Where last week’s episode of the HBO miniseries Sharp Objects brought us Closer to the truth, the sixth episode, Cherry, begins the process of pulling the ingredients together, heating them up, and serving us a bitter, forbidden taste of what’s to become of this murder mystery’s third act.

 

Sharp Objects Recap: Episode 6

Cherry opens with Camille waking up next to Willis in his hotel room following their previous intimate interaction, even giving us a gratuitous shot or two of Willis in all of his gloriously naked… plumpness. Camille arrives home shortly after and begins picking on a leftover (also gratuitous) cherry pie. The sight of the dessert’s round red insides reminds Camille of her old cheerleading uniform. In the memory, Marian watches in adoration, exclaiming how she looks just like a cherry you want to take a bite out, while Adora looks on as if she wants to quite literally take that bite. Back in reality, Amma has recovered from her hunting shed trauma, even joking about her cuts and scrapes being like Camille’s, much to her mortification.

Willis sees Jackie “paying her respects” by cleaning up the dead girls’ memorials. As she does with her drunken riddles, she lets him know he’s getting warmer and its “not because it’s hotter than a whore in church” outside. Halted from further investigating, he receives the call of a bicycle found in the town lake by one of Adora’s workers over at Preaker Farms. Low and behold, it belongs to Ann, bringing up bad memories for her father Bob all over again. Adora consoles him, enjoying her role as The-Shoulder-To-Cry-On, while Vickery calls for the work records of all employees past and present.

 

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Amma and her leggy ‘Lolita’ clan lay poolside, Amma enjoying a pastime of her own: taunting, while simultaneously tempting, John Keene. Instead of pulling a Brad Hamilton, John is more verbally aggressive and threatening than we expected. He tells Amma that he has an eye on her and that it will be her day soon. Could John know something we don’t know or is he the secret menace the town fears?

Ashley arrives in horrific hostess fashion, answering Camille’s questions for the next article with rehearsed responses as if Katie Couric sat across from her with a camera crew. When Camille calls her out on her acting, Ashley claims she wants to protect John, not because he did it but because it would make him “popular”. This particular response and her pitifully earnest yearning for the spotlight, although honest, is shallow and pathetic. Her exploitation of a guy clearly hurt by the brutal death of his young sister is a nauseous act even for a callous, attention seeking teen like Ashley. This scene had me looking for the closest trash can. Ashley’s character makes me want to hurl.

 

Her perfectly pressed cheerleading uniform gives Camille another flashback to her days on the squad. Specifically, of blood running down her leg and the other girls teasing her a-la Carrie. What initially appears to be blood from her period, is in fact blood from her carving the word ‘Cherry’ into her thigh. It throws her off, but not enough to ignore a scabbed bite mark on Ashley’s ear.

 

“…birthing children is what women were made for. Girl power, right?”

 

After being scooped, Camille is angry that Adora did not let her know about the bike on Preaker Farms property. After a routine confrontation, Adora states she’s over-stayed her welcome to the shell of-a-man that is her husband. Eager to please her, Adora faintly asks him to explicitly let Camille know her time has run out. It is the purest, most straightforward form of manipulation. Alan tells Camille she is making Adora ill by being there. He compares her to Adora’s own mother (ironically named Joy) who was jealous of anyone else’s well being. He describes her as a witch who stood over the house and would pinch Adora in her sleep, afraid she’d die unconscious in bed, but in reality she just liked to hurt people.

Obviously needing to go anywhere but the Crellin home, Camille gets together with the junior hens over at Katie Lacey’s Pottery Barn inspired home. While the ladies women bawl over a chick-flick and menial problems like having to go back to work and their husbands not wanting more than four children kids, Camille bonds with Eileen, another semi-outsider. The discussions between Katie and the others is mind-numbing hell as it ranges from what their interpretation of feminism is (shocker, it’s nothing close to an accurate understanding of the word), how Camille can’t feel the same pain they feel over the deaths of Ann and Natalie since she does not have kids of her own, how motherhood defined them as people, and that birthing children is what women were made for. Girl power, right? Where was the nearest trash can again?

