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Sharp Objects review

Episodes: 8

Premiered: 2018

Duration: 1 hr

Hollywood big hitter and six-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams heads up an impressive cast for this HBO adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestselling book, Sharp Objects.

Adams plays Camille Preaker, a talented but unfocused newspaper reporter who reluctantly returns to her backwater Missouri hometown to investigate a potential serial killer. Camille vows to uncover the truth about the murders while facing some fairly weighty personal demons, soon discovering that the two may well be related…

This high end crime drama benefits from the stylish and clever direction of Big Little Lies‘ Jean-Marc Vallée, excellent source material and a truly outstanding central performance from the always-brilliant Amy Adams.

Here’s our episode-by-episode Sharp Objects review.

Sharp Objects episode 1 review

Sky Atlantic’s new showpiece drama Sharp Objects is the outstanding new crime series from the televisual heavyweights over at HBO. Looking at its title, it’s only an errant ‘e’ away from being a miniseries about a Sean Bean-shaped soldier in the Napoleonic Wars who disagrees with something. Thankfully though, it isn’t that. It’s something far more entertaining and worthy than that. It’s an enthralling eight-part drama straight from the pen of Gone Girl’s Gillian Flynn (via the director’s chair of Big Little Lies helmsman Jean-Marc Vallée). It’s also your new favourite crime drama.

The opening episode wastes no time in establishing our main character’s fragility and troubled life. When she’s not drinking or chain-smoking, Camille Preaker is plagued by fractured flashbacks of her childhood. Spiky and ‘incorrigible’, in any other line of work Camille’s pigheadedness, depression and alcoholism would cause her some rather major issues. Luckily for her though, she’s a journalist; the very epitome of the hard-drinking and dogged crime reporter on a mission.

That mission? To leave the relative comfort of her St Louis office and return to the one horse town of her youth, the dead-end Wind Gap, Missouri. Once there, she’s to snoop around and ask questions about the recent murders of two young local girls. Which is easier said than done, given how insular the town is and how no one wants to really dwell on the bad news and paint the place in a bad light.

Camille’s job is made all the harder by the increasingly frequent and realistic recalls of her troubled past. Staying in her childhood home, an opulent mansion owned by her painfully delicate and selfish southern belle mother and stepfather, certainly doesn’t help. The (non-literal) ghost of her dead sister haunts every room. It’s the loss of her sister, we learn, that has so badly affected her.

The story is solid and there are bound to be some excellent diversions, revelations and threads along the way. Such is the quality of this first episode that you instantly forgive the plot’s rather well-worn path. The female investigator facing her past as she looks into a dark crime in her hometown is an oddly popular trope in crime dramas these days. The BBC’s In the Dark giving us just that very same story only last year.

Amy Adams plays Camille – which is good given that Amy Adams is the world’s finest living actress. Unsurprisingly, she handles the role perfectly. A mixture of her subtle performance and the almost unnoticeable mise en scène around her really help paint a picture of the character. We see she’s depressed by her demeanour. We know she’s an alcoholic by her incessant miniatures consumptions. But it’s the little clues to her chaos that fascinate here: her untidy apartment, her shoddy packing for the trip (bundled-up clothes, booze and KitKats in a bin bag), even her phone’s cracked screen hints at a level of personal havoc just below the surface.

No other big names pop up in Sharp Objects; the most recognisable faces belonging to Big’s Elizabeth Perkins as Jackie and The Station Agent and Six Feet Under’s Patricia Clarkson as Camille’s faded glam mother, Adora Crellin. Breakthrough actress Sophia Lillis, excellent as young Camille, may well ring a bell to anyone who saw the recent remake of Stephen King’s It. We look forward to seeing how Eliza Scanlan’s Amma – Camille’s half-sister – plays out too. She’s seems a fascinating character, sweet and innocent at home, a wild child outside of the four walls.

There’s the faintest of whiffs of potential romance in the shape of handsome-but-surly Kansas City detective Richard Willis (Argo’s Chris Messina) who’s been drafted into Wind Gap to help solve the murders. He seems cautiously interested in Camille, but her barriers are so highly built they’re almost in the clouds.

We’re looking forward to see how the story plays out, but even more intrigued to learn more about Camille Preaker. And we’re sure we will. One jab of Sharp Objects and we’re already hooked. Hopefully the slight cliches don’t begin to weigh the piece down, but it seems doubtful. In Flynn’s, Vallée’s and Adams’ hands, we should be more than safe.

