Warning: The following contains spoilers of Sharp Object's seventh episode. Read at your own risk!
When Camille (Amy Adams) was sent to Wind Gap to cover the story of the two murdered girls, her boss Curry (Miguel Sandoval) did so with the ulterior motive of helping his troubled reporter find closure with her past. Little did either of them know just how personal this assignment would get for Camille.
In Sunday's episode, the penultimate of the series, Camille is horrified to discover the truth about her younger sister Marian's (Lulu Wilson) death: Camille's mother Adora (Patricia Clarkson) killed Marian as a result of Munchausen by proxy, a mental disorder in which an abuser makes a dependent person appear ill in order to gain attention, sympathy or reassurance, and which can sometimes be fatal.
Richard Willis (Chris Messina) discovers the truth after a tip from Adora's best friend Jackie (Elizabeth Perkins) led him first to Marian's and then Amma's (Eliza Scanlen) extensive medical records. A nurse who treated Marian all those years ago says she went to the police about her Munchausen by proxy theory, but the only thing to come from it was that she lost her job.
After Richard -- who is rightfully angry at Camille for sleeping with John Keene (Taylor John Smith) -- leaves all the medical files in Camille's car without explanation, Camille races over to Jackie's to confront her. Jackie explains that while she did put in several of her own requests for Marian's files over the years, she was denied every time and never tried to do anything else like, say, go to the police or Child Protective Services herself because she assumed no one would believe her.
Now that Marian's true cause of death has been revealed, it doesn't take long for Camille to recognize Adora's current abuse of Amma, who is at home "sick" the day after Adora manipulated her into taking her "medicine," which appears to be some mild form of poison. But Amma isn't the only potential victim of Adora's that comes to Camille's mind. While Jackie is sharing what she knows about Marian's abuse, Camille has a mental flash of Adora as the Woman in White luring Natalie Keene (Jessica Treska) into the woods to kill her. While it's clear that Adora killed Marian and may kill Amma if she's not stopped, could she really be behind the deaths of Natalie and Ann Nash (Kaegan Baron) too?
Although it'd be nice and tidy for there to only be one killer, Sharp Objects isn't a tidy show; its whole aim is to capture the messiness of female abuse and violence that so rarely gets explored. Plus, from a purely objective standpoint, the M.O.'s just don't match up.
On one hand, as evidenced by Adora's abuse of her daughters -- Camille included -- there's a high degree of preparation and indifferent calculation involved. Adora's abuse isn't immediately responding to anyone's behavior; rather, it appears relatively unprovoked and to simply be a twisted means of satisfying Adora's emotional desire to feel needed and in control. On the other hand, whoever killed Natalie and Ann, as Richard explained earlier this season, appears to be committing crimes of passion. While neither Natalie nor Ann were sexually assaulted, the unrestrained violence of the mutilations signal that the killer was seeking some sense of power or potentially even seeking personal retaliation against their victims. This is a very far cry from Adora's meticulously controlled abuse of Marian, Amma and Camille.
Unless Adora has a depth of darkness and anger inside her that goes beyond what we've already seen, which is quite the terrifying thought, it's highly unlikely that she'd be behind the deaths of Natalie and Ann as well, which means there's a second killer in Wind Gap still on the loose.
Now, any guesses as to who?
Sharp Objects' series finale airs Sunday at 9/8c on HBO.