Sharp Objects S01E07: Falling – Gut-wrenching episode!

When you feel like an outcast, it’s natural to gravitate to other outcasts. That instinct and Camille’s self-destructive streak lead her to her worst act yet this week.

After last week’s adventures with Amma, Camille wakes up with a nasty swollen ankle and Adora watching her sleep. Camille refuses to be mothered, which in Adora’s case, means letting Adora ply her with homemade medications. When Amma initially refuses as well, Adora chalks it up to Camille’s being a bad influence. She seems to be some kind of influence, as Amma holds steady on her refusal. That is, until Adora blasts her with passive-aggressiveness and tries to take away the dollhouse, the microcosm of a house holding a lot of secrets.

Speaking of, as Amma acquiesces to taking “the blue,” Richard is ferreting out an ugly secret in the Crellin home. Jackie had pointed him toward a nurse, Beverly (Cristine Rose), who’d treated Marian and Richard finds her working at a methadone clinic. She saved Marian’s file because it never seemed right to her–the wild variety of purported illnesses with no discernible causes. Although she won’t come out and say it directly, she’s implying that Adora has Munchausen by Proxy. In case you’ve missed the news articles or talk show episodes over the years, the syndrome is marked by intentionally making someone sick so you can nurse them back to health and get attention. (If you have missed the news articles, this was an interesting case.) Beverly points Richard to her old friends at the hospital, who can give him information on “the other one.”

What Richard finds at the hospital is a startlingly thick file on Amma, documenting many hospital stays and treatments, including a gastric tube, by which Adora could put things in Amma’s body directly. In many cases of Munchausen by Proxy, the caregiver–usually a parent–will doctor-shop, as Dee-Dee Blancharde (in the linked article) did. Basically, they go from doctor to doctor so they can keep up the ruse. But if you essentially own the town like Adora does, who’s gon’ stop you? Not Alan. And not the law.

That point is underlined when Richard brings his tentative suspicions to Vickery. He dismisses Beverly as an addict who got fired from the hospital. And he knows that the witness statement (putting John at the waste pond) is garbage, but he doesn’t care. He’s gonna close this case, come hell, high water, or free murderer. Ashley, who mirrors some of the Munchausen tendencies–the need for attention through caregiving, for one–has shown Vickery the blood stain under John’s bed. Trouble is, they don’t have John.

It’s Camille who actually does the detective work and finds him. She learns that the only other place to drink in town is a home-run bar frequented by Mexican workers. These are the same guys who work at Crellin’s Unique Hog Boutique, where John worked, so it makes sense that he’d know about it. And that’s where she finds him. They share some bourbon and their sad tales. He finally says that he didn’t do it, he didn’t kill his sister or Ann. Then the conversation shifts and they go to a motel.

We can psychoanalyze this scene all week (please don’t make me, though–it was hard enough to watch). But John has seen a glimpse of her scars and he wants to see more. We know that Camille’s experience with teenage boys when she was a teenager was filled with violence and hurt. John is a chance at an alternate history–he’s a teenage boy and he’s soft and he wants to see her, to really see her. So she takes off her clothes and he reads her body as they have sex.

That Richard and Vickery bust in on them afterwards is as much a foregone conclusion as Richard’s reaction. He’s hurt, so he lashes out–just like a lot of people in Wind Gap. And Camille, in turn, is desperate for his approval, which he won’t give. But he does give her the medical files. Through reading them and a rocky conversation with Jackie, she puts together what Richard has: Adora was responsible for Marian’s death. She calls Curry, her boss, and sobs into the phone that Adora “did it.” Back at the Crellins’ house, Adora approvingly watches over a sweat-dripping Amma as she purges her sickness. But not everything can be purged so easily.

9/10 – As hard as the scene between John and Camille was to watch, it was not as gut-wrenching as the scene that followed. Seeing Camille so cowed, almost genuflecting before Richard was heartbreaking. It was the standout scene of a great episode. One of this episode’s flaws, though, is a flaw of the season as a whole–this late introduction of the Munchausen storyline. I’d known it was coming (from having read the book) and was surprised that the hints so far were so subtle. But that’s the thing about hints–if you don’t know you’re supposed to be looking for them, they can come as a surprise. (That’s a hint.)

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