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The Ending Of Sharp Objects Explained

Author and screenwriter Gillian Flynn is best known for her bestselling novel — as well as its acclaimed David Fincher film adaptation — Gone Girl, but if you liked the story of Amy and Nick Dunne's rollercoaster of a marriage, you'll definitely enjoy Flynn's other work, as well. Despite the fact that she's only written a few novels, Flynn has made a name for herself with sharply crafted, twisting thrillers, including her 2006 debut, Sharp Objects.

This Southern Gothic tale, set in the fictional town of Wind Gap, Missouri, tells the story of Camille Preaker, a troubled journalist who heads back to her hometown to investigate an unsettling string of murders. Naturally, after the success of Gone Girl, Sharp Objects got its own adaptation, but unlike the Fincher film, it stretched its narrative out across a full miniseries created by Jean-Marc Vallée (Big Little Lies) and Marti Noxon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, UnREAL). With Academy Award nominee Amy Adams at the helm and a prime summertime slot on HBO, Sharp Objects became its own sensation, frightening viewers and keeping them guessing as Camille tried to solve Wind Gap's layered mysteries. 

If you still have questions about the final moments of Sharp Objects after its eight-episode run in 2018, look no further. Here, we explain the entire ending and what happens to Camille and the Preaker family. This should go without saying, but spoilers for Sharp Objects to follow!

Sharp Objects begins with Camille Preaker's fraught return to her hometown

When Sharp Objects begins, Camille Preaker (Adams) is living in St. Louis, Missouri, working as a journalist and avoiding her past as much as possible. However, that plan hits a snag when her boss and mentor, Frank Curry (Miguel Sandoval), orders her to return to her hometown of Wind Gap to investigate the brutal murders of several young girls that recently occurred in the small, claustrophobic town.

Reluctantly, Camille returns, and along the way, she experiences flashbacks to her traumatic childhood with her mother, Adora Preaker (Patricia Clarkson), as well as the death of her sister, Marian (Lulu Wilson). During her interactions with Adora, Camille must also grapple with her spirited, younger half-sister, Amma (Eliza Scanlen), who acts like Adora's ideal daughter during the day and sneaks out at night. With that said, Camille has a "secret weapon" up her sleeve — alcohol. A barely functioning alcoholic, Camille uses booze to make it through each day, stashing vodka in her car and in her luggage to make sure she can survive any time in Wind Gap, especially under such macabre circumstances. But as she investigates a series of gruesome murders, Camille falls further into the bottle, depending on alcohol to get by to a dangerous degree.

The mystery of Wind Gap's dead girls

When Camille first arrives in Wind Gap, one young girl, 13-year-old Ann Nash, is confirmed dead, while 14-year-old Natalie Keene has been missing for days. After attending a party and meeting Detective Richard Willis (Chris Messina), who's investigating Nash's murder and Keene's disappearance, she also speaks to Ann's father, Bob (Will Chase), to ask him about his daughter's tragic death. Along the way, Natalie's brother, John (Taylor John Smith), also presents himself as a possible suspect. However, before too long, Natalie Keene reappears ... in the most disturbing way possible.

Despite the fact that Natalie has been missing for days, her dead body suddenly shows up right near Wind Gap's police station, left in a pose and, in a gruesome touch, missing all of her teeth. However, this presents an odd discrepancy. While Ann's body was found in Wind Gap's adjoining woods, Natalie's was presented for the entire town to see, making the killer's motive and style much more difficult to pin down as Camille and the police try to investigate.

Camille's dark past and present

In the midst of all of this, Camille has to deal with her own demons, including her addiction issues and her childhood traumas in Wind Gap. At the end of the first episode, viewers realize that along with her alcoholism and obvious post-traumatic stress disorder, Camille has a much more visible problem. For years, she's been carving words that trigger her into her body, including "vanish," "cherry," and "fornicate." (The show itself also plays with words, hiding messages throughout each episode throughout the entire season.)

Beyond that, Camille also spent time in a mental institution, both as a teenager and in her adulthood, and her time there as a teen proved to be incredibly upsetting. Plus, during a recent stay at a psychiatric facility, Camille's roommate, Alice (Sydney Sweeney), with whom she formed a close bond, killed herself by drinking bleach, which pushed Camille to attempt suicide as well. To make matters worse, the flashbacks to Camille's childhood detail everything from her discovering a frightening shed in the woods to an instance of apparent sexual assault. Clearly, returning to Wind Gap is an enormous struggle for Camille, and she doesn't handle the situation in a particularly healthy way, drinking to keep herself afloat.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Two main suspects emerge in Sharp Objects

In the aftermath of Natalie's frightening reappearance, two suspects stand out from the rest: Ann's father, Bob Nash, and Natalie's brother, John Keene. As she sets out to investigate, even going to the Nash household to speak to Bob, Camille finds herself coming up against an unlikely adversary — her mom, Adora, who shows up at the Nash house shortly after Camille arrives to chastise her daughter for bothering a grieving father. Camille also discovers that Adora knew Ann and helped tutor her after school.

