So, you thought you had “Sharp Objects” all figured out, did you?
The last episode of HBO’s miniseries took a bit of a step back from Camille (Amy Adams)’s internal battles. Much of the show before now was about Camille confronting the truth about her past and how that’s affected her. It seems that by the time we get to the last episode, Camille knows why her childhood was a mess; she knows why she struggles to deal with her pain.
In the penultimate episode, we find out that Camille’s off-her-rocker mother Adora (Patricia Clarkson) is most likely afflicted with Munchausen by proxy syndrome. I would assume that having a mother who is purposely trying to hurt you for their own narcissistic gain (even if it is a nearly-uncontrollable disorder) would screw you up a bit.
“She thinks she’s an amazing mother that is all about love and care and taking care of someone,” the Oscar-nominated Clarkson told Vanity Fair. “So she’s perfect, and she wants the people around her to be perfect. Her youngest daughter is perfect, but her oldest daughter is not -- and it’s disconcerting.”
It’s exactly that “perfection” that leads to the killer.
This revelation, naturally, sends Camille into a panic -- you’ll remember that her younger sister, Marian, died very young, and no one really knows how. Well, now Camille does, and she’s convinced Adora is doing the same thing to 13-year-old Amma (Eliza Scanlen, who deserves the world for her accent work alone).
We’re led to believe that Adora must be responsible for the other two murders that have plagued Wind Gap, Mo. Camille feigns sickness (and gets sick in the process) to not only prove that Adora is purposefully harming her daughters, but to also protect Amma.
With Camille on the brink of death and Alan being of no help -- though I do love this complacent male accomplice gender role swap thing going on -- it's time for some intervention. Curry (Miguel Sandoval) saves the day, Detective Richard makes his peace and Adora ends up behind bars after being caught with rat poison that she was feeding her kids. The cops also found a bloody pair of pliers that matched -- you guessed it -- Ann Nash and Natalie Keene’s toothless gums.
You’d think the Munchausen’s twist was the kicker. But then Camille investigates the dollhouse.
“We wanted to preserve that moment but give enough time so that it does feel like the rug is being pulled out from under you,” Flynn told Rolling Stone. “You want to give enough time where Amma and Camille are being like sisters so that it is that moment of incredible shock.”
The final scene of “Sharp Objects” that had fans calling for Adams’s Emmy to be delivered immediately revealed that Amma, in fact, had murdered her friends. Remember Adora’s famous ivory bedroom floor and Amma’s creepy obsession with her dollhouse? Turns out it went farther than just obsession -- Amma pried her classmates’ teeth out to use as the ivory flooring in her dollhouse. Kids, huh?
The phrase “Don’t tell Mama” will now live in infamy.
Those who had watched the show without any background may have felt betrayed by HBO. They waited eight long episodes to find out who the killer was and what happened to those girls, only for the end scene to cut to black after the Amma discovery. But those patient enough to stick around after the credits were rewarded: True to the entire show’s form, we saw flashes that displayed Amma giving in to her ugliest temptations.
Those who were expecting the explanation of Amma’s motives and the deep manipulation she was dealing with that is detailed in the book (aka the salty “I-read-the-book-first”-ers) didn’t have to wait long. First, we got a flash of Amma as the “Woman in White,” embodying a town folk tale that she took literally when she went after Natalie.
Then we heard some discussion from Flynn, who served as executive producer for the show, and director Jean-Marc Vallée. Vallée delves into what made Amma into the killer she is -- simply put, jealousy and the desire for perfectionism and favoritism that makes this story so
A poignant scene in the finale happens when Camille begs a less-sickly Amma to alert Richard of their mother’s abuse. Sure, Alan intervenes with a promise of dessert, but when Camille desperately asks Amma why she didn’t go, Amma replies, “I need to stay her good girl.”
Amma’s desperate need to stay her mother’s favorite, probably a direct effect of the Munchausen’s, led to an insane bout of jealousy as her mother spent lots of time with Ann and Natalie.
“She has allowed herself to be sickened by Adora, and therefore she feels like [Adora] treating any other girls is a deep violation of that contract,” said Flynn. “And I don’t blame her in her child mind logic. That made her angry, so she sociopathically chooses to kill the girls.”
Flynn is known for writing the anti-stereotypical, dark woman into her stories. She focuses on the ugly parts of the modern woman and makes them even darker than you can imagine, and she did just that with Amma.
So, can we all agree to watch everything until after the end credits from now on? Yeah?