Does Cora know the victim? Was the murder justified? Is Cora a victim of her own experiences, or a master manipulator herself? The Sinner grapples with each of these questions, drawing the audience into a narrative that makes us question our own moral code.
While Cora is in prison, we see her visibly shaken, eyes darting left and right, as if she's desperately trying to regain some sense of control. At one point, she says to Ambrose "I think there's something wrong with me." The moment of introspection seems less of an admission of pity than an invitation for us to listen to her story. The show gives us the chance through flashbacks to understand why she did what she did, why it was justified. And ultimately why we need to be on her side.
That's what makes the show so gripping. You find yourself seduced by a woman whose rage may be long overdue. Whatever twist is in store for The Sinner, Cora is a murderer. We witness the crime ourselves. But, like many great female antiheroes before her, circumstance urges us to identify with her, and perhaps validate her most heinous acts. She's at first unsuspecting, meek and somewhat powerless , but then again she's fully capable of killing someone, a man whose reputation remains to be fully explored in the premiere (though subsequent episodes dig deeper) but is introduced as a happy-go-lucky, nice guy with a cute girlfriend. So you want to understand Cora, for her to somehow overcome this. But we also still have so many unanswered questions.