“Part VIII” provides a melancholy end to the third season of The Sinner, as Jamie’s final victim turns out to be the one he least expected.
This recap of The Sinner season 3, episode 8, “Part VIII”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Jamie Burns – and I suppose to some extent Matt Bomer – suits being a serial killer. He has the outfit all sorted. With his new haircut and shave he looks all gaunt and horrifying, or at least as horrifying as such an implausibly handsome man can look. He eerily quotes T.S. Eliot as a kind of murder mantra. He clearly enjoys the scared faces who look back at his staring, dead eyes; he likes the sound of sirens in the distance.
The Sinner has been building to this transformation all season, and it’s completed here in the finale. On the body of his dead captain, Ambrose finds one of those paper fortune tellers. Underneath each flap is a name: the dead captain’s, now crossed out, Sonya, his daughter, and his grandson. He knows what that means. Jamie is after people close to him – and Sonya, who he barely knows, but for the purposes of the fiction we’re pretending he cares very deeply about. Jamie is no longer a conflicted man teetering on the edge of a dark path. He has made his choice. He’s out for blood.
It’s Sonya who’s next. Not one for good decision making, she stays put despite Ambrose advising her to leave, and soon after Jamie arrives. He chases her around the kitchen table with a knife, like a bizarre, dark cartoon, but she’s saved by the timely arrival of the police. When Harry arrives, she tries to justify her idiocy in loose philosophical terms, as everyone this season has tended to justify everything. By this time, Jamie is long gone.
After a tearful and restrained farewell with Leela, Jamie makes his next move: Eli. What better way to lure Harry into a confrontation? And for all his experience, Harry is burned by emotion (and sciatica). Jamie is able to get the jump on him as he skulks around his own property, setting about Harry with a fireplace poker and stealing his gun. Once Eli is seated facing the wall, headphones on to preserve him from Jamie’s tedious rambling, the psycho schoolteacher lays out the next game. It is, unsurprisingly at this point, a game of chance involving another of those paper fortune tellers. Three options keep Eli alive. The fourth… well, it doesn’t.
But Harry has played enough games. In The Sinner season 3, episode 8, he isn’t interested in playing any more. That he refuses to indulge Jamie is meaningful; it strips power from a man who believes that everything is determined by random fate. Harry refuses to give himself or Eli over to chance. He will determine what happens. This puzzles Jamie, who evidently lacks the strength of character to decide his life’s path for himself. It’s a clash of ideologies. Even when Jamie turns the gun on Eli, Harry calls his bluff – it’s probably a good job he’s wearing those headphones, for the sake of their relationship.
A fight obviously ensues. In the scuffle, Eli is able to flee. Harry and Jamie chase each other outside, into the woods, and then back inside, where Harry is able to retrieve a back-up gun. Just as Jamie starts getting properly into ranting about the unconscious, Harry shoots him in the gut. It’s like that scene in Indiana Jones. He just can’t be bothered with the posturing anymore.
Unsurprisingly, as Jamie’s blood leaks onto the floor, that posturing spills out with it. In his final moments, he reveals himself for what he always was: a coward. He cries and begs. He’s terrified. In the end, he wasn’t built like his friend Nick, and no matter how hard he tried the façade wouldn’t stick. He wasn’t even built like Harry Ambrose, who holds his hand and strokes his head as he dies. It’s a pathetic death for a pathetic man.
But it’s a death that affects Harry all the same. Perhaps he recognized that Jamie was only ever someone trying to be someone else. He died having never found out who. The Sinner season 3, episode 8 ends with Harry and Sonya sharing a moment of closeness, of sadness, over how scared Jamie was to face the end he brought about himself.
We are fast becoming the number one independent website for streaming coverage. Please support Ready Steady Cut today. Secure its future — we need you!