Warning: This contains spoilers. Not caught up with Sharp Objects? Read our spoiler-free first review here.
The closer you get to someone, the less you can trust them. That’s the overriding principle in Sharp Objects, and it’s one that – like most things – is rooted in, and driven by, Camille’s own personality. It’s only fitting, then, that after an episode that moved away from the disorienting filter of her deteriorating condition, as the town gathered to celebrate Calhoun Day, we should be treated a double-bill dive into her world – a heady rush of a seduction, paranoia, and, most of all, distrust.
If you had a drink every time someone mentioned Wind Gap’s expectations of its women, you’d be unconscious by now. Nonetheless, it’s a point worth making, not only because of how pertinent it remains in real life, but also because it’s the constant truth that underpins everyone’s behaviour. Camille is still known for the mental health issues she tackled in the past, and, when she appears to be functioning normally (and dares to question the town’s accepted narrative about the recent killings), she’s tarred with the label “slut” – even, tellingly, from her own sister.
Amma has veered into clearer view as the series has continued, and her relationship with Camille takes the centre stage in Episode 6. The teen sinks her hooks into her older sister and refuses to let go, demanding her to come to a house party and not taking no for an answer. Amma opens up to Camille as the evening draws on, admitting that her friends don’t like her, but that she knows how to manipulate them. Yet at the same time, we see her toying with Camille, giving her a pill and drawing her into a kiss, behaviour that feels less driven by sisterly affection and more by the thrill of seeing how far she make her sibling unravel – is it spiteful bullying? Jealous cruelty? Attention-seeking acting-out? Once Amma has asked Camille to take her back to St. Louis when she leaves, you suspect it’s a little from all three columns.
Where motivations are easier to assess are between Amma and Ashley. The girlfriend of John, brother of the murdered Natalie (and still prime suspect, because he dared cry about it), she and Amma have long-held suspicions about each other – not helped by Ashley’s anger at Camille for not writing the article she wanted her to write (a rebuttal to the town’s story of John’s presumed guilt). Ashley’s arrival at the party provides a gruesome (and possibly vital) clue, as Camille spots that a piece of Ashley’s ear has been bitten off. Was that Natalie in self-defence? “Ask the girl’s mother,” spits Ashley at Camille – because in Wind Gap, it always gets reflected back on the women.
Which brings us to Adora, the third leg in the unstable stool of the Preaker household. Her pernicious presence has only become more overbearing over these slow hours, which makes Episode 6’s freewheeling rush through a teen house party all the more thrilling – even if the spinning around of Amma and Camille on the lawn, with flashes of dead girls, makes it clear that happy endings are far from in store. Adora continues to listen to everything within hearing range in and around her home – and, despite that black hole-like ability to suck everything in, continues to push for Camille to leave. Is that because she’s ashamed? Because she’s hurt too? Or because she’s afraid that Camille is getting too close to something rotten in the Preaker family, as she investigates?
The latter seems likely, when she receives a mysterious phone call informing her that the bicycle of Ann (murder victim number one) has been find in a pond on her pig farm. Before we can start to suspect her, of course, someone pops up to inform us all that they witness John dumping it there. Adora, of course, fired him from the pig farm, but again, was that because of her suspicions of him? Or her own involvement?
The penultimate chapter brings everything together with horrifying clarity, as Adora is confirmed to be at the heart of what’s been going on. The ghostly figure of The Woman in White, who we were told about in earlier episodes by local kids, has a far more corporeal identity behind the spooky legend.
That becomes clear thanks to Richard’s investigations – not so much his own uncovering of the truth, bless him. He’s just as bought into the Guilty John narrative as everyone else – to the point where he’s hurt and shocked to find Camille and John the morning after a steamy night in a motel room. It’s a tryst that perhaps sees Camille lose her way in her own fog, highlighting her own unreliability, in terms of objective journalistic reporting, as John sees her as she really is, both of them not the people the town has painted them to be. But that day-lit moment of discovery also marks the point at which the fog begins to clear, coinciding with Richard’s interviewing of the nurse who treated Marian, Camille’s half-sister, who died in front of her when they were children.
She was ill, in a way that feels sickeningly familiar when we see Adora attempting to nurse Camille and Amma. She needles her into taking medicine, insisting that they let her help them, in a way that’s less about motherly care and more about that sickly desire to be needed. Camille wriggles out of that cloying grasp, but Amma is not so lucky. Clarkson is deliciously nasty here, vamping up the gothic horror to the point where even the brightly coloured fairytale medicines in her bottle cabinet are intimidating rather than silly.
How does all this fit into the overall Wind Gap killings? That’s yet to be spelled out, although it’s not hard to imagine Adora’s loathing of her own free-spirited children extending out into the wider society. And so we end up watching helplessly as Camille races to get back home to save Amma – and, more gripping than that, starts to process and confront the truth of her childhood, the truth that the closest person to her was the least trustworthy of all.