‘Sharp Objects’ Finale: Good Apple, Bad Tree

Aug 26, 2018 · 231 comments
Tyjcar (China, near Shanghai )
Really enjoyed it. We'll done, acted, written, edited, sound designed, etc. Top notch. Also creepy, thoughtful, sad, scary, interesting, and beautiful. As far as the ending, I like to assume that the writers, producers, directors, and actors know what they're doing, being experts and all, and that my experience of the show was intentional to a degree. I always wonder, why do people complain about these kinds of shows? Do you, complainers, really think that your criticisms were not raised at some point in the process? I think art requires that we give ourselves to it, wherever that may lead. If you want something more familiar, go watch that. Let the risk takers take risks.
Larry Heiman (New Haven)
Garbage in, garbage out!
Guy Swain (windsor, ontario, canada)
A great series with a great cast and I can't think of another actress with the range Amy Adams has shown in her career and that's only so far. Beauty, talent and a radiant intelligence that always shows through
Flo (pacific northwest)
I missed the specifics since I skipped the credits. I had to read the recap and comments to know what I suspected in the second ep. I suspected Amma because she was sociopathic and it would require a sociopath to do these murders, plus she had the opportunity -- simple as that. It was too slow and convoluted for my taste, and I was put off by the cutting and rampant alcoholism, but I love Patricia Clarkson and really enjoyed Elizabeth Perkins in this, so I stayed. Also, Big Little Lies director was touted so I kept expecting this to develop since that show was so powerful. I would hate to have a floor made from the tusks of elephants; how cruel. All of these reasons is why I skipped the credits of all the episodes and ended up missing some footage at the end. The only person I liked in this was Jackie because she was straight-forward, and even she didn't have enough information to stop Adora's poisonings. Why were the housekeeper and Alan given a pass for Adora's behavior? Camille seemed to love the housekeeper, but why? All I could think of with that Victorian was how it must have been sweltering in there and nobody was sweating! I've lived in the south and you sweat in heat like that and no fan power will change that except at night maybe if it cools down. Why did Alan have a sweater over his back all the time? And, of course, why would Camille even stay at the house to begin with except the writers needed her there, let alone allow herself to be poisoned?
k (Georgia)
Terrific series, with a great cast; Amy Adams was stellar. But it left hanging (and this is fine - not everything needs to be answered) is whether the journalist inside Camille will write about and expose her sister. Her article about her mother, read by her editor and then "filed," was so touching. What does she do now with that monstrous twist?
DaveComedy (Southern California)
I enjoyed the series in the same way that I enjoyed the "Twin Peaks" return on Showtime. The visual and audio aspects are what makes something like this interesting - not so much of a true mystery or crime drama, but just to absorb the flashbacks and quick cuts to what has happened, or how they perceive it to have happened. Things don't always have to be explained. The actors playing Camille, Adora and Amma were fantastic. But, I do agree that the ending seemed a bit abrupt - almost like they had to wrap it up in the 8th episode, whereas a great set up for the final episode (9th) could have been ending the 8th around the scene when Camille first is given her "medicine" by Adora. Always easy to 2nd guess though. All in all - Bravo to all. We should all appreciate that these networks and online outlets are providing original content. Otherwise, we'd have even more remakes and re-boots than we already do. Although, I am very much looking forward to a "Barney Miller" revival.
Kimberley (Texas)
I enjoyed the show even though if any were paying attention, Amma and her wolf pack friends were clearly murderers after a few episodes. It was never Adora, it never fit. Adora clearly suffered Munchausen Syndrome, it was rampant with every word she uttered. She killed her own daughter slow and exquisite like to solidify her standing in the town, to live the rest of her life with always being talked about, having all the sympathy to herself. Amma and her friends killed those particular girls because they sought personal attention from Adora. I was extremely disappointed by the shock jock ending that was deliberate and felt cheap and showed moronic writing. This was never a true detective story, this was always about Camille and her journey to return and face her (literal) demons, find peace and forgiveness within for not being able to save her sister and possibly being able to be capable of living a positive life after. The show should've finished with Camille having the psychotic breakdown after Amma was found to murder yet another girl, have her Editor kindly adopt her and help her recover through love, hope and compassion. Having the violent three second cut scene of Amma's rage and delight was not necessary. It was chilling enough that she had killed other girls, it was FAR more important to have Camille's ending solidified. ....one of intense pain and resolution and hope.
Daniele (Minnesota)
I loved this series. I have not read the book. I don’t want it to change my feelings for the series. I find myself to be one of those people Gillian Flynn described as “very loyal to the book”. Usually if I’ve read the book, I will not enjoy the movie, series, show, etc. there are a few exceptions, of course. I was able to follow the subtle clues, with one of my suspects being Amma. I picked up on her drug riddled speech about her friends doing anything for her, although I didn’t quite put it all together. Fantastic! I love trying to figure it out and being surprised at the end!
MB (Boston)
There is so much good TV these days. Alas, I would not count this series in that group. Manipulative, and not in a good way. Disjointed. At times repetitive and uninteresting. Amy Adams (who I LOVE) had no chemistry with Chris Messina and I didn't buy that relationship for a minute. The last episode could have been sooo much better if they had taken the time to peel back the onion and reveal the horror of the situation. Instead we get Camille suddenly succumbing to her mother's spell despite her being on to her and having distanced herself for YEARS! No build up for the rescue. Amma as murderer (!!)- while there were signs of her darkness, this could have been unraveled and revealed to the audience in a much more interesting, nuanced and shocking way. They truly missed the boat. But I guess that's just the nature of these kinds of books. Sorry I wasted my time.
Redsetter119 (Westchester, NY)
I beg to differ with those who find so much in this show unbelievable, call it bad storytelling, or unfavorably compare it to series like True Detective I and Breaking Bad. "Sharp Objects" is a solvable mystery if you follow the clues. Both TD and BB had outlandish elements, and yet few criticized or demanded explanations. Sharp Objects doesn't have BB's tension breaking humor, but it has enough of ghost story elements that we accept that some things happened just because the story said they happened – for instance Vicker’s bedroom fan goes off as dying Camille recalls her younger self deliberately poking her finger through a fan. I wonder why it's acceptable for the men of BB to perform surprisingly deft feats and not be doubted, while a nimble-fingered girl is considered incapable of shaving down some teeth to decorate her dollhouse. Nothing in SO is as preposterous as moments in TC and BB. Take Gus Fring's death. It’s easier to believe that Camille cut most of her back than that brain-dead Gus walked out of that room on two feet. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed TC and BB and accepted their realities. Maybe the unwillingness to suspend disbelief for one show and not another boils down to under-recognized gender issues. For some people, violence in women, especially mothers and young girls, is just plain unbelievable.
JJ (Chicago)
Breaking Bad was light years ahead of this.
rosa (ca)
I bowed out after the 4th episode. Or was it the 3rd? Anyways, came back to read this and found it as incomprehensible as the show was. I guess s&m isn't in my blood. Better luck next time, right?
Kristi (Utah)
Needed more foreshadowing on the Amma Killer Threesome and more obvious cues that Amma was jealous of Natalie and Ann so her motive is more than the ivory floor. how did the three girls carry Natalie into town with no one noticing? How did Camille carve perfectly readable words into the far spaces of her back?
Sequel (Boston)
Henry Czerny was so brilliant in The Tudors. His eyes communicated exactly who he was, where he was going, and his level of comprehension of what people were saying to him. I had hoped he would be the key to what was going on in Wind Gap. Didn't happen. Shame on the director.
Dlbroox (Miami)
I disagree. His role was totally nuanced. He was the creepiest one in the house. He knew all the secrets and in the end showed how complicit he was in the death of the first daughter and the soon to be death of Camille. I thought he was brilliant.
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
@Dlbroox, I agree. He was marvelously chilling. And I loved the affectation of the sweater knotted around his shoulders.
Joanna (Athens GA)
I loved it. Superb acting, gorgeous art direction. A visual feast. As a fine art photographer, I do love watching films where the stills could rightly be beautiful pieces on a gallery wall. Cast to perfection and the music choices were on point as well. As to the pace, I wasn't bored for a moment. I totally enjoyed the slow character development which many films lack, leaving us wanting more. All-in-all, an accomplished blend of drama, gothic-like horror, mystery, suspense. Regarding viewers' myriad comments on plot holes, I hold that one mark of a well-conceived story is that it leaves room for these questions, allowing replay in your mind long after the last credits have rolled. Love it when that happens.
Lucy (Ferelden)
I'm shocked people are saying the show revealed too much all at once. Just because it didn't spell everything out for you doesn't mean it was rushed. Part of the enjoyment is putting the pieces together yourself. The only real "reveal" was about Amma at the end of the finale, but even that truth was buried throughout all the episodes. An example being Camille following Amma to the slaughterhouse, and seeing her take a pig and walk through a door, but not before winking at Camille knowingly. On its own, it was ominous and eerie. But paired with what John Keane said about how they take the teeth out of pigs so they can't bite, it was a dead giveaway -- Amma visits the slaughterhouse to de-teeth the pigs, the murdered girls had their teeth removed. Amma has a dollhouse that she is unnaturally obsessed with, Natalie was propped in a window and made to look like a doll. Like this article says "it feels like accepting a horrible truth you’ve buried somewhere within yourself" - both Camille and the audience saw all we needed to see in order to piece together the puzzle. We willfully ignored those pieces because Amma is a young girl and therefore an innocent victim, we could attribute her weirdness or cruelty to fear over Natalie and Ann's deaths or to the abuse she suffered from Adora. But if we had really taken in what the show was saying instead of denying it because of our preconceived notions about who can murder and who can be violent, it would not have been a reveal at all.
Joanna (Athens GA)
@Lucy Great comments! Also made me remember - in that last scene with Camille and the dollhouse, there was a doll/person sitting on the sill of one of the upstairs windows (you could only see their legs). There were so many small details/hints/foreshadowing like this throughout. Makes me want to go back and watch again.
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
@Lucy, that’s an awful lot of “we.” “Preconceived notions”? No. I, for one, did not ignore any of the many, huge hints. They were doled out, one by one, to be gathered by viewers (or readers of the novel). That’s how mysteries work. That’s the genre. So many hints. The Woman in White. Persephone. Amma’s midnight ramblings. The list goes on. The pulling of pig teeth is a plot element that can either slot right into the build-up, or show up a fault in the writing — depending on how critical a reader one is. If Amma needed teeth for her floor, she had a ready supply of pig teeth. They would be easier to shape If she had a morbid fascination with inflicting pain, ditto. (I read that in the book she and her friends enjoy abusing animals in the woods, which makes sense for future murderers, and fits with the piglet scene in the tv version.) But she makes the leap to using human teeth (put aside all doubts about how she fashions them into a floor, which us an absurd detail). Why? Structurally, it makes sense for the novel’s story arc, but intellectually it comes across as silly. It’s best not to pick these things apart too much. It’s just a Southern Gothic murder mystery. Entertaining not deep.
