HBO’s Sharp Objects
Episode 7: “Falling”
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
Written by Gillian Flynn & Scott Brown
* For a recap & review of Episode 6, “Cherry” – click here
* For a recap & review of Episode 8, “Milk” – click here
At her mother’s house, Camille Preaker(Amy Adams) looks at a model home, the exact replica of Adora’s (Patricia Clarkson) house. She sees inside, all the rooms. The lights are on. Then she wakes, to find Adora in her room. Mom helped her out of her clothes last night, after Camille and Amma (Eliza Scanlen) had a wild time together. Having mom care for her in bed is eerily reminiscent of childhood, like Camille can never be anything but a child in that place with Adora, who’s unwilling to let her children grow up without a struggle. Meanwhile, Amma only falls further into her mother’s clutches, playing the role her mother wants her to play.
Dt. Richard Willis (Chris Messina) is off, on information from Jackie O’Neill (ElizabethPerkins), searching for more information about her new flame. He’s looking to find out about Marian, the dead sister. A nurse suggests “Munchausen’s by proxy syndrome” killed the young girl— means maybe mama made her daughter ill. She could still be doing the same thing. The way she tries caring for Amma – only hungover – is very suggestive.
Simultaneously, Dt. Willis didn’t tell Camille about the fact John Keene (Taylor John Smith) is getting arrested today. Chief Bill Vickery (Matt Craven) is executing the search warrant. He’s playing to girlfriend Ashley’s (Madison Davenport) narcissism, telling her if she helps them find John she’d get her “name in the paper” and her “face on TV.” She also says her boyfriend wouldn’t have sex with her, feeding the cops and their suspicions.
“Your health is not a debt you just cancel. The body collects, Camille.”
Camille heads over to a house on the lower class end of Wind Gap. The door’s wide open, the place is full of people. Best of all, it functions as a bar, and she’s dying for a drink. It’s there she runs into John. The two share a bourbon. He isn’t doing well, contemplating either going into the woods and killing himself or just having a drink then turning himself in. The reporter know how it is for a man in Wind Gap: “Guys aren‘t allowed to have soft emotions.” She straight up asks if he’s been “killing little girls” and he gives her a bullshit story, the one everyone wants to hear. What’s most likely is, the young guy’s heart broken over his sister, nothing more. But, so goes “ugly gossip” in their town. Between Camille and John we see the wounds of Wind Gap covered up by alcoholism— anything to make the pain fade away.
We see Dt. Willis won’t let go of his suspicions. He’s finding out Amma has quite the extensive history at the hospital. Things as serious as a “g–tube” for abdominal issues, so that her mother could feed her directly to the gut. Yikes. It’s obvious, as time passes, Adora has serious mental problems. Her oldest daughter refused to let her mother doctor her to death. Her youngest daughter is stuck, unable to be “as good as someone dead” for Adora.
Back at the motel, Camille takes John with her to let him sleep off his drunk and, hopefully, not do anything stupid. All the while the cops are searching for him. In the room together, they get closer. John’s gotten a glimpse of her scars. She lets him remove her shirt, her pants. He’s the first person other than her mother and sister who’s seen them laid bare. He’s not horrified, he understands that level of hurt. He reads all the words on her skin like a book. Then, they get more intimate. It’s more beautiful than when she and Willis had sex in the dark. Yet she’s crossing an ethical line, given she knows he’s got an arrest warrant out on his head.
While Adora concocts some weird shit for Amma to drink, husband Alan (Henry Czerny) continues ignoring the clear mental illness of his wife, choosing to drink and listen to his vinyl records rather than protect his daughter, whom his wife is essentially killing. Adora’s only happy when she has a daughter to control, which is the reason Camille upsets her so much— she denies her mother sick purpose.
After sex, John mentions “the lost girls” of Wind Gap that Camille’s mother was invested in. Then Dt. Willis and Chief Vickery bust in to arrest him. An awkward moment. Richard isn’t happy to find Camille there. The two of them talk briefly, though she doesn’t owe him anything. Dt. Willis is simply another man fighting over what he believes is his territory. Not like he wasn’t going behind Camille’s back, digging into her personal history. He goes beyond too far by calling her “a drunk and a slut” and really passing over what happened to her years before as a girl as something not capable of destroying a whole life. What a scumbag. At least he leaves behind medical records for Camille to look over, from which she might dig up the truth.
This sends her to see Jackie, whose name is all over requests for information in the hospital records. Ms. O’Neill was looking for something. She was close to Adora for so many years, she probably saw things. Clearly she suspected nasty things. Camille’s then told her sister was cremated, even though there was a funeral. She’s mad Jackie “let it happen.” I bet more people let it happen, too. Camille runs out, upset by all she’s learning.
She calls her boss Frank Curry (Miguel Sandoval). He feels bad for sending her home, telling her to fly back immediately. She refuses, knowing her mother has a new victim. She sees visions of the fabled woman in white, now with the face of her mother, standing at the treeline, as if calling young girls away into the woods. Even Chief Vickery’s beginning to wonder about the “sick” girls at the Crellin home.
A chilling, subtle ending to this episode includes a cover of “The Willow Garden” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The songs have so well fitted the themes and plot of the show— this one’s no exception. Read the lyrics.
Sharp Objects is so perfectly adapted because the editing does so much of the storytelling, by diving into the past quickly with important imagery, telling us the tale of the history/histories in Wind Gap. I can’t rave enough about the style of the show. Amazing. “Milk” is our finale, and Father Gore, for one, cannot wait.