Still recovering from The Sinner finale? You’re not alone. As fans await word on whether or not the hit series will get a green light for a second season, they have a lot left to mull over regarding its first. Cora Tannetti’s fate was finally resolved in the final minutes of USA’s limited edition thriller. Even though it aired over a week ago, one glaring omission from the finale continues to haunt this viewer. Why didn’t Cora seem to appreciate her husband?
Warning: The following article contains spoilers for The Sinner finale.
Earlier in the episode, it seemed that Cora (Jessica Biel) would not taste freedom for thirty years. In her initial sentencing that is exactly what the judge ruled, this despite learning the circumstances surrounding her relationship with Frankie Belmont (Eric Todd) and her subsequent captivity.
When the ax fell and her fate seemed sealed, Detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) didn’t give up. The process was far from instantaneous though, as a beleaguered Harry continued his fight for an imprisoned Cora, all the way down another set of winding roads and dead ends.
He continued his investigation hoping to find a witness to what Cora testified had happened to her, all those summers ago. He eventually succeeds and he helps Cora put the final piece back in her memory puzzle, figuring out it was Frankie Belmont’s father who had held her captive to protect his son.
Before all of that can happen, Cora waits in prison. As he has done in previous episodes, her husband Mason (Christopher Abbott) visits her, this time bringing their son with him. It is here that one hopes a certain light will dawn on Cora. After seeing her son Lane, now around five or six-years-old, she tells her husband he doesn’t have to bring Lane back when he visits.
Mason insists on bringing him, assuring her that it is important Lane has a relationship with his mother. Cora gives him a warm look and not much else. There’s no “thank you” or acknowledgment of her appreciation for his enduring support of her. After eight episodes and many years, he had earned some, and he never gets any.
By showing that Lane is a far cry from the toddler he was when the series began, The Sinner subtly reveals how much time has passed since this ordeal began and how long Cora’s husband has remained devoted to her. He stood by her when an angry public threw trash in his yard and listened as his wife was bad-mouthed by the community. He got into a fight defending Cora and was arrested himself.
He lost business and his father was critically injured and nearly died because of a plan he hatched trying to help her. In spite of all of this adversity, he remained steadfast and loyal to her.
So how was all of this lost on Cora?
For most of her life, Cora had been without an advocate. No one had her best interest at heart and during the events of The Sinner, it became clear that Mason and Ambrose were those long-awaited advocates.
So why did she acknowledge Ambrose’s contribution to her freedom and not her husband’s? While her lawyer urged her to give up, both of them gave her a reason to fight.
Maybe Cora didn’t feel worthy of Mason’s devotion. As the series develops, we can clearly tell she has some self-esteem issues. Her outward life when the series began was not horrible. That is what made her inexplicably throwing it away so hard to comprehend. Mason clearly demonstrates he loves her, but how deeply Cora returns those feelings remains a mystery.
While she has a domineering mother-in-law, she has a kind husband she worked alongside making an honest living, and nothing we learn about her life with him in subsequent episodes changes that perception. So why is she so hesitant to express her appreciation of his commitment to her?
For a series so focused on the small details, a simple gesture on Cora’s part, acknowledging her husband’s loyalty would have been profound. The Sinner ends without explicitly telling us what Cora’s future will be. Given the way Mason responds to everything, he clearly hopes they will resume their life as a family.
If The Sinner were to continue beyond its originally planned single season, how Cora puts her life back together would be an interesting story to tell. As the series ends, we never get any actual closure regarding Cora and Mason’s marriage.
We never learn how he feels about everything she disclosed about her life before they met — all of the secrets she kept and suppressed. Another season focusing on how Cora rebuilds her life and marriage, as she and Mason struggle to come to grips with everything they overcame, could easily comprise another season.
Or the show could just focus on Ambrose and another mystery he becomes embroiled in. Even if The Sinner Season 2 were to focus on the determined detective, Cora could have an advisory role as someone who has recovered suppressed memories. That kind of insight could come in handy with another case he works on.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, The Sinner‘s showrunner Derek Simonds discussed the possibilities surrounding a potential second season. There has still been no official announcement on whether a second season will actually happen, and if so, what it will definitively be about, so stay tuned.
[Featured Image by Peter Kramer/USA Network]