This is a recap for the fourth episode of Sharp Objects, which means there are SPOILERS ahead. If you haven’t seen the episode and don’t want to know what happened, come back once you’ve seen it. You've been warned. A recap of last week's episode can be found here.
Oh man. I am so distraught over this episode. In a way, what it implies at the end about Amma seems almost inevitable. But I am taking heart in the fact that, as we established earlier, Camille is an unreliable narrator.
But first, lots of exposition. It’s early morning, and Camille is at the side of the road looking for Alice’s iPhone that she threw out the window at the end of last episode. It’s always one step forward, two steps back with her, isn’t it? All of this trying to outrun the past with self-medicating and self-harm, instead of confronting it and trying to actually move forward. Of course she goes back for the iPhone. Of course she’s going to be listening to Alice’s music as she spirals.
And it does seem like she’s spiraling. The flashbacks are fast and furious this episode, and her mind is jolting from one trauma (her sister’s death) to another (visions of dead Natalie) to another (cutting), all throughout the course of something as simple as a drive home.
This episode is unique among what we’ve seen so far for many reasons, but one of the first is how we get a glimpse of the home lives of characters that were, until now, peripheral. For instance, we see that Chief Vickery’s wife makes him breakfast every morning and packs him a lunch. We see Adora waking up alone in her bedroom and throwing open the windows. It’s a scene that causes Camille to flashback to being a teenager and seeing her mom crying on her sister’s bed. Teen Camille goes downstairs to find that Alan has surprised her with a birthday cake which she rebuffs, leaving Alan looking sad. He’s trying, Camille! (Also, I know we’re supposed to feel for him, but Alan is kind of creepy, right?)
Amma apologizes for being a jerk to Camille the previous night, which seems heartfelt. “Sometimes when I show off in front of my friends I get carried away,” she whispers. “I don’t feel like fighting with you,” Camille replies. Amma and her friends sneak off to smoke a joint.
Adora declines to go to a lunch because of the cut on her hand. It’s the minor cut from the rose bush, but she’s really hamming it up, huh? Is this to make Camille feel like shit? I feel like the answer is yes. Camille goes to the lunch, full of women her mother’s age, including Jackie. Excuse me, but why is Elizabeth Perkins not in every scene of this show? The people demand more Elizabeth Perkins!
Also present is Beth Broderick, aka Aunt Zelda from the ‘90s Sabrina the Teenage Witch! I love her! They’re talking about a celebration called Calhoun Day, some big festival that Adora gets amped for every year. Camille wonders aloud whether it’s a good idea to have a big, town-wide party with a killer on the loose. They’re also excited to chat about who the killer is, and is anyone else weirded out that “Who Murdered These Girls?” is Wind Gap’s favorite party game? This round, it’s the usual suspects: Jackie is absolutely convinced it’s Bob Nash, the father of the first murdered girl, Anne. Aunt Zelda thinks it’s John Keene, but Camille comes out in his defense. “He seems a little sweet,” she says. “Too sweet,” answers Aunt Z.
Elsewhere in town, another confrontation between Sheriff Vickery and Detective Richard goes on. Richard is annoyed that Vickery is following John Keene, Natalie’s brother, and reveals he’s going to let Camille interview him.
In the vein of learning things about peripheral characters, we also get a flash to John Keene losing his job, to his dismay.
Finally, to the weirdness. Amma and her school friends are practicing some kind of reenactment for Calhoun Day. She jokingly reinvents the story to be about a fictional all-female militia. Her teacher, Mr. Lacey—the same guy who stormed out of the bar when Camille’s old classmates sent her drinks—walks out of the room. Amma goes after him and they talk about history, and then she grabs both of his hands. “Don’t be sad, Mr. Lacey,” she coos. He looks at her and then storms off.
Um, what. Has Amma had a physical relationship with her teacher? Who is this guy? How does he know Camille? So many questions, damn you Sharp Objects!
Another John Keene glimpse, this time at his family home. He's taking care of his passed-out mom by cooking for her and running her a shower (last week we learned she’s been self-medicating).
Back at the house, there’s a pang of jealousy over Camille’s face as she catches Amma and Adora dancing together, and it flashes her back to being a teenager and getting told to leave her mom’s room because Adora “isn’t well.” Adora’s chronic illness—or unavailability in Camille’s life—is a big theme in this episode.
She and Richard to tour crime scenes in the woods. He calls it a date, and Camille rebuffs him: He’s agreed to answer a question for every crime scene from the town’s history she shows him. The first is near a river, where two young women in love are found slashed to death in either a murder or a suicide. One of them, Camille tells him, had a baby who went to school with Camille, a girl named Faith Murray. “Faith had sex with a bunch of boys to prove that she wasn’t a lesbian like her mother,” says Camille, and she remarks that she was made to suffer for the sins of her mother. “See, in Wind Gap, every woman gets a nasty label if they don’t conform to the rules of engagement.” He asks what her label is, and she laughs. “Too many to name.”
The next crime scene she shows him is a clearing in the forest nicknamed the End Zone, where the football team have sex with that week’s cheerleader. “In some places we call that rape,” says Richard. “In some places we call that consensual,” replies Camille, who goes on to hint that she may have been one of the girls. But if it were as consensual as she claims, why would she show it on a crime scene tour? Her question for Richard is whether a tire print he pulled from the crime scene was a match to Bob Nash’s, and he admits that it wasn’t. “That kind of blows up my ‘Bob Nash killed Natalie Keene in revenge for Anne’ theory,” she says. She tells him she thinks that there were two killers, because the murder styles were so different—even the way Natalie’s body was displayed in the town center for everyone to see, “like a big, ‘Fuck you, look what I can do,’” says Camille. She says she liked Bob Nash for the murder because of how women in town viewed him as a pervert. Richard says that the fact that Natalie’s teeth were pulled was equivalent to rape in the mind of the murderer, “a symbol of power for someone who feels powerless.”
