This review contains spoilers for Sharp Objects episode 7, titled “Falling.” To refresh your memory of where we left off, check out our review of episode 6.
There have been two central mysteries to Sharp Objects since the season started, and after six episodes of slow-burning intrigue, one of them has finally been resolved. Not necessarily the big one, of course. We’ll still have to wait to until the finale to find out who Wind Gap’s killer is (we now know Adora is capable of murder, but poison is far more passive than teeth-pulling), but “Falling” does reveal how Marion died, and it changes everything the show has been about thus far.
Richard’s investigation against Chief Vickery’s wishes leads him to Marion’s hospital records, where it becomes clear to him that Adora was keeping her daughter sick so she could keep taking care of her. This is known as Munchausen by proxy syndrome, a serious form of mental illness. We see through silent flashbacks how Camille managed to fight it, but Marion didn’t, and now, whether she’s the killer or not, Amma could easily become Adora’s next “accidental” victim.
“Falling” alludes to the reveal in an early scene in which Adora comes in to try and help Camille with her turned ankle. You can see how resentment built between the two in the past through Camille’s response in the present. Adora clearly needs to be needed, and Camille, after all the pain she dealt with and persevered through on her own, is never going to let her have that.
But as Richard pokes at this wound, it’s clear that Adora has the protection of Wind Gap. Chief Vickery seems ready to fire Richard if he keeps pushing. But as Jackie remarks to him in a by-chance run-in, sweeping things under the rug is practically a town tradition. Vickery knows what happened to Marion, and when two of Amma’s friends tell him she’s sick, he knows why. It’s exciting and dramatically rich to see him come to his senses. The big lesson everyone in Wind Gap needs to learn, which Richard and Camille have largely already figured out, is not to turn a blind eye to the sins of the past, so the climax of Vickery’s arc is as thrilling as it is rewarding.
Camille’s journey throughout “Falling” doesn’t immediately lead her to this revelation, however. She’s instead focused on finding John before the police do after his DNA showed up on the submerged bike. As with most mysteries, the main suspect is never the killer, and so John didn’t kill his sister. Camille believes him, but isn’t sure the true story of what happened will ever get out. So they take light jabs at how similar they are to each other. One dead sister each, Camille is who John might grow into if he isn’t convicted of a murder he didn’t commit and allowed to live his life as a free man. For what could be the final afternoon of that freedom, John shares a kinship with the only person in town who can understand him. Camille feels it too, and so her guard finally comes down.
Sharp Objects has been a relatively soapy affair from the beginning, but the line between melodrama and a tale with actual gravitas is walked so carefully here. The show has done a wonderful job fleshing out its characters, and thus the sex scene between Camille and John is as emotionally complex as this show has gotten, even if it’s frustrating to continually see Camille sabotaging her emotional progress and her journalistic integrity with these self-inflicted wounds (pun unintended).
Has Camille ever really felt this close to someone before? Richard is easily a far healthier alternative for her, emotionally, but shouldn’t she experience this genuine connection with John before it’s too late? Having these questions come up at all is simply a sign of good drama. Good enough drama to almost forgive the clunky, somewhat out of character scene in which Richard catches them, and berates Camille and calls her a slut? Almost.
But Richard does have one last good deed in him for Camille. He drops Marion’s hospital records in her car window, clueing Camille in on what he already knows. Suddenly, John’s potential conviction doesn’t matter.
First, Camille pays Jackie a visit. Elizabeth Perkins’ sultry, boozy town gossip has mostly sat in the backseat throughout the season, but this veteran talent finally gets her moment to shine. Jackie is something of the dark mirror to Vickery in “Falling,” refusing to learn the lesson that he does by the end of the episode. She knows exactly what happened to Marion, and her mouth has long been sealed shut. When Camille visits, knowing what Adora did to her sister, Perkins adds a thrillingly cold hiss to Jackie’s words. She is a woman broken by her own inaction, and a captivating piece to the Sharp Objects puzzle that’s really starting to come into place and make the slow-burn worth it.
Naturally, it being the penultimate episode of the series, the cliffhanger that follows is excruciating. Camille has once again rushed off to save Amma, this time from her mother, as everything the series has been building toward starts to pay off. The change of pace in “Falling” seemingly ensures that Sharp Objects will go out on a high note.