The Sinner season 3, episode 4 recap – “Part IV”

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: March 1, 2020 (Last updated: December 3, 2023)
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The Sinner season 3, episode 4 recap - lads on tour in "Part IV"


Jamie and Ambrose enjoy a long, complicated night out, as more details of Nick’s death come to light and another murder makes matters even more complicated.

This recap of The Sinner Season 3, Episode 4, “Part IV”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.

My daughters make and play with the same kind of paper fortune tellers that Jamie (Matt Bomer) and Nick (Chris Messina) use to determine their fates in The Sinner Season 3, Episode 4, which only confirms what I already suspected about their inherent evilness. But nevertheless, we open “Part IV” in a flashback to these two talking nebulously about their plans, one obviously more into it than the other, and we are reminded again how much mileage this season is getting out of what amounts to quite a childish game of chance.

Jaime, you’ll recall, is on the run, sort of, being pursued by Ambrose (Bill Pullman) even though he hasn’t technically been charged with a crime. He’s doing his whole routine of maniacally staring at people on public transport and fashioning another fortune teller out of scrap paper from the floor, but his movements are being tracked by Detective Soto (Eddie Martinez). He leads Ambrose out of his jurisdiction, but the limping copper isn’t too concerned; he’s convinced that Jamie is going to do something drastic, and if he isn’t there to intervene that’ll be something else – along with sciatica – that he has to uncomfortably live with.

Jamie’s mania, for some reason, strikes quite a funny chord to me – his ridiculous existential rambling reaches a fever pitch in The Sinner Season 3, Episode 4, and I couldn’t help but smirk at the silliness of it all, however sinister the implications might be. While he’s wandering through the city and buttoning his poor wife Leela (Parisa Fitz-Henley), which is all we see of her in “Part IV”, he also berates some random woman for dragging her child along – the father of the year, folks, only one episode removed from describing how he had the uncontrollable urge to drop his new-born infant on the floor.

Jaime does what all good villains do – goes to an art gallery and stares contemplatively at unimpressive modern art. Well, it’s actually outsider art, as explained by Jaime’s former student Sophie Greenfield (Ella Rae Peck), who works at the gallery and is excited to see the swarthy Mr. B, who every girl in school apparently had a crush on. She takes a selfie with him and uses it as a convenient excuse to get his number, and very shortly afterward texts him inviting him to a party, but we’ll get to that later.

Ambrose, meanwhile, tracks Jamie to the swanky hotel restaurant we’ve seen in flashbacks, where he’s once again teetering on the edge of the roof. Using the paper contraption to guide him, he precariously dangles one foot over the edge, but he predictably bottles it – it seems without Chris to peer-pressure him into stupid things he isn’t as daring and enigmatic as he likes to think. To make his night worse, Ambrose promises to limp around after him all night, spoiling his fun along the way.

Their first stop on what becomes a pretty entertaining night out is a bar, where Jamie explains that Sonya’s (Jessica Hecht) role in the whole ordeal was determined by the paper fortune teller and thus entirely random – this, apparently, was something Nick liked. And while we still don’t really have a sense of why Jamie went along with all Nick’s nonsense, we do get some idea of how he viewed his late friend – as someone who was “honest” in a world of deceivers, his obvious sociopathy somehow an admirable trait. It’s a backward perspective and only makes Jamie look more pathetic and needy, but it’s a window into his tattered psyche that helps to explain the psychological tailspin he’s currently enduring.

With Sophie’s earlier presence, The Sinner Season 3, Episode 4 suggested it was going to lean into Matt Bomer’s striking handsomeness, and we get much more of that as the episode develops and Jamie attempts to prove a point by charismatically chatting up a couple of white-collar bro types and introducing them to some pretty women. This is funny largely because of Ambrose, who is introduced as Jamie’s “Uncle Harry” and continues to put a downer on the evening by limping around and chastising Jamie every time he tries to liven the party up. They eventually wind up in a hotel room, where lines of coke are racked up and inhibitions are beginning to loosen, at which point Jamie has another flashback to the night of Nick’s death and starts giving one of his now-trademark speeches about the futility of life and the inevitability of death, which freaks out his new buddies so much that they kick him and Uncle Harry out. Before that, though, Jamie imagines killing everyone in brutal detail, and the scene really works because of how comparatively mild the show has been thus far.

Anyway, about that flashback. We see Nick and Jamie digging the grave with their supplies, including that length of hose, and what I’m imagining here is that they usually bury each other alive with the hose as their only means of air as some dopey flirtation with death or some such. But Chris declares that they’re going to do things differently on that fateful night; they’re going to a house up the road, where a woman lives in isolation, and they’re going to bring her down here and bury her for good.

Jamie is immediately and understandably reluctant, but swayed much too easily by Chris’s recitations of flimsy philosophy – murder is, apparently, the next step on their eventual journey of “breaking through”, whatever that means, though one suspects it means nothing at all. Back in the present day, Ambrose himself – who, by the way, was filmed getting a back massage at that hotel party, which might well matter in the future – has just about enough of Jamie’s ranting, and tells him to just get on with whatever he’s planning to do rather than constantly going on about it in such fanciful terms.

The next party Jamie and Ambrose attend in The Sinner Season 3, Episode 4 is the one Sophie invited Mr. B to, which is immediately awful since there’s a medium upstairs helping the spaced-out guests connect with their lost loved ones. Naturally, Jamie is up for this, and the man senses an old friend attached to him, reciting that “prickly pear” bit from T.S. Eliot’s The Hollow Men. Are we flirting with some vague supernaturalism here? Nevertheless, Jamie is freaked out and leaves with Sophie, taking her on a beer run which quickly turns into a suicidal bonding exercise as he speeds through traffic. (You’ll be surprised to learn that this is something he used to do with Chris.) But much like how he couldn’t commit to throwing himself off a roof, he also can’t commit to facing death with quite the same level of determination that he’d like; Ambrose engages him a game of chicken and wins, with Jamie swerving at the last minute.

More flashbacks in “Part IV”, and I should mention that they’re less offensive in this show than they usually are, mostly because they give Chris Messina a chance to posthumously steal scenes. Anyhow, we return once again to the night of Nick’s death, this time to the moments before his actual expiry, where we see him beg his dear friend not to call 911. By letting him die is he, I assume, taking the next step, and Nick makes him promise that he’ll “keep going”, finishing what they started all at the behest of a piece of paper.

Back in the present day, Ambrose breaks his usual no-pill policy by swallowing painkillers, having been presumably pushed to the brink by a long night of debauchery and Jamie’s ceaseless existential rambling, which continues even in this scene. Jamie wants to be reassured that he isn’t crazy, and you get the sense that Ambrose, in his agreement, is simply telling him what he wants to hear. But you never know. He falls asleep in his car outside Jamie’s place, and is awoken by a call informing him that there has been a murder at the house party they both attended. At the scene, he finds the medium face-down on the carpet, blood everywhere. Bet he didn’t see that coming.

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