Did you tune in for Sharp Objects episode 1? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below – then read our review of episode 2 here!

Sharp Objects

Gillian Flynn

Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock

Steve Charnock is a freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card.

Follow Steve on Twitter.

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Sharp Objects episode 2 review

Still catching up on Sharp Objects episode 2? Read our review of episode 1 here.

The sharp objects of Sharp Objects are the piercing items that Camille Preaker (Amy Adams) uses to self-harm with. When she buys a sewing kit with blithe insouciance from a local store, you assume she’s got a button to sew on or sock to darn. Not a fingernail bed to casually penetrate or a word to indelibly forge into her skin. It’s fair to say that the St Louis reporter has issues. Deep-lying, trauma-based issues.

Those issues all seem to stem from her adolescence. So her latest assignment, investigating the murders of two young girls in her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri, is a testing one for her to say the least. Camille is troubled by the ghosts of her past and Sharp Objects gleefully locks her in a haunted house – quite literally in some ways.

Temporarily lodging in her mansion-like childhood home with her unloving mother, blank-faced stepfather, manipulative stepsister and the memory of her late sister, Camille is in town to write up the story of the killings and do so using her knowledge of the town. The main crux? How badly it’s affected the townsfolk. She is not there, her editor reminds her, to solve the thing. In fact, solving the murders doesn’t seem to be the priority for anyone, save for out-of-town detective Richard Willis (Chris Messina).

Wind Gap’s sheriff is very much the moustachioed rube smalltown lawman you’d expect to find in a drama like this. He’s keen to protect the reputation of the place, unable to knot a tie and unimpressed by ‘Big City’ ways. The way he calls Willis ‘Agent Starling’ for attempting to apply modern techniques to the investigation proves quite telling.

Episode 2 is one of only three written by the source author Gillian Flynn. The Dark Places writer also tackles the final two instalments where, we assume, things happen apace with the plot. But here, in this second hour, she takes her time. The story isn’t pushed any further at all really. This, as is so often the case in these sophomore episodes, is all about setting the tone and exploring the characters a little more. Understandably so.

As with a lot of Flynn’s work, we seem to be dealing with the fallout of tragic events and the endless effects of trauma. Not only with how Camille’s past has scarred her – figuratively and literally – but how the latest murders have torn up lives. The focal point of this episode is young Natalie Keene’s funeral and how the murder has deadened the town further and completely flattened her family. The wounds cut deep.

As for the murders and the murderer behind them? Well, that’s something for future episodes of Sharp Objects, we suspect. There was very little in the way of sleuthing happening in this second outing. That said, we did find out that the killer must be pretty strong, given the way he’d wrenched the victim’s teeth out with a pair of pliers post-mortem, which may put pay to the folklore theory that a ‘woman in white’ was responsible. That said, Sheriff Vickery did get (and ignore) a report suggesting the killer could be a woman…

By far Sharp Objects’ most unsettling female character is Camille’s mother Adora. Behind the tears, she’s a cruel and callous southern belle with something of the night about her. Patricia Clarkson brings her unnervingly to life, simultaneously hinting at a softness beneath the stern exterior and yet a cruelty behind the motherly facade. She’s a tough one to work out.

So too is Amma, Camille’s stepsister. The two run into each other in a store where Amma is stealing vodka. Camille shows concern but when she receives a little pushback, snaps at the teenager. “Don’t try to work me, Amma. I’ve been playing that game for twenty years.” – hinting at an ability to twist things to her advantage herself. A trait learned from her mother, perhaps?

Sharp Objects is a tale about women; older, fading women who can’t face up to reality; damaged women fighting vicious demons; younger women working out how to best use their wile and smarts; murdered young women.

Will the killer turn out to be a woman? Will Camille overcome her deep-seated problems? This is the year’s finest crime drama yet. So we can’t wait to find out.

Did you tune in for Sharp Objects episode 2? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Read Steve’s recap of Sharp Objects episode 3 here.

Sharp Objects

Gillian Flynn

Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock

Steve Charnock is a freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card.

Follow Steve on Twitter.

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Sharp Objects episode 3 review

Still catching up on Sharp Objects episode 3? Read our review of episode 2 here.

You’re not really all that fussed about finding out what happened to any of those dead girls in Sharp Objects, are you? No? Oh, thank goodness. That’s handy. Only we’re getting nowhere near discovering any information about Wind Gap’s child killer and we’re now a full three episodes of eight into the thing.