Camille takes him to the creepy shack we’ve seen her think about before, and Richard admits that he knew about it. “Anne and Natalie used to play here,” he reveals. So did Camille. She asks him whether the girls knew their killer. “I’m certain of it,” he said. “This shed. It’s not coincidence that the only two girls killed in this town used to play here.” He thinks the killer tracked them there. He asks if something had happened to her in that shed. “Good instincts,” she says. He tries to kiss her and she pulls away, unbuttons her pants, and puts his hand down them. It’s a weird, anti-intimate moment in front of the shed she masturbated to in the first episode.
Meanwhile, Vickery pays Adora a visit at home. Their chemistry is intense. Did they bang? I feel like they banged. He wants her to cancel Calhoun Day, and she threatens to remove him as Chief in a very sugary way. It’s actually pretty badass. Then he changes the subject to her daughters. “One of them is dangerous and the other one is in danger,” he tells her. This is a nice little wink to viewers, who know in a way Adora doesn’t that this statement has two meanings. Women in Wind Gap! They’re complicated, and especially when it comes to Amma and Camille, they don’t fit neatly into the boxes laid out for them.
Richard drives Camille home and they run into Vickery leaving the house. Now Camille kisses Richard. I am very into their relationship. “I’m an unconventional girl, that’s what you like about me,” Camille deadpans. As they make out, Camille flashes back to her time in the End Zone. She was indeed one of the cheerleaders.
Camille runs into Adora in the living room, and Adora starts chewing her out for her willful nature and her unceremonious return to Wind Gap. “When I was expecting with you, I thought you’d save me, I thought you’d love me, and I thought my own mother would love me,” says Adora. It’s one of the more revealing moments we’ve gotten of Adora. There’s something sort of beautiful about this show’s portrayal of the way trauma passes from generation to generation through the X chromosome.
Back in John Keene’s room, he storms out mid-sex act with Ashley (who offers to go further, which he ignores). While she’s on the floor, she gasps at the sight of a blood stain on the carpet. She bleaches it, a look of horror on her face, and then repeatedly soaps up her arms. Uh oh, John Keene. I know what we’re supposed to assume that is, but is it really what it looks like?
And speaking of powerless people we can’t trust, Alan tries to sleep with Adora again and she waves him off again. He mildly lashes out: “You know, I lost a daughter, too,” he says. “I don’t think you’ve ever stopped to consider that. Marian was taken from me too, and I would just like to see some appreciation for how I have borne that.” Wow, Alan. You really know how to put a girl in the mood.
He implies that Adora and Vickery banged (called it), and Adora says it’s Camille’s fault they're even having that conversation, which….what? Does Adora think Camille is a voodoo doll or something? “Not everything is the girl’s fault, and you know it,” Alan says quite reasonably. Adora asks why he’s trying to hurt her and then he says something extra creepy: “Hurt? You have a very peculiar idea of the word hurt, dear.” And then he walks out.
Vickery pays Jackie a visit (yay, Jackie!) and honestly? He looks kind of hot. Is that weird? Is Vickery kind of sexy in a sort of good ol’ boy way? Anyway, he’s looking for answers about Camille, who he thinks is hiding something. Jackie sighs and tells him she doesn’t know what he’s talking about (you get the sense she does). Way to fixate, Vickery. But like, doesn’t he have a murderer or two to be chasing? This is a bad use of Wind Gap taxpayer money.
Camille runs into John Keene at the bar who tells her that her mom is the reason he got fired from his job at the hog farm. He says he didn’t like working there anyway. “Pigs are smart, you know? They know what’s happening to them.”
Gee, do you think maybe pigs could be a metaphor for something? (Eye-roll emoji. This writing is sloppy. Love you though, Sharp Objects.)
We also find out that Natalie gouged a girl’s eye out with a pencil back in Philadelphia, something John has never told anyone but decides to tell a reporter. She agrees not to print it. We also find out that Bob Nash called Natalie “the devil child,” and thinks Natalie corrupted Anne, but John says they were very similar. He also reveals that Amma was their third best friend, which is new information. “The three would always go and play in that creepy hunting shed.”
Music swells from Alan’s headphones as Camille rushes home. Despite the lateness of the hour, Amma is not in her bed. Camille drives around desperately looking for her, and the images flash wildly: Amma roller skating in the dark with her friends, a boy with a gun jokingly shooting at the sign next to the girls’ heads, Alan quietly entering Adora’s room and looking down at her as she stares up at him in confusion, Richard wandering the woods with a flashlight, Camille gazing down in horror as she discovers Amma’s dead body on the floor of the shed with blood coming out of her mouth, and back to Camille looking distraught. The last shot of the episode is Amma roller skating alone as a pair of headlights approach her.
- A lot happened, but the only thing we’re left with is that Camille found her sister’s body? Is she really dead or is this one of the superimposed nightmare visions that Camille is always having? It seemed very vivid, but the strange timeline of the last scene makes it so confusing. It could also be something that has yet to happen, or may never happen. Fun with timelines.
- I don’t really have anything left to say other than this show is getting really hard to watch. I’m nervous to tune in next week.
Cady Drell is a writer, editor, researcher and pet enthusiast from Brooklyn.
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