Jamie starts to lose it in “Part III”, as the birth of his son and his lingering guilt send him into a psychological tailspin.
This recap of The Sinner Season 3, Episode 3, “Part III”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Just in case you’d forgotten about Jamie (Matt Bomer) trying to strangle an old man in a hospice last week, The Sinner Season 3, Episode 3 is quick to remind you. As it turns out, Jamie is still letting that moment rattle around his tattered psyche, along with fragmented recollections of Nick (Chris Messina) digging a grave – that shovel thwacking mud forms something of a soundtrack for “Part III”, and is a pointed reminder that these two dug a grave on the property of Sonya Barzel (Jessica Hecht) with, one assumes, the intention of filling it.
Nevertheless, Leela (Parisa Fitz-Henley) has just about had enough of Jamie’s moody introspection. She’s due to give birth in a few days and Jamie seems dangerously uncommitted to the matter, even debating whether it’s right to bring a baby into this world that they all know so precious little about – it’s such a comically self-absorbed musing that I genuinely laughed out loud. Also funny, at least to me, is Ambrose’s (Bill Pullman) on-going battle with sciatica, exacerbated by a night spent on Sonya’s porch. As someone who has suffered mightily from sciatica, Pullman’s limping, laying on his office floor and hissing “it comes and goes” through clenched teeth seemed especially well-observed, and matters are only made worse for him by the relentless chatter of Detective Vic Soto (Eddie Martinez), even if he does have an interesting new lead about Jamie having apparently attacked his college roommate back in the day.
That roommate – now a dermatologist – doesn’t reveal anything we hadn’t already suspected; Jamie was a seemingly nice guy until he met Nick, and then quickly went off the rails, spending nights out up to no good and returning to the college dorm covered in muck and blood. The revelation of violence in his past would have felt like more of a revelation if we hadn’t already seen him emotionlessly watch Nick die and then attempt to strangle an OAP for no reason, but at least it helps Ambrose to build a profile.
Our own profile of Jamie should include “getting nuttier” after The Sinner Season 3, Episode 3, in which he terrorizes a fellow commuter and then meets Emma (Layla Felder) – his Ivy League student with the deeply awful parents – off-campus before terrifying her with an existential rant about the pointlessness of floating through space on a big rock and basing your future on an education just because it seems like the right thing to do. Midway through his point he suddenly realizes he’s acting like a maniac and apologizes, but the damage is done – he later has it out with his boss about Emma deciding that college might not be in her future after all, largely thanks to him.
Jamie’s creepiness even extends to the birth of his son, which goes well largely thanks to Leela’s brother since Jamie spends the majority of the labour thinking about Nick digging again. As we linger on these visions, we get more details of the scene, including someone else present, kneeling with a hose. Funnily enough, Ambrose receives some pictures from Jamie’s old roommate, one of which shows him on the floor of his dorm, holding a hose – I think there might be a connection, folks! Jamie also has the word “ubermensch” carved into his headboard, so you just know you’re going to get a Friedrich Nietzsche primer before long, and The Sinner Season 3, Episode 3 doesn’t disappoint (it’s the idea of a superman that Hitler co-opted as justification for the Aryan Race if you were wondering.)
Before that, though, fatherhood is proving to be a bit of a challenge for Jamie. He’s paranoid of his son suddenly stopping breathing – a common anxiety for new parents and one I experienced when both my children were little – and he keeps imagining Nick sinisterly rocking in chairs and following him around the house, which is, you know, a bit odd. He also lashes out at Leela’s brother for holding the baby boy, and imagines Nick twisting him until his tiny little bones break, which was perhaps the most disturbing moment of television I’ve seen for quite some time.
Less disturbing, and also for now less interesting, is Ambrose’s burgeoning relationship with Sonya and her amateur sleuthing, although I must admit it’s hilarious watching a woman blatantly come on to a man as emotionally impenetrable as Ambrose. Pullman does a really great job of working in a slightly off-kilter android register whenever the character is forced to interact with regular human beings, and it’s always great fun.
Ambrose only really opens up when it’s time to confront criminals (or potential criminals), which he does with Jamie in The Sinner Season 3, Episode 3, letting him know that he has DNA evidence putting him at the grave on Sonya’s land, details of his college exploits, and proof that he wiped Nick’s phone on the night of the accident and let him die. I appreciate that “Part III” toys with Jamie being a smug, elusive villain and then swiftly abandons it when the psychological strain becomes too much for him; after the bone-breaking vision of Nick, he presents himself to Ambrose and basically begs for his help, suddenly terrified. It’s a more interesting direction to take the character than simply having him embrace his dark side, though there’s still time for that later.
Jamie’s psychiatric consultation is a fascinating and thoroughly bonkers sequence in which Jaime beats his own high-score for inappropriate demented ranting, quite obviously considering stabbing the consultant in the throat with his ballpoint pen and then explaining at great length how, when holding a small child, it’s always tempting to smash it on the floor and just have done with it rather than deal with the stress of potentially dropping the baby anyway. The way he says this is as if he’s revealing some canny hidden truth, when in reality he’s just exposing himself as being deeply unhinged – which doesn’t go unnoticed by Ambrose. By the time Jamie has paraphrased “his friend” about how pain is “the gateway” and made off into the night, Ambrose is convinced he’s going to do something drastic. The manhunt is on.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.