If you think that a crime drama and whodunit that’s pretty unconcerned with its central crime or whodunit is weird… The fact that the show is still excellent regardless of that fact is even stranger. Sharp Objects may well be using the murders of children as a plot device, but we doubt that somehow. We’re certain the truth will out in the end, the loose ends will be tied up and the final product will be satisfying.

In the meantime? We’ll just enjoy the tone and atmosphere of the piece and take in the flashbacks and character development…

That’s what episode 3 put on the table: more fleshing out of the main protagonist Camille Preaker and some of the peripheral characters – mostly Camille’s Jekyll and Hyde stepsister Amma – while absolutely no in-roads are made into who killed Natalie Keene and Ann Nash whatsoever. Still, maybe this is just what real-life murder investigations are like. Slow burns with few developments that give off a faint whiff of inaction.

Could the answer to the mystery lie somewhere in Camille’s past? Well, it’s only too possible. Especially given the weight the first three episodes have given her, her family and her backstory. We’re doubtful the killer comes from the Preaker household, but there’s definitely something odd going on in that – we have to say extremely tastefully decorated – house.

Adora’s still yet to show a loveable side with her notable disdain for her firstborn even more obvious than ever here in episode 3. She blames everything on Camille: Amma’s issues, her second daughter’s death, even when she’s pricked by a sharp object herself – in this case, a rose – it’s Amy Adams’ character that’s to blame, apparently.

There was precious little sweetness from Amma this week either. We saw her drunk, abusive, spiteful and manipulative. Although at one point she did pet a pig quite sweetly. So maybe there’s some hope for her yet.

Amma’s nastiness put paid to a rather light moment towards the end of the episode where Camille and Detective Willis shared beers, chasers and a little outdoor flirting. One lollipop in the hair and a few childish shouts of ‘dick’! and the boozy bonding session was over.

The biggest revelation here in ‘Fix’ came to us in bursts of the past. Camille’s memory slashes through everything that happens to her in the here and now and we got to see perhaps the most recent traumatic event to happen in her life. On voluntarily checking herself into a mental health facility, she rooms with a young girl called Alice (Sydney Sweeney). The similarities between the two are obvious. So when Alice violently takes her own life by drinking bleach, the damage done to Camille’s psyche is immense. The damage done to her body is even more shocking – we’ve never seen a rusty screw that bolts a toilet seat to the base used so gruesomely before…

So as we head to the halfway point of Sharp Objects we’re no further into the plot than we were by the end of the first hour of it. Ordinarily, that would be pretty enraging. But the pace and patience here are actually quite endearing. That said, next week’s going to need to up its game on the plot front somewhat. Slow is fine. Unrushed is good. But glacial? Well, that’s just frustrating.

Did you tune in for Sharp Objects episode 3? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Read Steve’s recap of Sharp Objects episode 4 here.

Sharp Objects

Gillian Flynn

Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock

Steve Charnock is a freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card.

Follow Steve on Twitter.

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Sharp Objects episode 4 review

Still catching up on Sharp Objects episode 4? Read our review of episode 3 here.

Somewhere near the beginning of Sharp Objects’ fourth episode (‘Ripe’), Camille Preaker has lunch with some of Wind Gap’s most esteemed ladies. These ladies that lunch, she hopes, will help her find out a little more about public opinion concerning the recent child murders and uncover a clue or two. It’s effectively a knitting circle, a place for spoiled rich women to sit around and gossip.

Gossip may seem like a rather poor tool to rely on while trying to untangle such heinous crimes, but it’s all Camille and the audience really has to work with – if you don’t count the fractured flashback memories or the wisps of clues that seem to blow in and out of shot frustratingly, that is. Wind Gap is a town of well-guarded secrets, a place that even Hercule Poirot might well leave empty handed from. It’s also a town in which no one speaks openly about anything. Even the local saying ‘bless your heart’ is deceptive. It’s used by locals in a more than slightly passive-aggressive way – it basically means ‘F-you’…

Camille hasn’t always appreciated gossip though. Part of the reason she was driven to leave her Missouri hometown was due to the salacious rumours about her ‘love life’, something which has only been mentioned – but not explored – before now. Here, though, we’re firmly led to believe that she may well have been raped in a wooden shack in the forest – something she alludes to with Detective Willis during a quid pro quo Q&A session there. Disturbingly, a matter of seconds later, he’s trying to kiss her. She pushes him away but, almost with a sense of duty, then shoves his hands down the front of her jeans. It’s not quite the big romantic start between the chemistry-sparking pair some viewers may have hoped for.

