As Jamie begins to unravel, Harry takes a huge gamble with his life in an attempt to crack the case – or is it an attempt at something else?
This recap of The Sinner season 3, episode 6, “Part VI”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
There’s something admirably smug about Jamie Burns, who returns to work in “Part VI” as though he hasn’t just murdered someone and threatened a police officer. He might have been kicked out by his wife, but you get the sense he reckons that’ll all blow over. But not if Harry Ambrose has anything to say about it; he’s pretty determined to tell Leela in no uncertain terms that her husband’s a killer. Surely not her husband, she postulates, who never even gets angry, not even when she had an affair two years ago (that’s that mystery solved). Harry wonders if there’s anything in Jamie’s past that might suggest he’s prone to bouts of maniacal violence, but Leela can only think of the time he was badly beaten up by a childhood friend.
As ever, The Sinner season 3, episode 6 devotes some time to explanatory flashbacks, these ones going all the way back to Jamie and Nick’s first meeting at college. Their early encounters are defined by spirited, snarky discussions of Kierkegaard, the viability of an all-powerful God, Nietzsche, and the Ubermensch, so there’s little wonder these two turned out a bit weird.
Also weird, but progressing nonetheless, is the relationship between Sonya and Harry, even if they don’t seem to have anything to discuss other than Jamie and the case. With that in mind, it isn’t really much of a surprise when it turns out she’s sketching Jamie using secret pictures she took of him as a reference, or indeed that when Jamie turns up at her house to confront her she ends up taking more pictures of him in various states of undress.
(Side note: One of the things I like about this season of The Sinner, and Bomer’s casting specifically, is that it leverages his alluring good looks in a way that’s usually reserved for seductress types. It’s a neat reversal of typical gender roles.)
Anyway, as I was saying at the top of this recap, Jamie is smug to a faintly ridiculous extent. He’s confident enough to tell Leela about the murder and write it off as him being simply lost in a moment, and despite being advised to take a leave of absence he’s perfectly happy swanning around work handing out exams. You wouldn’t think anything was up with him, even though he’s not only ruining his own life but that of Harry, whose daughter cancels Thanksgiving family dinner after he assaulted Jamie in front of his grandson.
The Sinner season 3, episode 6 is smart to really show the cracks beginning to form in Jamie’s façade, though. At a fundraiser where Leela and her brother are also in attendance, Jamie goes ballistic when he’s shooed away by the pair of them and then Detective Soto. He goes properly crackers and repeatedly smashes a chair into a wall, which is never a sign of mental stability. But it also makes a nice counterpoint to how cool and collected he is at work. The idea of him being an entitled smarty-pants who throws tantrums echoes through the ages as another flashback reveals Nick finally peer-pressuring him into jumping off a bridge. For all his philosophical rambling, he’s just a big baby who’s cowed by stronger personalities.
He also seems in large part to be channeling Nick’s personality. Later in The Sinner season 3, episode 6, Jamie meets with Harry again, and shares all his bestie’s favorite talking points and aphorisms. He wants to show Harry how he and Nick engaged with the world, and hopefully why; this leads the pair of them to – where else? – that secluded grave in the woods. As it turns out, Jamie and Nick used to bury each other alive, to put their lives in the hands of each other and to come so close to death that, once they were dug up, things were never quite the same. Jamie wants Harry to try this, and using a written, signed confession as insurance, he persuades him to do so. “Part VI” ends with the air hose being pulled from the grave as Harry, alone and trapped with no phone signal, breathes in the darkness.
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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.