With only two episodes left in the season, the characters in Sharp Objects are progressing, though the plot seems to stay at a stand-still.
It’s Calhoun Day, an annual southern-pride festival hosted by Adora on her house grounds, and the audience finally gets to see the whole town in one place. Although it’s under questionable (and rather racist) pretenses, it’s interesting to see town members interact with one another while simultaneously gossiping about the people that they are around. There’s clearly a lot of tension building up between townsfolk and family alike and that tension picks the largest day of the year to reach its peak.
Things start to kick off before the Calhoun Day events even begin when Camille, Adora, and Amma take a trip to buy a dress for the afternoon. Like every other episode, a seemingly normal family even turns into something else. While trying on dresses, Camille reveals her scars to her mother and sister. Small snippets of Camille cutting herself have played throughout the series, but this scene gave the audience a long and deep look at just how much damage Camille has done. When Camille comes out of the dressing room clothed in just her scars and at her most vulnerable, Adora turns her away once again by describing her scars as acts of spite.
Once the Calhoun Day festivities start, the tension between townsfolk reaches a breaking point. A fight erupts between suspects Bob Nash and John Keane as Amma and her friends act out a traditional play depicting the sacrifices made by Millie Calhoun, the child bride of Confederate soldier Zeke Calhoun. The play describes the town events in which a young, pregnant girl gets raped for the sake of the town and becoming a martyr for Wind Gap in the process.
The play already sounds extremely disturbing but couple that with the fact that Amma and her castmates are all high on some sort of psychedelic and you have a real situation. After the fight between Nash and Keane breaks out, Amma runs off stage and disappears into the woods only to be found by Camille a few minutes later. Adora expresses her thanks to Camille by telling her that she never really loved her. You read that right, Adora tells Camille that she never really loved her. This meeting and the dressing room scar reveal were perfect opportunities for Adora to change her attitude and finally begin to accept Camille for who she really is but it’s Adora’s tour with Detective Willis where we see some sort of discretion on Adora’s part.
Adora talks to the detective about his relationship with Camille and thankfully declines to tell him about Camille’s scars. While the majority of this episode spent its time painting Adora in her self-absorbed, callous light, this small choice of discretion leads me to believe that her relationship with Camille may finally change.
Many “whodunnit” television shows attempt to prolong whatever murder it’s following. They drop small red herrings throughout the season to keep the audience in the dark about who could possibly have done the crime. Jean-Marc Vallee does this, but he does it in such detail and care that it’s pretty clear that the murder is only a backstory to how the characters of Sharp Objects are evolving.
I’m not saying that the murder isn’t important and doesn’t add tension, because it does. But Vallee creates such real, brutal, and complex characters to fill the time between the crime and the solution that audiences don’t have to focus all of their attention on the murder and its suspects, they can just focus on the characters and still feel satisfied. Vallee doesn’t narrow his focus on the murder itself, he broadens his lens to all of the characters in the town and how the murder has affected each of them.
“Closer” doesn’t bring us any closer to finding out who’s responsible for the murders but it does remind us of how high tensions are and how much higher they will rise.