‘Sharp Objects’ Finale: Marti Noxon Explains the Final Line and Why They Cut the Ending Off Early

“We were trying to convey the emotional experience of reading the book — and to me the book ended there,” showrunner tells TheWrap

Last Updated: August 26, 2018 @ 9:11 PM

(Spoiler alert: Please do not read ahead unless you’ve watched “Sharp Objects” through Sunday’s finale, “Milk.”)

Well, there you have it: Adora dunit, but Amma also dunit.

The finale of HBO’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s “Sharp Objects” ended with the reveal that — even though Adora (Patricia Clarkson) had killed her daughter Marian and was finally sent to jail for her crimes — she wasn’t the one who murdered Natalie and Ann.

Instead, in the final moments of the episode “Milk” we learn Camille’s (Amy Adams) living little sister, Amma (Eliza Scanlen) — who she has taken away to raise in safety — is actually the one responsible for the grisly murders of the two young girls from their small hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri.

And the very last line Amma uttered when she walked in on her big sister discovering her victims’ teeth hidden inside her dollhouse was, “Don’t tell mama.” Then the screen cuts to black and Led Zepplin’s “In the Evening” kicks into high gear as the final credits roll. (Insert chills here.)

While that ending is probably enough to disturb you for years to come, Flynn’s debut novel closed a little differently. Well, not differently, just with more to it. So TheWrap talked with showrunner Marti Noxon about why she, Flynn and director Jean-Marc Vallee chose to cut the book’s coda, which included Camille visiting Amma in prison and discussing her crimes.

Oh, and why they settled on those final three words that will haunt you until the end of time. (And if they don’t, the post-credits scenes certainly will.)

Why did you cut the ending off early?

Marti Noxon: My recollection is that — and I don’t have the book in front of me — but those few pages, they are very short, that little coda of that part. And we were trying to convey the emotional experience of reading the book, and to me the book ended there. And there was so much more that I wanted to know about the other part. And it felt emotionally like, this story is about the legacy of violence among these women and that it really started with Adora. That everything in this story, that’s what we get to know about. So to end it sort of calling back to Adora felt like the original ending for this mystery.

Did you leave clues for fans to find if they go back for a second viewing, now that they know Amma is the killer?

Totally! I mean, part of the fun of taking this from the book to the screen is that that Amma character portrayed by Eliza is so complicated. Her relationship with Camille is so complicated. And it is in the book too. But I think because Eliza and Amy brought something to it that Gillian and myself we felt really strongly about — which is there is this side of Amma that is really loving and is looking for a protector and a champion and a sister — so that we could rest a little bit. But you know, in the end it is a whodunit, she dun it. So it’s fun to know those little bits and pieces are there.

Why did you choose “Don’t tell mama” as the final line?

To me, the story, you know, is really about this legacy of violence in their family. And Adora, a lot of what Amma does is in reaction to Adora. Probably almost all of it at that age. So she’s still walking that crazy line between trying to emulate Adora, literally by murdering, but also by not having the emotional capacity to do it with any subtlety or even deal with the consequences.

How did you decide how much time to devote to the part of the finale where Camille is being “nursed’ by Adora and the part after that, where Amma and Camille seem to be safe?

The scene in the bathtub, that’s where the real meat of the crime is taking place and it tells you everything about how it happened in the past and what really happened to the girls. So that’s sort of the meat of the finale. That’s the real answer to the whodunit. And then the surprise of — oh, and there is someone still doing it or still out there a victim in this — did feel like it’s own coda, in a way.

You’ve already confirmed there isn’t going to be a Season 2, but did you ever want more?

I think we were really committed to really doing the book justice, and it is a whodunit. And some people try to live in a world that it maybe doesn’t have a second story. You know, this story feels very complete. But there is also just the reality that this is a tough team to assemble and I think it would be pretty impossible to do it again (laughs).

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