As far as penultimate episodes go, The Sinner Part VII perfectly stirs the pot and gets us ready for the grand finale. Catch up on all you need to know below.
An Amber Alert is put out for Julian.
Upon finding Julian’s room empty at the end of Part VI, Julian’s new foster guardian Garrett calls in Keller police, including Chief Liddell and Heather, and they know the first place to look: Mosswood. Unannounced, they raid the commune and begin searching for Julian, but he’s nowhere to be found. This all is news to Vera, who, upon learning that her son is missing, gets arrested while trying to escape the lockdown to try to find him. Harry, meanwhile, responds to Julian’s disappearance not by assuming it was Vera’s handiwork, but thinking he may have been kidnapped by the hooded figure of Julian’s nightmares. He goes to Garrett’s house to scope out the premises and eventually makes his way to a parking lot across the street. Speaking with a group of teen boys loitering in the parking lot, he asks if they’ve seen any mysterious vehicles in the last few days, and sure enough, they recall a brown camper van with all its curtains pulled parked there the night before. Harry has a lead. He makes his way to the precinct to inform Heather and Liddell, the latter of whom is none too pleased to see Harry still in Keller -- nor is he convinced Harry’s theory holds any water. Heather, however, steps up and calls in the Amber Alert herself. “I could be wrong,” Harry admits, “but I think I’m right.”
Vera knows who took Julian: Marin Calhoun.
After calling in the Amber Alert, Harry goes to the precinct to visit Vera, who’s being held for resisting arrest during the Mosswood raid. Harry tells her about the brown camper van, and a note of recognition flashes on her face. But she refuses to tell Harry what she knows, instead requesting to speak with her lawyer. “What you’re doing right now -- you’re hurting him,” Harry says. But her response is biting: “Harry, saving my son isn’t going to save you.” It’s then that Heather interrupts and says that they found something: the abandoned camper van on the side of the highway outside of town.
The plates on the van are stolen from Canada, and it appears as if whoever left the van there was out in a hurry; the back of the camper is in disarray. Walking through the surrounding woods, Harry gets his first clue to who the kidnapper was: He finds a white rope cincture tied off into five knots. It belonged to a nun. Vera, too, is connecting the dots on the kidnapper’s identity. While speaking with Benji, she tells him to find Terry (the grey-haired man with the ponytail) and have him pay a visit to the Grey Daughters.
Turns out, the Grey Daughters is a nearby convent, which is where Vera knew Marin Calhoun -- who’s alive! -- was staying. Harry pieces this together, too and the next scene shows Heather and Harry visiting with Sister Joanne. While Harry is requesting a list of all active sisters, Heather notices a peculiar sight on a nearby photo board: Marin. Sister Joanne explains that the young woman in the photo went by the name Laura, and that she was a part of the recovery program run at the convent before living with them permanently for the last three years.
Marin, it turns out, left the convent a few weeks prior; Heather and Harry also learn that just the night before, her “father” (but in actuality, Terry) had come by the Grey Daughters for a box of her things. Upon leaving the convent, the two detectives are speculating what to do. Not only is it a huge surprise that Marin is still alive -- it’s also heartbreaking because she’s still in the wrong for kidnapping Julian, and they can’t just let her get away with it. “All she ever wanted was a family. She was always over at our house. Birthday, holidays. Any excuse to come over. She never wanted to go home,” Heather remembers. But she also blames herself: “I ruined it for her. I did it back then, and now I’ve gotta do it again.” That’s when she calls in the Amber Alert to update to a confirmed kidnapper identity: Marin Calhoun.
We flashback to see how Marin came to reunite with Julian.
Cut to several weeks prior after Marin leaves the convent, and her first stop is Mosswood. It’s been years since she’s been back -- and it’s been troubled years at that, with several stints in rehab before landing at Grey Daughters. But Vera still greets her with open arms. When it becomes clear that the reason behind her visit is because she wants to take Julian back, however, things sour, and Vera kicks her off the premises. Vera never told Julian about his birth mother; what would it mean if this woman came into her 13-year-old son’s life now? “You abandoned him, and I’m his mother now,” she says, even as Marin explains that she’s been clean and staying at Grey Daughters for three years and counting.
