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"The moment from The Sinner that stopped me from sleeping."

This post contains spoilers for Netflix’s The Sinner. 

When it comes to disturbing, confronting, and sickening crime stories, I know them all.

For reasons I can’t quite determine, I voluntarily absorb the gruesome details of crimes through podcasts and TV shows and documentaries. I can read horrific accounts and hear the stories of police and detectives who have worked on some of the most shocking cases in modern history, and while I often find myself stunned and unsettled and troubled, I don’t turn away. My fascination remains, as though there’s some dire truth about humanity to be found within the most vile of acts.

Listen to The Binge team discuss The Sinner. Post continues after audio.

But it was one scene, one sound in Netflix’s The Sinner that I couldn’t sit with. When I tried to sleep, I heard it over and over again, and I became frighteningly conscious of my own body and the fragility of it all. It scared me in a way I haven’t felt since I was a child, and while I’ve seen a flicker of recognition in those I’ve spoken to about it, it doesn’t seem to have affected them to the same degree.

The scene takes place towards the end of episode seven. Cora, J.D., Todd (J.D.’s ‘business partner’), Phoebe and Frankie are in the basement at Beverwyck, where Frankie’s been squatting ever since he had a panic attack on the way to L.A. Despite Cora’s reservations, Phoebe encourages her to relax and enjoy herself. Out socially for the first time in her life, Phoebe has established a connection with Frankie, and soon, they’re having sex. After several lines of cocaine, Cora ends up having sex not with her boyfriend J.D., but with Todd, as J.D. pushes her head to the ground. It’s upsetting enough – and then Cora catches a glimpse of her sister.

She’s limp on the couch underneath Frankie, as he attempts to revive her.

Cora and Phoebe, moments before things go horribly wrong. Image via Netflix.
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Then comes the sound. An awful, echoing crack, as Phoebe's ribs break under the force of Frankie's chest compressions. I've always known that it's somewhat common for ribs to break during CPR, but for some reason, I found that sound particularly disturbing. It's loud and confronting and as soon as the audience hears it, we know Phoebe's dead. Her body is too sick and too brittle.

But that sound is also about Frankie. The sound of Phoebe's ribs breaking is a testament to how hard Frankie was trying to revive her, and how much he wanted her to live. Phoebe's death isn't his fault - but in giving her the most 'normal' night of her life, he feels like he's also taken it away.

In most crime stories, it's those subtle, specific, and raw details we don't ever see. The moment a mother hears devastating news about her child. The attempts of paramedics to save a person in their most vulnerable state. The sounds and sights of death.

For a split second, The Sinner pulled back the veil on one of those haunting realities.

That's why I can't stop hearing that crack.

For the full episode of The Binge The Sinner special, listen below. 

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