HBO’s limited miniseries Sharp Objects draws us toward the end, edging on the truth behind the town of Wind Gap’s murder mystery. Calhoun Day commences with the fall of the south, rising tensions, and completely new material, in the fifth episode adapted from Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name.
Sharp Objects Recap: Episode 4
Sharp Objects’ fourth episode, Ripe, left us like a deer in the headlights, literally. Episode five, Closer picks up with a quick check-in between Camille and her editor, Frank Curry. Camille’s pieces are huge hits by way of the news in the city however the locals, especially Chief Vickery , seem to be less than thrilled. Her insinuation, thanks to a little help from a source close to the investigation, that the murderer is a Wind Gap native.
“Camille finally has her private screaming fit, one to which I’m shocked she hasn’t had sooner.”
Adora frets over what Camille will wear for her Calhoun Day party, initializing a family field day into town for an emergency shopping trip. Camille confronts Amma about knowing Ann and Natalie, but Amma quickly brushes the conversation away claiming she doesn’t want to talk about them because it scares her. She further explains they were not friends when they died. Camille leaves it at that, but we know she believes there is more to that story.
Amma, not getting her way as far as attention goes in the boutique, taunts Camille and Adora about the published article sure to be the bane of her mother’s proper existence. She pokes and prods the same way Camille does when she is on to a good lead. Camille embarrassingly (and on spite) reveals her body to Adora and Amma in the fitting room when Adora, innocently yet maliciously, forces her to put on dresses she obviously knows she cannot wear. (Fun Fact: The words on her skin are actually written in Amy Adams’ real handwriting!). It’s a pretty raw moment and a truly relatable one, having had too many fitting room meltdowns of my own. Who hasn’t? Camille finally has her private screaming fit, one to which I’m shocked she hasn’t had sooner.
Amma makes amends with her older sister back at home as Camille packs, clearly ready to be rid of the town and the story she’s chasing altogether. Amma is curious about the scars and sorry for Camille at the same time. She wants Camille to stay, offering her the Calhoun Day play dress, complete with wide-rimmed hat. Even though Camille gives the ensemble a quick “oh, f*ck no“, she submits and joins the town festivities.
Jackie O’Neill, surrounded by the other middle aged neighborhood women have a passive-aggressive discussion over Camille’s article with Adora to which she bites back with an insinuation toward Jackie’s drinking. You gotta love southern barbecue and feminine hospitality etiquette. Detective Willis is in attendance as he eyes Bob Nash, drinking from a flask to chase his halfway induced hangover.
Nash finally confronts Willis about tailing him, letting him know he’s grieving. He’s lost a child too. Willis promises justice, but Bob points an accusing finger toward John. Ashley (John’s girlfriend), clearly more hungry for 15-minutes of fame than she is for roast pork, is enraged that Camille cut her from her article and let’s her know she is messing with the wrong girl. Terrifying.
“Strange how the rebellious, independent [women] are those that wind up dead, right?”
Camille explains Calhoun Day’s origin story to Willis beginning with that of a confederate soldier’s pregnant wife. Her great-great-great-great grand victim. She was an underage union girl taken by this soldier as his inappropriate bride. During the war she was approached by union soldiers on a hunt for her husband. She refused to give him up, so they tied her to a tree and violated her, resulting in her losing her baby. The end.
I have a problem with this, as does Amma. Does anyone think a woman who was taken by an enemy soldier of the opposing side (one too old to have any relations with her) keep his whereabouts a secret over the livelihood of her unborn child? I think not. Men really did write history to make themselves look good. Oddly enough the town celebrates child torture, rape, and other very unpatriotic elements including this independent, rebellious woman. Strange how the rebellious, independent ones are those that wind up dead, right?
Adora offers Willis a tour of the house, finally addressing that incredible, hand-painted, emerald silk wallpaper and that impressive ivory floor made of elephant tusks in her master bathroom (be sure to take your shoes off, though!). Adora calls Camille “a rare rose” but “not without thorns“. She wants to remind him that no matter what he’s heard about Wind Gap, there is good in the town.
As she’s defending her town, Camille is socially attacked by the junior hen pack. Leader of the pack is of course Katie Lacey, wife of the handsome play composer that has an eye for Amma and has obviously had more for Camille. It gives her mean girl, cheerleading flashbacks, but they convince her to attend a social function at the Lacey home later that week.
As the snare drum beats on through the Calhoun Day heritage parade, the tensions among everyone in attendance rises. Out of nowhere, Bob Nash attacks John, and he and Ashley are escorted out. Amma runs off into the woods to the creepy hunting /sex shed, completely out of sight.
“…each of the story’s characters [have begun] to move closer to one another, emotionally and physically.”
Adora has an absolute meltdown, completely inconsolable. The townspeople take to searching the woods, with Camille following a white figure to the shed. Amma is inside, bloody and upset, curled into a corner. Adora indulges in tending to her daughter while Camille questions what could have happened to her in the first place. Adora waves it off by inviting Camille to have a drink with her where Camille tells her that Amma is only acting up because he is scared of something.
