'Sharp Objects' Was Actually a Revenge Story and None of Us Saw It
This post contains spoilers for the finale ofSharp Objects.
If you watched last night’sSharp Objectsfinale, then you already know the truth about Amma Crellin. Allow me to jog your memory with this not-at-all insane image of Amma baring her teeth like a feral animal who’s just successfully hunted down its prey.
So it turns out, Camille Preaker’s younger half-sister—played by madly talented newcomer Eliza Scanlen—is the Wind Gap killer. And while it’s not a happy ending, it is a satisfying as hell conclusion to HBO’s slow burn Southern gothic drama series.
Amma deftly navigated between three different lives—the dutiful daughter every parent hopes for; the carefree, untouchable, foxy wild child every teen wishes she could be; and, apparently, the serial murderer—with ease and authenticity, wrapping everyone in town (and everyone watching at home) around her little finger whether they loved her, loved to hate her, feared her, or all of the above.
Amma is the quintessential grifter. But she wasn’t conning anyone out of money. What Amma was after was much more complicated, somewhere between diabolical and tragic.
She fooled everyone around her, including me. The smug satisfaction I had while Amma and Camille’s mother Adora (Patricia Clarkson) was taken away in handcuffs, accused of the grisly murders of Ann Nash and Natalie Keene—literally yelling “I KNEW IT” at my computer screen like I’d just won a game of Clue—was shattered by another three little words: “Don’t tell mama.”
Amma isn’t just a serial killer’s fantasy remake of 'Mean Girls.'
That, and the tiled floor in Amma's dollhouse replica of the Crellin family mansion, which Camille discovers is made up entirely of teeth. Probably the plucked teeth belonging to Ann, Natalie, and ugh, her new neighbor Mae, too.
Of course it was impossiblenotto suspect that something was up with Amma. Her over-the-top freak-out over Camille’s article on Calhoun Day, her lusty behavior toward Camille, her general weird vibes.
But that was all a distraction from the long game that Amma was really playing.
Amma let her mother Adora believe she was oblivious to being poisoned so that Adora could play nurse (while her body actually built up an immunity to the lethal concoction, in a way, tricking itself); she let her father Alan (Henry Czerny) believe everything is fine so he could go back to his headphones while the world crumbles around him; and she let her teenage girlfriends believe she was an all-powerful queen bee who deserved a loyal following while the adults seemed too intimidated or clueless to question them.
And, in her greatest con of all, she let Camille believe she needed saving when, all along, she was really the big, bad Woman in White.
Who wouldn't want revenge after all that? And she got it.
But Amma isn’t just a serial killer’s fantasy remake ofMean Girls. Amma is the embodiment of the fucked-up fictional town of Wind Gap, Missouri. A town where everyone is caught in a long-standing cycle of traumas, holding in secrets, resentments, and painful personal failures that eat away at them unless they numb the pain away through drinking, drugging, cheating, shit-talking, or all of the above.
Amma survived the hell that Adora put her through and told no one. And can you blame her? Female pain isn’t always taken seriously by the people charged with making us feel better; her own father bore witness to the harm done to her without so much as putting down his cocktail and asking Adora WTF is in that blue bottle; and, let’s face it, she probably relished the attention, too.
Who wouldn't want revenge after all that? And she got it. She punished girls who had unfairly lucked out in life by being born into families that loved each other easily. She let Adora take the fall for her crimes, stripping her of everything she lorded over the town of Wind Gap, the ultimate humiliation, while leaving her father lonely and isolated in that big haunted house. Hell, she even got back at Camille for never coming back for her for so many years by turning her life upside down just for her.
Amma learned to play along and play better.
Amma survived. She inherited her mother’s incessant need for power and control, using status, secrets, and pain to accomplish both. Where Camille buckled under her mother’s twisted smothering, resentment, and mind games, Amma learned to play along and playbetter. It was a game of survival of the fittest in the Crellin household and Amma won.
Listen, it doesn’t excuse the fact that, you know,she murdered people, but it did perhaps finally stun the sleepy small town out of its willfully oblivious stupor and finally break the family’s cycle of inflicting pain on one another.
Video: Sharp Objects Vs Gavin's Desk – AHWU for April 18th, 2016 (#313)
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