So Cora Tannetti committed murder in The Sinner 1×01…the question is, why did she do it?
USA’s newest murder mystery-drama The Sinner left quite an impression on us! Airing on Wednesday night, the 8-episode limited series explores the mysterious murder of Frankie (Eric Todd) by the show’s lead Cora, played by Jessica Biel. Seeing as The Sinner is Biel’s first return to television after her time on 7th Heaven years ago, it’s insane how much of a performance she delivered in the premiere. Beginning rather eerily with an introduction to Cora and her husband Mason in their bathroom (Christopher Abbott), the writers characterize the show’s leads in a strategic way. At first, the two seem like any other couple that we have seen before on television. They joke around with each other, make love, and seem rather happy living with their child. However, this is not the case in Cora’s life.
From the start, Cora seems incredibly guarded, precise in everything she does, and quiet. We know that she does not like being touched, even when her husband tries to kiss her, and that something is on her mind. Throughout the remainder of the episode, the writers play with this characterization of Cora, especially in the scenes leading up to Frankie’s murder. When Cora eventually kills Frankie by stabbing him 7 times, we were left in shock. The killing was so impulsive and fast, yet brutal and gory at the same time that we definitely looked away for a second. We won’t spoil everything, but there may be a possible connection between Cora and this seemingly random man. And although we never get a distinct answer as to why Cora decided to stab and kill a stranger so brutally, we can tell you that answers are coming soon.
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Viewers got to see a small portion of Cora’s backstory, including very religious parents, and a sister who may or may not be alive. We were also introduced to Detective Ambrose (Bill Pullman), who seems to be a little too interested with Cora’s case. Still, we want to know- what did you all think about the premiere and what burning questions would you love to see answered in the remaining seven episodes? Let’s find out what our The Sinner roundtable thought!
Here to discuss everything that went down is our roundtable:
Sophia (@sophiarxcx) – Host, TV Newbie, Writer at TVAfterDark
Katie (@KatieBeth1231) – Preschool teacher, tv/movie/music fan
Stephen (@jessicabielcom) – Web Developer and Owner of Jessica Biel Central
Myra (@aj12sr13) – Spanish teacher, TV enthusiast
Lorie’l (@Myankeesandme) – Higher Education career professional, Writer, and aunt of two handsome boys
1. What were your first impressions of Cora?
Sophia (@sophiarxcx): From the beginning of the episode, I knew that something was off about her. She seemed really quiet and just strange, if that makes sense. I knew that she randomly killed a man due to all of the previews for the show that came out, so I knew that something wasn’t right.
Katie (@KatieBeth1231): My first impressions of Cora were that she was kind and devoted to her family, but that that she was troubled, with something lurking under the surface.
Stephen (@jessicabielcom): My first impression of Cora is that she’s trying to stay strong but is clearly an unhappy woman.
Myra (@aj12sr13): Crazy. I don’t know, just from the look in Cora’s eyes, everything seemed to trouble her. Everything around her looked like it bothered her, and I was really curious as to why she felt this way.
Lorie’l (@Myankeesanndme): My first impressions of Cora was that she was very checked out not really connected with what was going on around her someone who is going through the motions.
2. Within the first minutes of the show, it becomes clear that Cora is not fond of anyone touching her, including her husband Mason. Later when she stabs Frankie, Cora yells “get off of her.” Where do you think Cora’s feelings draw from and why did it cause her to commit murder?
Sophia (@sophiarxcx): I had a lot of ideas running through my head about where Cora’s feelings draw from. I think that Cora’s parents had a lot to do with the way she is now. From the flashbacks in the episode of her as a kid, it was easy to tell that she was affected heavily by her parents actions. Maybe her mother got killed by her father, and Cora now feels the need to protect other women? I don’t know.
Katie (@KatieBeth1231): My first thought was that Cora must have been attacked or violated in some way in her past. It seems like it may have made her uncomfortable with touch and seemed like in some way she felt she was protecting Frankie’s partner with her actions.
Stephen (@jessicabielcom): It’s obvious that Cora is having an internal battle, there might be something she is unintentionally repressing. I think the constant lying has caught up with her and made her so uncomfortable with herself that being touched is too much. I am still unsure as to why she committed the murder.
Myra (@aj12sr13): She definitely had a troubling past and I think a vivid and scary experience she had as a young girl triggered her to commit murder. I have theories as to why she yelled “get off of her,” but I think I need to watch more episodes to put it all together.
Lorie’l (@Myankeesanndme): When watching her interact with her husband at night I didn’t get the feeling that she didn’t want to be touched, I got the feeling that her husband was really insensitive to how his wife was feeling. Like when he came into the bathroom she clearly didn’t look OK but he proceeded to kiss on her and put her hand on his dick- like your wife is not OK right now I’m doing like chill the out. Obviously something has happened to her in the past, but I don’t think that she was taking a vantage of sexually I think that it may have had something to do with how her parents interact with each other, if you notice when they did the flashbacks as a little girl she was always people around corners no one was really aware she was there until they looked over and saw her.
3. Before Cora went swimming in the lake, she kept staring at her friend sitting at a picnic table. Then, before Frankie’s murder took place, Cora began to stare at the woman in front of her. Why do you think she did this?
Sophia (@sophiarxcx): I think maybe Cora was just assessing the situation. She probably admires how calm and fun the women around her are having, and questioning why she does not feel the same way.
Katie (@KatieBeth1231): Not quite sure. Maybe she’s wondering what is going on in their worlds?
Stephen (@jessicabielcom): I feel like Cora is trying to protect the women, especially the one Frankie was messing around with. I really think she thought she was doing the right thing, it was instinctual.
