HBO’s Sharp Objects
Episode 3: “Fix”
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
Written by Alex Metcalf
* For a recap & review of Episode 2, “Dirt” – click here
* For a recap & review of Episode 4, “Ripe” – click here
Wind Gap is most certainly a backwater town, chasing pigs included. A very white town, to say the least. Camille (Amy Adams) is still trying to adjust to life at home, including keeping stepsister Amma (Eliza Scanlen) out of too much trouble. But there’s only so much young women in that town can do before they lash out from all the repression. All the while Camille’s just hoping her stepsister will have a better young life in that town than she did all those years ago.
We continue seeing more of Camille and her life recently, before she had to come home. She checked herself into a rehab centre, drunk with bleeding wrists and all. There, she saw a young girl called Alice (Sydney Sweeney), who also wound up being her roommate. After some initial turbulence they got along fairly well, at least due to similar mindsets about life.
More investigative work’s being done on the local murdered girls. Detective Willis (Chris Messina) has a more modern approach to killers, whereas Chief Vickery (Matt Craven) isn’t so progressive about a “crime of passion.” The town would rather keep there eyes on the Mexicans instead of listen to a big city dick like Willis. Lots of bullshit bureaucratic nonsense. Vickery just doesn’t want to be wrong.
Meanwhile, Camille’s trying to dig out more of the story on her own, getting mostly cold shoulders from the families and others. Natalie’s brother John (Taylor John Smith) won’t say much, though his girlfriend Ashley (Madison Davenport) offers to try getting him talking.
“You love dead girls”
In rehab, Camille bonded with Alice over their self harm, both cutters in their own right. They talk about not being able to wear certain clothes, out of worry that others would discover their self-destructive habits. The two women got to know one another well, discovering they had plenty in common. We see that Camille’s love of music came out of their bond. An interesting piece of her character, as she’s always listening to music nowadays. Clearly Alice meant something special to her. I wonder what happened to the young girl.
The story Camille published is already make a few waves. Not everyone’s pleased— rather, no one at all. Like so many small communities, Wind Gap is an insular little pocket of the South where people would rather forget than anything else. Camille gets talking more to Bob (Will Chase), the father of the initial murdered girl. The man is lost in his grief, pissed off at his daughter’s killer and the inept police department. He’s angry about being implicated as a suspect by some people. Also, he says he’d “put money” on the fact a man killed his daughter, not a boy. Then suddenly Adora (Patricia Clarkson) turns up, mad at her own daughter and making a scene. She was a tutor for Ann, too, she feels personally invested.
This brings out more of Camille and Adora’s fractured relationship, or their lack of a real relationship, anyway. Then it sends Camille out spying on her stepsister, seeing her down at Preaker Farms. She follows Amma until she sees her watching baby piglets, taking one of the pigs with a farmhand and leaving— not without a sly look. At home, Amma’s warned by her mother not to get too friendly with Camille: “You are not safe around her.”
Later on, Camille goes to Ashley’s place where she meets John. They talk about his sister Natalie. Things get intense when the reporter mentions Bob, his comments. There are many secrets bubbling under the surface of that town. Plenty of people hiding things. Ashley worries her boyfriend will be branded a “baby killer” for no good reason, whereas John simply misses his sister and longs to be in the city, where you can be an anonymous part of the crowd.
Everything’s blamed on Camille at home, her mother uses any excuse to hate her. A recurring theme throughout their lives together. Even getting a prick on the finger from the rose bushes is heaped on Camille as her responsibility. She thinks about her time in rehab with Alice, each of them years apart but so similar. She did everything possible to make the younger of the two feel a bit better, even if it was only tiny gestures. The parallels between past and present are easily identifiable. Camille so desperately wants to save another young woman – Alice, Amma, anyone – from the fate(s) that befell her in Wind Gap.
Dt. Willis and Camille get a bit closer when he asks for her help to show him around. He believes himself “a pariah” in that town. Nobody will give him a hand, even if it means closing a murder case, a likely serial killer. So, he reaches out for Camille to show him the truth about Wind Gap. That night, Willis and Camille run into Amma, who’s intent on talking shit to the both of them. Awkward and nasty.
Only serves to put Camille in a rough state of mind. She goes driving with only memories to keep her company. Such as when she and one of the nurses at the hospital found Alice on the floor of their room, dying and bloody after drinking a bottle of bleach. And right after they spent moments lying together in bed listening to music. Camille pulled a screw loose from the toilet while throwing up and tried ending her own life, too, before orderlies found her.
In the present, Camille has to live with all those dark memories, trying not to let them suck her down into a black hole. Every day is a struggle. Such is a life of managing mental illness, which many of us know on the daily.
This series is fantastic. So glad it’s been handled with care. Tonight’s episode was particularly gruesome in a couple scenes. Overall it’s done without being exploitative. This episode called for intense drama with a bit of explicit horror. Can’t wait for more. “Ripe” is next time.