My heart is still pounding from that whirlwind of an episode. Episode 7, titled Falling, left me gasping for air and in tears, and I’m sure I’m not alone. The second last episode of the thrilling HBO mini-series delivered what we’ve all been waiting for: the murderer. And honestly, I’m stunned that I didn’t realize it in the first episode. It’s so obvious, yet we didn’t see it coming. And that’s the genius of it.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning. Or rather, at the end of Episode 6.
Episode 6, Cherry, ended with the news that John Keene would be arrested the following day for the murder of his sister, Natalie, and her friend, Ann. The news came as a shock to both Camille and Richard, neither of whom believe he is responsible. But they deal with the news slightly differently. While Richard continues digging into Camille’s past, Camille heads to a party to take drugs and get drunk with her sister. Hey, no judgement. Camille needed to let off a little steam…just maybe a little less than she did.
She wakes up at the beginning of the seventh episode with a pounding headache, scrapes on her elbows, and a severely bruised ankle. She also wakes up in a nightgown, instead of the clothes she went to bed in. Her mother took it upon herself to clean her up, and tries to wrap her ankle and spoon-feed her medicine. Camille tries to refuse, but Adora puts her hand in the middle of Camille’s chest, holding her down to the bed. The look on Camille’s face, combined with a flashback of the same thing happening when she was a young girl, says it all. Her mother has a way of terrifying her. And not just her. Amma, too.
You see, Camille always fought her mother, and continues to do so now. She eventually squirms out of her mother’s grasp, insisting that she has a deadline to meet, and Adora lets her go, seeing her daughter as nothing more than a lost cause. But Amma…Adora has a strong hold on her. Amma even admits to Camille that the thing she loves most about getting drunk is the way their mother takes care of her afterwards. That she does it for her, because Adora only wants her like this. Meaning, Adora only loves her daughter when she’s weak, when she’s sick. When she needs her. And unfortunately, that’s all too true, as we come to learn later, thanks to Richard.
Richard is still intent on learning as much as he can about Camille, but that curiosity has since spread. After talking to Jackie in the last episode, Richard learns about Camille’s sister, Marian, and the mystery surrounding her death. It’s she who tells him that there was never an autopsy done, which strikes Richard as more than a little suspicious. So, he visits a few hospitals and clinics, searching for a nurse that knew Marian. Luckily, she’s kept all the files, thinking they might come in handy one day. Turns out, she was right.
As Richard goes through the files with the nurse, he discovers the multiple illnesses that Marian may have had. Keyword: may. She was never properly diagnosed, but had symptoms of many things. It’s here that the nurse decides to bring up a specific condition by the name of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. A mental illness, rather than a physical one. Munchausen syndrome is when someone makes themselves sick repeatedly to get attention, to be seen. Munchausen syndrome by proxy, on the other hand, is when a person makes someone else sick in order to try and save them, in order to take care of them, in order to feel needed by them. When Richard asks if she’s implying Adora has this, she simply replies that some people have it, usually mothers. That’s all she’ll say on the topic. She tried to go to the police when Marian died, which resulted in her getting fired from the hospital for malpractice. But she does tell Richard that he might want to go that hospital, for the files of “the other one”. She, of course, is referring to Amma. And what he finds seems all too similar to Marian. Multiple hospital visits due to multiple causes, even needing feeding tubes. And he’s seen the way Adora mothers her children. To say it’s unhealthy is an understatement. Turns out we may not know the half of it. But we do by the end of the episode. More on that later.
While Richard is looking into this, the police Chief has issued a search warrant for Ashley’s house, looking for John or any evidence that may prove he’s the killer they’re searching for. After all, right now they only have hearsay. But Ashley is refusing to talk, to give any indication of where John could be, scared that she’d be viewed as the worst girlfriend ever. But the Chief coaxes her by telling her she’d be seen as a brave hero, the girl who helped catch the murderer of two little girls. That she might not only get her name in the paper, but an appearance on TV. And that’s all she needs to hear. She gestures to under the bed, where they find Natalie Keene’s blood. But if you ask me, something seems off with this whole case. Something isn’t adding up. Don’t worry, we learn more as the episode goes on.
Back to Adora, Amma, and Camille. Adora and Amma are left alone together when Camille leaves to get some work done, and she isn’t letting her daughter out of her sight. When Amma insists that she’s feeling better, Adora looks like she might faint, telling her that she doesn’t need her at all anymore, that she’s such an adult, that she may as well start paying her own way. To calm Adora, Amma crawls back into bed and takes every last drop of medicine there is, looking sicker and sicker by the minute, to the point where she pukes. If she wasn’t ill before, she certainly is now.
Meanwhile, Camille drives to the outskirts of town to one of the few places in Wind Gap that serves alcohol in the middle of the day. The area is rundown, clearly the low-income part of town we’ve heard so much about but haven’t yet seen. We don’t see any familiar faces here. Except one. Undoubtedly, the one Camille came here for: John Keene.
She buys two shots for each of them and joins him at a table, where he’s sitting alone. And the interaction between these two is one of the most intriguing we’ve seen yet. It’s raw, honest, familiar and friendly in its own way, but it has its darkness, too. When asking why he’s here, he tells her that he wanted to have a couple drinks before he gets arrested. That he can’t go back to Ashley’s, or his mum’s, and that he’d rather drive into the woods than go back there. And yet he laughs while saying it. But it isn’t sinister or deranged. It’s the laugh of a man who’s lost everything, and is too tired to care anymore.
