Harry Ambrose has gotten in over his head in the past. He gets too personally involved in his cases, and he skirts the edges of the law to solve them.
But on The Sinner Season 3 Episode 5, with each misstep he makes, Ambrose is digging a deeper hole for himself.
And just when it seems he can't possibly do anything any more stupid than he already had, he attacked Jamie in front of his grandson.
A few of you have mentioned that The Sinner Season 3 is too debased for you. It's too out there without a character you can root for anymore.
The story this season is pushing the boundaries of believability, but turning on the ID Network does that sometimes, too, and it's reality.
People get themselves into some really messed up predicaments, and spinning out of control becomes their reality.
That sensation of spinning out of control is uncomfortable even when you're watching someone else going through it, and both Jamie and Ambrose are spinning so fast they're making me dizzy.
During the three seasons of The Sinner, we've gotten to know tidbits about Harry that paint a picture of a man who is very disturbed because of the way he was raised.
During The Sinner Season 2, we learned a lot more about his mother, but with the death of his father and the looming box of his dad's belongings taking up space this season, it's not a stretch to imagine that we don't know the half of what created the darkness inside of Harry Ambrose.
Harry attaches himself to cases that speak to him because he can see himself in the accused. But he might have met his match in Jamie Burns.
On the surface, Jamie seems like a great guy. He's handsome, intelligent, and a seemingly devoted husband. He appears to have it all. Except he's lost.
Another theme this season that is rubbing people the wrong way is how Jamie views his life. But we all don't find meaning in the same ways. One person's happiness is another's torment.
Something that Nick introduced to Jamie changed his life forever. It's still unclear what that was, but it ensures that Jamie is unable to find satisfaction in the same things others do.
We've learned that Jamie has a hair-trigger. He questions his worthiness of happiness. He's seeking meaning in the world because of a fear of death. He's had bouts of depression in the past.
Leela, look at me. Two years ago, when all of that shit went down, I stayed by you. I could have left. God knows, I had a right to, but I didn't. I stayed. I stuck it out because I believe in us. Now, I need you to stand by me. Please.Jamie
And now we know that he and Leela went through something two years ago that he hasn't let go of entirely, or he wouldn't have tossed it up as a reason to stand by him as he spirals.
And in the same way that Jamie and Nick dug a hole which originally seemed like a way to challenge their own perceptions of life and death, Harry is digging a hole with the case that could bury him.
And every move Harry makes is wrong when it comes to Jamie. His initial hunch that Nick's death wasn't a result of the accident may have been right. But his stubborn refusal to let it go made him look like a loon to his coworkers instead of the actions of a rational and seasoned detective.
Jamie: You know, it kind of pisses me off the way you act like you care and then you just switch off. It's really fucking manipulative. I've told you things I haven't even told my wife.
Ambrose: But now this is where we are. I can't help you.
Jamie: You're no different than I am, you know. Don't start thinking you are.
And Jamie is right about Harry's passive-aggressive behavior, too. He plays both sides but neither of them well enough that he's got a handle on the situation.
Ambrose's coworker in the department has his number. He knows Harry is too close and that it ordinarily gets him into trouble. Sonya reads him well, too. She easily calls out his defensive protests.
Sonya: You have this habit of hiding under your detective hat whenever it's convenient. You're like a turtle.
Ambrose: Yeah, I guess I am.
Sonya: Maybe that's your spirit animal.
By following Jamie without a warrant and getting as close to Jamie as a new friend, Ambrose has found himself on the suspect list in the medium's murder. Why not? His DNA is all over the house, too, right alongside Jamie's.
While Jamie protests that he's a good guy and going to get his life back, he's on a killing spree. The only person to whom he's confessed his misdeeds is now on the suspect list and has very little credibility.
Jamie: If I turn myself in, my life is over. It's over. I am not crazy. I'm not out of control. Now, you said you understood how I feel. What if I was your brother? You'd be helpin' me out of this.
Ambrose: I'd be saying the exact same thing. There's no way around it. A confession right now will reduce your sentence. If you wait, it's gonna get worse.
Jamie: They'll just put me away. I am not a lost cause. Help me. I'm gonna get my life back.
But instead of pulling back and keeping his mouth shut, Ambrose keeps digging at a very unstable man. Part of him knows that Jamie is dangerous, but the other part seems oblivious that the man could harm him.
It also seems like Nick lured Jamie into his schemes in much the same way that Jamie is pushing Ambrose's buttons.
If we hadn't been watching Jamie struggle with the recollection of what he's done, I'd swear some of it was planned, especially after he seemed so pleased to have pulled the anger out of Harry and tripped his hair-trigger.
Harry Ambrose just showed up. It's about time.Jamie
The two men are very alike, and this is going to get a lot more difficult to watch as the season progresses. The way the NYPD detective tried to get Jamie to talk, my expectation was that Jamie would turn the tables on Harry and implicate him in the medium's murder to get his own life back.
Jamie might be more interested in finding a partner in crime than saving his own skin, and that seems like it would be a whole lot worse for the Harry Ambrose we've glimpsed in fits and starts.
Are you guys still holding on?
Did this episode make you bristle with anxiety while watching?
Do you have any idea where this story can lead with both men so similar and keen on flirting with darkness?
Drop a comment below, and share your thoughts.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.