Roush Review: No Retirement for This Detective in a New ‘Sinner’ Mystery

Bill Pullman as Harry Ambrose in The Sinner
Michael Thompson/USA Network

Though he’s now officially retired, a seasoned detective like Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman), the brooding core of the psychological mystery franchise The Sinner, should know one of the cardinal rules of the mystery genre: Death never takes a holiday, even when you’re trying to take a vacation.

Still suffering from insomnia a year after the disturbing resolution of Sinner‘s third season, Harry retreats to a remote Maine island with his artist girlfriend Sonja (Jessica Hecht) as Season 4 begins. The lobster rolls look scrumptious, but Harry rarely looks refreshed by the sea air. His idea of small talk is to reflect, “I usually even wonder if nature notices us at all.”

As played with brooding subtlety and an inscrutable squint by Pullman, Harry’s psyche is often as disturbing as the mysteries he solves in this unsettling series. So when he frets, “I feel like I’m losing my bearings a little bit,” it’s especially troublesome, because it’s not like he has a heck of a lot to spare.

Harry’s latest exercise in self-doubt and obsession begins after he meets Percy Muldoon (Alice Kremelberg), the lost-soul daughter of a local fishing family. The next time he sees her, while taking a stroll in the wee hours, he’s not sure he can believe his eyes when he witnesses her stepping off a cliff, presumably into the sea to her death. Before long, Percy’s spirit is lodged inside Harry’s head, confessing, “Sometimes it’s easier on everybody if you just disappear.”

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Joining the returning Bill Pullman in the new season are Frances Fisher, Michale Mosley, and others.

Percy’s agitated relatives, led by the fierce Frances Fisher as her dominating grandmother, would disagree. The locals alternately welcome and resent Harry as he helps the overwhelmed authorities sort through the island’s lies and creepy secrets, apparently including some sort of ritualistic cult.

An agitated Sonja worries that this case is bringing out his “really ugly side,” but you’d think by now she’d realize life with Harry Ambrose is never going to be pretty.

The Sinner, Season 4 Premiere, Wednesday, October 13, 10/9c, USA