While ‘Ripe’ isn’t exactly overly concerned with propelling the plot in a forward direction, a few clues do flutter out of the bushes. Natalie’s brother John, still cut up about his sister’s death, confides a few things to Camille in a fine scene at the bar. But as he does so, his cheerleader girlfriend finds a mystery bloodstain under his bed…

John reveals that not only did his sister have a nasty streak (we’d call stabbing a girl in the eye with a pencil pretty nasty, wouldn’t you?), but that she was friends with Camille’s half-sister Amma. It seems that everyone knows everyone in this small town.

Also causing more than a little suspicion this week is the cuckolded figure of Alan, the de facto patriarch of the Preaker household. When he’s not floating around the house listening to music and fixing Adora drinks, he’s having his sexual advances spurned by her or being jealous at the frisson-filled conversations that his wife has with Police Chief Bill Vickery. Towards the end of the episode, he turns somewhat and demonstrates a hint of an angry – maybe even violent – side. He’s one to watch. Could he be behind some of the horrors of the Preaker household…?

The gossip lunch turned up a few clue morsels too. Camille found out the families of the murdered girls were at war with each other and a theory was floated that the killings could be reciprocal revenge murders. Unlikely, but interesting.

We’re enjoying this ethereal and odd little crime drama from the mind of Gillian Flynn and the directorial chair of Big Little Lies’ Jean-Marc Vallée, but we still can’t help but feel that a little more attention to the plot and story and less on the atmosphere would help push Sharp Objects from quirky little style piece into unique but powerful crime drama.

Did you tune in for Sharp Objects episode 4? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Read Steve’s recap of Sharp Objects episode 5 here.

Sharp Objects

Gillian Flynn

Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock

Steve Charnock is a freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card.

Follow Steve on Twitter.

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Sharp Objects episode 5 review

Still catching up on Sharp Objects episode 5? Read our review of episode 4 here.

Wind Gap, Missouri. It is, it’s pretty safe to say, an odd little town. It’s a creaking southern relic that eyes outsiders with suspicion and distrust, while pretending to itself and everyone else that a community built on the casual slaughter of pigs and humans is perfectly fine, even while the toothless corpses of teenage girls litter the streets. Thankfully it’s not a real place and merely a figment of Gillian Flynn’s imagination. The trouble is it’s now been realised in the minds of anyone who’s read Sharp Objects and now anyone who’s seen HBO’s powerful but slow-moving new Amy Adams-starring adaptation. And the unpleasantness of the place kind of sticks with you.

Not only is there an air of bizarre flippancy around the murders of children in Wind Gap, there’s also an inherent casual violence and odd approach to brutality about the place. Camille’s dealings with old school ‘friends’ often trigger memories of abuse or violence, be they sexual with men she used to know as a kid or emotional when dealing with the bitchy, passive-aggressive ex-cheerleading crew. It shouldn’t come as a major surprise to anyone that Wind Gap is a town historically steeped in savagery and sadism.

Episode 5 (‘Closer’) is easily Sharp Objects‘ best yet. It’s a tightly focused fifty minutes of cinema, almost. The fractured nature of the show to this point has made for something of a disorientating viewing experience, with jarring scenes and flashbacks intentionally stopping the flow and seemingly making episodes merge into one another. But ‘Closer’ gives us a clearer definition of a day in the life of this unpleasant little town and its inhabitants.

That day is Calhoun Day, a fictional event designed to celebrate the history and heritage of Wind Gap. Many American towns and cities observe these kinds of ritualised shindigs in order to tip a hat to the past and, generally, glorify some horrendously brutal historical event or other. Calhoun Day, we discover, is all about honouring and commemorating a young woman’s stoic reaction to being violated by a group of men during the Civil War. The place effectively puts on an annual festival honouring gang rape. It’s little wonder the place is so messed up.

Calhoun Day takes place on the grounds of Camille’s family home. Her mother, effectively the matriarch of the town, is only too pleased to host proceedings and watch down over her extended family from afar. She’s either matriarch or a sinister puppet master, depending on your viewpoint. Adora glides through the day, as she has the entire series to date, manipulating the townsfolk to her will and own personal narrative. Just when you think you might be seeing a chink of light coming from her, she says or does something awful. Whether she’s teasing Camille with a show of love she never produces or forcing her to show off her scars during a dress fitting in the series’ most powerful and arguably best scene to date, she really is a quite dreadful woman.

