The Sinner season 2 often feels like a large departure from the USA drama’s freshman run. While that initial Jessica Biel-led season ran on dream logic and puzzle piece-like shattered memories, we can mostly trust what we see on-screen this time around. Young teenager Julian Walker (Elisha Henig) did definitely kill two members of his upstate New York “community” (Ellen Adair and Adam David Thompson), mostly because they were trying to kidnap him. Julian did definitely grow up in the Mosswood Grove “community” (read: cult) with his mother Vera Walker (Carrie Coon). Something is definitely up with Julian.
But, one single season 2 scene harkens back to the twisty roads of The Sinner 2017: Julian’s dream where a hooded figure creeps into his room and slips their hand into his chest. It’s a haunting visual that we first saw in premiere “Part I” and were reminded of in last week’s “Part IV.” Well, Wednesday night’s “Part V” suggest this “dream” might be more real than Julian's mom wants him to believe.
And, the seemingly villainous hooded character might not be so bad at all — it might just be Julian’s biological mother, Marin (Hannah Gross).
This theory starts coming together in “Part V,” when Julian explains to detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) that he believes Vera is lying to him about the hooded “thing” tormenting his sleeping hours. “She wants me to believe it’s only a dream,” Julian complains of Vera. “But she’s lying.” According to the 13-year-old, just a few weeks earlier, someone came into his room and tried to “take” him in the middle of the night. That also means the hooded figure appeared mere weeks before the now-murdered Bess McTear and Adam Lowry attempted to abduct Julian (seemingly for his own good).
“I was half asleep, but I saw him come in. And then they dragged him out of the room,” Julian continues. But, Julian didn’t see the intruder’s face, so he has no idea if it truly was a “him.” Rather, the teen’s conclusion seems more like a Sharp Objects-esque assumption that the only people who commit violent crimes are men, rather than a factual conclusion.
While it’s possible the mysterious missing “Beacon” (Brennan Brown), aka disgraced psychologist, former Mosswood leader, and Julian’s surprise biological father Lionel Jeffries, is the hooded individual, it makes more sense if the figure is actually Marin. The Sinner does have a habit of turning incomprehensible violence by women into applause-worthy refusals to be subjugated. Just look at the full story of Cora Tannetti (executive producer and season 1 star Jessica Biel). The Marin possibility seems all the more likely when you remember the weird storage locker in Canada.
Marin disappeared soon after Julian was born and hasn’t been seen in over a decade. Someone bought a storage locker in Julian’s name with cash — that storage locker is filled with incriminating Mosswood evidence and little boys' clothing — and someone tried to “kidnap” Julian weeks ago. It sounds very likely Marin recently returned to Mosswood to retrieve her son. She was wearing a hood to help shroud her undercover mission, and she touched Julian’s chest simply because she was happy to see her child. Unfortunately her scheme was foiled, and she was dragged out of Mosswood without Julian.
So, that would make Adam and Bess’ kidnapping of Julian Marin's Plan B to save her son from the clutches of his “community.” That would explain why Bess and Adam didn’t even pack Julian a bag — they knew his mom has been saving clothing for him. It would also explain why the abduction occurred so soon after the original hooded figure accident. Plus, the “Part V” flashback where Marin returns to Mosswood for good is leading. If you pay attention, you’ll notice Vera is in the middle of speaking to Bess, specifically, when Marin approaches. And, Bess is concerned about the increasing violence in Mosswood.
If anyone were going to help Marin, even over a decade after the events of the flashback, it would be someone who has known her for years and questions the suspicious practices of Mosswood. It would be someone like Bess.
Even Marin’s disappearance makes sense when you take into account the darkness that concerned Bess so long ago. “Part V” suggests it is possible “The Beacon,” or as we’ll call him, Jeffries, could have planned to murder Julian as part of a Mosswood ritual. This alarming theory seems especially potent after a flashback where Jeffries announces the “community” will raise a calf and then slaughter it together for a group-wide “catharsis.” As Jeffries tells Vera, “We’ll raise him, all of us together. We’ll make him one of us. The more we love him, the more he’ll embody all our human frailties. So when we offer him up, release … Go ahead, name him.”
When Vera talks about Marin being pregnant, soon after the calf is killed, Jeffries hits disturbingly similar beats, saying Mosswood will raise the baby “together,” because “it” will “bind” them. Not “they,” “he,” or “she” — “it.” Finally Jeffries asks, “Has [Marin] picked a name?” It sounds almost identical to Jeffries telling Vera to name the doomed calf. If Jeffries did try to harm Julian, it’s possible Marin killed the “Beacon” and fled Mosswood, explaining her off-the-grid life.
With three episodes left, we’ll find out soon if The Sinner season 2 is actually the tale of a woman desperately trying to save her son from the cult that tried to kill him. Or, if it’s just about a creepy cult leader running around in a dumb hood. We all know which one would be better.
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