Lucy (Ferelden)
@Passion for Peaches I hope you don't take "we" so literally that you interpret it to include every single person who watched the show :) If you had a different experience, then that 'we' does not include you. My point is exactly what you're saying, that the show provides you with the answer over and over, all you have to do is look. But a lot of people, including myself, missed the implication that Amma was the murderer. One of the reasons being our assumptions about who could be a killer, and who could have the violent rage required to kill someone and tear out their teeth. If Amma had been a man, or if she had not been a victim, it would have been different. I think there is definitely a parallel between Camille's experience and the audience's, in that sense. She sees many things that should make her suspect Amma, but instead it seems like she's in denial. She saw her at the slaughterhouse, but let it go like nothing had happened. That's what seems willful about it. She was able to make the mental leap that her mother killed Marian, but not that Amma killed Natalie and Ann. I, like Camille, noticed that there was something off with Amma. You can't watch the show and not notice that. But also, like Camille, I didn't see her as anything but a victim. I shoved down my uneasy feelings about her. And from reading the comments, I think a lot of others did the same. My argument is that that doesn't mean the show failed, actually I think that was very intentional and powerful.
LHan (NJ)
Pretty good program solely because of Jean-Marc Valle and good acting. Silly, drawn out story, as usual for Gillian Flynn. (I thought "Gone Girl" was the type of book where you could read the first and last paragraphs of each chapter and the rest was fluff). The "reveals" after the program ended were also silly and not too convincing altho psychosis never has to make sense.
Lucia Bergamasco (Paris, France)
I totally agree with all the critiques on the disappointing pace and structure of this last episode. Too much stuff to cram in, I guess, after so much languid character story in the preceding 7 (!) episodes. Hence the holes and lulls, inevitably! I too felt like I needed hearing aids, but since I'm getting old... Also, inserting those ultra quick flashes of violence in the credits seemed so artificial (who are you kidding!?) and gratuitous, hæsthetically speaking. And I too needed to rely on critiques to get through the plot, and the ultra-quick flashbacks, back and forth, and the hidden (but why hidden??? damn it!) details, and invisible words, carved on Camille's body (ohh, even in the middle of her back!), and all over the place, and so on... I am no expert in cinema, but all too often (also in Little Big Lies) I felt like Jean Marc Vallée, with his ultra quick shots was playing tricks with my mind! Is this avanguard filming? Please! Slow down a bit! This said, I was riveted throughout the series and I am an unconditional admirer of both Patricia Clarke and the truly 'bouleversante' Amy Adams!
Redsetter119 (Westchester, NY)
@Lucia Bergamasco "bouleversante" (greatly disturbing) -- great word, I had to look it up.
Doug Hein (Salt Lake City)
@Lucia Bergamasco I second your comments about the last episode. I read the book and felt the outcome was believable, well-written and chilling, especially regarding the psychological cost for Camille (which the series ignored). I wondered how they planned to resolve the mystery satisfactorily with about twelve minutes remaining in the episode. The filmmaker's penchant for revealing key moments in the narrative through confusing montages felt like an artsy cop-out. The saving grace for me as a viewer were the performances by Patricia Clarkson and Amy Adams. I'm surprised Gillian Flynn signed on to the project.
Ellen (NY)
Thank you for this well-written piece. Having worked with traumatized adolescents for more than 20 years I completely agree with you. "it feels like accepting a horrible truth you’ve buried somewhere within yourself. I’ve never seen another TV show so elegantly simulate the experience of living with trauma" This is what makes if so haunting.
gene s minkow (Westchester NY)
Oh, would that I had been able to enjoy the estimable SHARP OBJECTS as much as many others. Being six months shy of age 70, I've been aware that among other physical dis-attributes is a progressive, albeit minor, hearing loss at certain pitches. Seems like the most salient dialogue revealing story and character took place in the family manse, where mother and daughters seem always to be whispering. Try as I might, I simply could not comprehend those spoken words. Is this just me? Or is this perhaps a miss on the part of the producers and director? dunno.
ccc (Boston MA)
Its HBO's truly lousy sound editing. When I watch anything from them I put on closed-captioning.
Susan Kastin (New Jersey)
@gene s minkow I had to use closed captions. The voices were quite low and the southern accent added to the "hearing" problem. I did not read the book. Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson were standouts among a wonderfl cast. I may watch it again after teading this review and comments.
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
@gene s minkow, I always use CC as a back-up for my slight hearing loss. But I loved the whispery, purposely week and fragile dialogue delivery by Patricia Clarkson. This domineering woman, who has the town under thumb, posing as a tender flower...as if! I just lucked the sound up when she was on.
Sequel (Boston)
There is a real problem with the acting in this series. It is so good that it highlights rather than conceals how trashy the story really is. There isn't a single character to be found ... nor a theme.
Richard Regan (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Well, despite the brilliance of Amy Adams, this compelling story is sabotaged by the authorial manipulations of Gillian Flynn, much as Gone Girl turned into a penny dreadful. Oddly, the author is revealed to practice Münchausen by Proxy on her readers, promising a caring work of fiction only to create a tortuous denouement which is unfair by any standard of legitimate storytelling. The reader/ viewer is simply pole-axed in an act of literary sadism.
jill0 (chicago)
Not clear how Curry knew to call the cops at that exact moment.
Tati (NYC)
@jill0 I think the idea is that after Amy called him earlier in the day (or the day before) to tell him what she figured out about her mom, he would've proceeded to get in this car and drive over to the police station - Richard, the Kansas City detective says something along the lines of, 'He (Curry) practically broke the door down when he got to the station.' Supposedly in the book, Curry and Camille are actually based in Chicago so the show directors changed the location to St Louis so that a car drive could conceivably fit the timeline. (I still agree with your point about Curry's perfect timing!) Also, do the guests arriving a the Preaker house have to be buzzed in at the gate? I know Camille and Amma were often punching in a code to be buzzed in, but what about everyone else -- if there was a security detail working the gate, you'd think they'd announce visitors or? Irrelevant details, but I guess since this show wants us to believe that all 90 lbs of Amma was able to pull out 2 sets of teeth from cadavers, than Ooooo--k!
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
@Tati, I live in a rural area where many people have security gates. They generally use a code known to local sheriff and fire departments. But in this story the police chief would know the code anyway, ‘cuz he is there all the time. (Also, in small communities gate codes don’t stay secret for long!)
Redsetter119 (Westchester, NY)
@jill0 Camille had called Curry and hysterically told him her mother "did it". She refused to leave. He went down to Wind Gate to take her back home. He met up with Richard who helped him convince Vickery that something was wrong at the house. Currie could have arrived earlier or later. It only appears to be the "exact moment" because it's a story and Camille needed to be rescued sometime before she died.
Dry Socket (Illinois)
As I’ve written- a spoonful of vomit makes the medicine go down. I wanted to throw a bottle of ipecac at Camille. Gillian Flynn should be relegated to Kindle Unlimited for this one. She’s the queen of commodified mental illness and unreliable narrators. The Retching Baron Von Munchausen.
Pam (Asheville)
Disappointed by the writing, not the acting. I should not know so early in a series that a Munchausen by proxie is going to play out, and who the bad character will be.
Iseult (USA)
I found the ending images of Amma killing Mae quite disturbing. I can’t shake the images from my mind. Traumatizing. The almost lack of conscience of her two friends who assisted is also pathological. Yes I know girls can be mean but I was a girl and didn’t experience that level cruelty, which I believe is not typical amongst girls. Certainly not without some aftershocks to their psyches, yet they acted cool as cucumbers. The performance by Patricia Clarkson was extraordinary. Amy Adams irritated me a bit. Not quite sure why. I’ll have to unpack that one. The complicity of the town and the police was a case study in why this country is in the mess it is in.
Richard Schack (NYC)
I mostly enjoyed the slow-paced artistry of the series, but was disappointed that the denouement was (sorta) explained in a 10-sec montage during the closing credits. For me, that was bad story-telling. Glad I read the book.
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
I don’t see anyone else mentioning Amma’s age here, although it may have come up on previous threads. She’s too old for the story to work. The actress is 19! I haven’t read the book, but Google tells me that the character is written as age 13. That’s right at the edge of girlhood, so Adora’s efforts to arrest her development make sense. The little girl outfits, both demure and not (shortie overalls?) make sense. And the roller skates. Amma’s age isn’t mentioned in the show...is her grade level ever mentioned? Given what she gets up to in the evenings — the partying and drugs — she seems to be playing around age15 (she’s not driving yet, so not older than that, either). That age makes the entire thing even more twisted. The doll house especially. A similar, but perhaps opposite, thing happened with the casting of the (1962) film “Lolita,” when the young girl was played by the too-developed Sue Lyon, who was 14 at the time. In the book, Lolita is 12 when the obsession begins. Casting the character as older, and choosing a girl who already looked like a young woman, took some of the shock out of the story. But it also gave implied permission for viewers to think the attraction was partly her fault. And somehow okay. And it’s not.
Brian (NJ)
@Passion for Peaches yeah, it was mentioned. When she was telling her sister about being close with one of the victims she said, “Years ago, in like 7th grade.” Amy Adams responded, “That was only a year ago.” I agree, it’s a stretch to imagine her being 14ish.
Karen G (Kansas City MO)
I agree that the ending was abrupt and purposefully confusing, which is why interpretations help. A communal Sudoku of sorts, level five. Where I got waylaid was in forgetting the dollhouse was made by Amma. I only recollect an early scene where both Adora and Amma were inspecting the dollhouse and (someone - who?) said, "Don't go in that room."
Mark Fishaut MD (Friday Harbor, WA)
Perhaps the most inane series EVER on HBO! All those hours for at best a 90 minute show. Dumb dumb dumb
Glen Crawford (germantown MD)
Well clearly if you were looking for a conventional procedural this was not for you. In the spectrum of the "Broken woman goes to Creepytown and solves mysteries" subgenre, this was way closer to Top of the Lake (Elizabeth Moss) than Bellevue (Anna Paquin). I agree the final episode seemed like cold water in the face after the languid pace of what came before, but so does waking up from a bad dream. Stylistically, its all of a piece, though you may not like the style.
