***Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for Sharp Objects through Season 1 Episode 4 follow. Spoilers***
As requested, Camille and Detective Willis finally did … something. The pair’s simmering sexual tension boiled over during their Lecter-ish quid pro quo deal involving her crime scene tour in exchange for his information (and more) exchange. The way this series uses visuals to convey Camille’s mind intertwining sex and shame is nothing short of brilliant, and it’s utterly discomfiting. Between their “unconventional” encounter in the woods, and Camille’s spot on encapsulation of a girl’s life’ in a small town — read Anytown, USA — “Ripe” (really, all of Sharp Objects) is eerily on point, even more than a decade on from its source novel.
The mentality, the sickness going on in this particular town — “Shit, still in Wind Gap” — is something many women across the country can relate to. Where we pride ourselves on those championship boys to men who can do no wrong in public, we close our eyes to, hide from the things they do behind closed doors … especially when it comes to the girls and women those would-be prizewinners choose labels for, and treat as such. “See, in Wind Gap, every woman gets a label if they don’t conform to the rules of engagement.” In her near dissertational guide to Richard, Camille’s sharp observations clearly, as the detective quickly perceives, include carefully worded references to her own experiences, though Camille refuses to be seen as a victim (“Some people would call that rape, you know?” “Some people would call that consensual, you know?”).
Like mother, like daughter … and sister, Adora, Amma and Camille each have learned to charm their way through the conversations that could just as easily harm as help them, easily directing those in their paths — especially, and more manipulatively, men — as necessary. Cooing at Camille might get Amma nowhere, but there are always others (friends, mother, teacher) who’ll play along to a point. With a little Amma-nudge, Adora’s ridiculous rosebush injury might keep her from lunching with the ladies, but her “fits” quickly fade when the Chief shows up; sharp-tonged threats only seem to fuel their (apparently) fiery past flames, certainly not unnoticed by the usually groveling, alcohol-brave Alan. And with a flippant, disregarding remark, Adora waves away her husband’s big stand. While she clearly has her finger on Wind Gap’s alternating erratic and languid pulse, it is her elder daughter who has, perhaps with the advantage distance provides, become the familial expert on mitigating … everything.
Camille’s ability to keep her senses dulled, to dial back her emotional anguish to an exact tolerable level without sacrificing her humor, wit or ability to cut through the bullshit emanating from every resident in her forsaken hometown, is at the least, admirable. She hasn’t figured her way through the other side of pain, but she knows how to manipulate it in the best possible way to sleepwalk her life. While it’s not a great solution, this seemingly precarious balance does carry Camille from day to day — often hour to hour, or moment to moment — which, as anyone who’s ever been traumatized at all knows, is a necessary skill. Even if she doesn’t know how to get to the next place, each day blurring into the next, she’s moving herself forward the only way she can, and that’s something — thats’s something huge. The plodding, drunken, desperate forward motion, as slow and fucked up as it is, is still deliberate forward motion, which means Camille has not given up on herself.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
“Unless it kills you.”
It hasn’t though (killed Camille), and in this quiet “Ripe” revelation, through her desperate release and later interactions with Richard, we’re thankful for the small glimmer of hope, of respite. Whatever has happened in the Crenlin/Preaker home; whatever twisted relationships Adora has crafted for herself and her daughters; whatever nightmares hide in woodsheds and the minds of teenaged athletes, and whichever curated victims never escape Wind Gap — body, soul or both — something deep inside Camille refuses to succumb. With that midway reassurance, like the speck of light thrown by a tiny keychain flashlight, this fourth in a series of eight episodes finally gives viewers the same strength to go on.
“Now, we kiss?” Indeed.
Adora tells Camille “You know us Crenlin women, slow healers” really stuck with me. She’s never recovered from anything that’s happened to her, though as Alan notes — Adora isn’t the only one who lost a child. Camille let down her mother by “not saving” Adora, and whatever once went on between her mother and the Chief (“Is that the only thing [he loves about Adora]?”) is clearly not healed. Getting away from Adora and Wind Gap hasn’t helped Camille truly heal, either.
Amma is a loaded cannon, evidenced by her all-women militia bit in the class play — and her little interaction with Mr. Lacey (“Don’t be sad”). That was no subtlety and again, a reference to Adora’s influence over her daughters — they know the power they hold over men.
The chief tells Adora “One of them is dangerous, and the other one is in danger”, and I don’t think he means the obvious (that Camille is dangerous, Amma in danger).
I love that Alan finally said something to Adora about the shit way she treats him, even if he had to drink to do it, and she refused to acknowledge him. Let’s hope it means he’ll come forward with more information …
John Keene is the red herring-est red herring ever.
Jackie — her conversation with the chief, and refusal to provide him even the slightest tidbit … everybody say “hmm … ” That was the most direct shutdown we’ve seen, though it seems unlike her to protect [*Book Spoiler*].
Songs This Hour:
Mark Baston, Cupcake Kitty Curls
Led Zeppelin, In the Evening
Patsy Cline, You Made Me Love You, I Didn’t Want to Do It.
Tupac, Dear Mama
Led Zeppelin, What Is and What Should Never Be
The Doors, Riders on the Storm
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Texas Flood
Nana Mouskouri, Les paraplugiesde Cherbourg
The Acid, Tumbling Lights
The War on Drugs, Thinking of a Place
Great Lines (aside from quotes in main review):
Mr. Lacey to Amma: “History is history. You can’t change it, you can just learn from it.”
Camille to Willis: “A boy has sex with five girls, they put up a statue.”