Where to end? A lot of TV shows conclude in ways that don’t wrap up every element of plot. Gone Girl doesn’t finish at the end of Dunne’s story, but concludes at the most interesting chapter. Having given you enough words about each of the characters that you can convincingly draw your own conclusions. Great Murder Mysteries like The Night Of or Prisoners aren’t just about the central whodunit, they explore larger themes but get you to care more about the central characters fate along the way. In Prisoners the answer to the kidnapping is solved but we find ourselves more invested in where Hugh Jackman’s character’s actions have taken him and where it will likely lead Jake Gyllenhaal. In The Night Of which skillfully never directly answers the main question has us equally interested in where our hero will end up after the event in question. Sharp Objects’ fatal flaw is that it fails to give Camille Preaker or any of the characters any outside dimension beyond Wind Gap or the central mystery. On top of that it also leaves a lot of pointless loose ends. Likely put in as sequel insurance. The last act, taking place outside of Wind Gap does not have a final confrontation between Camille and Adora, and gives a flash but not concrete explanation of the murders, unless you’re willing to read the book, or listen to the producers explanation of its logistics which in this age many fans are more than willing to do. The Post Credits scenes, whose inclusion is problematic for a variety of reasons is also too easy to miss.
Perhaps Jean Marc Vallee was a bad fit from the start. What he was able to do was add on a thick layer of abstract atmosphere that fooled you into thinking more in this basic story happens than it does. But when the fog clears you realize the entirety of the series takes place between two murders and has all of the characters guessing incorrectly all the way through. You take out most of the actions of the entire last episode up until the last minute and the result would be similar. We can assume Camille’s boss due to her devastating phone call in the last episode has him catching a six hour or so drive to the bottom of Missouri (no flying in his condition) and regardless there’s still enough proof if nothing is done to search the house. All the leg work is done in previous episodes. The idea for example behind “Cherry” was to show how Camille and Amma could be sisters so it would be all the more devastating when we find out the latter had something to do with the murders. But no one is really meant to like Amma and Camille wasn’t as multi-dimensional a character as she should have been for audiences to follow. The whole performance depends too much on Amy Adams’ star power and gets a small kick out of her subverting her now long ago former Disney Princess image (although a sequel to Enchanted is to still expected). All the significance of Alan and his unresolved tension with Chief Vickery who gets one final wake up call, and Jackie, is pointless and unresolved. It’s as if the filmmakers did not have the courage to tell this story as a complete one off as too many mini-series nowadays like True Detective or End of the F-‘ing World get parlayed into a full fledged series. Surprise surprise, some executive wanted to keep this story going. As for the story Camille writes, are we meant to believe it? Is it a success? Tragedy? Cautionary Tale? We have no idea. And I don’t care. It was hardly worth it. If you didn’t follow along, it’s not worth watching.
Episode Grade: B
Series Grade: C+
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