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Season 3 of 'The Sinner' Keeps Bill Pullman and Adds Matt Bomer for a Strong New Story
February 6, 2020  | By David Hinckley

Bill Pullman just keeps getting better as the third season of USA's The Sinner premieres Thursday at 9 p.m. ET.

Pullman plays Harry Ambrose, the detective charged with untangling the complex crime this anthology series rolls out each season.

Jessica Biel, who got most of the attention for her starring role in the first season, has stepped back to executive producer, leaving Pullman's Ambrose to take center stage.

He has done so in a commanding and riveting way. There isn't a cop on TV these days who isn't troubled, torn, and tormented by something, and Harry Ambrose is no exception. Pullman still makes him exceptional, an intriguing blend of vulnerable and tough, sensitive, and skeptical.

Season 3 revolves around the death of Nick Haas (Chris Messina), a high-finance guy who shows up unannounced and unwelcome in the life of his old college friend Jamie Burns (Matt Bomer, top), who is now a well-loved cool-guy high school teacher.

A few hours after this awkward reunion, Nick is dead, having bled out after a car crash from which Jamie escaped virtually unscathed.

Revealing this isn't a spoiler. As in the first season of The Sinner, when we immediately saw exactly what Biel's character had done, the fatal incident isn't the endpoint of the story. It's the premise.

The car crash is called in as an accident that had a tragic outcome. As soon as Ambrose arrives, however, little things start not adding up, so our story is off and running.

In fact, those little things add up fast enough that we soon seem to have a situation that's just as obvious as the "tragic accident" scenario of a few moments earlier, but now totally different.

This being The Sinner, it's safe to assume that the second scenario could also drift at least into a different context by the time Ambrose has figured it all out.

Little or nothing in The Sinner is as it seems, though we can probably count on Vic Soto (Eddie Martinez), the cop who tags along with Ambrose much to Ambrose's ongoing annoyance, not to morph into anything else.

That may not be so true with Sonya (Jessica Hecht), an artist who lives by herself on the long dead-end road where the crash occurred. What Jamie and Nick were doing on that road puzzles Ambrose enough to pull the thread, which of course, alters the whole rug.

Jamie's pregnant wife, Leela (Parisa Fitz-Henley), who creates and sells exotic plant therapies, also finds herself involved, not always in a good way.

Bomer does a solid job playing a character who's playing a character. To his students, and his wife, most of the time, Jamie seems totally in control and always tuned in to the right move. In reality, he feels like he's on a tightrope, fighting every minute not to slip off and plunge to the ground.

Like other anthology series, The Sinner generates its own pressure, because each season will inevitably be compared to the previous. Pullman helps deflect that pressure with the continuity he gives Harry Ambrose, and that gives this third season a strong shot at measuring up to its predecessors.

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