DavonaD (SoCal)
Well, that was fun! I've come to care about Camille, and will miss her. I've appreciated the irony of her life in Wind Gap... A tortured soul with a deep capacity to connect, and the complete inability to dismiss it. Ahh, the finale... No shortage of heinous behavior! I'm not often tasked with deciding who is more deliciously cruel: The dull and lifeless matriarch dependent on the slow and painful suffering of her children, or the twisted and deranged adolescent who exacts rage and vengeance on her teenage rivals? The two murdered victims of Wind Gap are a footnote but watching these two serial killers and their stylized rituals was pretty colorful. I had no idea there was anything left to see after "Don't tell Momma," so I watched it again. I found a word puzzle! I didn't understand the curious expression on Camille's face when she looked over at Mae at the Curry dinner table. I wondered about it at the time, what was so interesting about a kid moving mashed potatoes around on a plate? It seemed important, but okay. Second time, I paused the TV on Mae... On each finger of her left hand were words. The only one I could make out was "text." Words on her arm above the wrist spelled "Call Mom." It looked like black magic marker. Mmm... Real or imagined? A cry for help? A premonition? A clue to our next victim? Spectacular performances by the principal cast. Cool sets, unique visual style, kudos to the editors who cut this project. Well done.
Karen G (Kansas City MO)
@DavonaD, Good catch!!! Wow, seems we not only needed closed captioning for this show, but HDTV 4 as well.
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
@DavonaD, I didn’t notice that! I did wonder why the funny look from Camille. My guess is it was a hint Amma was messing with her friend, and something placed in the story to make Camille havevsome doubt about her half-sister. Maybe indicates Amma was playing at Camille’s type of self harm, but on someone else? It’s almost an Easter Egg for the viewers. I wonder whether it was in the book or was added for the TV version.
DavonaD (SoCal)
@Passion for Peaches Could be, good call! It's barely perceptible, but Amma does look down at Mae's hand when she noticed Camille looking at Mae.
Redsetter119 (Westchester, NY)
Amy Adams gave one of the most devastating, clearly defined performances I think I've ever seen. Camille’s character isn't as flashy as Adora’s or Amma’s (both well-played), but Adams appears to transcend the camera with such a focused presence that you can almost feel the sweat beneath her grey, long-sleeved sweater. Camille is too self-despising, too funked out, to show any artifice, so it couldn't have been an easy task to keep such an internalized character interesting for eight episodes. A slight, lopsided smile, a patient, barely audible “Amma,” as her sister persists in ridiculing her, a soft “I know,” a sudden toss of the head when irritated, and those eyes with their intelligent, ever-enduring sadness. True artistry knows when and how to conceal itself. Amy Adams performance appears to be effortless, and that is what makes it sublime. True artistry knows when and how to conceal itself.
spiaggia (SJ, CA, USA)
Hours later, I'm still absorbing Sharp Objects, a drama best sipped slowly. The droning synth intro to Led Zeppelin's In The Evening: first heard when driving in a drunken haze - last heard after the horrifically lucid realization of having been played the fool. Loved this entire sweaty sweat tea-ed mansion of slow-burning rage and gothic drama. The perfect mix of casting, acting, direction, and music. I had no expectations while watching other than to escape and enjoy someone else's artistic vision. Watch for yourself; ignore the nitpicking and critics. Now... Don't you let her...
gzuckier (ct)
@spiaggia well done soundtrack.
Joe Mc (Baton Rouge)
Unlike some, I enjoyed the languid pace of the series... it really brought-out the deep-seated emotions and motivations of it's characters. And it seemed to magnify the violence in Adora's casual insults, which landed harder than a punch in an action movie. So the final episode was a disappointment. It felt hurried and disjointed, as if the director had to cram two hours of story into one hour of time. And I'm SO glad to hear other complaints about the audio! The scariest thing about this episode was worrying if I might be destined for hearing aids.
Leah (Fort Washington)
@Joe Mc The pace of the last episode may suggest that the series requires another season for clarification. That's what I'm hoping.
David A (Glen Rock, NJ)
Not the only show on HBO where you have to crank the volume to hear all the dialogue, but this one had me setting the volume control well above where I normally do. @Joe Mc
Stephen Payne (Canberra, Australia)
Here in Australia been able to watch with subtitles, otherwise I think I would have picked up only a third of the dialogue. You could watch a version at the same time as shown in the US, where there were no subtitles available, or wait 9 hours and watch with the subs.
Puzzled (Chicago)
Spoiler alert... This show was truly a chore to watch and I wish I had given up after the first couple of episodes. As for the “twist,” I was more surprised when they tried to pretend Amma was innocent.
Evelyn Zak (Richmond, Va)
I read the book after I started watching this at a friend's house. Great acting, lots of mystery, really twisted if you like that kind of thing. I have to say that HBO was grossly irresponsible in its portrayal of the methadone clinic in Episode 7. I worked in a clinic for 4 years and never saw anything remotely like that. At first I wasn't sure what I was seeing! This wasn't in the book, so someone must have decided it was necessary to add it to the show. I wish they would have done some research. Most clinic nurses work their tails off and are sharp thinkers and fast actors. This place looked like an insane asylum, which just perpetuates stigma and misunderstanding and fear. Too bad, it was a good show IMO.
chris (PA)
@Evelyn Zak Wait: methadone clinic? The only clinic I recall is one for mentally ill people.
Ann (Santa Rosa)
@chris I believe the nurse who was fired from the hospital for asking too many questions about Marian's and/or Amma's medical records ended up working at a methadone clinic. I didn't particularly notice anything about wherever it was that Camille interviewed her, but I suppose that must have been it.
Evelyn Zak (Richmond, Va)
@chris It looked like that, which was what I found stunning. Shortly later, it was mentioned that the nurse was working in a methadone clinic with the implication that it was a step down because of getting fired from the hospital. It's mentioned in several online reviews also.
Waipahee (Kamuela, Hi.)
The influence on Sharp Objects of 1998's cult classic "Wild Things" is inescapable. Wild Things was really the first to use revelatory scenes in the credits to (for fun) elaborate on the plot. As one commenter pointed out, using needle-nose pliers to extract teeth would be a lot easier with vise-grips. This is exactly what happened in one of Wild Things' credit scenes. Even the well-know one-sheet for Wild Things with the disembodied heads of Neve Campbell and Denise Richards was duplicated in promotional photos for Sharp Objects. Speaking of fun, stream Wild Things again or the first time. Its plot and surprises are screwed down tight, and its languid, ominous use of sex anticipates several films and series that followed.
roducl (Tucson)
Overall positive response to this series although I found it tedious going at times. Lots of unresolved questions about matter and style but will save them for an appropriate dinner party. I do want to support those who commented on the ridiculous way the sound track was often held to a murmur. Lousy technology and lousy dramatic technique!
Neelie (Philadelphia, PA)
I tried, but just really did not like this mini-series. Knowing the full story now, it was the execution of it that failed. Too much time spent on atmosphere, unexplained flash backs, secrecy, long stares, and ominous one liners. Not enough on the characters, explaining their choices & the story.
Sequel (Boston)
@Neelie There weren't any characters, hence you missed nothing. Someone mentioned Sleeping Beauty as a possible theme tho, and that is a little intriguing. Not buying it ... but if that's all they got ... It's still better than the Marvel comic book show that I saw.
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
About the teeth and the ivory floor...they are simply (rather heavy-handed) writer’s devices. It’s an extended metaphor. The most cherished and carefully handled treasure of this family’s historic jewel of a home is a floor made of elephant ivory — a material that represents rampant cruelty, suffering, rapacious greed and waste. A disregard for life. Pain. The family matriarch resides in this ivory-floored room, allowing others to enter only on her terms. That’s her seat of power. Her legacy. So having Amma duplicate that detail of her mother’s room, in her precise simulacrum of the family pile, is an indication that the family rot continues into the next generation. But ramped up a notch, because this time the floor is tiered in human teeth. As another commenter pointed out Amma and Mamma are anagrams of each other. Amma is Mamma inverted.
Redsetter119 (Westchester, NY)
@Passion for Peaches I agree with your reading of the symbol. I see the elephant tusks as symbolic of the family's imminent extinction.
Adrian (NC)
Well, it’s not quite an inversion, but ok.
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
@Adrian, well, you’re not exactly polite or kind, but okay. What I meant is the word is folded into itself to make its opposite. Letters transposed. Call it what you will.
JBo (DC)
So this whole thing turned out to be a twisted, super weird version of Sleeping Beauty? Wish I had known that from the the start, could have saved me 8 hours of agonizingly slow and boring television.
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
@JBo, how do you see Sleeping Beauty? Please share. I don’t see it.
chris (PA)
@JBo I'm sorry. I have read the book (some tine ago) and watched the series, but I don't get the Sleeping Beauty analogy.
JBo (DC)
@ Chris @Passion for Peaches Basically, Aurora has been sheltered her entire life from the bad things in the world that when she finally comes across the first real bad thing in her life, the sharp object, she doesn't have any idea how to cope with it and instead shuts down completely. Camille had been sheltered by Adora who wanted to baby her and care for her to the extreme and when Camille had to face real life bad things (i.e. her sister's death and awful middle/high school girls and boys) she didn't know how to cope with any of the bad things happening to her and just shutdown, resorting to cutting herself or drinking excessively or sleeping with anyone who would make her feel temporarily better. She never knew how to overcome her issues in a permanent way. At the end, after she hits rock bottom, she is basically passing out, stumbling around in a stupor while figuring out all of these things and how to deal with them and overcome them (the equivalent of Prince Phillip overcoming Maleficent while Aurora is sleeping) and ends up passed out on the floor when... Prince Charming shows up to save her! In their last dinner, Amma even says, "It's kind of funny how many stories they have about princesses needing to be rescued from witches." There's a real specific nod when Camille is in the bathtub at the end but I feel like this has already gotten too long and preachy hahaha.
Chris (Northern Virginia)
I think I enjoyed the NYTimes commenters' speculations more than the actual resolution of this series. Amma is Camille's daughter! Alan's gun and letter opener will appear in the last episode! Jackie is tangled up in the murders somehow! Cheerleaders are always vicious! The words! The words that turned into other words! There were so many loose ends and tangential bits that I felt cheated by the actual ending. But that's a truer reflection of mystery -- there's so much data (salacious and ordinary) that you can't tell what's relevant.
philsmom (at work)
@Chris Yeah, not having read the books, I thought Amma was a product of Camille's teenage rape, and Camille was a product of Adora's teenage rape. That there was some "Wicker Man" type sacrifice made sporadically by the town - sacrificing the head cheerleader's virginity in keeping with the legacy of Millie Calhoun. So I figured Amma was the killer, wanting to be like her mom and sister, just clearing the decks of any more athletically inclined girls so she would be head cheerleader. Ashley would have been next.....
