The Sinner 1×02 gave us more details, but left us with more questions.
As we reach closer to the finale of USA’s The Sinner (yes, it’s a while away, but still), more details on Frankie’s murder are slowly coming to the surface. On Wednesday night’s episode, viewers got to see Cora’s (Jessica Biel) “side” of the story. Pleading guilty for murder within the episode’s first few minutes, it seemed that things were not going all too well for Cora already. However, the judge, jury, and Detective Ambrose (Bill Pullman) believed that Cora’s clean history and behavior in court signaled otherwise. Although the move to send Cora to get evaluated before trial seemed a little unrealistic- (I mean, really? What judge would not send someone away for pleading guilty to a murder with 20 witnesses?), we understand that the writers made this move for a reason.
As the episode continued, a few eye witnesses began to talk with Detective Ambrose on their relationship to Frankie. We saw Ambrose meet with Frankie’s parents, Frankie’s wife, Cora’s husband Mason (Christopher Abbott) and even a few locals at a restaurant Frankie apparently visited. However, the episode’s main focus seemed to lie on Cora’s first encounter with Frankie, which happened on the 4th of July. In a chillingly honest recounting of getting pregnant by Frankie, who supposedly went by the alias “J.D,” and later attempting to commit suicide due to her family’s religious beliefs on pregnancy outside of marriage, Cora convinces Ambrose that she killed Frankie out of sadness and spite. Seems plausible, right? Well, Cora’s story slowly began to unravel as a lie after Ambrose found evidence that Frankie was not with her on the 4th of July, but in Los Angeles on that date. This revelation brought us back to the same question: Why is Cora lying?
RELATED | THE SINNER ROUNDTABLE 1×01 “Part 1”
We know that the song Cora heard on the beach triggers her into a different mental state, and that she had a troubled past. However, everyone’s stories about Frankie, including Cora’s, do not seem to check out. Instead, they seem to be blending together into a big jumble of who knows what. Where does this leave us? Well, our roundtable may have a few ideas.
Please welcome this week’s guests for our roundtable:
Sophia (@sophiarxcx) – Host, TV Newbie, Writer at TVAfterDark
Helen (@HelenLuvsVSPink) – Mother of Doggies, TV & Music Lover, Ohio State Football Fan
Michelle (@gollegly) – Freelance blogger – Jessica Biel Central @jessicabielcom
Stephen (@jessicabielcom) – Web Developer and Owner of Jessica Biel Central
Roberto (@roberto738) – TV Newbie
Nicole (@gravesn) – Book lover, tv & movie geek, comic con traveler
1. At the beginning of the episode, Frankie’s wife and Detective Ambrose had a meeting about Frankie’s murder. Do you think Cora was the “off” woman who Frankie was dating and got in an accident with years before?
Sophia (@sophiarxcx): I think so, she has no other reason to lie about Cora. But then again, believing her could be too easy- maybe Frankie had secrets and maybe he really did know Cora years before they even met!
Helen (@HelenLuvsVSPink): I do believe Cora is the woman Frankie was messing around with years ago, however, whatever Frankie told this girl, isn’t the half of what went on between himself & Cora.
Michelle (@gollegly): At first I did believe that she was. Their timelines in the past seemed to intersect and it made complete sense as to why he had the look of recognition on his face. But, as the episode went on and we learned more through Detective Ambrose’s eyes, no I don’t think so.
Stephen (@jessicabielcom): No, I think that Cora is telling the truth when it comes to her relationship with Frankie, if she knew him, she doesn’t know how.
Roberto (@roberto738): Yeah, I think Cora is lying on certain things about what happened to her.
Nicole (@gravesn) – No I didn’t know she was the off woman that Frankie dated before. That was a surprise.
2. There were a handful of flashbacks on this week’s episode- specifically of Cora being punished for accepting the gifts her aunt Margaret gave her (chocolate, toys). At one point, Cora’s mom even tells Cora, “One of bite of this chocolate, and he can take your sister.” Where do you think this belief stems from?
Sophia (@sophiarxcx): I think this kind of belief had to have stemmed generations back. Meaning, Cora’s parents and grandparents and great grandparents most likely believed that exposing yourself to certain items will harm your family. I’m glad Cora never gave into this belief though.