Later that night is the first appearance of the hooded figure in Julian’s room: It’s Marin making a first attempt to kidnap her son. But she’s caught and kicked out a second time (which Julian vaguely remembers, and it’s how he knows Vera has lied to him and that there really was a figure in his room). Marin manages, though, to convince Bess, who’s sympathetic to her situation, to help her get Julian off of Mosswood and reunited with his biological mother. That’s why Bess and Adam and Julian were driving to Niagara Falls before getting held up at the Rockford Lodge. Marin was waiting for them in the storage unit until she saw the headlines of a 13-year-old boy murdering his “parents.”
From that point forward, she scopes out the Walker murder case as it unfolds from afar, eventually tracking Julian down at Garrett’s home, parking her brown camper across the street, putting up her hood, and sneaking in through the window to take him away. Julian agrees to go with her on the promise that she’s going to take him home to Mosswood. It’s not until next morning, as they’re driving along, that he begins panicking when he realizes they’re not driving to Mosswood. Worse yet, she has a gun that she keeps on the dashboard, a threatening presence in any situation, whether she intends to harm Julian or not. His fright leads to a full-on flip-out, and he threatens to jump out the back of the moving van. So Marin pulls over and jumps in back with him to try to calm him down; she explains that she’s his mother, which puts Julian into stunned silence and compliance, if only momentarily. She takes that opportunity to try and restrain him with the cincture, but he slips away and runs out into the woods. Marin catches up with Julian soon enough and calms him down: “It’s OK, I’m not going to hurt you… I know Vera never told you about me. But I used to live at Mosswood, too. That’s where I gave birth to you. I chose your name,” she says. Julian stares back at her, unsure of whether or not he can trust her, and then she starts singing the lullaby that Bess would sing to him, “Down in the Valley.” He begins to warm to her; he knows she’s telling the truth. She says that she just wants to get to know him a bit, that if he spends a few days with her, she promises to take him back if that’s what he wants. He agrees -- but when they go to return to the van, the police have already shown up and called it in. We’re caught up to present day at this point in the episode.
Marin and Julian don’t get very far.
Now with Julian voluntarily on board, Marin books them bus tickets to Niagara Falls, but their trip is cut short when the driver is forced to pull over due to one of Julian’s episodes. As he’s bonding with Marin and learning the truth of why Bess and Adam had taken him away, Julian feels insurmountable guilt and confusion for poisoning them and begins violently lashing out as we’ve seen him in the past. Then, sitting on the side of the road, Marin calls Heather to try to convince her to stall the police to get her enough time to skip town with Julian. But no matter how she feels about Marin and the situation, Heather holds her ground and tells her that she can’t help her. When they hang up, Heather has the call traced and tracks down the gas station from which she was calling just outside the Five Nations Reservation. Harry surmises that Heather was likely trying to get Julian across the U.S./Canadian border though the reservation and begins driving through to see what they can find.
Marin, meanwhile, is settling into a motel on the reservation with Julian. Mysteriously, she makes a phone call to an unknown person, but it’s someone who is clearly up to speed on her and Julian’s situation. “Hi, it’s me,” she says. “We’re here.” The entire time she’s on the phone, Julian is shown eyeing the gun that Marin brought with her from the van. Something bad is about to happen.
Back to Heather and Harry, as they’re driving, a local squad car sounds its sirens and speeds by them. They take that as good a lead as any and decide to follow it, and they come up on the motel where Marin was staying. Heather and Harry get out of their car and run up to the police line -- the sight is tragic. Outside, dead in the middle of the street due to an apparent gun shot, is Marin.
- Vera seems to know where Marin was heading before her death. Once she’s let out of jail, she returns to Mosswood to find many of its followers leaving due to the recent string of events and conflict on the site, and she doesn’t blame them. She mourns all her losses by the campfire where people are burning their belongings. That’s when Terry approaches her with Marin’s Bible she had kept while at Grey Daughters, and inside is an old, folded out pack of matches being used as a bookmark. We don’t know what it means, but Vera does. “I know where she’s going,” she says.
- We also learn the I.D. of the body from the reservoir: Britt Jacobs, who has no relation to Mosswood. She was a Deakins resident who suffered from clinical depression, so it’s assumed that she committed suicide. It’s unclear if her identity will play a role in next week’s finale -- but there’s only one way to find out!