Ally Hillell (Seattle WA)
I really wish I had and plan to do so in the future – skip ahead and watch the last episode. This book was horrible and I saved myself some time by skimming. I realize it seem to have a Gothic intent but does that mean the dialogue is so bad that the producers do not want anyone to understand it even on close captioning half of the lines if not more were left out? As my professors in law school would say if you have to mumble just shut up because you’re not saying anything worthwhile. This was a clear case of Munchhausen by proxy from day one but interestingly the the older teenager allowed her to continue it she didn’t seem to be mamas little girl in any other ways. And I’ve always doubted the basis of MBP that was used here – no one not even this wretched mother gets off on taking candy to a bunch of nurses. No one. Some people may bring In a treat if their family member has been there a while but nobody swans them selves around for attention from nurses. Nobody. I seem to have missed two episodes maybe they never existed maybe HBO decided to have mercy on her soul and cut them out. Amy Adams needs Apologize for this one go home sober up take a bath please please please take a bath and put on clean clothes and regain your voice. And stop drinking and driving. Just horrible.
PJane (Montreal)
@Ally Hillell: As someone who worked in hospitals for eight years, I can assure you that people do indeed bring treats for the nurses, although not often.
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
@PJane, Yes. Nice, thoughtful people do bring stuff for the hospital staff. And Adora is portrayed as being really adept at Southern “nicely-nice,” of the watch-your-back variety.
Ally Hillell (Seattle WA)
I have been reading people say how wonderful the actresses were even with lousy material to work with. This show was a bottom of the barrel effort for Amy Adams that someday she will look back on with embarrassment. I am not that familiar with the other actors her mother but it seem like it could’ve been played by any one of my out of their mind Southern Gothic aunts And even they would’ve been creeped out. And please tell Kansas City not to let his girlfriend drink and drive
Eliza57 (El Segundo, CA)
This was an incredible series that depicted a young woman's search to find answers to her inner turmoil. I've read a lot of comments that have been posted re: the scars on Camille's back - in watching her meeting up with old acquaintances - bashful men (football players) - catty women (cheerleaders) at the party and later at the Calhoun Day - through flashbacks - I got the feeling that Camille had been gang raped by the football team and they had carved some of the awful words into her along with help from the jealous cheerleaders. How's that for projecting? Camille continued the practice. And we all meet her as she begins to take a stand to go through the dark tunnel of hell that is her family & her home town. All in all - this series made me cringe, gasp and give prayers of gratitude that Camille survived and her family is behind bars. PS Listen to children "A woman in white took her..." They tell the truth the first time. The second time they'll make up a story to tell you what you want to hear.
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
@Eliza57, I think you are adding too much to the plot there. If the writing was initiated by her rapists and frenemies, why is the printing all so uniform in size and style? Everywhere? And why do the words form a text that is cohesive enough to be “readable” by her (barely legal) lover? No. Not going there.
Richard (Florida)
Not worth eight hours of my time. If you're going to take that long, then have a decent ending, not one buried in the credits. And, with all that time, why nothing about Camille father? And did Camille cut herself because she wanted Adora to take care of her on some level? As Adora told Camille that she'd never loved her, I think it was kind of hokey that Camille at whatever age she was supposed to be suddenly because Mama's girl, but then I guess she was poisoned at dinner. Oh well..
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
@Richard, I pulled this from a mental health website. Six reasons people self-harm: 1.Distract themselves, alter the focus of their attention, or regain control over their minds when experiencing pressing, unavoidable and overwhelming feelings or thoughts. 2. Release tension associated with strong emotions or overwhelming thoughts. 3. Feel something physical when they are otherwise dissociated and numb. 4. Express themselves or communicate and/or document strong emotions they are feeling and cannot otherwise articulate. 5. Punish themselves. 6. Experience a temporary but intense feeling of euphoria that occurs in the immediate aftermath of self-harm. I think Camille is motivated by all six. As for cruel mothers being able to pinpoint and pulverize the most tender parts of their daughters’ psyches, even when those daughters are adults, well, you are not a daughter. So leave that one alone.
Rick (UK)
@Richard Think she was partly playing her to save Amma and also accepting the 'inevitable' - the same fate as her sister, maybe that she felt due to her survivors guilt that she 'deserved' or perhaps secretly longed for as some sort of release from her zombie like existence
Richard (Florida)
@Rick I agree that she was trying to save Amma, and may have not been clear in what I wrote above. I guess I was wondering why Adora would suddenly think Camille was receptive to her "nursing."
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
After being sucked into this series and watching the story build up, slowly, at a delicate and delicious pace, I was massively disappointed by the final episode. It was trite and standard-issue scary-movie stuff, start to finish. It was even, dare I say, downright silly in parts (the treatment is truly not working if a viewer sees such horrfic doings as silly). But it was the ending that really killed it for me. The murder montage was a poor decision. It was unnessary — the viewer could connect the dots herself — and too quick to really clarify anything without rewinding and viewing again. I didn’t catch the snippet showing Amma’s friends helping. How much better to end with, “Don’t tell Mama” and a pan-in of Amma’s dead-eyed face, or even a voiceover of Camille’s final words from the book, with slow-paced glimpses of the murder scenes. The whole story is full of holes, of course, as others have pointed out. I am no fan of Flynn’s writing. But the performances and (most of) the direction in this series were so good that the thing was absolutely riveting. Amy Adams carried the bulk of it, with a major assist from creepy Patricia Clarkson. The tension those two generated was excruciating and wonderful. A perfect depiction of how a mother can kill her daughter without even touching her: the scene in the dress shop. Reminds me of my own mom.
Mallory (NOLA)
@Passion for Peaches I disagree that the montage was unnecessary. We saw Amma as the cruel alpha her posse, and her clearly evident jealousy of Richard and Camille's flirtation and of Ashley's seeming hold on John, but I needed to see the flashes of anger and violence to tell me she hadn't been just an accomplice with the strength Adora lacked to pull teeth.
LindaV (Great Falls, VA)
All I have to say is that I am relieved that it wasn't just me who couldn't hear most of the dialogue!! And, I found it slow moving but fairly well done. I missed the ending credits so I will have to record again to watch.
Flo (pacific northwest)
@LindaV I found the ending, including credits on Youtube.
Kathi (Boston)
Amma is an anagram for Mama.
Rick (UK)
@Kathi and i assume adora is adore her
artsyjoy (Florida)
Wonderful, insightful critique by Judy Berman of the Sharp Objects series... And so brilliantly conceived by Jean-Marc Vallée, from Gillian Flynn's book. A mystery felt though the drunken blur of an intensely broken, yet brave woman. Mutedly filmed, which served so well to contrast with the horrific evil and madness Camille uncovers. Stunning nuanced performances by an eclectic and talented cast. However... for those who like their mysteries tied up and delivered with a bow on top, I suggest you stick to your CSI's
LEW (Seattle, WA)
I hadn't read the book, so I was so surprised by the ending. I loved the series. In hindsight, I wondered if when Adora said "She's mentally ill" when she was being handcuffed that she was referring to Amma not Camille...and that she and maybe even Alan both knew who the killer was.
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
@LEW, the way I see the story, Adora knows Amma did it and covers for her. Taking the blame would be part of her saintly-mother-martyr pose. Alan knows about the systematic poisoning Adora does, but feels it is above his station to interfere with that. I see no hints that he knew Amma murdered the girls. He still thinks of her as his little girl.
NYC woman (NYC)
@LEW I like this theory. I think Adora did know.
@Passion for Peaches I agree with you. Certainly Adora knows it's Amma...the pliers are in her home and she didn't use them. Was curious if Alan would be charged with anything...Camille lay dying and she lied to the detective rather then letting her be saved. Why would he let Adora kill his children? And can you imagine what the housekeeper really knew?
Steve King (Alameda, California)
How did Camille get the scars on her back? They would be almost impossible to self-inflict...
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
@Steve King, I had the same thought when those scars were revealed. So many plot holes here! Another flaw is how even and clear all of the scarification is. I have seen some “script” scars from self-harming. They tend to be less methodical, less uniform. Our bodies scar in different ways on different areas of skin, too.
richguy (t)
@Steve King fellow inmates? I think we should assume that Camille was in and out of institutions.
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
@richguy, “sharp objects” are kept away from “inmates” (otherwise known as patients) in psychiatric units.
David Beck (Carrboro)
Why is the assumption made that Alan is the father of any of the girls?
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
@David Beck, he is Alan Crellin, his wife is Adora Crellin, and the daughters are Amma Crellin , Marian Crellin and Camille Preaker. Camille had a different father, which was referred to a few times in the story.
chris (PA)
@Passion for Peaches I think David is asking why we would believe Alan was the real father of any of them - last names aside.
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
@chris, why assume he isn’t the father? Adora is played as a manipulative flirt. She is not a physical cheat, but has long been carrying on some sort of emotional affair with the Chief of Police. She is a tease, who acts as though she is still the beautiful, entrancing Southern Belle. He worships her, though we aren’t given any reason to believe he lusts for her, or at least that he thinks he could ever have her. He stokes her ego, she feeds his fantasy of gallantry. Maybe they had a thing in high school, maybe not. But definitely no babies.
richguy (t)
Perhaps it's unfortunate that Adora was not allowed to kill Amma. Amma is a homicidal sociopath. One could argue that her character was malformed by her upbringing and by the poison in her system, or one could just say she's a bad seed. In the grand scheme of things, it would have been better for those three murdered girls, if Adora had been successful in killing Amma. It's strange to walk away from the show wishing Adora had been successful. Can her victimhood really justify Aamm's deeds? Is Amma truly a victim?
chris (PA)
@richguy But, suppose Adora had killed Amma. Then on whom would she turn? Maybe the other little girls she was trying to 'help.'
Marge Keller (Midwest)
I guess I'm alone hanging pretty far on this tree branch when I state that I thought the quick scenes in the credits were actually a sneak preview of what was to come next season rather than it being the final, final closing scene of the season. I guess it's time to watch the this episode a second time.
Christina Hill (Bloomfield Hills Mi)
Has anyone thought thru what it realistically would entail to create a dollhouse floor from human teeth? Honestly you'd need to be a skilled craftsman. Amma is a sick young teen. I hate fiction.
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
@Christina Hill, I love fiction, but you are right about the teeth. It’s a silly, highly improbable twist. I thought that was just one of many sloppy writer’s tricks, and plot holes. It does, however, open up so many possibilities and questions, like how much Adora knew about the murders and about her daughter’s mental state. She was shown working with her daughter on the doll house.
@Christina Hill Yes I did and thought it utterly ridiculous...I was fine with one incisor. Got it.
chris (PA)
@Christina Hill In the novel, she has to flatten teeth to do it. This means that most of the tooth material is useless to her.
