Episode 4 of HBO’s thrilling mini-series, Sharp Objects, ended with a shocking reveal about Camille’s sister, Amma, who happened to be good friends with both of the young girls who were murdered in Wind Gap. But in the latest installment, when questioned by Camille, Amma claims that she was good friends with them “a million years ago” and didn’t like to talk about it since she wasn’t close with them at the time of their deaths. Camille isn’t quite convinced, and frankly, neither are we. But our heroine has a lot more to worry about than her reckless sister. And this episode may have covered it all.
Episode 5, titled ‘Closer’ (by the end, we’ll find out why), is all about Wind Gap’s annual Calhoun Day, hosted, of course, by the welcoming Adora. The party brings all the townsfolk to her grand property, a day filled with festivities, drinks, and food for all. If only it were as friendly as all that. Add in a questionable play, countless period costumes, and a few Confederate Flags, and Calhoun Day is starting to look a little more sinister. And that’s just the beginning.
Richard is convinced that the event is a bad idea. Considering that they have yet to catch the killer haunting Wind Gap, it seems not only disrespectful, but downright dangerous to go through with it. But Calhoun Day is a Wind Gap tradition, and the police Chief seems to think it’ll keep everyone calmer this way. And we all know Adora wouldn’t let a town tradition die without a fight. So, Calhoun Day is happening, whether our big city Detective is happy about it or not. Not only him, but Camille, for that matter.
When we first met Camille in the series premiere, she was distant, closed off, and honestly, seemed rather apathetic. Not by choice, but by necessity. And after getting to know her mother, there’s no question as to why. But with each episode that passes, Camille opens up a little bit more. We see that in the beginning of Episode 5, as she calls her boss. Her editor is over the moon with her work, with her latest article going live that very morning, and having more hits than any of their other articles. People cannot stop sharing, and her editor wants to build on this momentum, hoping for another article in the next 48 hours. Camille says she’ll see what she can do, but he can hear the exhaustion in her voice. And when he asks her about it, she breaks down, confessing that whenever she’s back home, she feels like a terrible person. How can’t she, with her mother constantly whispering cruel lies in her ear? Her editor manages to help her stop crying, but I think he knows as much as we do that being home is getting to her. It’s hurting a lot more than helping, but Camille is stubborn, and is determined to stick this story out. Which, unfortunately, means participating in Calhoun Day.
Camille comes downstairs in her usual attire, long black pants and a long-sleeve black sweatshirt. But it’s a special day, and as Adora is quick to point out, Camille is representing the family. So, before the festivities begin, Adora, Camille, and Amma head into town to go dress shopping. If you’re anything like me, you cringed as soon as Adora suggested it. There’s a reason Camille never wears dresses. She’s covered from her shoulders to her ankles in self-harm scars. Words that she’s carved into her skin over the years. The dress shopping could end very badly, and I’m sad to say that it does.
The tension is potent as the girls shop through the store. The woman who works there tries to be helpful, oblivious to the family drama, pulling a selection of thin-strapped sundresses that, while pretty, are not practical. Meanwhile, Amma tries to throw Camille under the bus by telling their mother about the article she wrote that was posted this morning, all about Wind Gap’s murders. So, when Camille is in the fitting room, undressed, Adora takes her clothes that she hung over the door, leaving her with nothing to cover her skin. Adora chides her, almost taunts her to come out. But before she does, Camille begs Amma to wait in the car. She doesn’t want her to see. But Adora can’t let things be, so Camille swings open the door, wearing nothing but a bra and panties, and both Amma and Adora’s jaws drop. The silence is deafening, Amma’s shock clear and Camille’s pain obvious. This is the first time we see all of her scars. There isn’t an inch of her that doesn’t bear a scarred word.
Amma leaves to wait in the car. But all Adora can say is that her daughter is ruined, that she’s spiteful. And she is just like the father she never knew.
To say the scene is painful to watch is an understatement. We watch as Adora leaves and Camille takes one of the dresses and shrieks into it, nearly collapsing as she starts to cry. A person’s relationship with their scars, particularly self-harm scars, is a rocky one. It can take years to come to terms with, and to have her own mother tell her she’s ruined herself out of spite…I can’t imagine. It’s a heart-wrenching scene, one that only makes me hate Adora even more.
When they get back to the house, Camille immediately starts packing up her things. Her mother crossed a line. But Amma begs her to stay, even offering her a long-sleeved, white, maxi dress. Something that will please their mother but also help her feel a little more comfortable. Amma may be many things, but the sincerity in her apologetic tone is unquestionable. It’s clear she feels bad, and wants to make it up to her sister. So, for Amma’s sake, Camille dons the dress and joins the rest of the townsfolk for Calhoun Day. Who knows? Maybe she’ll get a good scoop.