Myra (@aj12sr13): The women probably reminded her of her mother. Like when the woman at the picnic table was braiding her daughter’s hair, that seemed to parallel Cora and her mom.
Lorie’l (@Myankeesanndme): I think between these two people there were things that were triggering memories in her mind. Everyone has their pet peeve that set them off it could’ve been the way her friend loves it could’ve been the way the girl left or her voice and the way she laughed who knows.
4. There are a lot of religious iconographies in the series: the title of the show, scenes of Cora exposed in bodies of water, and even flashbacks to her as a child praying. Do you think this was intentional? Why or why not?
Sophia (@sophiarxcx): For sure. I think director’s frame certain scenes differently for a reason. Since the show is called “The Sinner,” I immediately noticed all of these iconographies and began thinking about their connections to Cora and even Ambrose, who of course, cheated on his wife. I can’t wait for the rest of the episodes to see how these images connect even more to the core of the show.
Katie (@KatieBeth1231): I do think that was intentional. The flashback to her mother tied together a religious background. Water has a cleansing connotation in religion, maybe that’s the connection?
Stephen (@jessicabielcom): Yes, 100%. I think religion causes a lot of issues for a lot of people. Especially when you’re a child being raised in the Church, you have your natural instincts then the ones you are being taught, there is always an internal conflict.
Myra (@aj12sr13): Um, maybe I think it’s intentional. Cora seems to always be thinking about religion, even though we don’t see it on-screen. Walking into the lake could mean cleansing herself, etc.
Lorie’l (@Myankeesanndme): I don’t think it was unintentional, I definitely do think it was intentional. I believe that religion has a part and whatever is wrong with her. You could tell that she was raised in a very strict religious home I’m the other conversation her mother had with her regarding her sick daughter. This could’ve also played a part in her breaking point.
5. Why do you think Detective Ambrose is so fascinated with Cora and the reason behind her “impulse killing?”
Sophia (@sophiarxcx): You know what, I don’t know. I think that both Detective Ambrose and Cora are connected somehow. I mean, the other officers and detectives on the case all told him, “why are you looking into this so much?” Cora confessed to killing Frankie, there were like 20 witnesses, and any normal detective would let the case go and send Cora to trial. Maybe Detective Ambrose just has a thing for murder mysteries.
Katie (@KatieBeth1231): Probably because he has his own secrets and her story is so strange and intriguing.
Stephen (@jessicabielcom): I think that Ambrose almost feels sorry for Cora. I think he’s looking at the case like there are two victims, Cora and Frankie. I also think he has a weird relationship with women and he might take on a “savior” complex, he needs to be the hero.
Myra (@aj12sr13): I think the Detective thinks similarly to Cora. Whatever she is suffering from on an emotional level, he can relate to it.
Lorie’l (@Myankeesanndme): I think the detective is so fascinated with Cora because subconsciously he wants to find answers for himself. He has impulses to that word definitely make clear up in the first episode.
6. Do you think there is a connection between Detective Ambrose and Cora? Could they both be considered the “sinners?”
Sophia (@sophiarxcx): Yes and yes. I don’t know how, but they seem to be in similar places mentally.
Katie (@KatieBeth1231): I don’t know if there is a connection between the two. Maybe in some way they are paying for what some believe were their sins.
Stephen (@jessicabielcom): Yes I do, but I am not sure how. I think that Ambrose gets Cora because she did what he wants to do. I think that her response “I just did it and I don’t know why” scares him because it makes him unsure of himself.
Myra (@aj12sr13): Yes I think there is a connection. Like I said earlier, they both are suffering emotionally.
Lorie’l (@Myankeesanndme): Depending on whether or not you are religious we are all sinners; we Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Psalms 51:5). However religious side they can both be considered the sinners because they both have a dark sort of shameful side that nobody knows about.
7. And finally, do you think Frankie and Cora really knew each other?
Sophia (@sophiarxcx): I didn’t think so at first, but when Detective Ambrose interviewed one of the witnesses who claimed Frankie “wanted to be killed,” I changed my mind. Maybe the two met before and Cora forgot?
Katie (@KatieBeth1231): I feel like something may have happened between them in the past but maybe Cora repressed the memory.
Stephen (@jessicabielcom): I do. I don’t know if they know each other directly, but they grew up around the same thing, the same thing that made Cora snap.
Myra (@aj12sr13): I think they know each other. Maybe Frankie did something to her when she was younger that she forgot about, and something in her just snapped when she was at the beach that day.
Lorie’l (@Myankeesanndme): It’s hard to really say so early on, they may have known each other meaning they may have prosperous but may have not interacted with each other. There’s a good chance that something happened with her and she remembers his face and has connected his face with whatever that is that’s causing her to have that break down. I guess we’ll just have to watch and see.
Final Verdict: Episode 1×01 has us hooked and now we want to go deeper into Cora’s mind.
“Part 1”introduced us to Cora Tannetti’s life and how much it changed in a matter of hours. But what will happen next? Well, since The Sinner is a limited-series event, you can definitely expect more answers about Frankie’s murder in the episodes to come. As a whole, the biggest question the show seems to pose is— “Why?” Why is all of this happening? Why did Cora decide to kill a stranger out of impulse? Why is everything connected, but not at the same time? These questions are what sets The Sinner apart from any other murder mystery series. The creators and writers of the show did a wonderful job twisting the classic whodunnit storyline into something refreshing and new. And ultimately, this approach was the perfect way to tell Cora’s story in such a small timeframe. Are you excited to see what happens next? We are too. See you next week.