Scott Werden (Maui, HI)
I get the feeling that directors embed the final revealing links in the credits to force us to always watch them, like kids who don't get dessert unless they eat their vegetables. I tend to watch credits anyway, partly because I am still digesting the show, but the scenes barely registered with me and I really did not know the details until I read this piece. Please, directors and film-editors, keep the plot self contained and don't get cute and embed the finale into a couple of quick shots in the credits. It really serves no artistic purpose I can discern.
Mallory (NOLA)
@Scott Werden The reason the end credits reveal worked for me was that it felt just like the series itself..the town itself...the Crellin family itself. It's not what plays out before our eyes. Not Amanda's dad. Not Natalie's brother. And not the town matriarch either. They hide it like Camille hides the scars under her clothes.
richguy (t)
People keep asking about motive. Isn't motive an obsolete concept? Adora's motive for sickening her daughters is 100% clear and diagnosable. It comes from a weltanschauung in which people have psychology and a self. That's a 19th Century worldview. Neurochemistry has outdated psychology. Now, the self is a bizaare constellation of neurochemical tendencies and identity as classified by society and represented in the media. Amma's motive is much more akin to that shown in the Scream movies than it is to Adora's old school need for ego gratification. In some ways, Sharp Objects is about a moment in history when old motives and new motives exist in the same space. It's not unlike jamming Miss Havisham into the Scream world. Compared with Amma, Adora's insanity is almost comforting.
em em seven (Peoria)
For me, the debilitating weakness of this otherwise admirable production was the direction and editing. For example, many here have complained about the credit-embedded montage reveal. Compare that with the montage reveal that ended "The Sixth Sense," in which a very complicated story is told succinctly and clearly in about 30 seconds. A gut punch of maximum impact, unlike what we saw in this show's ending. Too bad.
Into the Cool (NYC)
While I enjoy all the actors, overall, I was disappointed with the series. I echo some others who found the direction, writing and sound quality not so good. Why was the sound quality so bad? I used captions but found it did not improve my appreciation of the story. The final episode with so much passivity by most of the characters for most of the episode drove me up the wall. I did not watch the ending credits so am amazed at what is revealed in them or at the end of them. Why put all that info after credits? TV and movie stories do not have to have tidy explanation for me but this series seemed to love to hide it all. Maybe that's to echo family secrets? But real storytellers can make that point without confusing most viewers or readers, right? Since Better Call Saul just started its new season, I can't help but draw a comparison. Vince Gilligan, his writers, his directors win, for me, no contest. The acting in Sharp Objects was fine, maybe even great, I won't argue that. However, good writing and direction wins every time.
richguy (t)
@Into the Cool I like Better Call Saul, but Gilligan's world is 100% asexual. Breaking Bad was brilliant and full of moral complexity, but it was, in some ways, sterile and certainly uncomplicated by lust, which is messy even in a story.
Into the Cool (NYC)
@richguy I disagree a little. BB had Skyler fooling with her boss and hints that Walter had once been involved with the female head of Gray Matter. But I agree that it's nothing like the dark stuff in Sharp Objects. We see no real lust, as you say, in either of Gilligan's creations.
richguy (t)
@Into the Cool To me, that's sex as a necessary plot device. In HBO shows (Sharp Objects, True Detective, Big Little Lies) sex is a hot temptation and a regular distraction to morality. On AMC (Mad Men, Better Call Saul, The Walking Dead) sex is a social function. On TWD, The Governor's lust for Maggie was, to me, the most realistic sexual moment of the show. Also, Rick and Shane's competition. In AMC world, people have sex, but it doesn't dominate and determine their waking thought. In HBO world (True Detective, Sharp Objects, Big Little Lies), sex dominates and determines people's waking thought.
Bonwise (Davis)
I loved the acting!
Fatal1ty (Indianapolis)
Did they run out of money to film a more coherent wrap up than the shaky cam “hidden in the credits” nonsense?
nicki (Usa)
As to the “why” of Amma...don’t think it was motivated by wanting to keep her Mother to herself. As I said in my comments last week, Amma had rage inside her that was taken out on the girls. She was a victim, who then needed to be a perpetrator. Add to that, the psychological and genetic components in the family. A born psychopath made worse by all of the above.
Nick (Maine)
It's a bummer that so many people go into a show like Sharp Objects and expect a who-dunnit experience like an adult Scooby-Doo episode. The murder is always beside the point in shows like True Detective and Sharp Objects. It's merely the glue that binds the characters and events to a location, where the underlying story unfolds. I took the post credit scenes as a way to remove all sense of comfort from the viewer. They took the most disturbing flashback of events and saved it for the very end. Most people who caught those flashes were shaken by the whole thing. It's the type of gut punch I loved about this show. I felt it nearly every week, to the bitter end.
JR (Providence, RI)
@Nick I agree completely. Camille's shocking revelation in the final scene was confirmation of her experience up to that point -- that life offers no safety or surety, and that darkness and cruelty lurk in the most familiar places. I would not have expected a benign resolution. The quick scenes in the credits fit the tone throughout the series: shocking, fleeting memories of trauma. It was a bold move also to leave the audience wondering what Camille would do next with this terrible knowledge.
Jsailor (California)
It was a bad attempt to channel Tennessee Williams and Faulkner. With stars like Adams and Clarkson, you expected better than a drawn out melodrama of Southern small town decadence. I'm angry that I wasted 6 hours (?) waiting for a grossly unsatisfying outcome.
G. Wander (Mansfield, OH)
This was a great mini-series to break up the doldrums of Summer...and very entertaining. Hats off to Amy Adams. From the very moment you see the private suffering in Camille's eyes, she illicits one of the most powerful emotions from her audience. The empathy oozes directly to Camille as she battles her un-tackled demons up until & including the finale when she realizes that it may take her own purposeful death to bring Adora to some sort of reckoning. I've learned long ago that the CC (closed caption) option will serve any serious viewer with a deeper insight when the audible dialogue gets too mysterious or too distant in the audio mix. The CC option is a blessing & should be used extensively on a series like this, especially since it was originally a novel...and the words seem to matter. I'm not sure if I read this tidbit in the comments, but the sick room in Adora's gothic mansion consisted of a floor of ivory...elephant tusks..elephant TEETH. Leading of course to the human tooth tiled floor of Amma's doll house representation of the same. The sick room moved with Amma...so...the murders she committed in Wind Gap follow her to the big city to start anew. Amma was the perfect choice as co-villain to her Mother's unspeakable acts. Now to bring the other skaters to justice....
Rachel Bird (Boston)
Thank you for this explanation of the final scenes. I had not read the book and think that was probably a mistake. I watched the end thinking Amma killed Natalie and Ashley with her mother, not with her friends. The last few scenes, while the credits rolled was very confusing and still did not really lead me to what was clearly the answer. Finally, clearly, Amma also killed her new friend Mae. So, now, has Camille turned her in? The strongest signal to me of Amma's complicitness was the her visit to her mother in prison where their hands touched the glass. Clearly, a weird, strong connection between the two women.
JR (Providence, RI)
@Rachel Bird Amma and Adora's bond was like that of a typical mother and daughter, but filtered through the lens of abuse and manipulation. Imagine being raised to equate maternal attention with suffering, but still being psychologically dependent on it. Imagine willingly playing the child while in your early teens, because your mother's love is contingent on it. Children believe (up to a point) that their experiences while growing up are "normal" -- that is, it's normal to them. They are bonded to their parents even when that relationship is toxic.
Cee (New York)
I found it incredibly hard to suspend my disbelief for this show, especially the big reveal, mainly for two reasons. As any person who has ever had a tooth pulled will tell you, it is NOT an easy task. I've had wisdom teeth pulled by strong-armed 150+ lb. dentists who still had difficulty and can in no way believe that a slight teen such as Amma could accomplish this on her own. Next, if Ashley was aware that Natalie's blood was in the carriage house, was she one of the murderers? There's no other way she could have known this. This entire series was presented through the beer googles of a semi-lucid drunk.
Christina Hill (Bloomfield Hills Mi)
@Cee Yes I agree about the pulling of young healthy teeth--and I saw up close working with my dad, a dentist!--but also as I've commented--creating some sort of "floor" with the teeth? Utterly ridiculous! How much time and knowledge would that take? I've never liked fiction that is rooted in stupidity just for the sake of writing some story.
Scott Werden (Maui, HI)
@Cee, And pulling a tooth with needle-nose pliers would be almost impossible. Wrong tool for the job. Vice grips would work much better.
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
@Cee, there is a scene where Ashley finds blood on the rug, as she is tidying up. Since her boyfriend has just rejected her and stormed off, she makes the assumption that the blood must be Natalie’s and that her boyfriend killed his sister. Ashley is not the brightest girl, but she loves being the star in a drama.
AustinJerry (Austin TX)
After Amma's jarring "Please don't tell Mama", did the director expect everyone to endure 42 seconds of credits before a 14-second montage with such a big reveal was presented? I would have completely missed this if I had not read this excellent review. I watched the montage several times, once after pausing and then advancing frame-by-frame on my DVR, and even then I had trouble understanding what I was seeing. One of my problems with this mini-series is the constant use of rapid flash-backs, often forcing me to re-wind and view again. It definitely took some work to enjoy the series, at least for me. I am not sure I liked this style of directing.
NYC woman (NYC)
@AustinJerry Although I enjoyed the challenge, I'm with you and I would not want to watch too many series done in this style. And I could not have enjoyed it fully without the recap, closed caption, and viewers' insights!
chris (PA)
@AustinJerry I sort of agree about the post-credits bit. On the other hand, I don't think this was "the big reveal." All it did was to show Amma at her violent work and prove her claim that her besties "would do anything" for her. I have forgotten how the novel deals with those besties and Alan. I do wish the series had given us a bit of closure on those counts.
Easy Goer (Louisiana)
I found this "mini-series" irritating. I think it was well cast, but the almost constant past/present/pas/present gave me a headache. Amy Adams is an extremely talented actress. I thought she gave a truly brilliant performance in "Arrival" (2016), which was a more complex film. In my opinion, Denis Villeneuve is in the top handful of directors these days. "Sharp Objects", not so much. I give it a D+, and that goes straight to the direction, screenplay, all except the acting. "The Night Of" was a much better series. I watched it twice. Michael K. Williams and John Turturro were blistering; Riz Ahmed was outstanding.
Llewis (N Cal)
I binge watched the first seven episodes only to be disappointed by the finale. Watching the characters develop slowly was a good ride. However, the final episode was like getting dumped off the horse into the briars. I had to rerun the end to realize that the tooth was part of the bedroom mimicking Adora’s ivory floor. Did not realize that there were scenes embedded in the credits à la Marvel. The final episode ruined a good series. And, no. Adora will not get out of the slammer. She is guilty of attempted murder since she poisoned her daughters. Please no Season 2. If creepy Amma roams the Earth freely I don’t want to see what she can do as an adult.
