The final moment of The Sinner is everything that's wrong with TV.

*Content warning: This post contains spoilers for The Sinner. Read on at your own risk. 

The Sinner is one of the most talked about TV shows of 2017.

It’s a sleeper-hit that kind of crept up on all of us and very quickly began to dominate all of our conversations. “Have you watched The Sinner?” is now a perfectly acceptable way to greet someone.

In many ways The Sinner has been groundbreaking.

LISTEN: The Binge hosts discuss The Sinner’s most controversial scene and it’s biggest plot hole. Post continues after audio…

Firstly, it’s a ‘why-dunnit’ rather than a ‘who-dunnit’. In the first episode we witness Cora murdering Frankie Belmont on the beach, seemingly on impulse. We then spend the next eight episodes trying to figure out why. This is very different to the ‘who-dunnit’ narratives we’re used to.

Secondly, it was intended to be a one-time series event. Everything that needed to happen, happened in those eight episodes. Well, kind of.

And thirdly, The Sinner is one of the rare shows that’s pretty much female-focused. Most of the time the story-line focuses on Cora, her sister Phoebe, and to a lesser extent Maddie, and the horrible events that unfolded that night.

It’s Cora’s story that we’re invested in from that very first episode and we continue to be on her side right up until the final episode, even though we know she’s committed a horrific crime.

But there’s one scene in The Sinner that lets us down.

It’s the final moment of the series where Detective Harry Ambrose (played by Bill Pullman) is sitting in his car outside the courthouse. The series ends with the camera zooming in on the bruises on Ambrose’s fingernails.

It’s a very jarring scene – Jessica Biel’s character is supposed to be at the centre of the story and we’ve just left her behind bars. So why are we now focusing on the detective?


The scene is also not surprising in a way. It’s indicative of everything that’s problematic with the portrayal of women on screen and it hints at a bigger flaw throughout the series.

Listen: There’s a major plot hole in The Sinner. And all the TV shows you need to be watching this week.

This scene makes you question why we needed Ambrose to play such a large role in the series. Why do we need a male character to save Cora? Could we not have extracted Cora’s story in any other way?

In a way, throughout the series, Cora plays the damsel in distress and Ambrose plays her knight in shining armour. He takes an interest in her case and goes above and beyond to help her out and it’s only through Ambrose’s assistance that Cora is able to finally face her past.

But does this takeaway from Cora’s role? Would it had been better if Cora had been able to tell her own story and to find the answers on her own? Maybe.

However, the scene could also be a little hint of what’s to come. Although the creators of the show initially intended it to be a limited one season series, Harry Ambrose’s role and backstory could be used to create a second series.

There has been talk that a second season would either centre around a totally different case that Detective Ambrose would be involved with or it would be about Detective Ambrose himself and his background.

Obviously something happened in Ambrose’s past to make him enjoy pain and seek the company of a dominatrix. This would also explain why the last thing we see are the bruises on his fingernails, which are caused by the dominatrix standing on his fingers in high heels.

I guess we’ll just have to wait until season two to find out whether this was an oversight by the creators or a deliberate move to set up season two.

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