The Sinner came to a close tonight in fitting fashion. This has always been Harry’s story to tell. The who, or more importantly, the why of it all, was in many ways secondary to the person who was uncovering the truth. It is one of the reasons the series has been so good across all four seasons. Combined with an ability to attract incredible talent, The Sinner was what smart television should be. It also gave Bill Pullman a vehicle for his subtle haunted approach to the grizzled detective. The Sinner Season 4 Episode 8, which acted as both a final act for the season and a swan song for Harry, gave us the closure we needed to allow Harry the chance to ride off into the night, hopefully with contentment if not happiness.
Harry is so tired. He is exhausted from carrying his burden and continuing to try to get justice for Percy. At every turn, he is being thwarted and lied to. He no longer knows who to trust. His biggest ally Chief Lou may be in bed with the criminals or at least be inadvertently duped by them. Meg, who came to his rescue last week, can’t be trusted either. She is a nightmare of a mother who refuses to see what her sons are. She now knows about the human trafficking, but she won’t turn them in no matter what she rationally knows is right. It’s the same deadly pattern that already cost her one family member, but she can’t see how dangerous it is for those that remain. Her mantra, “Stay quiet, stay together, no matter what.” will be the end for them. They just don’t know it yet.
Although Harry didn’t have to kill anybody in The Sinner Season 4 Episode 8 to have resolution, he did have to shoot someone. After the boatyard owner refuses to give him information, he gets help from Emily. Unfortunately, that leads him to a small island and Novacs, one of the many heads of this human trafficking snake. Although Harry sees Meg leaving his house, she is not there to get him killed but rather to convince Novacs to spare him. Meg is a complicated woman. Frances Fisher has been a delight to watch evolve from an iron-fisted matriarch to bruised, desperate mother. Luckily, Harry can shoot Novacs before he shoots him and the police arrive to take Novacs gun for testing. The ballistics match Brandon’s murder, and the pieces fall into place.
There is plenty of blame to go around, and Chief Lou is shouldering plenty. The smuggling ring happened right under his nose, and Josh was at least peripherally involved. To say Lou is naive is an understatement. “Nothing is ever what you think it is,” says Harry. It could be the logline for the entire series. Nothing is ever simple. Killers and victims are often both simultaneously, and that is undoubtedly true of Percy, who has been haunting Harry from the beginning.
Percy was haunted, not by her family but by her conscience. The Lams had two sons. CJ, who Percy had an affair with, and Beau, who worked for the Muldoons. He was the dreamer and the planner. The family’s golden boy loved the sea and wanted to secure a fishing permit to begin his family’s business. So when the Muldoons caught him selling fish he caught while using their boat, they thought they would teach him a lesson.
Unfortunately, things got out of hand, and Percy killed him trying to protect Sean. Colin, Sean, and Percy brought Beau back to shore to try to do the right thing. However, as the night wore on and the Lams were brought to see their dead son, things got even darker. The Sinner Season 4 Episode 8 reveals what happened that night to both the Muldoons and the Lams. Both families were destroyed.
The Lams fractured over morality, fear, and ambition. Mike wanted to accept the Muldoons offer of a fishing license, while Stephanie wanted only justice for Beau. Cindy Cheung(Stephanie Lam) gives a powerful performance capturing the devastating grief of death and betrayal. When they eventually decide to take the Muldoons deal to protect CJ and provide for their one remaining son, they drive a wedge in their family that would widen over time.
The cover-up also poisoned the Muldoons. Percy’s guilt was an albatross that hung over her head wherever she went. Beau stayed with her, just as she stayed with Harry. No matter where she went, he was there. That is why she left for Portland and why Colin and Meg tried so hard to bring her back and heal her. They never understood they were only hurting her.
It was only after Harry finds Beau’s grave on Crescent Island that everything finally made sense. Secrets are a cancer that has been slowly killing the Lams and the Muldoons. It led to infighting, addiction, violence, and eventually, human trafficking. If murder is acceptable, being part of a large crime syndicate is not a far leap, especially if you can convince yourself you are helping people. Finally, in the closing moments of the episode, Sean Muldoon does what Percy could not. He tells the truth for her. Regardless of how hard Meg begs, he unburdens himself to Harry and the police. It’s the last thing this broken father can do for his daughter.
Chief Lou lets the Lam’s know they will not be prosecuted for their part in their son’s cover-up, and CJ finally learns what really happened to his brother. CJ now understands why his relationship with Percy upset his parents and why it was so violent. Percy was using him to punish herself. It was the only way she could atone. Alice Kremelberg(Percy) has been spectacular all season playing a ghost of a girl who was dead long before she committed suicide.
Finally, in The Sinner Season 4 Episode 8, Meg and Harry, who have been like two sides of the same coin, meet one last time in her church. She still doesn’t understand that secrets continue to destroy her family. Harry tries to explain he only ever wanted justice for Percy. She asks him if the world is better knowing what happened. He answers honestly that he isn’t sure, but we are. Percy was right when she said the cover-up ruined them. It made them all monsters. Percy was seeking absolution from Wicca. She might have found it too if only she had been allowed to own her mistakes. Family can be the source of our greatest strength, but it can also cause us the most pain. In the end, there was no one with Percy on the cliff that night but the ghosts of her mistakes.
In the final moments, there is a calm that only comes from catharsis. Colin and Sean willingly confess to everything while Harry says one last goodbye to Percy. She tells him she hopes he has found a better way of living, and for once, it looks like he may have. A peace comes over him, and anyone who has watched him from the beginning hopes he can return to Sonya whole. If anyone deserves to ride off into the sunset, it is him.
As much as The Sinner Season 4 Episode 8 was a fitting conclusion; I am sorry to see it all end. The tremendous balance of the storylines coupled with Pullman’s performance made for great television. Unfortunately, this quieter finale felt like an inevitability. The end of the line for everyone in season 4 and for Harry’s way of life. Everything had to change, and thankfully most things did while still leaving room that Harry might grace our screens one last time in a surprise movie. We can only hope. Find all our The Sinner coverage here.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.