Meanwhile, Bob and John are more than happy to point fingers at each other, each accusing the other man of the murders, while Camille discovers that there's unexpected bad blood between John and the Preaker women (Amma spread nasty rumors about John, which led to Adora firing him from her hog factory). Eventually, Bob and John come to blows during the town's "Calhoun Day" celebrations, which commemorates the town's founding. In the midst of all of this, Camille strikes up an unlikely romance with Richard, the detective in charge of the murder case.

Amma and Camille's night out

As Camille spends more time in Wind Gap, she realizes that her half-sister, Amma, whom her mother clothes in frilly dresses and who seems to still enjoy playing with her dollhouse, is actually quite wild, rollerblading around town with her friends in the dark to drink and carouse. From crashing a golf cart into the Preakers' enormous home after a night of partying to inappropriately flirting with her high school teacher, Amma is out of control, but eventually, Camille succumbs to her charming personality.

After Amma bullies Camille and inadvertently reveals her many scars to Adora, she tries to make things right with Camille, eventually inviting her to a party. After insulting John and his girlfriend when they show up to the shindig, forcing them to leave, Amma gives Camille drugs, and the two make their way home on ecstasy and prescription pills before passing out in the Preaker home as Adora silently watches.

The mystery of Marian

Ultimately, Camille and Amma's shared hangover is what reveals a terrible secret about the Preaker family — specifically, what happened to Camille's younger sister, Marian. Throughout the flashbacks, viewers see Marian, whom Camille adored, while in the present day, Adora keeps Marian's room intact like a shrine and constantly compares Camille, who falls short of Adora's expectations in every way, to her dearly departed sister.

As Camille and Amma wake up with brutal hangovers after their night out, Adora supplies "medicine" for both of them, which makes them feel worse. At the same time, aided by information from Camille, Richard discovers the truth about Marian. Adora, who has Munchausen syndrome by proxy — a mental disorder where you sicken your loved ones — poisoned Marian over the years, and one day, she gave her daughter too large of a dose. In the years since, she's done the same thing with Amma, slowly dosing her whenever she doesn't feel well with medicine that only makes Amma sicker.

Adora's apparent crimes

Camille, having briefly escaped her mother's clutches, goes out to search for John Keene, who's the subject of a police manhunt. When she finds him in a hotel room, the two have sex, and when Richard eventually finds John — and Camille — he ends their brief relationship. Distraught, Camille is then given even more information when Jackie O'Neill (Elizabeth Perkins), the town gossip, tells her about Adora's condition of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. After some thought, Camille realizes that Marian was cremated all those years ago so that nobody would suspect Adora of any wrongdoing and would instead simply pity her as a bereaved mother.

Devastated, Camille calls Curry, and her boss begs her to come back to St. Louis for her own safety. However, Camille has other ideas. She realizes this is her chance to finally confront Adora for all the damage she caused to the family, and she heads back to the Preaker house to settle the score.

A Preaker showdown

Armed with the knowledge that her mother killed Marian and was also friendly with both of the dead girls, Camille arrives at the Preaker house for dinner and a showdown, but she's at an immediate disadvantage thanks to her heavy inebriation. Amma is also there, clad in a white dress and flower crown of Adora's choosing, but she's clearly ill from Adora's medicine, causing further alarm. Immediately, Camille pretends to be sick so that her mother will give her medicine in the hopes of saving Amma from facing the same fate as Marian.

Before long, Richard comes to the house looking for Camille. Though Adora's husband, Alan (Henry Czerny), tells Richard that Camille isn't home, the detective returns before long with Curry to rescue Camille, knowing she's in trouble. There, they save Amma and Camille and arrest Adora for poisoning her daughters, and when they find bloody pliers in the house, it seems like all the evidence they need to hold Adora responsible for the deaths of Natalie and Ann, as well. Afterwards, in the hospital, Richard tells Camille that Adora's "medicine" was really rat poison, and that Amma had built up a tolerance, but Camille hadn't and almost died from her mother's dosage.

Sharp Object's twisty and twisted ending

In the aftermath of their mother's arrest, Camille brings Amma to live with her in St. Louis, giving her a fresh start far away from Wind Gap. As the two sisters bond, Amma makes a new young friend in the neighborhood, Mae (Iyana Halley), and all finally seems well with the Preaker sisters.

However, Mae later goes missing, troubling both Camille and Amma, but that's nothing compared to Camille's eventual discovery. While looking through Amma's dollhouse, which she brought to St. Louis, Camille finds pristine white teeth. When Amma discovers Camille in her room, tooth in hand, the young girl simply says, "Don't tell Mama."

In a shocking twist, Amma, jealous of the attention both Ann and Natalie received from Adora, killed the girls with the help of her friends, and if you stick around for the episode credits, you'll see a brief montage of Amma and her friends killing both Wind Gap girls, as well as Amma killing Mae all by herself. Finally, as the credits end, there's one brief shot of Amma in a white dress. Earlier in the series, the children of Wind Gap claimed that a mysterious "Woman in White" took both girls, and well, it looks like they were right.