Craving this attention from her mother all along, Camille thanks her for not telling Willis about her scars. Adora takes no time telling her that he will find out eventually, when they get closer. Camille tells her that she never gets close causing Adora to apologize further. The moment is shattered when Adora all too honestly tells Camille “I never loved you“, because she was “born into her father’s cold nature“.
Camille races to Willis‘ hotel room, resulting in some sexual engagement that’s pretty graphic for HBO. It’s a long time coming given the chemistry between them, but there is also something spiteful about this decision on Camille’s part. She demands they have sex ‘her way’: Lights off, Clothes on. Before the scene ends, a headlight flashes over a distinct word carved into the flesh of her exposed, bare hip: Closer.
A few things you should know about southern states like Missouri; Those really strange civil war reenactments are a real thing. Everyone is indifferent to the meaning of the term hypocrite and the confederate flag, unfortunately, still flies high. These quaint towns filled with quaint people are viewed as apathetically ‘stuck in the past’, but what Sharp Objects has, and will continue to show us is just how harmful that simplicity and ignorance can be.
Closer, both the title and the episode’s events, are a lot like the town of Wind Gap itself in that everything appears simply one way, but there is so much more subject matter hidden beneath that quaint exterior. Knowing that we only have three more episodes left of the Sharp Objects series, its obvious Closer hints at its inevitable end. More apparently, the specific use of the word can be interpreted as our nearing closer to the truth behind who murdered Ann Nash and Natalie Keene. Simple, obvious exterior.
However, what we are seeing here in the fifth episode, if you’re paying close attention, is really how each of the story’s characters begin to move closer to one another, emotionally and physically. What I’m really enjoying at this point in Sharp Objects is the show’s ability to stray from the novel (yes, this episode was entirely new material) without taking away from the original story line. Closer, to me, provided more detail and interaction between the characters that I believe Gillian Flynn’s novel could have improved on. Vince Calandra, writer of Closer, did a truly great job incorporating more detail to this already established story. These interactions are extremely important to what I believe Sharp Objects’ overall meaning to be in the first place, so I am very content with the addition of these scenes.
“Like mother, like daughter.”
Before we delve into Camille, Adora, and Amma, I find it necessary to address how close the town is becoming to… itself. Jackie O’Neill and the other hens passive-aggressively shun Adora, and aside from Willis, remain blind to Bob Nash’s public drinking. Everyone turns on John Keene & Katie Lacey and her junior hens berate Camille’s reporting. Vickery refuses help and suggestions at all cost still insisting the murderer is someone from out of town. They all literally gather together to celebrate their own town and its wretched history in the name of respect for one another, past and present. You can see how much closer they’re all becoming at a single conflict brought on by native blood and native thought as the result of the murders. Camille titles her latest article “Wind Gap Protects Its Own” for a reason. I found it humorous that the townspeople turn on the outsider, the strong-willed women, yet plan an entire day around celebrating one. Like I said, hypocrites.
Wind Gap is a borderline groupthink experiment gone way south, if you catch my drift. Perhaps Closer is hinting at how detrimental that particular relationship can be. Camille’s relationships, the ones she never believed she’d have upon arrival back home, are not only beginning to evolve, but progressively consuming her. As much as Camille wants to put Wind Gap in the rear view, she stays for Amma. She even puts on a dress and shows up for Calhoun Day, much to every hesitating nerve in her body. This is another prime example of how she is becoming closer to her roots, to her hometown. She borrows Amma’s play dress, literally wearing the town’s history while she participates in the festivities she loathes so much.
Her protection over Amma and the soft spot that’s growing for her is beginning to drive her decisions, and is seemingly a fondness reciprocated by Amma as well. By now, it’s obvious Amma has the adoration a younger sister has of her elder and continuously resorts to acting out when she is unable to keep her attention. You can see the resentful way she watched Camille paying more attention to Willis during her play and the subsequent dramatics she pulled by disappearing to the hunting shed. She reacts the same way to Adora’s neglect. Have you noticed the similarities between this behavior and that of Adora getting physically ‘hurt’ each time a confrontation with one of her daughters is not going as she pleases? Like mother, like daughter.
Whether or not Camille is becoming too close emotionally to those around her, she certainly grew close to another, physically, in this episode. Adora asks her to join her on the veranda for an evening drink where they discuss Willis and how Camille could possibly get close to him, given the appearance of the scars on her body. Although Camille puts on the front that she won’t let herself gets close, its not how she is, Adora, again feels the need to blurt out the unbearable. From the moment she tells her oldest daughter she never loved her, that she is like her absent father in terms of how she handles herself and her relationships, a switch turns off (or on) in Camille. She immediately retreats to Willis‘ hotel finally giving us the hot, carnally explicit sex scene between the two that we’ve been waiting for. Is it an act of retaliation against what Adora said or is it her need to be physically close to someone, preferably the handsome, empathetic detective? My money is on retaliation.
Like mother, like daughters. Can you see it all now?
As it turns out, Camille is learning that you can go home again. In this episode, home won’t be in the rear view mirror for her, but rather lurking in the side view ones, always a lot more closer than it appears. Our fruit has fallen, and not far from the tree. Next Sunday, we’ll be biting into the tart pulp of Sharp Objects’ sixth episode, Cherry, on HBO.
Beware the pit inside.