By JASON MARTIN (July 29, 2018)
Even though this episode had its share of moments I could easily have done without, it was also probably the best installment of Sharp Objects thus far, because we did in fact get somewhere in respect to the case. Wind Gap is officially the most screwed up tiny town in the country, and I’d prefer to end up stuck under a bridge for six weeks with no food than have to stop there for more than about 15 minutes.
“Ripe” ended with quite the finishing sequence, with Camille recognizing how much danger her half-sister was in after hearing John Keene mention that Amma kept Natalie and Ann from killing each other when they argued. Not only that, but it was actually all THREE of the girls that played in the creepiest shed anyone has ever seen, which is doubly alarming considering Richard’s contention that it’s not a coincidence that both the missing girls were known to spend time there. So, as evil and devious as Amma is, she’s also potentially next on the killer’s hit list.
Chief Vickery is not the guy. That much I can say with certitude. Unless Sharp Objects is willing to destroy its credibility the way the second season of Homeland did, it’s not him. What sold it was him going to Jackie’s house and trying to get an answer as to what exactly Adora was hiding about her family. That wasn’t a cover your butt move, that was legitimately trying to find a killer. That scene’s existence exonerates Bill Vickery, because if it turns out to be him and we were shown that, it’s total crap in terms of fair storytelling.
I’m willing to agree with Camille that John Keene is in the clear as well. It seems both Richard and his new girlfriend believe him, don’t think the funeral sobbing was an act, and don’t buy into the gossip narrative that says he’s too close to his sister and its strange. He appears to be someone that cared about his free-spirited, but troubled sis, who we found out once stuck a pencil through a classmate’s eye back in Philadelphia after the girl stole it from her. So, again, Wind Gap is filled with misery, will horrific past incidents, and with skeletons on top of skeletons in front of closets that appear to be inside a Hall of Mirrors at a funhouse.
Third, I’m PRETTY sure it’s not Richard Willis. I go back to the pig head in the sink, because in all truth, it turning out to be the guy that had his hand in special Camille places during this hour would make him a prime suspect. But again, we’re seeing too many instances where he’s actually investigating. However, we almost never see him asking any questions that get him anywhere. If it weren’t for the tooth extraction scene, I might think it was definitely him. He’s from out of town. He’s close to Camille. He’s a lone wolf. He’s not working with anybody, and he’s constantly trying to get answers about what other people know.
But, Gillian Flynn writes stories about macabre or unconventional female empowerment and women that break the mold. If Sharp Objects follows that pattern, it makes all the sense in the world for the mastermind behind all of this to be a woman. Vickery and Willis both think it required the strength of a man, EVERY single suspect people gossip about is male (minus the Woman in White urban legend), and it would fit the author’s modus operandi. So, if you ask me today, and it could change, I predict it’s a woman that either orchestrated it and manipulated a man into doing it, or it’s a woman that did it all.
And Adora is just so weird, that “you smell ripe” line was all kinds of wrong, and the relationship and puppeteering of Vickery all point to her wanting and loving power. That would call back to Richard’s statement that this whole thing, particularly the teeth being extracted, as equivalent to rape. “It’s about power for someone that feels powerless.” I’m not saying she did it. I’m saying she’s a monster. And if it turned out she was part of it, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised. She’s an atrocity.
Camille taking Willis through the crimes of the past in Wind Gap was hard to listen to, but it was good television in that we got a sense of just how messed up a place it is, and how it seemed that a lot of next level nastiness took place there. The shed is the shed. In many respects, it’s the single most important locale in the show, because it dates back to Camille’s own pains and probably much of what led to the self-injurious, alcoholic, no care for life person that she’s become. We see Alan and Gayla try to sing her Happy Birthday and she blows it off. The death of her sister, which ended ALL relationship between Camille and her mother, was the singular moment that permanently broke that family.
Henry Czerny did a solid job with Alan this week as he basically told Adora how much she hurts him and how he suffers in silence. She continued to play victim and he played piano to The Doors classic, “Riders on the Storm.” At the end of the episode, he appeared to have enough coldness and finally made a physical move towards intimacy with his wife. It was cut through with shots of Amma being followed and the very vague shot of her staring into approaching car lights that led to the fade to black.
Because of Camille’s tour and especially her bar conversation with John, this was the episode that brought the series from a lot of unlikable characters to the point where at the very least, we’re talking about the murders again. Amma may or may not be free next week. That ending was intentionally obtuse and threw so much at the audience it was tough to know exactly what was happening. It was well-directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who incidentally is at the helm of all eight episodes. It was shot and cut off-kilter and somewhat jagged to keep us off balance, confused, and trying to look for answers in the fog.
Just like the characters on screen. As it ended, we were just as unsure of what was taking place as Amma was when she turned and saw the lights and the car. Again, it’s still tough to watch and as many awards as it will win, nobody is better for having seen it, but this was undeniably the most interesting episode thus far. If we continue down this path, the series will take a major jump forward. The more we focus on the reason Camille is in Wind Gap and the less we focus on the social scene of Wind Gap, the better.
So, what about my theory? Do you think it’s a woman? Who do you think it is?
I’m @JMartZone on Twitter. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. History is history. You can’t change it. You just learn from it.