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Things You Forgot Happened In The Pilot Episode Of The Sinner

When The Sinner premiered on USA in 2017, it hit a really satisfying sweet spot for people looking to watch some elevated trash. On the surface, the show seemed like a prestige limited series thanks to the presence of movie stars Jessica Biel and Bill Pullman, an acclaimed indie director (Afterschool's Antonio Campos) behind the camera, and a serious tone. But it actually was a twisty, pulpy, and lurid crime tale fueled by sex, drugs, and religious mania.

Since then, The Sinner has become quite a successful anthology franchise. It's run for three seasons so far, with a fourth in the works. It initially airs on USA, and then finds a second, potentially bigger audience a few months later on Netflix. Executive producer Jessica Biel was nominated for an Emmy for her performance in the first season, and every season has been critically acclaimed. It has managed to successfully pull off something the producers of Game of Thrones and Big Little Lies will tell you is quite difficult: keeping the show compelling after the source material runs out. The Sinner was based on a novel for its first season, while the second and third seasons took the format of the first season and applied it to original stories devised by showrunner Derek Simonds, where Det. Harry Ambrose (Pullman) solves a crime where he knows who did it, but he doesn't know why.

The show has evolved a lot over the course of its run — probably even more than you realize. Here are some of the things that happened in the pilot episode of The Sinner that you might not remember.

Jessica Biel works at a heating & air company

The pilot episode of The Sinner goes out of its way to establish how thoroughly average, even mundane, Cora Tannetti's (Biel) life is before she murders Frankie Belmont (Eric Todd). Later we find out that her childhood and young adulthood were so traumatic that average and mundane were exactly what she wanted. But first, we see her go through a very normal day in the life of the Tannetti family.

Cora works in the office at her father-in-law's business, Tannetti Heating and Air. Her husband Mason (Christopher Abbott) also works there. Cora and Mason live next door to Mason's parents, and her father-in-law wakes her up at 6:18 a.m. on a Saturday with his lawnmower. It's a bucolic portrait of middle-class life. Of course, all is not well, because Cora is haunted by memories of her past, and Mason is oblivious to what's really going on with his wife. But on the surface, it seems nice.

You probably forgot that Jessica Biel's character worked for an HVAC contractor, because it's very difficult to imagine Jessica Biel in a regular person setting. She's been famous since she was 14 and is married to Justin Timberlake. It's easier to imagine her as a murderer than as someone with a blue collar job.

Harry Ambrose is kinky

The most scandalous part of The Sinner season 1 was Det. Harry Ambrose's penchant for BDSM, depicted in a few kinky scenes that pushed the boundaries of what could be shown on basic cable. By season 2, this thread of Ambrose's character was no longer being explored, but it was a big part of season 1, and it started in the pilot.

When viewers first meet Ambrose, he is sitting in his car, spying on a waitress through binoculars in a stalkerish way. Throughout the episode, we are given several glimpses of bruised fingertips on Ambrose's hand. Toward the end of the episode, he goes to the waitress' apartment. She asks if his wife took him back. He asks if she missed him, and indicates that he's jealous that she's been seeing some new guys. But he has no right to presume exclusivity, because she's just doing her other job, working as a dominatrix. When he touches her, she slaps his face and tells him to get down on his knees. Then we find out that his fingers are bruised because she steps on them. That's what he likes. 

It's a pretty shocking scene, and the show only gets wilder with Ambrose's sexual proclivities as it goes on. If you've watched The Sinner season 1, you definitely remember what else happens between Ambrose and his dom.