HBO Sharp Objects review: In Wind Gap, the truth about the past is closer than you think
Closer explores sexual manipulations, the way violence is weaved into Wind Gap's cultural fabric and inches a little further towards finding the truth.
"Good apple, bad tree."
It was Calhoun Day in sunny Wind Gap. Sundresses, beer, and the sound of laughter filled the air as though the town was never shaken by the sinister murders. Sweet words dripped from Adora's lips, as she played host to the people of her town. If I didn't know the story of 'Sharp Objects', I couldn't imagine a town happier than this, but since I do, it all smells as sickening as the leftover alcohol from a barbeque. 'Closer' picks up the pace of HBO's thriller a little too fast. Even though it is more confusing than ever, I'm almost certain about one thing - it wasn't Bob Nash or John Keene. It had to be a woman.
Ever since 'Sharp Objects' began, it has held up a mirror to the wounds of womankind in Wind Gap. 'Closer' is another addition to the laceration. Wind Gap's cultural cloth is woven with flaws and the rot is deeper in the parts that have the most perfect appearances. Calhoun Day stares us in the face like a terrifying clown as Amma roleplays Millie - the child bride of a Confederate soldier who protects her husband's location during the war even when she's brutally raped and beaten. Adora claps with glee as Amma plays the role perfectly. As soon as the scene changes and her husband Calhoun comes home, all is forgotten. It is almost as though there really was no rape of a young girl.
This is where the whole concept of the show comes thundering back. The town is in denial of their demons to a point where they are numb. They even celebrate the tearing of a woman's body and psyche with a show in their backyard. Here, one only cares about outer appearances and they would rather brush it under the rug than take on even a smidgeon of responsibility.
'Closer' really brings out the stark difference between Camille Preaker and the rest of the town, especially her mother Adora. Camille has never really been about appearances. In the second episode, 'Dirt', as she prepares herself to go to Natalie Keene's funeral wearing her mother Adora's clothes, we see that she does try to fit in. Her suffocation, yet, her desire to please manifests itself in a black dress - slightly tight and uncomfortable - which she wears anyway. At the funeral, the dress rips open at the sides, much like her temper.
In 'Closer' though, as they head to the store to pick out a sundress, we see that she's driven far from the girl we used to know in 'Dirt'. Instead of pleasing and hiding away her scars, she does something painfully spectacular - she steps out of the trial room; it's like she steps out from under her fears and bares her vandalized body like a trophy. This is a sharp contrast to her previous reaction to her mother's criticism. You will find that it is quiet rare that we see a daughter with mommy issues on mainstream television, but 'Sharp Objects' does not shy away from throwing it in our faces. Camille's nature to defy her mother makes her go to Willis' home in the rain. After her mom delivers a scathing reminder "I could never really love you" as the two drink in the verandah, would you blame her?
'Closer' also takes a little deeper into Amma's character. She's a master manipulator and abusive like Adora. One moment she is scaring you and the next she is apologizing. It is almost like she finds joy in the power - a sentiment that we know is almost like a moniker for the killer. She was close to both Natalie and Ann, she has a reputation as spotless as her mother's lawn and she knows how to smash into rose bushes without getting tangled in the thorns.
Her sexual appetite is explored, albeit subtly. It is almost as though she relished the violation of Millie when she slipped into her shoes. She enjoyed the attention and the power it gave the perpetrator over the innocent girl. If you look closely, you also see something more sinister. Is Amma also salivating at the thought of that she is subject to voyeurism? If you recall, one of the bodies of the mutilated girls was found in town, put up like a toothless badge for the world to see.
Right from the beginning, the show hasn't essentially been a crime series. It almost feels like the murder is a subplot - something to push the tale along. The real reason for 'Sharp Objects' is to tell the story of women like Camille - how the world slowly chips away at the psyche of the Camilles of the world. It is a story of self-harm and the results of denial. 'Closer' explores another aspect of it - of how women in this town, no matter how apparently powerful are not allowed to tell their story. Would Millie glorify her rape? Would she say it was really worth it? Cries for help translate to glory and instability is seen as a reason to be shunned. The good people of Wind Gap never learn and history just keeps repeating its horrors all over again.
The next episode, 'Cherry' will explore Adora's side of secrets. What is she hiding in the murder cases? Since she's got a soft spot for Chief Vickery she provides him with a key piece of evidence in the Ann Nash murder case. Richard is taken by the eldest Preaker girl and probes for details about Camille’s dark past. We will also see Amma and Camille bond, but there's no saying if it is a trick.
'Sharp Objects' airs every Sunday on HBO at 9 pm.