Sins of Our Mother (2022)

sins of our mother poster 2022 true crime series
7.0 Overall Score

Interesting story

Not the most compelling telling

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Children betrayed

Tylee Ashlyn Ryan and Joshua Jaxon “J.J.” Vallow have disappeared.  A nationwide search begins for the two children, but more upsetting is that their mother Lori Vallow and her new husband Chad Daybell seem unwilling to help authorities locate them.  How the children came to disappear and the path of Lori from childhood to religious zealot surrounded by mysterious deaths is explored…and the hopes to find J.J. and Tylee are bleak, but the truth must be found.

Directed by Skye Borgman, Sins of Our Mother is a true-crime documentary.  The three part series premiered on Netflix on September 14, 2022 and covers the investigations into the disappearances of Tylee and J.J. in 2019.

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No longer a happy photo

I started watching Sins of Our Mother before I remembered the coverage of this event.  It was during the start of the pandemic, and I didn’t pay much attention to it.  It just seemed like another bad thing happening in the world of bad things.  Watching the story, it is even more tragic…and the fact that no one connected the pieces means that more death than necessary happened.

In hindsight, it is easy to see the problem.  Even from the initial killing of Charles Vallow (most likely planned and executed by Lori, Chad, and her brother Alex Cox), the stories really don’t feel like they are matching up.  The police questioning shows holes in Lori and Alex’s accounts of the events of the shooting and there should have been a lot of red flags…the children shouldn’t have been in that home.  As mentioned, this is all hindsight and that is what stings because it feels obvious.

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Two happy kids that will be gone in weeks and months

The path of Lori’s fanaticism shows the danger of charismatic speakers on the minds of people who might already have disorders.  Lori seems unwell more than plotting.  Though the documentary dives into her past, it feels like there is potentially a lot of unspoken problems.  Lori is religious, and it feels like she is searching for connections and a belonging…unfortunately, she encountered Chad Daybell who could recognize and exploit those connections.  Lori isn’t innocent, but she’s paired with someone whose motives are also sinister.

The family also was in denial much of the time.  Lori’s son Colby (rightfully) didn’t think his mother was capable of evil, and he probably wasn’t in any position to stop it…but as the lies increased and he started to see them, more work with the authorities might have helped (but you also can’t expect a son to turn on his mother without 100% proof).  Lori’s mother and family should have helped create a more united front to get Lori out of the situation and to get her help.  Once it was obvious that Lori wasn’t trying to get help, they needed to get the law more involved especially since Lori seemed to still be communicating with them and most of her friends.  Like the people looking into the crime it is easy to have hindsight, and a condemnation isn’t really fair.

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Lost, but found…

Sins of Our Mother is rather typically shot.  It is composed of interviews and news footage.  The trial and the search was very televised and the series doesn’t dive too deep into the national search (though it is frequently referenced).  It is the few memories I have of the event were articles and news reports questioning the location of J.J. and Tylee.  It would have been easy to just look into the search and media frenzy, but it does downplay it a bit.

The true crime genre is a genre that has a lot of patterns to it.  Shows like Dateline have a pattern, but the pattern of Netflix and other TV shows are a bit of a combination of podcast and a less limited crime dive.  Sins of Our Mother is not very different in that sense, but it has enough shock and questions to make it compelling.  This is the other flipside of crime dramas.  For me, it was something I just watched one morning…for someone else, it was their life and the worst part of their life.  There is a bit of guilt of watching something like this for entertainment…but I do think understanding the darkness of people makes you question choices people make and how a seemingly “normal” person can come crashing down in despair…and drag those around them with them.

sins of our mother episode 1 the 144000 charles vallow lori

“The 144,000”

Episode 1        The 144,000 Release Date:  09/14/22

Lori Vallow’s life is exploded and how she was led to a bigger role in the church after multiple failed marriages.  Lori’s son Colby goes to a Christian church to be with his girlfriend Kelsee and finds his mother doesn’t take it well.  Lori joins a podcast group and teams with a woman named Melanie Gibb about end times.  Through the group, Lori meets Chad Daybell and her marriage to Charles Vallow crumbles.

sins of our mother episode 2 dark spirits chad daybell zombies

“Dark Spirits”

Episode 2        Dark Spirits Release Date:  09/14/22

Charles Vallow is dead at the hands of his brother-in-law Alex Cox.  Lori leaves Arizona with her daughter Tylee and J.J., but Colby and Kelsee start to look into Lori’s mother relationship with Chad and his belief of zombies taking over the world.  Chad Daybell decides that his wife Tammy must die.  J.J. and Tylee are reported missing, and Alex dies shortly after Tammy Daybell’s exhumation…found in Hawaii, Lori and Chad are brought back to Idaho.

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“A Mother Knows”

Episode 3        A Mother Knows Release Date:  09/14/22

Lori and Chad face the court as the police search for J.J. and Tylee, but the action divides the family.  The police link Alex’s phone to Chad’s property and a search begins at Chad’s home…leading to discovery of J.J. and Tylee’s bodies.  Despite the questions of events leading to their deaths, Lois and Chad refuse to speak…leaving the families questioning how everything went so wrong.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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