Last week we got a pop of action with HBO’s Sharp Objects’ sixth episode, Cherry, but Sunday’s penultimate episode, Falling, swept viewers up in a frenzy of homemade narcotics, emotional sex, and the unearthing of family secrets long buried… well, cremated.
Sharp Objects Recap: Episode 7
The end of this miniseries is too close for comfort as Camille awakens clearly sick from her ecstasy hangover at the beginning of Falling. Adora waits by her bedside with a slew of remedies and sugar to wash it down like a Nurse Ratched–Mary Poppins horror-hybrid. Camille resists, but Adora persists in that sweet, innocent, guilt inducing way she has perfected while Amma watches on. Amma later confides in Camille about her favorite part of getting wasted: Adora taking care of her. She likes it and Adora likes giving the care, in fact she wants her like that. In an attempt to get close Camille reaches for the dollhouse figurines, but Amma stops her and, instead, distracts her with the news of John Keene being taken in by police that afternoon.
The cops search Ashley’s home, trying to find anything that may link John Keene to the murders. She tells them John went for a drive the night before and hasn’t returned since. She also lets the chief know she can’t abandon him, that she’ll “look like a total bitch” again proving just how shallow she can be. Vickery tempts her with the promise of being a local hero with her face on television, her name in the paper, if she helped them. As if holding a mouthful of water, she tells him John would never have sex with her. A nice addition to the motive details. Everything seems to be falling into place for the old chief.
Willis visits a nurse working at a methadone clinic to find out more about Marian’s death as she acted like an aid all those years back. He happens upon her medical records that include a list of illnesses and an even longer list of requests for investigation that have been denied. Munchausen by proxy syndrome is what killed Marian, a disorder Adora suffers from. People diagnosed with this disorder act as a caregiver, sometimes forcing illness up a loved one, exaggerating it, or using it to receive praise and love.
Adora pulls the same routine with Amma and she refuses, letting her know she’s not really sick, just hungover. Again, Adora blames Camille’s influence. The game they play with one another is horrifying. Adora passive aggressively tells Amma she should take care of herself if she doesn’t need her mother to care for her. Amma, too dependent, gives in. Adora claims she is doing the best for her, uncorking the blue bottle that conveniently matches her blue knit cardigan. Amma falls victim to her once again.
Camille goes to a dive bar outside of town where she meets John hiding away. He knows he is about to be arrested based on people’s perception of him and how sensitive he is to his sister’s death. She candidly asks him if he did it, pushing him to tell his story and defend himself. They go over his motives, anticipating the stories before they are even reported.
John mentions something odd upon the discovery of Natalie’s body. Her fingernails were painted, something Natalie would never have done. John finally let Camille know that he did not kill Natalie, but she already knows that. There are a few tender moments between the two. Camille falls back into her old ways of men. She and him get too close in his hotel as she lets him see her scars. He’s the only one that has seen them. John Keene has fallen victim too. Red wall with his scars practically burning bright. Reads off some of them: Cherry, sick, gone, drain, wrong, falling.
He reads her like a book as he too has fallen victim to the town’s abuse and criticism. A raunchy, almost taboo, forbidden love scene ensues between the two, but cuts away quick to Adora mixing up her own poison. I mean, medicine.
As Adora sends Amma’s friends off, the girl is looking worse than she did that morning. It is here that Falling shows us just how much Adora and Amma both enjoy this emotionally poisonous, dependent relationship. Adora enjoys how important it makes her feel to be needed and wanted. Amma enjoys the attention and vulnerability. In a childish way Amma wants to know what she would be like when she grows up, but Adora quickly waves that off as if she can’t face that possibility. Being aware and clever, Amma acknowledges Adora wants her to stay young and that she could never be as good as Marian, as good as someone dead.
“..she could never be as good as Marian, as good as someone dead.”
Camille wakes to John kissing the last blank spot on her back, a spot she cant reach. They discuss Natalie biting him, how she would defend herself against Wind Gap, similarly to the way Camille cuts herself, and how the only one who cared about her was Adora. He calls Natalie and Ann ‘The Lost Girls’, the ones everyone else gave up on. He talks about how Adora kept coming back no matter how hard the girls resisted her, the same way Amma and Camille do. Making a horrible realization, Camille is alarmed and ready to leave, but Vickery and Willis arrive. Great timing.