Tensions are high this week. Camille’s latest article has gone live and it’s upset the whole town. She’s unrepentant but her suggestion that the killer is among them certainly stirs tensions – especially between the two main suspects, John Keene and Bob Nash who, rather inevitably, come to blows during the beer-drenched festivities of the day.

The two warring stories here – the old tale of the sexually assaulted young woman and the much newer story of the murdered girls – have quite obvious parallels, yet the townsfolk treat them as polar opposites. Perhaps the reaction is determined by the fact that the online news story was written by Camille, a woman, while the story of Millie Calhoun was, as it’s pointed out was ‘written by men’. Sexual politics and gender dynamics being principal themes to Sharp Objects the television drama.

Where are we with the actual investigation? Well, again, not very far. There are technically only two actual suspects, though Camille hesitates over Amma knowing both the girls, and Amma’s reaction was slightly suspicious. Could the killer be female? Given the issues at the heart of the thing, it can’t be ruled out. Or should we be looking more traditionally and logically for the killer? The majority of perpetrators in crimes like this being male, of course…

Is Sharp Objects about the violence of men towards women and the effect it can have? Or is it really about how true evil transcends gender and how women are also capable of great acts of cruelty and barbarity? Readers of the book will already know. For everyone else, the next three episodes should reveal all.

Did you tune in for Sharp Objects episode 5? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Read Steve’s recap of Sharp Objects episode 6 here.

Sharp Objects

Gillian Flynn

Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock

Steve Charnock is a freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card.

Follow Steve on Twitter.

1 Comment

    This is a whodunnit where nobody’s doing much to solve the crime. The investigation is proceeding so slowly, you don’t know it’s happening . There’s so many diverting flashbacks , you keep forgetting about the whodunnit anyway and focus mainly on how did Camille become what she is. And how cold and hateful is Adora. And her younger half sister is weird. The whole thing’s strange and unfathomable. And yet you can’t take your eyes off it. Amazing, beguiling, umforgettable …

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Sharp Objects episode 6 review

Still catching up on Sharp Objects episode 6? Read our review of episode 5 here.

What first felt like either pacing problems or a jarringly intentional hipster-approved slowness now just feels kind of right. No sensible viewer will try to tell you that HBO and Sky Atlantic’s Sharp Objects is an edge-of-your-seat thriller or a crime drama that rattles along at a rare old pace. Because it isn’t. It’s a creeper. A slowly unfolding nightmare that’s teasing pace only helps build further tension and create atmosphere.

What we’re saying is this – yep, it’s slow and a bit weird. But that’s kind of why it’s so damned good.

We all know that Camille Preaker’s half-sister Amma (played by Eliza Scanlen, who threatens to steal the show every time she’s on screen) is ‘a bit of a one’. Cruel, popular, yet endlessly manipulative, Camille sees herself in her so much that she doesn’t know whether to sympathise with the girl or be utterly repulsed by her. Every time we think we’re getting a glimpse of the real Amma behind the rather nasty veil, someone with a heart, she reminds us all just how spiteful and unpleasant she can be. This week, in ‘Cherry’, we were treated to an episode of drug-fuelled bonding between the two sisters, in scenes that seemed to paint Amma as just a smart but bored girl whose spirit and ambitions are just too big for her small Missouri hometown. Just like Camille’s were.

And then she started quoting Machiavelli. And that isn’t something a nice normal girl does, is it…?

Unlike Amma, Adora and Alan did precious little to make us warm to them this week. Sat out on their porch, sipping iced tea like the southern cliches they are, the ever-so-slightly dysfunctional power couple of Wind Gap plotted Camille’s departure from the house.

“I believe she’s outstayed her welcome,” Adora says after watching her errant daughter parking untidily on their lawn. “You’ve been more than tolerant, dear,” comes the reply from her sycophantic other half. Alan then receives instructions from his wife/boss to ask Camille to leave, something he dutifully attempts with a little emotional blackmail later that evening. With rather limited success.

Alan’s reason to ask Camille to leave? “You’re making your mother ill,” he says. Camille’s discussions of the case of the murdered girls seem to be causing the delicate matriarch stress, apparently. Yet Patricia Clarkson’s character is only too happy to trek out to see vital bicycle-shaped evidence being dredged out from the lake earlier in the episode. It’s a piece of evidence that, along with a new eyewitness report, seems to strongly implicate young John Keene in young Ann’s murder.