 

 

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Mr. Lacey corners Camille attempting to apologize for what happened in the woods when they were younger. He seems sincere enough, explaining that it still haunts him, but Camille’s witty and biting comeback comes off indifferent and bitter as anyone in her shoes would be. Meanwhile, Willis and Jackie reunite at the local bar where she warns him to not believe everything he hears in Wind Gap. Jackie coos on about Camille being a special girl, but never the same after Marian’s death. Willis does make it a point to remind Jackie that Camille left rehab pretty quickly after her roommate died from drinking bleach.

Amma literally rolls up to the gas station as Camille is buying more booze and cigarettes. She convinces Camille to let her friends give her a ride home….while drinking and driving, high on Oxycontin. Camille gives into Amma’s peer pressure and joins the party. Sometimes, you just cant resist.

 

They stop by a party, one John and Ashley show up to as well, but it’s not long before Amma is picking a fight. Before Amma humiliates them out the door, Ashley confronts Camille about her reporting. Not having any of it, she fires back at Ashley with questions about the bite on her ear. She asks if it was Natalie that bit her, but Ashley suggests she talk to Adora if she wants to know more about Natalie.

 

“…one must be mean or hurt others to be loved. Similar to biting into the sweet flesh of a cherry and clamping your teeth hard on the pit inside.”

 

After a salacious game of Pass the X, Amma and Camille leave the party together tripping all the way home in another beautiful montage lit by red hues in the dark of the road. Camille and Amma glide through the night on roller skates, Amma following Camille like a shadow and a ghost. Back on Crellin territory, Amma tells Camille that she can’t wait to leave town and acts out mostly from boredom. She wants to leave with Camille, but that is clearly not an option. Amma monologues about how boys are easy, you just allow them to “do things” to you. When you let them you’re the one that actually has the control. She goes on the notion that it is safer to be feared then loved, how one must be mean or hurt others to be loved. Similar to biting into the sweet flesh of a cherry and clamping your teeth hard on the pit inside.

They spin together on the lawn, as they are both spinning out of control in life, and both wind up losing their feet and falling to the ground. Amma pleads for Camille to sleep with her and when Camille refuses, she begins running toward the house to throw a tantrum. Camille has no choice but to oblige. The two sneaking inside mirrors Camille and Marian’s history of sneaking home. We catch a glimpse of Adora waiting in her silk white nightgown at the bottom of the stairway, something so subtle and horrifying I nearly lost my breath. Patricia Clarkson proves to be petrifying at times, but always an absolute vision.

 

 

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Amma asks Camille if she feels like bad things are going to happen to her while caressing the scars on her back. Adora peeks in, displeased with the two developing a relationship, but disappears quietly. Camille suddenly catches a severely realistic reflection of Marian in the mirror as she warns her older sister it’s not safe for her in Wind Gap. That, too, was horrifying.

Its these random, unexpected apparitions that hit viewers hard and quick shooting Sharp Objects into the vein of horror. Though the events are slow to develop, Sharp Objects continues to flow smoothly with heavy, dark subject matter and terrifying attacks of imagery through Camille’s eyes and within her head.

 

 

Analysis

 

 

 

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This episode was full of so many symbolic allusions and metaphors you could practically cut a slice out of Cherry and watch them ooze from beneath the crust. Sharp Objects is saturated in female driven subject matter, focusing on our flaws, our strengths, our reactions, and our relationships. This particular episode had two major thematic elements that I found to be interesting topics. What makes a woman, a woman and what does Cherry really mean?

I know Georgia is not exactly the same as Missouri, but I couldn’t help but wonder why Wind Gap resembled the historic downtown environment surrounding me. As I waited through all of the closing credits during this episode I realized that it’s actually filmed in Georgia. Who knew? It makes a lot of sense in retrospect, unfortunately.

 

As much as I’d like to tell you that conversations like Camille’s painful experience enduring the junior hens don’t take place, I can assure you that they do. Smaller towns breed smaller minds. Southern states fly high on organized religion, with etiquette and tradition passed down first-hand. All of these nuances indicate a higher standard to which all are held, a standard set specifically by the town inhabitants. The hen’s ideals on motherhood and a female purpose needled me in a frustratingly familiar way. It was almost unbearable to listen to.

