Sharp Objects almost had to end this way.
Warning! Spoilers for Sharp Objects below!
The story so far: After investigating Camille, Detective Willis learns that there are secrets in her entire family. Damning evidence names John Keene as the killer of his sister Natalie and Ann Nash. John is arrested, but not before he spends time with Camille bonding over the loss of a sibling. However, something just is not adding up, and there is still a young girl in danger.
It almost had to end this way. After seven episodes that opened up a town lost in time and its citizens who were content to live surrounded by a heavy air of discomfort, there was no other way. When Sharp Objects finished its excellent run, viewers had to know that the mystery would be secondary to the characters that were involved.
The series eschewed typical murder mystery conceits from the beginning. This would not be another clue-laden adventure that would end with a startling confession. From its methodical debut, the miniseries has been about establishing characters and dropping hints as to why things may have happened. In retrospect, it is obvious that the best way Sharp Objects could end was with heavy character examination that has the audience piece as much together as the authorities.The first half of ‘Milk’ is one of the most harrowing thirty minuets of television this year. The previous episode had established that Adora’s imposing demeanor was not so much an act as it was a crutch that she used to survive. Her domination over Wind Gap has been on display through actions and words – her’s and others’ – over the course of the entire season. Her command over her own house is terrifying in the season finale.
The true excellence in Adora’s character is in the sincere compassion she displays. Watching her care for Amma and Camille are incredibly powerful scenes that illustrate the depth of her illness, put on full display her obliviousness, and demonstrate her selfish motherly kindness. Many times, stories will give antagonists a redeeming quality that allow audiences to see them in a slightly different light. This is not the case with Adora, as the pity one may feel for her is still grounded in a deep disgust.
The writing in the finale is as great as the rest of the season, however there is a new technique. Since Sharp Objects has been so character driven, every word said by each character has been extremely important. Even the smallest comment could be a clue. ‘Milk’ has a pair of instances where seemingly innocuous passing comments are made. Adora makes a comment patronizing Camille which seems mocking. After the stunning closing, it is clear she meant it seriously and was just talking down to her daughter. Later, Amma makes a comment about Detective Willis that is mean spirited in a childish way but takes on a whole new meaning once the final credits have run.
The second half of the episode is something of an epilogue to the mystery. In what can be best described as a long montage, viewers watch as two characters become closer due to what has happened. There is rushed feeling when discussing some details of the murders, but the character building is well done. In particular, the final touches put on Frank Curry (Camille’s editor) are incredibly well done and explain many of his actions during the season.
All of the development lead to the last few minutes of series. Undoubtedly, this will be one of the most polarizing events of the television year. Without a doubt, the writing did a magnificent job of bringing its audience to this point — whether they will accept it is another thing. Initially, it may seem like there is a slim chance that Sharp Objects is leaving it up to the viewer as to what happened. A pair of chilling post-credits scenes will erase any doubts about what happened, but will definitely leave room for much discussion.
The Sharp Objects series finale is a whirlwind that resolves the main mystery in a strong episode that showcases its main characters. The shocking conclusion will be a point of discussion for years.
Overall Thoughts: Shows like Sharp Objects do not come around often. Taking an often used idea, the series did something entirely different and let its viewers know in order to solve a pair of gruesome murders, you would have to uncover things you would rather not know. Much like David Lynch, Sharp Objects went into the seedy underbelly of “normal” America and in the process introduced a world that was full of atmosphere and characters. The acting was astounding, with Patricia Clarkson constantly topping herself. An unsettling ride down to the very last image, Sharp Objects is a show everyone should watch.