Merlin Balke (Kentucky)
I admit I went back and watched the last few minutes again. The ending was brilliant. "Don't tell mama" and black screen. Did the episode title Milk mean mom I'd like to kill?
Jan (Oregon)
@Merlin Balke......maybe. Certainly not “Mother of the Year”. I interpreted it as “Milk of Human Kindness”, as in Camille’s writing about choosing kindness in the face of so much brutality.
Lucia (Connecticut)
@Jan They made Camille drink the milk at dinner. It contained Camille's first dose of poison. She became immediately ill. I thought that was obvious. Thus the title, Milk.
Stephen Ducat (Bend, OR)
@Merlin Balke Poison was Adora's "milk," a toxic nourishment that was the only kind on offer in this family. This was a world in which kindness and cruelty were hopelessly conflated.
nicki (Usa)
Ok, so I was right about who the killer was. But, I didn't care. Straining to see (do I need a bigger TV? I could NOT read the words on Camille's body) and hear everything was taxing. (I couldn't get my closed captions to work, and I have NEVER needed them for any other show.) That ending, c'mon. Oh, look how clever we all are over here in TV world - let's hide the ending in between the credits! That might have been OK, if this wasn't the finale of the show. I was ready to erase it from my DVR, and went back. Blech. Like so many others, I watched for the actors. That wasn't enough. (And I wonder how they feel about viewers unable to hear the dialogue? You would think they'd have some input - why put all that work into a scene that most people can't hear?) The only good thing is that this was a limited series.
Christina Hill (Bloomfield Hills Mi)
@nicki Little Big Lies was also intentionally hard to hear and follow. Apparently this attitude is considered "avant garde" in Hollywood. It's actually, in my opinion, a cop out used by a director with no real commendable talents: so he thinks making it "mysterious" is cool. It's not, it's simply superficial.
nicki (Usa)
@Christina Hill Interesting. It is the same director for both shows, but I had no trouble hearing Big Little Lies, and I enjoyed it. I’ll be coming back to that one for the next season. It’s extremely hard for me to judge Sharp Objects because of the missing dialogue. I am a voracious reader with a huge library. If pages were missing in any of my books, could I keep reading? No. I don’t even like galley copies or uncorrected proofs because they are not the finished book. Thus, this show this was an incomplete experience.
Chris (England)
I need a recap of this recap. In what way did "diverging from gender norms" cause Natalie Keene's murder? (Para 1) Does anyone else buy Amma's motive as wanting "to keep a stranglehold on her mother’s care and attention"? (Para 9) If so, what did her accomplices get out of it? What's "sadomasochistic" exactly about the Calhouns? (Para 13) Oh yeah, before I go, did we ever find out what Amma was up to at the slaughterhouse that time Camille followed her there? Still confused about that.
Rick B. (Charlotte, NC)
@Chris Re: the slaughterhouse, perhaps to bribe/seduce/extort a farm hand to lie about the bike in the pig pond? And while we're at it, why was Camille a "legend in this town"? #theshedasmacguffin
JR (Providence, RI)
@Chris Amma's motive is described in the book as keeping a stranglehold on her mother's care and attention. When Amma became attached to Camille, and Mae seemed to be vying for Camille's approval, Mae's fate was sealed as well. I interpret the slaughterhouse scene as Amma getting practice on pulling teeth from that poor baby pig.
fast/furious (the new world)
@Rick B. Supposedly for being 'slutty.'
mjpezzi (Orlando)
This show was like watching paint dry. It moved so slowly, I fell asleep watching every episode and had to come back to watch it on-demand the next day, only to be disappointed AGAIN. My husband and I were almost giddy at the prospect of an ending of this series, which we persevered to watch only because of the stars: Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson. The pacing was all off and there were too many undeveloped plot details and under-developed characters. By the time we were presented the big twist -- the baby sister killer -- I realized that I didn't care about that sister, because she was never a believable character with any depth. And I really thought they wasted a lot of time showing Camille just drinking in the car and in rooms... This was the biggest waste of my time all year. Really boring.
Chris (England)
The definition of good storytelling is when an ending seems both surprising and obvious. Of course Amma was the killer–her and her friends' violence has been there all along under the surface of drink and drugs. She's menacing when taunting Camille as she's sitting with Willis on his police car, sticking bubblegum in her hair. Then it just seemed like teenage kicks, but now we know it was much more. Having said all that this was a disappointing finale. All through the series you haven't been able to take your eyes off the screen for a moment, but in this episode there were long lulls of nothing happening. Was that intentional? To put you in a false sense of security, making the twist more surprising? Maybe, but it didn't really work. We always knew something else was going to happen. When it finally did, it felt rushed. Squeezing the most important scenes into the credits, we felt shortchanged. But overall, a great series.
richguy (t)
@Chris I'm not sure that's the definition of good storytelling., but I'm sort of a Modernist. I'm as interested in how the story is told as I am in the story. I don't think the end of Hamlet is either satisfying or important. I think one could read the first 3/4 of Hamlet and still find it very worthwhile. The same with Godot. To me, the characters always matter much more than the plot. The Killing is a plot-heavy show (that does develop the characters to some degree). I enjoyed Sharp Objects more than The Killing.
Chris (England)
P.s. Not to get all anti-P.C. but I love how it's apparently verboten to even mention the maid, and her, as well as Alan's, complicity. Anyone who has had a family maid knows that nothing happens in a house without them knowing. They know when children are sick and what they're sick from. If there were pliers in a draw in the kitchen, or poison, or pills, she would know about it. She was weirdly absent in this final episode, only popping up magically to help Adora on with her coat when she was arrested.
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
@Chris,the maid was used as a prop in the story. And not used well. I agree that she was often conveniently absent.
jona (CA)
@Chris I think the function of the maid was to be someone, the only one, who was kind to Camille. Maybe she gave Camille the strength to get out. I also think that maids, in a home like that, need to create a kind of hear no evil, see no evil mentality, just to get by.
EdwardKJellytoes (Earth)
One Question: Who carved the words on Camille's back? She couldn't have done it herself...too precise.
Mitch (CT)
Amma did it, obviously
Marge Keller (Midwest)
@Mitch Since there is such a huge age difference between Camille and Amma, I thought perhaps the older sister, Marian, was the carver.
John Blades (Evanston, IL)
@EdwardKJellytoes This bugged me as well. Physically impossible to so neatly cut those words herself, unless she was a contortionist. She'd need help -- possibly her mother's, but more likely this was just another unforced error on her creators' part. Just one of the multitude that made the show so annoying, mystifying and pretentious.
DCBinNYC (The Big Apple)
I didn't buy Camille finally giving into her mother's medications, especially after seeing what they did to Amma. Nor could I believe the father sat idly by throughout (other than suggesting he and Amma get a piece of cake).
Southern Tier reader (NYS)
@DCBinNYC: Camille isn't "giving in." She's consciously sacrificing herself to save Amma. As Adora leads Amma away from the dinner table, where it is highly likely that she will tuck her youngest daughter in bed and feed her another dose of Mommy-medicine/poison, Camille deliberately fakes some sort of attack, clutching her stomach, crying out, and falling to the floor. Adora switches her attention to Camille, who ends up in the ivory-floored bedroom with multiple doses of poison in her system. There's no question of Camille's intent--but the scene did make me wonder: did Marian, out of love for Camille, make herself her mother's "good girl" to save Camille from Adora? Is it that guilt that drives Camille's self-hatred?
Fred DuBose (Manhattan)
@DCBinNYC I assumed Camille was taking the medicine as rock-hard confirmation that it was actually poison... a 'be careful for you wish for' scene in the finale...
NYC woman (NYC)
@Southern Tier reader I like your theory about Marian.
Betsy Herring (Edmond, OK)
So, let me see here, the floor of the playhouse is made of teeth? So, who in the audience would figure that out since we see that so often. This show from beginning to end was revolting and Camille was pitiful. There is no way a person could tell what happened at the end which is why I am looking here. Drivel.
Tony (NY)
I'm sure the author of this article didn't get all that info without reading the book.
Lee E. (Indiana)
@Betsy Herring So true. After watching True Detective 1 or Breaking Bad, no one hurried to a critic’s review to find out what they had just seen. That’s because those shows had Writers. Writers shape a story and give it momentum. Because of writers, directors don’t need to jump from a 30-second segment to two minutes of dialogue, then back to a 20-second jolt of action. This claptrap pacing isn’t designed to plop the viewer into a character’s fevered brain; it simply hides the fact that there’s no good script to follow.
NYC woman (NYC)
@Lee E. I think this is a totally different approach to storytelling. I enjoyed the unravelling of this puzzle and having to work a bit to understand.
kilika (Chicago)
Sharp objects ended with a bomb that never exploded. A dud, if you will. There direction and sound. Why does HBO continue to make crappy series? Clarkson, whispered so much it ruined her acting so I'm not reading her 'touch acting article'. Why would Cammile take the poison meds. even after she knew it & her mother, were deadly? Why an ending I couldn't understand ( what was in the vile?) and the last run so short? A waste of time. And by the way; Elizabeth Perkins is not warm and talented. She's been thrown and denied projects so often due to her temper on set.
Jason (Baltimore MD)
@kilika I have no idea what you're talking baout. I thought this was a compelling, engaging and clever ending to a show that had me wrapped around it's pinky all summer.
Carrie (San Francisco)
@kilika It was clear to me while watching that she took the meds to 1) distract Adora from her sister; and 2) get evidence against Adora through blood tests later. She had told the cop guy that she had to fix it, so this is how she was fixing it. She was making herself evidence. and with her history of self-harm, this wasn't so hard for her.
Flo (pacific northwest)
@Carrie Except Adora had already told Camille that she didn't love her so her subjecting herself to being poisoned was highly risky. Adora felt threatened by Camille the entire series and, indeed, over-poisoned her. Camille could have simply had Amma's blood tested to prove the poisoning. I mean the poison was left in plain sight on a tray in Adora's room/bathroom I think it was.
Mitch (CT)
Inconceivable that three 15 years olds pulled off the perfect crime in two grizzly murders with ZERO suspicion raised from anyone, plus the two cops on the case (including an apparrently "big city" detective), no evidence to be found anywhere (no blood on clothes or in homes), no suspicious behavior picked up by parents (of the other two anyway, unless they were also complete pysochopaths), etc, etc. Probably the biggest suspension of belief, next to Camille (with Rasputin-esque tolerance levels) guzzling vodka by the gallon and not running over something or somebody with her Volvo. Editing out the driving shots alone would have cut the run time in half. Yes, I had to use closed captions the whole time. Narrative was totally abandoned in the name of visual aesthetics. (Amma's motive for killing the girls might have been worth developing somehow, no?) The casting and caliber of acting (and hyping by HBO) are what saved the series.
