I’m going to stop you right away: if you’re one of the millions of people who’s read Sharp Objects, the debut novel from Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, you already know what’s going to happen in the season (series) finale. (This, of course, assumes the book and show will have the same ending.) But please don’t spoil the fun for the rest of us, who, over the last two months, have traveled to Wind Gap, Missouri, with Camille Preaker (an always-excellent Amy Adams) as she reports on the death of two teenage girls and tries not to kill her eyelash-plucking mother Adora (Patricia Clarkson). There’s a lot about this limited series worth discussing — like, did Sharp Objects or Hereditary have a higher dollhouse budget? — but in the lead up to the finale, let’s focus on: who murdered Ann Nash and Natalie Keene? Here are a few of the suspects.
(Obviously, there will be spoilers from HBO’s Sharp Objects episodes that have already aired.)
In the penultimate episode, we learned that Marian, Camille’s half-sister who died when she was young, was killed by Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, a mental illness in adults where “you make someone else sick, so you can care for them, so you can save them, so you can try, so you can be seen trying.” (That’s according to the nurse who, thankfully for Camille and the plot, kept a copy of Marian’s “choose-your-own-adventure” records.) The adult in question is Adora, who’s doing the same thing to Amma, and might have done something similar to Ann and Natalie, who she had maternal relationships with. “I knew those children,” Adora said in the first episode. “I’m having a very hard time, as you can imagine.” We can all imagine, and what we’re imagining isn’t pretty. But there’s another reason this Woman In White is a baby-biting monster.
I haven’t trusted Alan since I first laid eyes on him. For one thing, he wears pastel sweaters, even though everyone else is covered in sticky Missouri sweat. Also, his home-unsweet-home stereo system costs around $112,000. Look, I love [classical musical reference] as much as the next guy, but there’s something shifty about the way Alan puts on his headphones instead of dealing with the real world, to say nothing of the fact that he’s pretty chill about his wife poisoning his daughter with “medicine.” But yeah, it’s mostly the sweaters thing.
Sharp Objects is one of the best shows on TV so far this year because it makes roller-skating look menacing. I mean, there are other reasons, too — Amy Adams might win an Emmy before an Oscar, which is both well-deserved and a crime; the editing is incredible; Jean-Marc Vallée has a sharp eye for Southern Gothic themes, etc. — but man, every time I see Amma and her girl gang cruising through Wind Gap, I’m immediately suspicious. What are they skating away from, or to? (Not the Dairy Queen, which appears to be abandoned.)
Amma grew up in a suffocating household, with a mentally ill mother and an emasculated father, and I wouldn’t blame her for feeling an urge to rebel. Some do that by sticking chewing gum in their absentee sister’s hair, others roll around their town like they own the place, while others yet get plastered (and have their mothers take care of them the next morning). Actually, those all apply to Amma. Why not add killing to the list, too? Murder: it’s for the “cool ones.”
Camille wasn’t in Wind Gap when Ann and Natalie were killed… or was she? We know she’s prone to alcohol-induced blackouts, and she has a lot of, let’s say, mixed feelings about her childhood there. Could she have taken matters into her own hands to not only get some kind of sick revenge on her evil mother, but also to create a juicy story to report on? Times are tough for journalists, after all. (In this hypothetical scenario, she’s McNulty if he was creating content, instead of solving crimes, in season five of The Wire.) If Camille turns out to be the killer, the rumors will have been true: she’s not drinking vodka-flavored water; she’s sipping murder juice (a possible subtitle for Big Little Lies season two).
Richard is only guilty of being a dick.
And having a really good butt.
Every small town has a Jackie, someone who tries a little too hard to be your friend, not because they want your companionship, but because they’re addicted to gossip. Or as Elizabeth Perkins told told Vanity Fair, Jackie knows “everything that’s gone on in the [Crellin] house, what’s going on in the house. She absolutely knows everything.” Does that include murder? Jackie’s not the booze-swilling lush she initially appeared to be; she’s the only one who investigated Marian’s death, but didn’t make her findings public because “who the f*ck was gonna believe me?” It’s her word versus Adora’s (no wonders she self-medicates with a cocktail of pills, and actual cocktails). There’s barely-concealed resentment between the two Wind Gap queens, which gives her motive to frame her frenemy for the death of Ann and Natalie. If Shane can kill someone with a croquet mallet, Celia is capable of pulling teeth out with pliers.
John Keene and Bob Nash
The two most obvious suspects, which is why I’m not even going to bother.
John’s girlfriend, though.
When asked why she thinks John didn’t kill Natalie, Ashley tells Camille, “Because it would make him popular.” Well, there’s nothing Ashley desires more than popularity, and murdering her boyfriend’s sister and Ann, neither of whom she cared for, would bring her to a new level of notoriety. That’s both very sad and very disturbing. There’s also Chekhov’s missing earlobe chunk (the girls were prone to violent streaks), which Ashley tries to explain away by saying, “It’s just not something I like to remember.” Hm. How conveniently forgetful.
(If Ashley is guilty, her final words should be, “F*ck ‘yall. F*ck all y’all.”)
Look, I’m not saying it’s possible Young Camille [extremely Michael J. Fox voice] built a time machine and traveled to the present to kill Ann and Natalie, but I’m also not NOT saying that she’s been seen with this clown fellow who hangs around in small towns. I think his name is Penny… something?
The Sharp Objects finale airs this Sunday, August 26.