Helen (@HelenLuvsVSPink): I believe Cora’s mom is a few beers short of a six-pack & usually when religious fanatics act this way it’s because of how they were raised. Cora’s mother is obviously very mentally disturbed, I mean who says these things to their own child? Or any child for that matter! She has already blamed Cora for her sister Phoebe’s illness. Poor Cora.
Michelle (@gollegly): Cora’s Mother uses her religious beliefs as a way to justify her treatment of Cora. In the first episode, we hear her blaming Cora for the health issues Phoebe was born with. Claiming Cora took enough life from her mother to sustain 3 children. So this is a continued theme with her Mom. I believe she is imposing the biblical idea of greed on Cora in all aspects. “Be greedy and eat that candy bar and God will punish you. You were greedy while in the womb taking more than needed so God punished your sister because of you.” Basically, her Mom is nuts and her Aunt Margaret knows this.
Stephen (@jessicabielcom): I think Cora’s mother is filled with hate, and punishment plays a huge role in the bible. Between her religion and feelings of inadequacy, anything that could make someone else feel good is bad.
Roberto (@roberto738): She is the evil twin (not that her mom is normal, she is a fruit cake!) But I don’t think that Cora has a conscience. She is totally evil and we are going to find that out as the series goes on!
Nicole (@gravesn) – I think it comes from the belief of indulging in temptation at the expense of another. I don’t know if there is a bible verse for it but if Cora allows herself to enjoy her treats then she is hurting her sister and since she is mad at her mother she doesn’t care in that moment about her sister.
3. Why do you think Cora can remember some events, but not others?
Sophia (@sophiarxcx): I think Cora’s parents taught her to repress certain memories/feelings, and that is why she is able to remember some events but not others. I don’t think she consciously pretends to not know anything- I really do think she is mentally in a bad place.
Helen (@HelenLuvsVSPink): I think it’s a classic case of traumatic memory loss. Look at how she was raised, not to mention whatever events took place between herself & Frankie, that perhaps made her move to this small town. PTSD causes lots of memory loss & certain things, such as noise, or in this case that song by Frankie’s band, triggers her intensely.
Michelle (@gollegly): I believe that Cora has a combination of PTSD and Stockholm Syndrome. She was emotionally abused as a child and we have yet to learn about if there was physical abuse. Because she was a victim of her circumstances as a child I think a defense mechanism she has is to block out anything that causes her to feel like she did then. So I actually think she can remember everything, but is not allowing herself to do so, to avoid pain.
Stephen (@jessicabielcom): She has blocked a lot of memories, it’s only now that she is being forced to think about her actions that they are popping up.
Roberto (@roberto738): I think she remembers what she wants.
Nicole (@gravesn) – Something else must have happened around the time of her sister where she blocks the bad things out. Her mother is verbally abusive to her behind the sister. She is so stressed in keeping Phoebe alive that she alienates Cora.
4. We know that Cora’s “4th of July” story about Frankie was a lie. Why did she lie about this? Do you think she’s protecting someone or is there another reason?
Sophia (@sophiarxcx): I think that some of what she’s telling is a lie, and some is truthful. When Ambrose asked Cora why she lied she almost laughed at him. This is telling me that Cora is afraid of remembering that night for some reason. Hopefully we’ll learn why next week.
Helen (@HelenLuvsVSPink): I’m not sure it’s all a lie, I think she’s leaving out, or forgetting certain vital information. Hopefully in the coming eps we’ll find out what exactly went on, part of me thinks maybe she was in LA with Frankie/JD! Still not sure what to think just yet! Lol.
Michelle (@gollegly): Cora heard Frankie and his friends talking on the beach and learned that he was in a band from that. I believe some of the situation she told Ambrose is true, but not about being Frankie. I think Mason is on the right track looking for a JD.
Stephen (@jessicabielcom): I think she was trying make them feel like they solved the case. She doesn’t want Mason or her family to suffer but she also doesn’t know why she did what she did. So to answer his questions, she had to lie.
Roberto (@roberto738): I think her sister is afraid of Cora cause she knows Cora is pure evil.
Nicole (@gravesn) – She might be protecting someone. It’s hard to say who at this point. It looks like she may not really trust anyone.
5. Cora’s sister Phoebe seems to still have a large presence and impact on Cora’s daily life. Do you think Phoebe is still alive?
