As the knotty history of Wind Gap and the Crellin family begins to unravel, “Falling” provides the best episode of Sharp Objects thus far.
In the opening scene of “Falling”, Camille (Amy Adams) woke, unsure of where she was. For a viewer, this is sometimes how it feels to watch Sharp Objects; reality peeping through the artifice, truth creeping through manicured lies like half-remembered daydreams.
Adora (Patricia Clarkson) hovers at Camille’s bedside, like she has at that of Amma (Eliza Scanlen) and, once upon a time, Marian (Lulu Wilson). She spoons so-called medicine from a thick, cork-topped blue bottle, a doting mother ministering to her sickly children. Only Camille, the wildest, most rebellious, and most in need of treatment, has the good sense to swipe it aside. On some level perhaps she has always known what her mother was – what her mother continues to be. This is, again, sometimes how it feels to watch Sharp Objects; the dutiful child, eagerly swallowing the lies.
It was Detective Willis (Chris Messina) who put the pieces together, roaming the grimy corridors of a methadone clinic and the sterile halls of a hospital for records of the Crellin family’s medical history. The best mysteries are the ones that were never all that mysterious. Adora has Munchausen by Proxy, and has been poisoning her children. Nobody guessed, but nobody was surprised when they found out. And that includes the town of Wind Gap, who have known and in some cases been actively complicit since at least Marian’s death. Alan (Henry Czerny) watches Adora prepare the elixir, swaying to his vintage records. Chief Vickery (Matt Craven) decries Willis’s evidence as local gossip. Jackie (Elizabeth Perkins) has always known; now she drinks to help forget.
The implication, strengthened elsewhere in “Falling”, is that Adora is responsible for the deaths of Ann Nash and Natalie Keene, as well as her own daughter. I still don’t believe that’s true. If anything, the sustained poisoning gives Amma more of a motive; a reason to rebel the way she does, a life beyond her own to resent. The girls of Wind Gap are just as guilty, skating away as their friend lies shaking and spewing, on the verge of death.
Whoever did it, it wasn’t John (Taylor John Smith). The police insist he did, but on some level they know they’re wrong, as does Camille, who finds him in a seedy bar on the edge of town. Their conversation skirts around the perceptions of the townsfolk, flirts with dark desires and illicit urges. It leads to a room at the El Camino motel, where John reads aloud Camille’s scars, as though they might reveal some deeper meaning. In a sense, they do. Camille has never learned to love or live; the words that knot her flesh are her desperate attempts to find one that explains why. John is lost, too. Hurt people, they hurt people. But they understand one another.
All anyone is looking for in Sharp Objects is understanding – of themselves, of one another, of what might compel a woman who has everything to ritually poison her children, or to strangle and rip the teeth from young girls who had slipped through Wind Gap’s blood-soaked cracks. In “Falling”, the truth, or at least some of it, has emerged; buried secrets poking through the ground like pale bones. But we’re still yet to learn the extent of what has been covered up, who has swept the earth over their sins, and what horrors compelled them to sin in the first place. The collection of scars grows ever larger all the while.