One of last year's biggest surprise TV hits was 'The Sinner' starring Jessica Biel and Bill Pullman. It proved hugely popular when it aired over on the USA Network, so much so that Netflix decided it to bring it to this side of the world and we lapped up the addictive show in one gulp.
However, the crime series, which serves as a why-dunnit and opposed to who-dunnit, took a severe cliff dive at the end of season one. It's sort of like when you get to the end of a Dan Brown novel and while you know you couldn't stop reading until the end, you aren't sure exactly how good what you just read was.
Hence the announcement of a second season caused a bit of an eye-roll, Cora Tannetti's story had been told, can't we just leave it be? However, instead of beating that storyline to a pulp, the show decided to focus more on the intriguing character of Detective Harry Ambrose and give him a new case to solve back in his home town. And... it's worked.
Season two manages to take all the great components of what made its first outing work, but this time the pacing is superb, the narrative has far more depth, and the ultimate outcome is worth sticking around for.
The show wastes no time in getting on with the things, and with just eight 45-minute episodes (roughly), it's no surprise that the opening scenes take us straight to the murder case the series rests on. This time it focuses on a young boy called Julian (Elisha Henig) who is involved in a horrific double homicide. As we have come to expect with this show however, all is not as it seems.
The case soon leads them to investigate a commune near the town of Keller, with local Detective Heather Novack (Natalie Paul) calling on Harry Ambrose to return and insist on this strange case. What follows is a story that sprawls and expands delightfully over the course of the season, with each episode revealing another layer that leaves you wondering who to trust and who to question.
Cora Tanetti is not completely forgotten either, with mentions of her case arising a few times in the opening episodes. Harry consistently dismisses the monumental role he played in it however saying, "They made more of that then they should have." Jessica Biel is also there behind-the-scenes, remaining in the series as an executive producer.
The season also reveals more of a back story to Harry too, giving the viewer a greater insight into how he became the dysfunctional man he is, with Bill Pullman - an actor who has also been assigned to the Mr Nice Guy role - perfectly embodying the awkwardness and complexities of the character.
The real star of the season though is Carrie Coon ('The Leftovers', 'Fargo') who delivers a pitch perfect performance in her role as Vera Walker. Like many in the show, you are never quite sure how much you can trust her but she brings a toughness and a vulnerability to Vera that makes her so compelling to watch.
As with season one, 'The Sinner' won't leave you with too many questions at the end, as loose ends are tied together and you're left with an overall picture that is a long way from how you first saw things in the opening episode. An intelligent thriller and a satisfying watch, unlike season one, you won't be left wondering just how good it was after those final credits roll.