As the end of Sharp Objects approaches, I keep thinking there’s no way this show could get any more upsetting, raw, and tense. And each week, I’m proven wrong. In the penultimate episode to HBO’s limited series, the pain, cruelty, and suffering of each character seems to reach its peak.
The episode begins with a surprisingly tender moment as Adora tries to take care of Camille after her night of partying with Amma. However, Camille is quick to reject such attention, pushing her away and refusing medicine from a rather large blue bottle. As Camille is leaving the house, she checks on a hungover Amma, who says, “You know what my favorite part of getting wasted is? Mama takes care of me after.” She also reveals that John is about to be arrested for the murders of Anne and Natalie. Camille rushes to John’s girlfriend’s house, while Richard, on the other hand, does his own investigation: This time, it’s into the death of Marian Crellin. As he speaks to nurses and reads old medical records, it becomes increasingly clear that Adora suffers from Munchausen by proxy, a disorder where a caretaker makes someone sick on purpose. There are not only records for Marian, but for Amma’s various hospitalizations. This is juxtaposed with Amma lying sick in bed, sweating, puking, trying to escape her mother’s medication.
This episode had two very intense scenes: One is touching and one is terrifying. The first is between Camille and John as she takes him to a motel to sleep off a little too much bourbon. Drinking in a rundown bar outside of Wind Gap, they discover they have a connection through the loss of their sisters, which neither have dealt with properly. For John, he was given a book that told him that denial was good for men. Camille, obviously, wasn’t given any love and support from her mother after the death of Marian. To help John sober up, Camille takes him to a motel room where he sees Camille’s scars. He undresses her and reads her body, tracing his fingers over words she’s carved into herself over the years. As he reads her, Camille shakes and cries, but lets him explore her body because he understands her pain. In what seems to be an act of self-destruction on Camille’s part, they have sex. It seems particularly ill-advised, but there is something tender about the act. This is the first time we’ve seen Camille willing let someone see her scars. Their sex is an expression of their grief and an attempt of some kind of healing.
The second scene is between Camille and Jackie as Camille learns her mother is responsible for the death of Marian. Jackie’s name is plastered all over Marian’s medical records as she tried to get information on how exactly Marian died. Camille confronts her in a tense scene of Jackie knocking back pills and bloody marys to hide her own pain and guilt. Elizabeth Perkins as Jackie has been a phenomenal guest character throughout the series, but this is where she can finally shine.
Patricia Clarkson’s portrayal of Adora’s steely venom is bone chilling. Her ability to shift between caring and cruel so quickly makes the audience feel like they are the target of her manipulation. She tells Amma, “You don’t need me to make you feel better. You don’t need me to make you a grilled cheese,” a classic manipulation tactic. Her passive aggression and feigned sadness quickly melt away as she is able to slide another spoonful of something down Amma’s throat. And as she is crushing pills and mixing concoctions for Amma, she has never seemed so happy. She is dancing through the kitchen, smiling, and doesn’t appear to be a wilting flower. The pain of others is her medicine.
Secrets are revealing themselves and the season finale of Sharp Objects couldn’t come soon enough. Is Adora a killer of not only her own children, but others, too? Will Alan grow a spine? Will Richard stop being such a nosy prick? Only another week until we find out.