As Camille is quick to point out, this may be John’s last chance to tell his story, the real story. So, she asks him point blank if he did it, if he killed those girls. But he tells her he’s done with defending himself, he just wants it to be over. She tries to rile him up, hoping to get the truth out of him. Instead he tells her that he killed the girls and pulled out their teeth because he wanted to rape them, but wouldn’t let himself. Killing was an alternative. It’s clearly a lie, and he admits it, saying he can tell stories to. But then he tells her the real truth.
“Or how about this one. A brother misses his sister so bad, he wants to die. But that’s boring as shit, right? So spin another.”
He says it with a tremble in his voice, his lip quivering. Because it’s the truth, plain and simple. This isn’t a story about a quiet boy who murdered two girls. It isn’t a story about the sensitive, weird kid who withdraws and turns out to be a killer. No, it’s the story about a boy who lost everything. But as he says, that story doesn’t sell. And it certainly isn’t one the town’s willing to buy. But Camille does. And she’s determined to help him in his last few hours of freedom. So, she takes him to a motel room where he can sober up. Little do they know the cops are watching, and will soon be knocking at their door. And here’s where things get really interesting.
This scene goes from sweet to eerie, raw to cringe-worthy in about two seconds flat. Camille helps lower John on the bed, and as their hands touch, her sleeves lift up, revealing one of her scars. He starts to pull up her sleeve a little more, but she backs away, telling him that no one sees her, no one sees her scars. But according to John, he does. She turns away from him, fidgeting and shaking, extremely uncomfortable, but eventually lets him take off her shirt. And then her pants. And as he takes off her clothes, he reads the words aloud. She’s nearly crying, still shaking, overcome with so many emotions. After all, she’s really being seen. Fully. And the most interesting thing about this scene is that, at first, it doesn’t feel sexual. It feels like two souls opening up to each other, bearing all. It feels intimate, sure, but not sexual. That is, until John starts going down on Camille.
This is where the scene gets really weird. It escalates into John taking his clothes off, reassuring her as they proceed to have sex.
So, Camille just slept with an eighteen year old who may or may not be a murderer (he’s not, but still, he’s about to be arrested for it). Oh, and he’s drunk. So…while I normally completely defend all of Camille’s actions, this one may have gone a little too far.
Afterwards, the two get to talking, specifically about Natalie, and eventually, Adora. How close she was with both Natalie and Ann, how both girls were rough with her, even biting her so badly that she needed stitches, but it never scared Adora off. In fact, it only made her more attached. It’s after this revelation that the police, including Richard, come barging in. Camille’s body is hidden under the covers, but it doesn’t matter. Richard may not see her scars, but seeing her there, clearly having just had sex with an eighteen year old suspect…well, need I say more? The Chief puts John in handcuffs, gathers his clothes and leads him out the door as he reads him his rights. He won’t arrest/take Camille down to the station, but that doesn’t mean Richard doesn’t have some choice words for her. And while we understand his anger, he crosses the line when he tells her that everyone buys her sob story, when the truth is she blames her entire miserable life on one bad thing that happened to her. Oh, and he calls her a drunken slut. Richard, Camille may have done something regrettable, but you are officially out of our good books.
She leaves the motel room visibly hurt, and shocked when she finds a set of case files in her car. Lo and behold, they’re the same ones that Richard uncovered earlier in the episode, the ones about Marian and Amma. Who can she go to? Certainly not to Richard, obviously not to her mother. That leaves one person, someone who was always kind to her: Jackie.
She heads straight to Jackie’s house, where she fixes Camille a drink and offers her some pills. Camille doesn’t beat around the bush, asking her plainly about Marian’s case. The fact that Jackie requested information multiple times, that she thought something was off. Jackie admits she did, but after continually getting denied, she stopped trying, and accepted a life of drinking and pill-popping to get through. But she knew about Marian. She knew that Adora was slowly poisoning her own daughter, that she was cremated shortly after the funeral so it couldn’t be proven. She tried looking into it, but didn’t tell anyone because, well, who would believe her? As much as she has a point, the betrayal goes too deep. Camille can’t forgive this.
She runs out of the house, drives through the town, pulls over, and calls her boss. His wife is the one that picks up the phone, a woman who’s always worried about Camille, who thought it might be a mistake for her to take the case. And boy, was she right. She’s nearly hysterical when she calls. Because it’s all coming together now. Adora poisoned Marian, ultimately killing her. Flashbacks of Adora holding Marian as a baby and biting her hard, making her cry, comes rushing back into Camille’s mind. The story of the Woman in White. Adora’s close relationship with both Ann and Natalie. She breaks down as she reveals to Frank and Eileen that her mother did it, her mother is responsible. Frank tells her to fly home immediately, that he’ll pay her back as soon as she lands, but she refuses. She tells him that Adora is doing it again, and she has to stop her.
She hangs up and drives back to her mother’s house, where Alan sits in tears listening to music, resounding himself to what Adora is doing, proving he knows exactly what’s going on. Adora is laying out a little blue dress, as if for a special occasion. Amma looks even more sick than before. Camille pulls up the house. Roll credits.
So, Episode 7 revealed the killer in Wind Gap. But is it the killer we’re looking for? We know Adora killed Marian, and is trying to kill Amma. It also explains why she dislikes Camille so much, because she couldn’t keep her young and weak. But did she kill Ann and Natalie? On one hand, it makes perfect sense. But what I don’t understand is the teeth pulling. Perhaps she was working with someone? Perhaps she lured the girls out as the Woman in White, but someone else did the dirty work? Her husband? The Chief? Amma? Or was it all Adora? There are so many possibilities, but we’ll have our answer soon enough.
Sharp Objects Airs Sunday Nights On HBO.