No “cherry” bombshells here.
It’s become clear over the past few episodes that Sharp Objects intends to remain a character study rather than a straightforward mystery. As “Cherry” pushes us toward the end of this story, it also seems evident that, because of that, the resolution to its central mystery is going to be deeply personal to Camille. That’s strong writing, but it likely means the outcome won’t be the most surprising revelation.
After “Cherry,” all signs point to Amma being the killer. Besides her and Adora, there aren’t any more choices amongst the fairly limited cast of central characters that would provide an emotionally resonant end to the case for Camille. But with two episodes to go, most of this sixth entry is devoted to Amma’s creep factor just as she and her half-sister are finding ways to genuinely bond. Not only is that building to a reveal (or a stunning misdirect), it’s upping the emotional stakes for our lead character.
Since this episode gives us everything short of an outright confession, the issue becomes how do you maintain the dramatic tension and growing character stakes that Sharp Objects has been largely successful in delivering thus far? The answer for this hour of the series is to put a spotlight on Camille and Amma’s budding friendship after last week’s episode highlighted their mutual distance from each other. Perhaps it’s that Amma now sees a piece of herself in her half-sister after she saw all of her scars. She even jokes early in this episode that her scrapes from running off in the woods could be connected to form a word on her skin, in homage to her big sister.
But before “Cherry” brings the half-siblings together for a long night out on the town, the episode takes time to show us just how much Camille doesn’t fit in, even with the old friends in Wind Gap who aren’t aggressively down her throat about the murders and her articles. In visiting some high school friends, most of whom seem miserable in the lives they’ve built for themselves in their hometown, Camille’s life suddenly seems less sad. By no means is she okay, but at least she got out and built a career that fulfills her. Amma’s not at the stage where she can do that yet, even if she does beg Camille to take her back to St. Louis when she leaves. But Amma knows that her sister is an interesting person, and so she continues her own pursuit of becoming interesting.
In this episode alone, that includes tormenting John in his own home (which, if Amma is in fact the killer, is a truly evil act), dragging her sister out to a high school party, and doing a bunch of drugs. Every action Amma takes feels like a rebellion of some sort, whereas Camille’s actions that upset Adora aren’t purposeful antagonisms so much as aspects of a fully-formed personality. A comical moment in this episode where Camille parks her car in the grass and Adora quips, “Even the lawn isn’t safe from her,” brings about a conflict that Camille wasn’t trying to instigate. That’s been her biggest struggle all season, causing friction when she doesn’t mean to.
Amma, meanwhile, displays some self-awareness about her ability to incite conflict late in the episode. She tells Camille after they roller-skate home while still tripping (another knock-out surreal sequence from director Jean-Marc Vallee) that she has an easier time making friends with boys than girls. While she attributes that ability to letting boys “do things to her,” she maintains that the control is hers. For girls, however, she seems to think violence might be an effective means of connection. If this isn’t an admission of guilt, what is? Even in her hazy state, Camille knows her sister is dangerous. That’s why she imagines her deceased sister saying, “It’s not safe here for you,” in the mirror. The tension is heating up between Camille and Amma, even while they have fun together. With just two episodes left, it’s only a matter of time before it boils over.
But this episode also takes time to set up a distraction that’ll ratchet up tension in the town even higher. The first victim’s bike is found in a pond on one of Adora’s work facilities. Once prints are identified on the bike, the chief of police tells Richard that John is all but confirmed to be the killer. How this affects Amma’s mood in the next episode could be the next step in confirming her dark deeds.