Imagine nearing 30-years old, being single and unable to plan for children of your in a societal culture that believes a woman’s sole purpose is to do the exact opposite. Most days it’s not too hard to identify with Camille. At a time where women should feel the most empowered, it’s important to know there are still parts of the world that strive to drive the gender backward.

 

“Anyone that differs from the nuclear family structure will be treated like the serpent that tempted man’s wife with tainted pleasantries.”

 

Feminism seems to draw a very odd shape in Wind Gap, with the women damning everyone with a flaw or less than ordinary trait. What we see here in Cherry is that the women themselves are not only embracing the roles of wife and mother that the men herd them into, but they are at the helm of creation. Anyone different just wouldn’t understand. Bless their hearts, right? 

Religion plays its own role as a malleable veil justifying this indignant thought process with Adam and Eve at the forefront laying down the law of the land for anyone to come after. Anyone that differs from the nuclear family structure will be treated like the serpent that tempted man’s wife with tainted pleasantries.

Speaking of forbidden fruit…I was, of course, well aware of this week’s episode title, Cherry, prior to viewing. I’ve always tried to brace myself for the meaning within each episode ahead of time, but Cherry was a theme the show, and the universe, threw at me with tremendous force. All too recently I found myself in a casual, yet very coincidental and very relevant conversation, regarding the petite red fruit and what it means in regards to girls and women alike.

A very lovely friend of mine has a wonderful and cautious mother who wouldn’t allow her to wear anything with a cherry on it. Being children of the 90’s and the new millennium, I’m sure most of my female readers can remember how many tops, dresses, jeans, skirts, jackets, etc. had a double stemmed cherry decal or patch proudly displayed on it. I can still remember the double stemmed cherry sticker I had stuck in my (Catholic) school locker through middle school. It was one of those ‘cool’ symbols like the ying-yang or the peace sign. However, the double stemmed cherry was a bit more special. This was more of an adult symbol, was it not? A cherry is generally more sexually oriented when we think about it. It’s a naughty fruit, seductive even.

 

 

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What my friends and I shortly discussed, and what Sharp Objects answered for me this week is, what makes such a simple fruit, the cherry, so provocative and devious in nature? The fruit and its vibrant color was extremely dominant right from the start with Camille picking over a Calhoun Day pie. Everything from her red cheerleading uniform to the shocking drip of blood flowing down her pubescent leg to the effective use of lighting throughout the episode circled around this forbidden fruit

Surely most of us might associate a cherry or cherry pie with a sexual act thanks to Warrant and the drop-dead gorgeous Bobbie Brown, but nature’s treat has a much deeper meaning. This small fruit has a soft, sweet exterior and a rock-hard, pointed stone pit on the inside. It’s a disastrous surprise that can break the tooth of anyone careless enough to take a whole bite. Its devilishly red color offers much attribute to the fruit’s social symbolism as the hue is commonly used to paint evil, lust, love, hunger, alarm, and anger into any image or scene. It’s a call to attention that cannot be ignored, thus giving any acutely aware mother a reason to deny her young daughter the option of displaying it across her chest. A pitted fruit hints at an unknown core, giving it mystery. And mystery is always deemed sexy.

 

“Like most of Sharp Object’s prominent female characters, their beautiful, sweet exterior hides a much firmer, surprisingly dark inside.”

 

Like most of Sharp Object’s prominent female characters, their beautiful, sweet exterior hides a much firmer, surprisingly dark inside. They are themselves the cherries hidden beneath Wind Gap’s thin, flaking pie crust. They are the warm center. The source of lust and love and anger with an initially sugary flavor that leaves a bitter aftertaste.

Who will be the final victim of Wind Gap as our journey through the town and its secrets reaches a conclusion? Will it be Camille, fooled by Amma’s emotional invasion? How far back can Alan bend for Adora? Is John Keene a sensitive target or a cold-blooded murderer? Is Willis looking in the right direction or is the answer right beneath his nose?

 

This story has its own hardened pit buried deep inside just waiting to unexpectedly shatter an innocent bite. One thing I know for certain: We the audience will be the low hanging fruit in the end. Next Sunday we begin the final act of HBO’s Sharp Objects with episode seven, Falling.

 

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