Who can we eliminate as suspects?
It’s funny how much I can’t directly eliminate Kansas City Detective Richard “Dick” Willis and St. Louis reporter Camille Preaker off the chart as suspects. They were not in town for the first murder last summer of Ann Nash, or around when Natalie Keen went missing but they were present when the body was discovered. Of course they didn’t do it! Camille Preaker may have been born in Wind Gap, Missouri but does not have a strong enough connection to the town. She is based out of St. Louis (Chicago in the novel) and is at least 2 hours away , while Willis is 6 hours away. In the novel Wind Gap is described as being near the foot of Missouri so I place it there near a body of water as Wind Gap is not an actual place.
Motivations: The amusing thing and part of the reason Chief Bill Vickery (also a suspect) is hesitant to share information with Kansas City boy big shot detective (who is younger in the novel) is because he thinks he’s after his job. The backwards way the town logic operates makes an ironic justification. That said, a great story or a big bust for either of the two leads has supplied motivation for many ridiculous detective stories in the past. Camille and Richard as the murderers is so hilariously stupid a plot twist I almost wish it was the case so that then the show would be more memorable. But let’s rule them out on common sense logic the show seems to be at least operating in. I remain curious as to how/ if Willis has an arc to complete, how he will figure into the finale.
My First Instinct:
Famous film critic Roger Ebert once said something about how film budgets make it impossible for unnecessary characters to remain present. Therefore if a character is there for seemingly no other purpose then they must be the killer. This is in the case of most well written stories as Gillian Flynn has proven herself to be a decent storyteller. In describing the themes of the book she iterated that: the story is about the damage that women do to each other and to themselves. I believe the male strength needed to pull teeth is a misnomer considering how flimsy Willis’ arms are. He hardly looks like he works out. That and I read too much into his character Danny from the Mindy project. My first instinct was Jackie O’Neill. Known Camille since childhood (likely the perp has) She’s far too quiet not to be further involved. Her presence in Episode 7 wasn’t enough to convince me otherwise.
Pretty Far Out Suspect:
I mean c’mon. Chief Bill Vickery does not seem like he could be bothered to solve crimes when they’re not murder. Although I reckon the deal he has with Jackie they talk about that doesn’t exist has something to do with murder. The one circumstantial piece of evidence is his use of pliers fixing a stop sign immediately after we’re told by the coroner that pliers were likely used. It seems too obvious. A bold storytelling choice that doesn’t fit this show. What is his motivation? I can think of one: he’s doing it all for Adora.
Adora is a character who seemed far-fetched at first but seems to make sense the more and more you think about it. It is highly likely the killing could have been done at her hog farm/ slaughterhouse which is why John Keene who was recently fired from there and makes so much sense as a suspect. You would need a place secluded enough to take your time so you aren’t disturbed. That certainly makes sense for Adora’s Slaughterhouse which is pretty secluded and only one other place” the woods is where the crime could’ve occurred. Although it is a Ghost Town. She has no short supply of motivation, but you could argue her biting words are enough to disqualify her from even needing to kill. Likely just a metaphorical threat. How would she at her age be able to do it? Get Chief Vickery or Alan who has done his fair share of creepy stares. She is either doing it to maintain her grip on the town or all to drive her daughter back home to suffer is pretty ridiculous and poetic. If we knew how Camille’s Editor got wind of the small town murders from a big city far away this answer would be solved earlier. Unfortunately Camille is not a great enough reporter to ask. Is the last episode telling enough or itself a misnomer? Either way I’m confident we’ll get a satisfying emotional climax to the Camille/ Adora Crellin story.
My second choice:
Ashley Wheeler makes a lot of sense if you aren’t sexist. These women are vindictive and the idea that an old town would have such a young killer sure is surprising but considering all these young girls are in the same social and anti-social groups makes complete sense. And it serves up Amma well as a counterpoint to all this town’s violence.
I would not rule out two killers. Either a woman using a man or just a killer followed by a copy cat or maybe a sort of hidden town ritual. An Agatha Christie result or a Hot Fuzz type reveal would be clever but its already on people’s radar.
Who am I missing? Amma of course. In every story there’s a character who would be impossible hide as the killer but whose fruitful explanation with a great writer would be shockingly perfect. You shouldn’t be able to cover up someone like Amma getting the drama teacher: Kirk Lacey, the one who took advantage of young Camille doing it and reveal it in a satisfying way unless you are one of the best working writers. Do they have it in them?
Why not John Keene? Similar to Killing Eve I think the premise and character dynamics would be wasted were the decision made for the ultimate killer to be anyone other than female, but he is the only developed one to have a strong connection to one of the victims. Unfortunately, the police aren’t interested in anyone else, it’s likely we weren’t given enough information about the killer yet to know ahead of time. After episode 7 it looks like it could be Adora but could still really be anyone else.
Thoughts and Predictions
- No one gave a shit about Ann Nash, only Natalie Keene. Maybe it was an accident. Maybe Keene killed Nash.
- If I were a betting man, I’d say episode 8 begins with watching Chief Vickery get out of bed, put on his uniform, have breakfast and kiss his wife for the third and final time. Are we imagining him figuring it out and going to the Crellin house just in time for Camille’s confrontation with her Mom? Too late? Too early? Is he in on it?
- Detective Willis has contributed to the case all that he’s going to at this point by giving Camille the family medical file, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t contribute to the emotional climax.
- What’s definitely not going to happen? Camille Preaker finds out, gets caught by the killer and dies. That’d be amazing, stunning, and unsatisfying to millions. Never gonna happen.
- The worst possible logical ending: Camille finds out who the killer is and lets them go, not telling the authorities thereby allowing the town to eat itself alive once and for all.
- Most satisfying ending: Camille stabs Adora to death with Alan’s record needle in order to save Amma. Whether she gets committed for it or not doesn’t matter the audience knows the result.
- The most predictably boring ending? Jackie O’Neill convinced Ashley Wheeler to use Adora’s slaughterhouse and resources to commit the murder and frame John Keene. Chief Vickery knows more about Ann Nash’s death from Jackie than he let on and told Willis. Amma is
indirectly connected toone of the murders.
*HBO precedents: True Detective: S1: The immediate threat is addressed and resolved while the larger threat looms. S2: The actual killer is insignificant to the larger story being told. The Night Of: The killer was on the periphery this whole time and there was no way for you to know.
- One line always seemed intentionally vague to me, Chief Vickery: We need to talk about your daughters: one of them is dangerous, the other one is in danger.
Fancy that. Of course its Camille’s penchant for self harm and Amma telling her Mom said she’s dangerous. But poor dead ghostly Marian saying: It’s not safe here. What if it’s the other way around? Amma draws danger to herself all the time and Adora wants to protect Camille from herself or others. She did visit her in the hospital. Camille is not a reliable point of view. What if Adora is right? Right? RIGHT?
- I hate to say this: considering southern cliches, don’t rule out some literal family fuck ups messing up the family tree. Isn’t it odd how absent Camille’s father is from the plot? Then again as we know from episode 1, men were never at the centre of the story.