not even half an hour of this episode and i was screaming in my bedroom GIVE AMY ADAMS AN EMMY ALREADY
[9.2/10] Ten minutes into “Closer”, Adora has taken both of her daughters to a dress shop to pick out something more festive to dress Camille in for the local celebration. After a thin attempt to force Camille to try on the clothes her mother’s sartorial representative has picked out for her, and a predictable standoff, Camille walks out of the dressing room in her underwear.
Her scars are exposed for her mother to see, and Adora is predictably aghast. It is both a “fuck you” and moment of vulnerability. The exposure of the results of her self-harm is meant to be an act of defiance, but it just gives Adora an opportunity to wound her child more deeply. After being assured that Camille’s cutting days are over, Adora responds, “It hardly matters. You’re ruined.”
It is a horrifying thing to say to anyone, let alone for a mother to say to her daughter. It is a visceral rejection, causing visible frustration and a near-breaking points for Camille. It firmly establishes what prior episodes only suggested -- that Adora is not just a terrible mother to Camillle; she is a terrible person.
And then, somehow, she tops herself.
I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a line more horrifying, more heartless, more thoughtlessly cruel than Adora telling Camille that she inherited her father’s nature and explaining that it’s “why I never loved you.” She means it as an absolution, a way of saying that it isn’t Camille’s fault, just the passed down sin of a man Adora could excise from her life, or at least keep at a distance, in a way she could not do with Camille. She means it to be sweet, in its way, as a thank you to Camille for finding Amma, to give her “comfort” and explanation for how she’s been treated all these years.
This is Livia Soprano-level maternal malevolence. It’s made worse by the fact that, at least by all appearances, this isn’t the sort of two-faced manipulation that Adora deploys to, for example, try to scare Richard away from her daughter. It’s meant to be an earnest bit of kindness, to put Camille at ease. And that fact just makes the statement itself all the more jaw-droppingly awful, and Camille all the more pitiable for having to hear it.
Those two scenes bookend what could be considered the masterpiece of Sharper Objects were it not merely episode 5 of the season. The Calhoun Festival makes the perfect backdrop to tie, however briefly, all of the storylines floating around Wind Gap together in one bizarre, disturbing festival. The show uses the excuse of having all the major characters occupying the same space to touch on the character relationships, the murder mystery, the toxic social hierarchy and mores of the town, and the historically rotten wood the place was built on. There’s so many sharp little scenes in the swelling of crowd and intermingling of people amid the festival. Tastefully brief flashbacks give texture to the high school web of faux-friendships and sexual power plays and veiled insults that still fuel the adults today. The various scenes show these same attitudes permeating the generations, as the teenagers flirt and backbite; the adults offer-come ons and put downs to one another, and even the elder generation snipes behind one another’s backs and ogles old (or current) flames just the same as the younger ones, while everyone puts on airs.
But how could they not? “Closer” puts Wind Gap’s founding story in relief through the younger generation. It’s a horrifying tale of a child bride of a confederate soldier who’s glorified for enduring brutal rape rather than give up the whereabouts of her husband. The only thing more disturbing than the tale itself is the bowdlerized, lionizing recreation of it put on by a pack of middle school students, made all the worse by the way the play’s grown director leers at his underage star and projects his feelings and memories of his teenage dalliances with her sister onto the tableau.
With that, Sharp Objects suggests that this place has been built on these horrible ideals from the beginning. While the gap between Adora and the great great grandparent represented in that play is unknown to us, the implication is that, like the cold nature Adora accuses her daughter of having inherited from her father, the denizens of Wind Gap, and the Crellin girls in particular, have had this wrong-footed weighing of good and evil passed down to them from generation to generation, poisoning each new one as it poisoned the last.
All the while, “Closer” builds the tension of the scene, showing small interactions, simmering resentments and restrained bits of anger, that seem like they could blow up at any minute. Bob Nash and Richard have contretemps. Ashley Wheeler express her anger at Camille for leaving her out of her writing. Adora beckons Richard into the house to sever his connection to her daughter. The local hound dogs and magpies bark and squawk at one another. And all the while, Camille’s story on the murders is floating in the background, creating even more tension and suspicion.
That’s before it’s revealed that Amma and a boyfriend took acid before their performance. The combination of score and editing do a superb job of not only conveying the thudding, paranoid sense of Amma’s impaired perception of these events, but of ratcheting that tension up using only sound and stitched-together glances and glimpses around this scene. It all comes tumbling out when Bob interrupts the climax of the play to beat John Keene, giving Amma cover to run away from the crowd in her drug-fueled fright.
It’s a masterful set of sequences that feed into one another and reach a climax just in time. That’s what makes the quiet of the aftermath, the simple, even warm atmosphere between Camille and her mother seem like such an effective contrast. It is as though the excitement is over, as if this act of rescuing another lost daughter might be enough to start bridging the gap between Adora and Camille that has stretched between them for so long.
Instead, it is the final note of devastation. And yet, it becomes fodder for another act of defiance. Adora doubts that Richard would ever be willing to be closer with Camille given her condition. Camille proves her wrong by rushing into a moment of intimacy with the man Adora tried to drive away. Adora inflicts untold emotional pain on her daughter, so Camille goes to counteract it with pleasure. And Adora accuses her daughter of having a cold nature, one that not even a mother could love, so Adora seeks out that love, that care, that validation from the only one in this town to show her any kindness, to show that she is deserving of it.
That final intimate moment, while somewhat uncomfortable given the context, mirrors the dreadful play, and the tone of someone held in place. It is, whether we’re glad to see Camille and Richard together or not, the product of absolute miserableness projected from one generation to the next. And that parallel suggests that, for however much Camille meant to reject it, leave this place behind, to leave all that came with it behind, she is as subject to it as anyone, even as she tries so hard to expose and maybe even stop the horrors dressed up as kindness that Adora, and Wind Gap continue to put on display.
ohhhh detetive vem me investigar
This is the first episode of this show that I actually enjoyed. I thought this was very good. Maybe I am just getting used to the characters more, but I liked the relationship between Camille and her mother this episode, and with her sister. I thought her sister was sort of bratty and hard to relate to, but it's much more understandable here and the way they start making progress only to have the article tear it apart, then they make back up again was sweet. Camille's mom is also someone I disliked, but she really is quite tragic and I felt bad for her this episode. I guess she really is trying her best, though her best is rooted in so many outdated ideas and insecurities, but she started to realize it and open up about it, which is nice!
I also just feel Camille's situation very relateable. I understand being in a place that makes you feel like a bad person. And how hard it can be to do something as simple as visit a clothing store. Not to mention the torture of having to attend such a fake social event, haha.
I guess there's a murder mystery happening as well. I don't have any suspects. I'd guess it's not either of the two guys they suspect. I keep wanting to think it's that older lady, especially with how she literally spent the whole episode trying to shove herself into other people's business, but I'm not sure that really makes sense.
Seeing things more closely helps you appreciate them better or see their flaws. That stuff that celebrates the festibal