This article contains spoilers for the finale of HBO’s Sharp Objects.
By the time audiences got to the finale of Sharp Objects it was pretty clear that the central mystery of the show wasn’t exactly the point. Yes, the murders of Natalie Keene and Ann Nash were the reason Camille returned home to Wind Gap and incremental advancements in the case pushed the plot along, but the story was always more about Camille Preaker, her trauma, and the tragedies that have left physical and emotional scars on her entire person.
However, in a shocking twist that only unfurls in the last few moments of the series, Camille learns that the murders and her family’s painful legacy are in fact the same issue — both her mother and her sister are killers, with Adora killing Camille’s sister Marion and Amma being responsible for the murders of Natalie and Ann.
Adora’s murder was of course brought forth by her Munchausen by proxy disorder, which caused her to slowly poison her daughters in order to feel needed and otherwise reap the social and emotional rewards of being a constant caregiver.
In the finale, Camille finally experiences her mother’s deadly brand of caring when she allows herself to drink the “medicine” Adora gave to Amma and Marion, but is saved when her editor Frank Curry forces the Wind Gap police to search the Preaker mansion and rescue her.
From there, the case seems open and shut. After the police deduce that Adora poisoned her daughters, the police find bloodstained pliers like those used to remove Natalie and Ann’s teeth, in the house and arrest her for homicide. Adora goes to prison, Amma moves in with Camille in St. Louis…and everything seems as good at things get for Camille, who can finally begin to heal from her mother’s horrible nature.
Except technically, terrifyingly, not.
In a whiplash-inducing ending, Camille becomes suspicious when one of Amma’s new friends in St. Louis goes missing and takes a closer look at Amma’s dollhouse. There, in the replica of Adora’s famously ivory-floored bedroom, she sees dozens of human teeth laid into the dollhouse floor, proving that Amma was the real Wind Gap murderer.
The finale ends before explaining exactly why and how Amma killed her former friends, but her final line, “don’t tell Mama,” insinuates that Adora’s years of abuse may have damaged her grip on reality and perhaps even her ability to feel empathy.
It’s a shame that Sharp Objects ends before the audience has a chance to see what happens to Camille if not Amma in the aftermath of this revelation, especially since the book does go into what happens to both of them once Amma is outed as the murderer.
Still, as far as TV ending shots go, Sharp Objects‘s twist is a horrifying and appropriate cap on a miniseries that set out to prove the dangers that lie inside seemingly happy homes.