go home.”