By JASON MARTIN (July 22, 2018)
It’s almost become a broken record to discuss Sharp Objects in the context of the disastrous and deplorable human beings that inhabit its world, but alas that’s basically what this series is. The murders weren’t remotely the focus tonight, as instead we spent most of our time being beaten across the face with what a horrendous person Amma is…only perhaps trumped by her mother, Adora.
Somehow, the one that uses a bolt from a rehab toilet to try and commit suicide isn’t the most screwed up woman on this show, and in fact Camille Preaker isn’t even second on the list. Amy Adams has owned the role and will own an Emmy, but let’s give some props to just how weird, creepy, and just gross Eliza Scanlen continues to be as her baby stepsister. The lollipop move with Camille’s hair was just one instance to keep us in the loop on not just how immature, but just how “mean girl” Amma actually is, even though she’s also oddly drawn to Camille’s worst qualities.
Patricia Clarkson’s Adora is great also in terms of a performance, but she gets demerits from me because the character is so unlikable as to be painful to watch for more than a few seconds. She makes me want to harm her. That’s great acting and a compelling role, but it’s infuriating. Not as frustrating for me as I’m sure it is for Howard and the lack of intimacy in that relationship. “I’m sure that won’t be necessary” was cold blooded, but there’s no warmth to be found in that woman or in that house in general.
Richard may want to solve the case, but he also might want to become a star for being the brains that gets to the bottom of something that could turn out to be a serial and not, as Chief Vickery believes, a random trucker and possibly a Mexican. Again, Wind Gap is awful. It’s a small town where everybody talks and the competition is to determine who is the most hopeless and loathsome. Speaking of which, let’s talk about Ashley Wheeler, who treats John Nash as if he is at her beck and call, and also doesn’t seem to grasp how much he loved his sister. Her response when he mentions how he wishes he never lived in Wind Gap was ultimately telling.
“You don’t mean that. We never would have gotten together.” Yes Ash, it’s about you. It’s not about Natalie Keene, who was merely “such a tomboy.” And, can we just mention the cheerleading outfit she’s wearing while school is out merely because sometimes she just “gets to feeling spirited?” What the hell? Once I saw that, I immediately took note of something new about this series, which is laying out its story very slowly, to the point I will bet some people are starting to look at their watches.
After the cheerleading outfit, it became readily apparent that we are supposed to give the crook eye to everybody on the show and believe them all to be askew enough as people to potentially be the killer. There’s an uneasiness to everybody and with the self absorption of each, you could frame a story to make them the culprit. That’s the point here. I have no doubt about it, even though I haven’t read a page of Gillian Flynn’s novel and don’t know the ending. But look at every single character we’ve met, even ones we’ve seen for less than 30 total screen seconds.
They’re all jerks. They’re all selfish. They’re all mean. They’re all out of touch with reality. And that INCLUDES CHIEF VICKERY and yes, it even includes Richard.
What we did get tonight was an explanation for Camille’s musical escapes, which came from a young teen named Alice she met in the recent past when both were in rehabilitation for self harm and mental issues. The two roommates became friends and confidantes, and Preaker, who had never much cared for music, found a new love of it through Alice and the nurse’s iPod. Led Zeppelin’s “Thank You” plays as they split a pair of ear buds and we see her listening to it in our present in her Volvo and remembering Alice. The way the flashbacks were laid out made it sadly obvious how the episode would end.
Alice swallowed a lot of Drano and cut herself enough to die, and Camille walked in to find it. Her memories were triggered by a bathroom toilet, which led to the incident I mentioned at the top of this review, as well as a vase of roses. The music reminded her so much of Alice that the very last thing we see in the episode, just after the vision of the girl in white on the road, is Camille tossing her iPod from her car window. Notice she slams on the brakes and sees the “ghost” with a road sign next to her that reads “St. Louis 90.” Are we to think she was headed home and done with the assignment after running into Amma while sitting with Richard downtown?
Or, did she leave because Adora is such a repulsive person. The scene where she bursts in, scolds her adult daughter in the middle of an interview with Bob Nash, demands she leave, and then blames her for cutting her hand on the rose bush was more heinous than usual. The mother here has no love in her heart at all, for anybody, and if she cares about anything, it’s merely appearances. Actually, there’s another thing she cares about.
Control. By whatever means necessary.
Mental torture might be one of those means, even if it’s more just treatment than anything more sinister. But, here again, if Adora turned out to be the killer, it would be just as believable as anybody else. The Alice story, predictable as it was, worked, and it was the highlight of the episode. The flirtations between Camille and Richard are just as predictable, and will continue and heighten, but as of right now, they’re falling pretty flat. It just seems impossible to feel chemistry between any two people on this show, even Adams and Messina.
Another emotional episode with an ending that made me want to turn from the screen, and we have five more installments remaining. Next week, I need more on the CASE. These people are all terrible. That much I get. The series has made that perfectly clear. I’m intrigued by the murders, and I’m growing a little tired of the deep dive into a bunch of self-centered scumbags without any development on Natalie and Ann’s killer.
Sharp Objects remains hard to watch. It’s quality, but I can guarantee you once we’re done with it next month, it won’t be on a rewatch list. It’s a one and done, but hopefully the story will begin to focus away from Adora and at least balance 50/50 between the reason Camille is in Wind Gap and Wind Gap itself.