By JASON MARTIN (August 5, 2018)
It’s not that this week’s Sharp Objects was bad, but after a very promising and illuminating case-heavy fourth episode, this one felt like filler. The problem is in a limited series, where you have eight episodes, filler shouldn’t be a consideration. Things did happen during “Closer,” but once it was over, I was ready to move on from most, if not everything that happened in it. It also reiterated to me why we’d all be better off never seeing this show, just generally in life, even if it’s sometimes compelling.
With three episodes left, I can say this show will NOT make my year-end best of, with the exception of Amy Adams’ performance. The acting has been perfectly fine, often above average, but it’s become more of a showpiece for its lead than anything else. The story itself has taken too long to unfold, the content is sometimes almost impossible to watch, and despite what many of my colleagues have written about it, I’m simply not particularly high on it. The Sinner is better, Succession is better, and many other things provide me the entertainment Sharp Objects hasn’t at this stage.
We spent just about the entire episode on Calhoun Day, which celebrates a young girl who was willing to be raped and assaulted by a gang of union soldiers while tied to a tree to keep the secrets of the south. Yes, that’s a sentence I just wrote that explains the origin of the Wind Gap “holiday,” which just illustrates again why this place is comically awful. If you read me last year, you probably disagreed with portions of my take on Netflix’s Ozark, where my largest criticism was that it was so much more about the style and the salaciousness than it was substance that would last.
I’m starting to think IF Gillian Flynn’s source material matches what’s happening in the series, she might be in that Ozark territory as well. Although I enjoyed Gone Girl, I also felt it went way too far and lost itself in a desire to be shocking. Stuff like the Calhoun Day origin is a prime example of just that kind of eye roll for me as a critic. It doesn’t all have to be realistic, but if you’re going to make me hate everybody on the series, you’ve got to give me something to keep the gun out of my hand (or in this case, the remote).
Adora pushes Camille to her breaking point in the dress shop, leading her to spring open the dressing room door to reveal all the leftover scars from her history of self-harm. Amma had never seen it before, perhaps didn’t even know much about it, and she’s left stunned. The mother is sad, saying all of it was for spite, and that it’s a perfect way to describe Camille’s actual father, who later she tells us she never loved, because just like her troubled daughter, he never let anyone get close.
She also gives Richard a tour of the home, including the ivory floor story that was a little ridiculous. Patricia Clarkson is very good, but she almost requires subtitles. Everybody whispers on this show, and it’s irritating.
Bob Nash drinks early and often at the barbecue, and immediately it was obvious he would attack John Keene before the end of the day. He’s just CERTAIN this is the guy that killed his daughter, then killed his own sister. Camille’s article impresses her editor, and we do notice during the phone conversation that Frank Curry legitimately cares about his reporter. He offers her the chance to come home, tells her he’s proud of the work she’s doing, and it backs up the idea from a few weeks ago that he sent her to her hometown to face off her demons and hopefully defeat them once and for all. His wife didn’t think it would work. “People don’t change.” That may well be true.
One theory I wasn’t expecting this week was to start looking at Alan Crellin as a potential suspect, in fact the only male suspect. I still believe it to be likely a woman did it, because that’s how Gillian Flynn thinks, but why are we even seeing Alan in these lingering shots like climbing back into the car and reading a magazine? Why are we watching him listen to his music or even attempt to give Camille a birthday party when she was a kid? He doesn’t REALLY have a role, but even after he was able to convince the Ice Princess to sleep with him last week, his life is full of loneliness and sadness. I don’t think he did it, but that’s the one male character where it might make sense if that turned out to be the case, because his life…sucks.
Amma disappears in a drug-induced haze after the play goes awry courtesy of the Bob Nash attack, and Camille finds her in a very unstable way in the shack of doom. Adora finally sits down with her after the older daughter saved her sister, but is still entirely oblivious and dismissive of Camille’s fears that Amma is afraid of something real. She’s acting out, and there’s a reason. We know she was friends with Ann and Natalie and spent time in the shack, so she would presumably be next on the killer’s hit list, at least if there’s logic behind it.
Camille and Richard keep talking, keep touching, and the episode ends with the lights off and a very unsexy piece of intimacy. I’m not really buying the fling, nor do I care much about it, and the chemistry between Adams and Messina is more “there” than anything else. It’s fine. It’s expected, but it doesn’t leave me particularly invested in their future. It’s part of a story to help flesh it out and add depth, and Amma doesn’t care for it at all. Similarly, Gretchen doesn’t like that Kirk Lacey appears to still be interested in Camille. We see in the flashback that he was one of the boys in the woods from the infamous chase in the afternoon from the past, but he also doesn’t come across like a creep.
Ashley is ticked off that Camille’s story basically asserts Bob Nash and John Keene as the working theories, not because of the former but the latter. She says she “knows things,” and it comes across like a mild threat. She’s just dirtbag number 25 in the series at this stage though.
Back to Lacey, he’s another guy that doesn’t really need to exist on this show, and is around merely to create another plausible suspect and to generate more hatred between Wind Gap and Camille Preaker.
So, with three episodes remaining, that’s really where we are right now. Not much happened in terms of moving the case along, a lot of this felt like filler full of terrible people saying and doing obnoxious things, and I was pretty pleased when this one was over. This is not really a show “for me,” in any way. It’s definitely geared towards a female audience, which isn’t surprising, but I’m struggling to remain patient as it SLOWLY lays out an eight week story. This should have been a 4-6 week limited run, although there are obvious reasons why it isn’t. Too much of it is underwhelming or stage-setting.
Hopefully we get back to the case and explain the Amma-car lights deal. This was the worst of the five episodes to be sure, and 95% of it at least was forgettable material.
I’m @JMartZone. No, I don’t want to go home. I’m going to see this through.