HBO’s Sharp Objects
Episode 4: “Ripe”
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
Written by Vince Calandra Jr.
* For a recap & review of Episode 3, “Fix” – click here
* For a recap & review of Episode 5, “Closer” – click here
The bad memories aren’t ever going to leave Camille Preaker (Amy Adams) permanently. They’ll never truly go away. Such is the nature of trauma. So, she does her best to keep going through her days. But she’s not unlike a lot of others right there in Wind Gap. Whether it’s Det. Richard Willis (Chris Messina) constantly drowning in the case, torturing himself with the details, or Chief Vickery (Matt Craven), whose faith is constantly being questioned by the nature of evil deeds.
Although Camille’s got to deal with her old home, her mother Adora Crellin (Patricia Clarkson) blaming her for every last thing possible. We do see how stepfather Alan (Henry Czerny) has always tried being on her side, as much as was possible. Still not enough to alleviate the damage caused by her mother, though. Now there’s Amma (Eliza Scanlen) in the mix, causing further psychological troubles for her older sister. Likely every time Camille looks at her she thinks of her long dead sister Marian.
Wind Gap as a whole is a pit of memory. It’s a decaying town, crumbling at the edges. Chief Vickery’s perpetually concerned with the stop sign outside the station, noticing a new bullet hole after he’s just recently repaired the thing. Just like he’s concerned with the maniac killing girls in their town, pulling out their teeth. But every place seems to hold lingering ghosts of a time before. It’s also a typical small town filled to the brim with gossip. Some of which is already affecting young John Keene (Taylor John Smith) – labelled a killer online by kids at school, deemed to be from “one strange family,” followed by the cops – to the point he loses his job at the farm. Then there’s Bob Nash (Will Chase), called a “hot mess” by the local ladies, speculated to be not quite right, either.
“Call it intuition”
“In Wind Gap we call that something else”
We see Amma has a bit of a relationship with her teacher, Kirk Lacey (Jackson Hurst). She’s drawn to him, and he may or may not be drawn to her. She reaches out to him because he seems depressed, even touching his hand. Although he withdraws from her her touch, there’s something unsettling going on. Not sure if it’s solely from Amma, or from them both.
Poor John has to not only take care of himself, he goes home to a mother, Jeannie (Jennifer Aspen), who’s drowning the sorrows of her girl’s murder with plenty of alcohol. He also sees the tarantula’s disappeared from his sister’s room— the one Camille let out impulsively at the wake.
Checking out local crime scenes, Camille shows Dt. Willis a place where a girl died. She also talks more about Wind Gap, how girls are given horrible labels if they don’t “conform to the rules of engagement” as laid down by patriarchal society, particularly a rural one, at that. Camille shows the detective more places where nasty things occurred to young girls at the hands of high school boys. She refuses to give up too much of her own personal experiences in those woods. We know there’s a brutal history there, we just haven’t encountered it yet except in brief flashes.
Later, Camille takes Willis to that familiar shack, the one plastered with pictures of pornography from magazines. Clearly this is the place where something horrific happened to young Camille (Sophia Lillis). Not only that, it connects the two dead girls, who used to play in and around the shack.
“Some people would call that rape, you know?”
“Some people’ll call that consensual, you know?”
When Camille gets home at night, she gets a long, drunk speech from Adora about the disappointment in her behaviour, from the time she was a baby up to adulthood. There’s a lot of resentment, anger, hostility, and passive-aggressiveness between these two women. Adora has so much contempt for her own daughter it’s astounding. She probably never should’ve been a mother.
John’s girlfriend Ashley (Madison Davenport) finds something strange after he leaves the house. Is it a stain? She scrubs the carpet under the bed vigorously, then scrubs her arms clean, too. She looks utterly horrified by whatever it is she stumbled upon. And her man doesn’t realise she’s found it.
He’s out at a bar, where he sits down with Camille for a drink. He looks for comfort about losing his sister. She can’t give him any, though she doesn’t lie about how tough it is to endure. They get around to talking about “spiders“— Natalie liked them. John also talks about how Natalie got violent once in school, sticking a pencil in a girl’s eye. He goes on to talk about Natalie and Ann Nash, how others used to see his sister, how the girls were “weirdos” around town. Then he goes on to reveal Amma was close with the two dead girls, which puts her in direct danger.
This sends Camille off home fast, worried her sister could be next to go missing. She can’t find her, so she goes looking around town, scared of finding another body in an alleyway. Amma’s busy out with her friends, rollerskating on a dark road. At the same time, Alan is home playing with his gun. So much danger, everywhere.
Wow. The end of this episode had me in so much suspense! Crazy, I love it. Really dig how the pacing in the series has held up from the very first episode. “Closer” is next time.