Who else remains a suspect? Well, apart from Keene and those in the Crellin household (we’re not counting the kindly maid as a suspect), there are a few names… John’s girlfriend Ashley is a little on the Jekyll and Hyde side and was hiding a lump that had been bitten out of her right earlobe. And Bob Nash still remains somewhat suspicious – he was, after all, on the scene of his kid’s bike’s appearance awfully quickly.

And how about Camille? Is Detective Willis’s digging around on the history of his new beau strictly personal? He seemed to be pretty interested in just how likely Ms Preaker was to act violently during her latest spell in an institution. Does he suspect her just a little bit…? Probably not. He found Jackie sniffing around a crime scene, though, which is always cause for some concern when you’re a homicide detective.

In fact it’s Jackie that delivers this week’s killer line. In a slurred aside, she patronises Willis for not knowing the secrets of the town like everyone else does…

“You’re getting warm, detective. And not just because it’s hotter than a whore in church today.”

What does she know? Hell, what do they all know? Come to think of it, if you’ve read the book… what do you know?!

And what do we know?

See, everyone’s keeping secrets here.

Did you tune in for Sharp Objects episode 6? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Read Steve’s recap of Sharp Objects episode 7 here.

Sharp Objects

Gillian Flynn

Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock

Steve Charnock is a freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card.

Follow Steve on Twitter.

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Sharp Objects episode 7 review

WARNING: contains spoilers. Still catching up on Sharp Objects episode 7? Read our review of episode 6 here.

If you’ve ever tried looking at one of those old Magic Eye pictures that used to be so popular on university walls many moons ago, you’ll know you have to stare at them for quite some while before the hidden picture finally starts to emerge. Sure, some rather annoying types would look at them and within thirty seconds triumphantly announce that they could see the secret image – “It’s a dolphin!” (it was usually a dolphin…) – while the rest of us sat there, staring dead-eyed, slowly going cross-eyed before we eventually spotted that pesky leaping marine mammal.

Well, Sharp Objects has kind of been like that. While last week’s episode was wonderful television, it still felt somewhat like tension building and window dressing. Plot-wise, we’ve been dragged for some six hours at something of a snail’s pace. For all this Gillian Flynn adaptation’s many high points – and there are plenty – a laser-focused and frenetic narrative isn’t among them. Until now.

Episode 7, ‘Falling’, introduces the series’ “it’s a dolphin!” moment. We’ve been made to wait long enough for it. We’re finally being rewarded for our patience. We start with some truly quite beautiful dollhouse-centred cinematography as Camille wakes from a nightmare to find Adora tending to her with some fanciful medicinal concoction that Camille rejects. It’s a clue to things to come.

Detective Richard Willis, seemingly now completely unbothered by the hunt for the crazed child killer on the loose, is looking further into the history of the Crellin clan, presumably to try and solve the puzzle of who his new beau really is. Again we find him digging around in old medical records, but this time with some real success. Camille’s sister’s illness, we discover, was preventable. In fact, it was created. She was being slowly poisoned by Adora. It was a case of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, where the parent fabricates an illness for attention, sympathy and to enhance their position as a vital caregiver.

Could Adora be behind all of the murders, though? And if so – to what end? It would certainly explain the earlier whispers of ‘the woman in white’ being seen at various sites of interest earlier in the series.

Richard passed the proof of Adora’s crimes onto Camille – despite finding her in flagrante with the case’s chief suspect, the latterly arrested and worryingly young figure of John Keene. On reading through the file, Camille had her own Magic Eye-style breakthrough. All those confused and blurred memories of her past and her sister Marian’s illness became clear: her mother killed her younger sibling. Not that the news seemed to come as a huge surprise to the rest of the town, who seemed gripped by fear and love of the woman responsible. Jackie uses booze to forget her knowledge of Marian, Chief Vickery is too beguiled by Adora to intervene and husband Alan is too cuckolded to do anything other than drink Scotch and listen to old records.

It looks like it’s just left to Camille to intervene – “she’s doing it again, and I need to take care of it…” – and time is of the essence, given the fact that Adora’s gone into full-blown Annie Wilkes from Misery mode while ‘tending’ to Adora’s sickness/hangover. Camille is Sherlock to Adora’s Moriarty. The only person who is her equal, who isn’t tricked by her and can stop her.