Paul (Princeton)
@Mitch there was blood found, it's why they arrested John. And yes i think all the other parents are completely nuts by now. Remember they have spent their whole lives in that town so whatever the kids are doing now barely registers.
Mitch (CT)
@paul. Granted, blood hidden in one (obvious) place (but should have been everywhere) that took the keystone cops the whole series to find while the teenagers were roller skating circles around them and the rest of the town. Guess "big city" left is UV kit at home.
JR (Providence, RI)
@Mitch The detectives -- or at least Vickery -- were convinced that the murderer was a man, so their investigation had a very narrow focus. In the quick scenes during the credits, at least one of the girls appears to be wearing a white uniform coat. I wonder whether Amma got gear from the slaughterhouse to cover their clothing and hide the evidence. Amma's motive, as Berman writes, was to eliminate the competition for her mother's attention and care. When Amma's dependency shifted to Camille, and Mae seemed to be vying for Camille's approval, Amma did away with her, too.
rex (manhattan)
Totally captivated by this series from the beginning. The editing was masterful, keeping us on the edge. Beautiful saturated colors, and performances that were haunting. My husband and I talked about each episode and the flashbacks and thought the (extra) ending was perfect. Amma and her skating buddies did the killing of Natalie, and Amma took out the tooth of her new best friend in St. Louis, as the pink fingernail polish holding on to the chain linked fence. Didn't see any of that coming, as it seemed that all the killings belonged to Adora and her creepy husband. LOVED the ending---very fitting!
Lorenzo (Oregon)
@rex so remember when John told Camille that Natalie had nail polish on your fingernails? I thought that meant that Adora had done it because she was always so perfectly groomed. But clearly now if Amma and her new friend could fight about nail polish she put the nail polish on Natalie's fingernails.
Barbara (Missouri)
I agree with Mary and others regarding the ending. The real ending, hidden in credits, which I almost didn't watch. I would have loved more explication about the girl (who I never doubted at all was deranged). It also felt wasted because the first two or three episodes had endless flashbacks to girls skating, etc., which in retrospect don't seem very important.
malamoi (NC)
This series was more frustrating and irritating than satisfying. Who has time to watch an hour episode 2 or three times to understand what is happening? Wind and rewind to catch fleeting scenes? Have to use closed captioning because the sound recording is so poor? Wait through the credits to see the true ending of the finale? If this is the wave of future HBO series, forget it.
Flo (pacific northwest)
@malamoi I'm with you.
Carol Colitti Levine (CPW)
Did not read the book. Thought the acting ensemble was stellar. It was more of a mood piece than a story. Sometimes Twin Peaks-y when it was good. Music brilliant. A fun summer distraction. One question, though. How did Camille cut herself so precisely on her back?
Marge Keller (Midwest)
@Carol Colitti Levine LOVED your comment for it accurately summed up what I thought and felt as well. Interesting closing question.
Fatal1ty (Indianapolis)
Yes. This. How on earth did that happen? This was an obvious oversight. *braces for all the “here’s how it happened” replies*
Lisa Simeone (Baltimore, MD)
@Carol Colitti Levine: According to a Vanity Fair article, the filmmakers had a model write on her own body, reaching back as far as she could, and then they mimicked that in the prosthetics for Amy Adams and her body double. There were blank spots where the Camille character couldn't reach. I already posted this VF link above so I don't know if the NYT will allow me to post it again, but if so here it is: https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/08/sharp-objects-amy-adams-scars
Diana Allen (Massachusetts)
"I’ve never seen another TV show so elegantly simulate the experience of living with trauma." Yes. I think that's why this show resonates with so many people, while a minority of critics seem to have been viewing it from a different, dare I say colder, planet.
Thought the cut to black/titles with “In the Evening’s” great guitar riff was reminiscent of The Sopranos fantastic end with “Don’t Stop Believing” & that astonishing cut to nothingness. Great sonic drama & great music throughout the show. I had read Sharp Objects ages ago & really didn’t remember too many details, except thinking that it was a very cinematic book. I did remember that the murders emerged from the family, but kept hazy on all details so I could enjoy the show. Which was great !
Marge Keller (Midwest)
The only reason I started watching "Sharp Objects" was to fill in the gap until "Better Call Saul" and "Ozark" returned. Also, the reviews were outstanding, so I gave it a go, week after week, for over a month. Bored to tears. However, I remained watching because I adore Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson and find them brilliant actors, not to mention the chemistry between Ms. Adams and Chris Messina is great (loved them in "Julie and Julia"). And then, finally - BAMB - the storyline started to pick up and each week through the season finale, the show became more interesting. Stories about Munchausen by proxy always creeps me out and I find them disturbing. The next season should prove to be interesting, based on that final, closing scene. Wonderful recap Ms. Berman.
Frank (New York City)
This show was a waste of time. It was filmed so darkly and recorded so softly that I could hardly see or hear it. I never had any idea what was going on until I read the NY Times recap the next day. That was a tooth Camille found in the house?? I couldn't tell. Nor did I have any idea what was going on at the end. I watched this for Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson but, unfortunately, even they couldn't save it from the director's self indulgence.
Marge Keller (Midwest)
@Frank I agree about not being able to hear or understand some of the dialogue. I had a similar frustrating experience when I watched "The Wire" and "Deadwood". Then I discovered the closed caption option and now, especially since my hearing has become compromised, I use that feature on all the shows I watch. That was a game changer for me anyway. The recaps are always a blessing too.
Gregory (Tucson)
@Marge Keller The show recreated mostly midwestern dialect. Coming from that part of the country, I can tell you people don't enunciate.
Byron (Texas)
@Gregory That may be true, but sound editors can work wonders to keep the mood, rhythms and even whispery quality of speech while making it all audible. I found he story gripping, but the sound editing awful.
G. Adair (Knoxville, TN)
The show ended with just the dramatic jolt it needed. If it had ended like the book (which I've read), it would have seemed anticlimactic. I think the show's makers were wise not to tie everything up with a neat bow. As Ms. Berman notes, the line "Lately, I’ve been leaning toward kindness” ends the novel—AFTER we know that Amma and her friends are in juvenile detention and after Camille has been taken in by Curry and his wife, finally receiving the parental nurturing she never received within her own family. Here the line comes BEFORE the revelation that Amma is the killer, leaving us to wonder whether Camille will survive this latest shock to her system. There’s nothing wrong with a little ambiguity.
@G. Adair I resent not knowing...
Jason (Baltimore MD)
@G. Adair Totally agree. I think the ending was great. IA 30 second snippet and then leave it to the viewer to fill in the gaps with their own horrid imaginings. Loved it. The teen beauty, always the victim of the perverted killer in so many stories, turns it around and plays everyone for the fool while swaying to her own sick rhythms. The quick cuts of her in her sadistic glory, smiling as she kills, reveling in those brief moments where she lets her mask slip...Amma Crellin deserves a place in the canon with Hannibal Lecter and Patrick Bateman. This was so well done. Bravo!
Daniel (New York, NY)
I didn’t read the book either. I watched this series because it was highly touted by several media outlets and I had enjoyed the movie of “Gone Girl.” But I found “Sharp Objects” to be tedious throughout - with a somnambulant performance by Amy Adams. When the series suddenly became rushed at episode 7, and with episode 8 leaving me confused with many questions and a quick-time montage tag during the credits which was difficult to grasp, I felt further let down. If it hadn’t been for the dependable recap by the NYT I would have felt additional frustration. Should a televised mystery need to be explained like a novel in a literature class?
Yab-Yum (San Francisco, CA)
@Daniel Excellent point you make at the end. The epilogue was already in place. All they had to do was shoot it. No muss, no fuss.
Redsetter119 (Westchester, NY)
@Daniel – If you thought Amy Adams was sleep-walking through or underplaying her role, you weren't paying attention to the story or her character. She gave one of the most devastating, clearly defined performances I have ever seen. Great artistry knows when to conceal itself. "Sharp Objects" doesn't need further explanation for those who were paying attention. A little challenge is good for the brain, and learning to accept some ambiguity can stretch understanding of the human condition, which will, in turn, improve your imagination and better your life.
susan (nyc)
Wow! My reaction at the end was "I didn't see this coming!" Immediately Alfred Hitchcock and his work came to mind. Brilliant!
Amanda` (Tampa)
When Camille gives in to the 'blue' and is calling for her mom, there are so many layers but I think it's mostly her masochism and want for her mother's love rather than her being heroic because it isn't really necessary for her to take the drink to save Amma. She could have easily dialed 911 and locked herself in a bathroom. She is so distraught at this point that I believe her masochism takes over along with just wanting her mom and wanting all of this to go away. I think for a moment she really believed that she could do this and be Adora's sick daughter and get the love she always wanted while fulfilling her masochistic tendencies. She never knew that all she had to do was drink up and be babied, she thought she was just bad and unlovable. Now it seemed so simple. The problem was when it was making her too sick. When she said, 'What's in the blue bottle..' she was realizing that it was getting out of control, beyond what she thought she could handle.
richguy (t)
@Amanda` "I think for a moment she really believed that she could do this and be Adora's sick daughter and get the love she always wanted while fulfilling her masochistic tendencies." I agree. I think this question is the beating heart of the show. It was revolting yet completely understandable for Camille to almost succumb to her mother's attention. I think Adams did a terrific job of conveying Camille's complicated need of her mother's love.
NYC woman (NYC)
@richguy I agree. I also think she was reliving her experience with Marian and truly wanting to redeem herself and save Amma this time. I think someone mentioned the flashback where Camille is lying on the floor and a realization seems to pass across her face.
richguy (t)
@NYC woman It was Camille's last temptation. It made me think of The Last Temptation of Christ. Camille was tempted to become the patient Adora always wanted her to be (and that she, Camille, might have secretly wanted to be all along). "The whole earth is our hospital." - TS Eliot
bob yates (malibu ca)
Predictions: Emmy noms for lead and supporting actress in a drama, director and editor ... and one that I hope doesn't come true -- a season two in which Camille has to keep an eye on her homicidal little sister.
Shane (Brooklyn, NY)
@bob yates ugh. having found out that Amma goes to jail in the book, it would be a real bummer if they forewent that in the series just to leave it open for an S2.
garypettey (Cleveland)
@Shane Adams (a producer) has said there will be no second season.
Steve (Washington DC)
After watching the end tonight why is it so many shows end on weird or unexplained ways. It leaves the viewer saying what was that? Oh, so your sister is a killer and flashbacks to when she did the killings? UGH. A few years ago when "Breaking Bad" ended that was a great ending that left all very satisfied or "Boardwalk Empire". This ending? Please.