With nearly the entire town present, it’s safe to say that tensions are high. Both Bob Nash and John Keene are there, and John and his girlfriend are quick to seek Camille out. John tries to stop her, but Ashley is furious that Camille didn’t include their interview in her article. As we thought, Ashley was just in it for her fifteen minutes of fame, not for John’s innocence. While not surprising, it is disappointing. I don’t think John is guilty, and he doesn’t need his girlfriend using him on top of everything else.
On a bit of a lighter note, the rest of Calhoun Day is filled with plenty of flirting between Camille and Richard. With Adora watching from a distance, Camille wraps her arm around his, leading him around the grounds as they chat among themselves. He playfully questions whether they’re officially seeing each other, and in true Camille fashion, she evades with witty remarks. But the two are taken with each other, anyone can see that. The women of Wind Gap stare on with jealousy and judgment, while the men (if they can be called that), make rude gestures and retorts. Classic Wind Gap, it seems.
The moment Camille leaves the detective’s side, however, Adora swoops in, politely insisting on giving him a tour of the house. She brags about the hand-painted silk wallpaper, and the ivory floors of her bedroom. She talks about Wind Gap and how it isn’t all murder and mayhem, but how it has genuinely good people in it, too. Unsurprisingly, the conversation eventually shifts to Camille. Adora tells Richard that her daughter still isn’t over her sister’s death, that she’s very “delicate”. A rose, she says, but not without thorns. Maybe she’s trying to scare Richard away from Camille, maybe not (she probably is), but it isn’t working. Richard sees right through it, and as soon as they leave the house, he’s right by Camille’s side once more. Nice try, Adora.
As the high school students prepare for the annual play, led by a high school teacher who we learn assaulted Camille as a teenager (yet he still greets her as an old friend, showing just how messed up this town really is), Camille fills Richard in on the details of Calhoun Day, and what exactly it is the people of Wind Gap are celebrating. Long story short? They are celebrating a woman of the town who refused to give up the location of her husband, and as a result, was raped by multiple soldiers and lost the child she was pregnant with. Welcome to Wind Gap, Detective.
The play the teenagers perform is all about that, with Amma stepping into the starring role. But the performance is interrupted when a fight breaks out between Bob Nash and John Keene. Bob tackles John, screaming about how he killed his daughter. With the help of multiple policemen, Richard is able to pull the two off each other. But in the commotion, Amma runs off into the woods, without her phone, and no one realizes it until minutes later.
Adora is faint, shrieking in agony and worry, refusing to eat or drink anything. The police scour the woods, along with Camille, hoping that Amma ran off, and was not taken by the Wind Gap murderer. Luckily, Camille knows exactly where to go. She heads to the old shack in the forest, where she finds her sister scrapped up, but okay.
That night, after Adora tucks Amma into bed, she asks Camille to sit on the porch and have a drink with her. For a moment, just a moment, we think this might be it. This might be Adora’s redemption. And at first, it seems that’s exactly what it is! The two comfort each other, happy that Amma is okay. They both apologize to each other for what happened earlier in the day, and Camille thanks her mother for not telling Richard about her scars and what she’s gone through. But Adora can’t help but wonder. Won’t he find out? When the two of them get close? Camille simply shakes her head, saying she won’t get close, that she never does. And that’s when Adora clarifies that is what she was apologizing for. She says that it isn’t spite that makes Camille like her father, it’s the lack of ability to get close to anyone. And then she confesses that is the reason why she never loved Camille. And she hopes that brings her some solace.
If you’re speechless, you aren’t alone. Camille can’t even get a word out, completely taken aback, hurt beyond belief, her worst fears come true. She jumps into her car and drives to Richard’s motel room. As soon as he opens the door, she kisses him hard. She undresses him and kisses him all over. She undoes her pants, but doesn’t take them off, as she begins touching herself. Eventually, she turns off the lights, he yanks off her pants, she grabs his hands and puts them on top of her wrists so he’s pinning her down, and they begin to have sex. Rough. Hard. Between gasps of pleasure are tears of pain, and we see another word written on her skin: Closer.
Camille was never truly apathetic. Quite the contrary. She feels too much. She feels everything, every ounce of pain a person can feel. And if by the end of this, she doesn’t catch a break…I’m not going to be happy.
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Sharp Objects Airs Sunday Nights On HBO.