We’ll have to wait until next week’s final instalment to see how she fares.

“It’s the family, Camille,” Richard says at one point. “It’s always the f***ing family.”

Quite.

Did you tune in for Sharp Objects episode 7? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Read Steve’s review of Sharp Objects episode 8 here.

Sharp Objects

Gillian Flynn

Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock

Steve Charnock is a freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card.

Follow Steve on Twitter.

Join the discussion

Please note: Moderation is enabled and may delay your comment being posted. There is no need to resubmit your comment. By posting a comment you are agreeing to the website Terms of Use.

Sharp Objects episode 8 review

WARNING: spoilers below. Still catching up on Sharp Objects episode 8? Read Steve’s review of episode 7 here.

Gillian Flynn adaptations, to date, have been something of a mixed bag. There have been heady highs (Rosamund Pike’s central performance in David Fincher’s Gone Girl) and disappointing lows (Gilles Paquet-Brenner’s dreary, messy and cast-wasting Dark Places). Sharp Objects has been the first of Flynn’s novels to be been made into a television series. Coming from HBO, with Amy Adams in the central role and Jean-Marc Vallée in the director’s chair, expectations were high. We’re pleased to say, expectations were more than exceeded.

It’s as if Vallée, fresh from his success on Big Little Lies, studied and learned from the movies made from previous Flynn books. He seems to have shown the material the deft touch of Fincher, while avoiding all the mistakes made in the 2015 Charlize Theron-starring Dark Places. At the same time, he’s had the confidence to make the thing his own and has, perhaps, created the finest television drama of 2018 in the process.

We’ll come back to just why Sharp Objects is so good shortly. But first – onto the craziness of what happened in Wind Gap (and St Louis) in the eighth and final episode…

If you thought that the revelations of last week were shocking, the final five seconds of this last episode made that twist look like a mere curve. The penultimate instalment of this incredible drama revealed that Camille’s sister Marian died because her mother Adora had been slowly poisoning her in a classic case of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. Episode 8 sees police find enough evidence in the house to lead them to believe that she was ‘The Woman in White’ too and as such, behind the murders of Ann and Natalie. But no. In the closing seconds of this final slice of drama Camille – and the audience by extension – makes a sickening discover in Amma’s dollhouse…

And we all thought we might be in for a ‘happily ever after’ scenario too. With Adora in jail and Amma and Camille surviving the slow death that comes from tiny spoonfuls of antifreeze, prescription medication and rat poison. Now safely ensconced in their own little apartment in the big city, away from the previously inescapable horror of their hometown, everything was set up to end perfectly. But, alas, Camille’s anguish never ends.

Adora may well be the smothering mother, happy to un-nurse her children into sickness, but it’s Amma and her posse of rollerblading pals who are the real psychopaths. Leading the way, it’s the youngest Crellin who beats and strangles girls to death and pulls their teeth out with pliers.

Tch. Bloody teenagers, eh?

The big reveal won’t have come as a shock to viewers familiar with the book, but to those who haven’t read it, well, it leaves a lot of questions. It’s tempting to go back and rewatch the series knowing what we know now. We’re sure the clues were there all along.

Amy Adams, yet again, shows here why she’s easily the most talented actress working today. And Jean-Marc Vallée proves he might just be the most creative helmsman in television right now too. Of course, we need no reminding as to the talents of Ms Flynn, whose work we can next enjoy in mid-November when Widows hits the big screen. It’s the first time she’s adapted someone else’s work, writing the screenplay from Lynda La Plante’s source material.

To date, though? Flynn’s work on the original Sharp Objects novel and her writing for the TV adaptation could well be her greatest achievement yet. She’s helped turn a gripping page turner into a creepingly unforgettable Southern Gothic horror that few TV crime fans will ever forget.

Unique, grim, odd, intriguing, elegant, stomach-churning, challenging, idiosyncratic, powerful, depressing, haunting, brilliant… There are a thousand adjectives you could use to describe this series. It hasn’t always made for pleasant or easy viewing, but it’s been a trip. Just don’t tell Mama.

Did you tune in for Sharp Objects episode 8? What did you think of the series? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Sharp Objects

Gillian Flynn

Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock

Steve Charnock is a freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card.

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2 Comments

    Good, but very long, too slow and sometimes repetitive with the flashbacks

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