Lorenzo (Oregon)
The ending was stunning! Amma always seemed off kind of a mean girl. Like mother like daughter.
garypettey (Cleveland)
@Lorenzo It seems a bit obvious, but no one has mentioned that Amma is an anagram...
Karen G (Kansas City MO)
Brilliant recap. I'd guessed the teeth, but, as Judy says, I didn't want to "go there" about Amma. The actress portraying her was excellent at showing the manipulative, brazen side without hinting at the pure evil machination inside. Except...there was that totally creepy smile while she carried the pig victim out the slaughterhouse door. Conversely, Patricia Clarkson showed notes of detached, apathetic cruelty. Her Adora separated actions into a sideways mental puzzle of help-hurt-love-hate. She seemed likely to want to kill, but not passionate enough to pull teeth. Frankly, I worried about Camille's safety at the end.
NYC woman (NYC)
@Karen G I agree! And remember that Adora bit Amma as a child and that Natalie had a tendency to bite (not sure about Ann). Maybe the tooth pulling was Amma's deranged way of getting revenge.
Karen G (Kansas City MO)
@NYC woman, All these great catches I totally missed. I somehow remembered it as Natalie doing the arm marking on Amma. Likely one of those dialogue-while-train-whistle-blows-in-background scenes.
JediProf (NJ)
I thought Amma might be involved with her two skating companions; in the early episodes they made me think of the 3 witches from Macbeth. So what happens to Amma in the novel? Does she go to prison? To juvenile detention center? Psych ward? And was Alan not the teeth-puller, then? He certainly was complicit, using his music to cover up any sound Camille might make when Willis comes to the door. And is it ever revealed if Vickery is having an affair with Adora? Is he the father of either of her daughters? And why is Camille having been gang raped when she was a cheerleader never mentioned in comments? Wouldn't this contribute to her becoming a cutter and an alcoholic? Somehow I wonder if she was a willing participant because of a comment she made to Willis and the strange reenactment during Calhoun days of the union soldiers' gang rape of the Southern woman who wouldn't give up her confederate husband. I wondered if somehow this ritual was being acted out in reality as well. Amma certainly seemed to relish her role. Since I don't have time to read the book, I hope someone can provide some of the answers. A creepy, confusing series to watch, but it's HBO (usually means high quality), actresses I respect, and then I got caught up wanting to know the answers to the murder mystery. However, I wish TV and movies would rely less on the dead young girl trope. It's a sick appeal to our baser nature.
EdwardKJellytoes (Earth)
@JediProf...yes you DO have time to read the novel.
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
@JediProf, stopped reading when you suggested Camille was “a willing participant” in her gang rape. You must be male. Shame on you. That is misogyny at its worst, when you project your hate onto fictional characters.
JediProf (NJ)
@Passion for Peaches, Camille herself questioned Willis' assumption that she was a victim in one of the early episodes. I thought that was extremely strange at the time, and then the Calhoun Days reenactment of a gang rape being celebrated seemed to connect back to that bit of dialogue between Camille and Ashley. Finally, I don't understand why there was so little mention of her being gang raped in the series. That alone could have turned her into an alcoholic and cutter; her mentally ill mother killing her sister wouldn't have been necessary to have caused Camille to become what she did if she was gang raped. This was a creepy story with all kinds of aberrant behavior; my comment was inspired by that and the details I mentioned. And if you read to the end of my comment, you'll see I question one of the most misogynistic plot devices in use these days on TV shows focusing on investigations of murders and movies: the dead young girl (and I'll add here, usually with some sexual element connected, such as a naked corpse).
Mary (USA)
Started with a bang, wasted time in the middle episodes with lots of slow-moving nonsense (Calhoun Day was not in the book) and then rush-rush-rush at the end! The finale episode alone could have made two excellent episodes. No, folks, they botched the finale and botched the cliffhanger with less than 10 seconds of macabre flashback scenes buried in the credits. Not a way to tell a story...at least THIS story. Beautiful shooting, top-drawer acting, but story line was not given justice.
kilika (Chicago)
@Mary Horrible sound to boot!
Rick B. (Charlotte, NC)
@Mary I agree. Hours of flashbacks tying past to present led Camille to a moment where she chose to knowingly ingest poison administered by her mother in order to prove her mother killed Marian and is trying to kill her and Amma and furthering her own self mutilation. And in the same room as in her youth. That would have been a more satisfying climax if the creators had stuck to Camille’s point of view and given her a more active role in pushing the story (and done it in fewer hours). Did we need Calhoun Days? The afternoon with the high school friends? The whodunit story left me cold. How did 14 year old girls become experts at destroying blood evidence? What of the two totally normal roller skating friends who aided Amma in the murders? Who bribed/blackmailed/seduced a farm worker to accuse John Keene of putting the bike in the pond and why? Alan’s complicit in Adora’s attempted murders but gets no punishment? Alan’s behavior, in general?? Stylishly done, but ultimately lacking in emotional connection.
Lorenzo (Oregon)
@Mary I agree, while I was shocked of the ending, I felt gypped by how easily I could have missed it. There were so many scenes that were too long and this one was so pivotal it would've been more effective to me anyway if they had link send it. The end reminded me of the end of Big Little Lies, but with the same director I suppose you could expect that.
chris (PA)
I loved the book, and I have enjoyed the show. Nonetheless, I have to say that I think the show both rushed the ending (2 episodes) and almost completely obscured much of the real denouement. My spouse did not get the quick montage of Amma with her friends killing the girls. I'm no sure I would have 'gotten' it had I not read the book.
pmwarren (Los Angeles)
I confess. I had no idea what happened at the end and what Camille found in the doll house. I watched that beat three times, and the best I could come up with was: is that a pill? I immediately went to the recap at NYT online. Thanks NYT for filling me in on the ending. The murder montage? Please, better storytelling, next time. Thanks to the Times, it all makes sense now. -- I found the show captivating and the Adams and Clarkson compelling and beyond.
Yab-Yum (San Francisco, CA)
@pmwarren I got that it was a tooth--but not that Amma & friends had yanked it out of a dead girl's mouth (and btw, what is all the tooth-pulling supposed to represent? Am I missing something?). And how is anyone supposed to know that the floor of the doll house is a collection of teeth, unless you've read the book? Absurd.
Passion for Peaches (Left Coast)
@Yab-Yum, because it relates to the ivory floor in Adora's bedroom (tusks are teeth). It was obvious that what Camille found in the dollhouse room was a human tooth. Too obvious, in fact, as it was carefully positioned so the viewer could see the root. That was the point when everything clicked into place. You didn’t need to see the floor. I posted elsewhere about the ivory and teeth as metaphor, but in literary terms the pulling of teeth is the taking of power. In dream analysis, if you dream about your teeth falling out it is anxiety about feeling powerless.
gzuckier (ct)
@pmwarren Could have worked, if the montage and final tooth scene had been long enough to be intelligible to the viewer. Wouldn't have diminished the impact any.
richguy (t)
The show was never about the murders of the girls. It was always about Camille and Adora and about Camille's conflicted wish that he had received the same attention from her mother as her two sisters received (much to their detriment). Is a mother's love worth dying to have? To me, the show ended with a cliffhanger; Will Camille turn in Amma? I never read the novel. I am not sure that Camille values morality and justice (and truth) more than she values family. When she told her editor (I forget his name) that Adora did it, I thought she might just be referring to the death of her sister. I never felt like Camille cared all that much about the dead girls. What we learned about her world is that the price of love is death.
Nina G (Kansas City)
This show has gotten into my head. I’m even listening to Led Zeppelin these days. I’m glad it’s ended, but at the same time I wish it would continue. Yes, the ending was a bit disappointing. But, for me, it was also a disturbing surprise (I haven’t read the book yet). Most of all, I’ve enjoyed Amy Adams’ captivating performance as Camille. It’s like I want to be her — only without the scars. So many scars.
Yab-Yum (San Francisco, CA)
A glacially slow gothic melodrama with a rushed & truncated payoff that couldn't be saved by the cachet of the director (Jean-Marc Valle of the superior "Big Little Lies") or the tremendous talent of the two most central actors (Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson). I didn't read the book so I'm not at all as gung ho as Ms. Berman about the complexities of character in this series. That complexity is given short shrift when the big reveal is delivered in a brief montage that's nearly incomprehensible at first viewing and ultimately unsatisfying. In interviews with Gillian Flynn it's apparent her book provides an epilogue that examines Amma's motivations, and that Flynn was on board with the production team lopping this off for the finale. But without that epilogue, the ending felt like a cheat, a gimmick merely designed to shock and not illuminate. Flynn should have trusted her original instincts.
Carson Drew (River Heights)
@Yab-Yum: The book was worse. The excellent actors made the characters much more believable.
David A (Glen Rock, NJ)
I loved the first few episodes of Sharp Objects because of how well it set the scene for the story and the fine acting, especially Amy Adams. I became less impressed as the series got past the midway point and still did not cohere into a followable story, with information being given to the audience in very small dribs and drabs. I was even less impressed by the finale where Camille decides that the best way to stop Adora from poisoning Amma is to take the poison herself. I'm glad I read this article, so that I know who's Amma's accomplices were - it's hard to make that out from a less than clear screen shot that lasts for about a second. Yes, we are given a number of clues about why Amma would do this. But what about her friends? Good imagery cannot be a total substitute for good storytelling.
Lee E. (Indiana)
@David A “But what about her friends?” Yes, Amma’s friends must be psychos, too, because they’re living in a dark, psycho town — Missouri sunshine appears in a couple of long outdoor scenes but for only seconds at a time in most episodes. Then there’s the fact that they’re inbred on both the paternal and maternal sides. See what I’ve done there? Made up a story about motive because the script doesn’t provide it. This disjointed script makes the viewer speculate endlessly about what’s going on, who’s doing it, and how and why it (whatever “it” is) is taking place. A storyline doesn’t need to be obvious, but it does need to exist. And that storyline needs to exist 1) whether or not the viewer uses “pause” and “replay” 2) whether or not the viewer has read or even heard about the book on which it is based.
Ken calvey (Huntington Beach ca)
But did you enjoy it?
richguy (t)
@Lee E. Please, speak for yourself. I didn't do any of that speculating. I was mostly interested in Camille's relationship with her mother. Anyhow, I don't think ANY motive for those murders would satisfy a viewer. Since most people are not sociopaths and do not know any sociopaths, any motivation would just seem contrived. If a murder isn't committed for money or due to jealousy, it doesn't make sense to most people. I watched Sharp Objects sort of the way I watch Twin Peaks (in that I paid attention to everything ASIDE from the murders). I guess the term is Mcguffin, right? To me, the murders were a mcguffin. I think that is a good deal true of the Radcliffean gothic tradition, as a whole.