They arrest John. Camille makes up her excuses, but Willis, obviously sour, is now the one refusing someone’s behavior. In a supremely cringe-worthy scene Willis tells her he’s been studying her, watching her, as she begs him not to leave. He lets her know he doesn’t think she’s bad, he thinks one bad thing happened to her and she rode that angle her whole life. After throwing a low insult, he tears himself from her grasp and leaves, but not before leaving her Marian’s hospital records. All with Jackie O’Neil’s name on them.
Camille makes her way to Jackie’s home finding her already pretty drunk. She has a pill for every illness in the book, including hypochondria. Hypocritical.
As they drink Bloody’s, Camille pokes Jackie for information about Marian’s death. She says Marian looked like an angel and Adora looked more beautiful than ever and then she burned her, cremated her, which is news to Camille. The woman in white reappears in Camille’s mind, drifting along the forest in a white silk nightgown.
Jackie makes a point to let Camille know she knows she doesn’t like her Bloody Mary drinks, but she swallows them anyway. Why? Because its easier. Jackie was also requesting information about Marian. She knew what Adora was doing the whole time, but she didn’t tell anyone because Jackie knew no one would believe her. Camille is angry and resentful, but the truth is flashing before her eyes.
Camille reaches out to Curry and his wife, a constant source of light and her only connection to reality away from Wind Gap. She is too upset to even talk, but can finally admit she knows her mother did it. He wants her to just come home, what she’s saying isn’t right. She says Adora is doing it again, the same way she did to Marian, but she has to stop it this time before someone else falls victim.
Falling ends with the familiar, yet powerful series of eerie flashbacks combined with hallucinations, and present imagery. Camille sees Adora as the woman in white, as every scene of Falling has made it more and more sensible. Alan remembers Amma as a little girl while ignoring the danger lurking within his beautiful garden. Camille is steady at the race to get home while more blurs of Amma in a flowery chain crown, girls cruising by on their skates, a white witch in the forest, dollhouse movements, and Led Zeppelin all buzz around in a dizzying mashup before she finally arrives home.
Can you feel the noose tightening around the lace of Adora’s nightgown? If Falling has taught viewers anything it’s that the matriarch of this series has had much to hide and has had more of a hand, and a spoon, in the declining well beings of her daughters. Camille included.
When we look back to see how far our characters have come, Sharp Objects has given us quite a journey to review for Adora, Amma, and Camille. We’ve looked at how they are different and how they are alike from a variety of angles, but something that can’t be ignored is how far they have fallen from their version of grace.
“Can you feel the noose tightening around the lace of Adora’s nightgown?”
At the beginning of Sharp Objects, Camille is free from the chains of Wind Gap, free from her mother’s control, and even free from the impulse to self-harm. She’s turned her focus completely to her career and independence until that path leads her directly back to the source of her pain. Through the series we see a steady decline in Camille’s nerves, sanity, and her ability to separate herself from her poisonous mother and sister. She had a stable, firm grip on her real life back home in Chicago, but with each passing episode its apparent that grip is weakening and she is bound to hit the waxed oak floor of the Crellin mansion.
When we were introduced to the extended Crellin family, Amma was a mischievous mystery channeling her inner teen Alicia Silverstone bullying and skating circles around the small town she reigns over. We now see her and all of her flaws, her weakness for Adora’s comforts. As conniving and manipulative as we have seen her, thanks to Adora’s medication and her weakness for attention, Amma has fallen from her throne.
Adora has always been the almighty motherly martyr and spirit of Wind Gap. Her strive for control, perfection, etiquette, and adoration is paramount. She will sink low, very low, to get what she wants even if it’s at the expense of her daughter’s lives. However, pulling as many strings and clipping as many thorns as she has is exhausting. Each piece of the puzzle is finally being laid down for those who seek the truth and it all points toward her damnation. Camille’s mother is finally falling down from the high horse she uses to coral Wind Gap and her family for slaughter.
We still stand to find out whether or not Camille will be able to hold on long enough to make it out of Wind Gap for the second time, alive. She struggles to keep herself from falling completely under the spell that Adora has cast on her the way Amma has. Given Adora’s aim and newfound caring for Camille we can all but wonder if she fall victim to her mother’s selfish, wicked ways like Marian did. It all comes down, falls down, in the end.
What will be served to wash it all down once and for all during the family dinner from hell? Find out next week with the eighth, and final, episode of HBO’s Sharp Objects: Milk.