Sharp Objects is a story about women, written by women. The main stars are Amy Adams as Camille and Patricia Clarkson as her mother Adora, locked in a toxic mother-daughter relationship with ugly overtones. Yet, the first person Camille sees in her dreams in the premiere episode isn't her mother. It's her step-father, Alan Crellin (played by Matt Czerny), his back to her, fussing over his beloved music collection. Who is Alan on Sharp Objects? Warning: Spoilers For Sharp Objects follow. This post only discusses the happenings in the TV series so far.
The relationship of Camille Preaker to the Crellin family has never been well defined on the show, but this week suggested an answer: She was Adora's child, who she had out of wedlock. Alan married Adora anyway, and raised Camille as his own, along with his biological daughters Marian and Amma. He tried to be there for her when her mother wouldn't. Camille recalls on her birthday her mother lying in her dead sister Marian's room crying her eyes out. Meanwhile, downstairs, it was Alan with a cake to sing to her, along with the housemaid.
Everything viewers have seen about Alan suggest he's a decent man, doing his best with a demanding, self-centered wife, and daughters who are troubled in their own way. But even decent men have their limits, and this week, it seems like Alan finally reached his.
Since the murders of Natalie and Ann, Adora has been dramatically overreacting to everything. The cut on her hand requires bed rest. She must be waited on, hand and foot. "Alan, can you cut those smaller, please," she coos after he makes her breakfast.
But then the town's police chief, Vickery, turns up at the house, and suddenly the bedridden Adora is all smiles and slinky dresses and tall heels and entertaining, while Alan is stuck making drinks. Vickery is there for a long time too. He arrives in the mid-afternoon, but it's dark out when he finally leaves. As Alan notes, she won't give him the time of day but will drink with the police chief for hours.
Once Vickery is out the door, and Camille is inside, Adora's smiles and charm sour instantly, to the point of verbal abuse. Alan sees it, but he can't stop it. He's never been able to stop it. Suddenly, all these years later, it's too much. Adora is acting like she's the only one who lost a child. Adora always behaved like she was the only one to lose someone when Marian died. But Alan lost his daughter too.
Adora refuses to hear she's somehow out of line. Her narcissism cannot abide by the idea anyone has needs or wants outside her own. It's too much for Alan, who slams out of their bedroom and storms downstairs to the solace of his music and alcohol. Until he decides he's the man here, storming back up to the bedroom and ripping off his glasses and taking his wife.
Was Alan always secretly a monster? Or has life in Wind Gap, in this oppressive atmosphere, finally made him one too? Who else has it twisted to the breaking point?