Sophia (@sophiarxcx): I do. I mean, she lied about her parents being dead!
Helen (@HelenLuvsVSPink): Actually yes, and I think Phoebe may also be entangled in this JD/Frankie story as well.
Michelle (@gollegly): I do believe that Phoebe is still alive. I think that Cora may not know this though. Since she claimed that her parents were dead, and they are not, it’s possible that she left home and never looked back when she went to live with her Aunt Margaret.
Stephen (@jessicabielcom): No, I don’t think Phoebe is alive. If she was, I think Cora would have taken her away from her family with her.
Roberto (@roberto738): I think her sister is afraid of Cora cause she knows Cora is pure evil.
Nicole (@gravesn) – She might be alive. I thought maybe someone may have hurt her and that is the reason Cora goes on the defense like that and attacks.
6. When Ambrose started playing that song while questioning Cora, Cora attacks him. However, was it a coincidence that Cora used the exact same stabbing motions she used while attacking Frankie to attack Ambrose? Could Cora have possibly killed someone else before Frankie?
Sophia (@sophiarxcx): It was a total coincidence, and I noticed it while coming up with questions for this week’s roundtable. I think that someone in Cora’s past taught her to defend herself like that. She most likely has hurt someone before- maybe her sister Phoebe? I noticed she had the same marks on her back that Ambrose did.
Helen (@HelenLuvsVSPink): Call me crazy, but I think it had something to do with the Seven Deadly Sins, and her Catholic upbringing. *Mind Blown* when they showed that pattern on Ambrose & on Frankie.
Michelle (@gollegly): No, I don’t think it is a coincidence that the exact same motions were used. My theory is the motions are a defense that she learned to do when that song is played. Someone taught her to defend herself against whatever happened while that song played in her past. It is possible that she has killed someone previously.
Stephen (@jessicabielcom): No, it’s not a coincidence and it’s also very possible that Frankie was not her first victim.
Roberto (@roberto738): 7 stab wounds and 7 punches? Yeah, that does mean something!
Nicole (@gravesn) – She may have killed someone before and either some covered it up or maybe there was no one around when she did it.
7. Lastly, now that you’ve watched Part II, what are your new theories as to why Cora killed Frankie?
Sophia (@sophiarxcx): At this point, it’s too early to come up with a theory. I know that her parents had something to do with the way Cora is now, but I need to watch more episodes to piece it together. Talk to me in 3 weeks haha.
Helen (@HelenLuvsVSPink): As I stated earlier I think Phoebe is somehow tied into this story, perhaps Frankie/JD did something to Phoebe as well?! There’s still so many questions to be answered, and Ambrose is surely going to find these answers. I can’t wait to see who this mystery person is that keeps saying ‘Are you coming?’ to Cora, seeming to be leading her somewhere dark & sinful. I believe this will clear up a ton of confusion for us all. Could this person be Phoebe? Hmmm! Lol.
Michelle (@gollegly): My theory is that Cora has had something horrific happen to her while that song played in the background. I don’t think it has anything to do with her parents, but actually after she went to live with her Aunt Margaret.
Stephen (@jessicabielcom): I think there was something going on between Cora and her father. That story line has not been tapped into and I’m wondering if it explains a secret program that Cora was involved in or something along those lines. She is acting like a sleeper agent.
Nicole (@gravesn): I thought maybe that was the real story. She was angry at him for getting her pregnant and leaving her alone. I honestly thought that she thought he was attacking the girl. That maybe she went into some trance and attacked. I’m thinking there is more to the story with Frankie. If he was in Los Angeles then why did she lie and say it was him?
Final Verdict: This time around, we heard Cora’s side of the story.
Part II of The Sinner left us withe even more questions than last week. It’s clear that Cora is repressing certain memories from her past, but we are still unsure as to why she is doing so. We are SO eager to find out what happens next. While we wait, we think we’ll start coming up with our own theories. I mean, our roundtable came up with some pretty *juicy* ideas about Cora’s past! Ultimately, like last week, we think the writers on the show really wrote a fantastic episode. They played with our heads, and teased us into thinking the puzzle surrounding Frankie’s murder was coming together. Still, we want to know your thoughts. What did you think of Wednesday’s episode? Tweet us or comment below & join us again next week for Part III.