HBO’s new crime thriller/mystery Sharp Objects, starring Amy Adams, is as eerie as it is intriguing. A word that springs to mind when thinking of this show is haunting. Not only are the characters in the series haunted, but the episodes will stay with you long after you’ve finished watching them. You’ll find yourself wanting to keep your light on a little longer, and looking over your shoulder at the slightest sound. All of this was made evident in just the first episode, and the second is no exception.
Within the first minute of Episode 2, Camille has a vivid hallucination in her bedroom of a dead girl in a black dress (perhaps her sister?). The longer she stays in Wind Gap, the more frequent her visions become. But unlike in Episode 1, she isn’t drinking to dull the pain. Don’t get me wrong, she still drinks, but not nearly to the degree she did. No, as we learned at the end of the series premiere, alcohol is not Camille’s only addiction. But we’ll get to that later.
Episode 2 marks the funeral of Natalie Keene, the young girl who was kidnapped and found dead in an alley in the middle of the town. And everyone seems to be dealing with it in their own ways. Camille dons one of her mother’s dresses and readies her notepad. Adora chastises one daughter while coddling the other. Amma cleans the floors of her dollhouse as Gayla, their housekeeper, cleans the exact same floors of their actual house.
As for Detective Richard Willis? He revisits the alley where Keene’s body was discovered, finding flowers on the windowsill she was propped on. While at the barbershop, he speculates that they could have been left by the killer out of guilt, but the barber doesn’t seem to think so. The town is filled with superstitious people, people who believe leaving flowers could spare their own children from a similar fate. As it turns out, when Ann Nash’s body was found in the river the year before, the townsfolk gathered the rocks from the water and drove to the outskirts of town, destroying them in hopes of ridding the town of evil. As Willis points out, they must have missed a few.
Willis consults with the Chief of police before the funeral, making sure that he’ll keep a watchful eye out for anyone suspicious. Whoever killed these girls wants to rule the town. He didn’t just dump Natalie Keene’s body in a river like he did Ann Nash’s. He displayed her, like a doll, for everyone to see. He took a risk, and he did so for a reason. Willis believes he’ll show up the funeral to admire the fear he’s caused, but also to seem like he’s a part of the town. Perhaps he is.
Meanwhile, Adora, her husband, and Camille are late to the funeral, with Adora insisting on staying at their house until the very last minute. We see a flicker of kindness that morning, when she offers to cut Camille’s apple for her, but instead she takes the knife and the fruit and hands them over to Gayla. It’s simple acts like these that show us exactly what living in that house would be like.
They are the last to arrive at the funeral, and everyone stares with wondering, judging eyes as they take their seats. As pictures of Natalie are taken to the front (her body has not been released because of the investigation), Camille pulls out her notepad. Adora quickly grabs her pen from her hands as Natalie’s mother begins speaking, but Camille pulls it back as roughly as it was taken from her. Despite her mother’s whispers and pleas to stop, she has a job to do. And we all know that as much as she pretends otherwise, Adora is more concerned for her reputation than she is for respecting the family’s privacy.
During the funeral, Camille looks over to see her mother lifting her hand towards her eyes. But she’s not crying, she’s pulling out her eyelashes. This prompts a flashback to Marian’s funeral. Camille lost her sister, but she is determined to be there for her mother. She watches her mother, alone, pulling out her eyelashes, and crawls beside her, laying her head in her lap. As soon as she does, Adora stands, not even looking at her daughter, tossing flowers aside and kneeling in front of Marian’s casket. Camille also remembers a time where her and her sister ran into the house, and while Marian was greeted with smiles and hugs from their mother, Camille was blatantly ignored. Adora always made sure she knew where she stood, and she still does.
Back in the present, Natalie’s mum gives a speech that is more than just mournful, it’s angry. Her speech is tear-jerking in its honesty. She wants to embrace forgiveness, but in reality she wants nothing more than justice and revenge for her little girl. And honestly, who can blame her? The entire family is distraught, in their own ways. The mother is angry, the father is quiet and reclusive, and the brother can’t stop crying. Camille makes note of all of this before leaving the funeral suddenly, when she rips her dress. She makes a quick trip to the convenient store where who should she run into, but her sister, Amma, with her friends. She sees them stuffing alcohol into their bags, but says nothing, even giving them a couple bucks to buy some soda. After Amma leaves, she picks up a sewing kit, but surprisingly, no vodka. It doesn’t take us long to realize why.
At the end of Episode 1, we see scars covering Camille’s arms, forming words like Vanish. Self-harm was her ultimate addiction, and one it seems she’s still battling. After fixing her torn dress, she presses the needle into her fingertip, and then slides it down to her wrist, where she traces another word that’s carved into her skin: scared. The word is also written on the side of her car, the letters etched in the dirt on her car door. Her emotions are literally written on her skin, her deepest thoughts clear. And no one knows but her. For anyone who has ever self-harmed, or knows someone who has, this scene hits home and it hits hard.
Camille makes her way back to the Keene’s house, where everyone has gathered, and she’s ready to start digging. As she drives around town, she comes across an elderly woman taking down the missing posters. Apparently she did the same thing for Ann, not wanting the families to be surrounded by the reminders all over town. But she admits she doesn’t know what to do with them. She kept Ann’s in a desk drawer, unable to bring herself to throw them out, and she’ll probably do the same for Natalie. It’s a little unsettling, but the thought behind it is extremely kind.
Camille pulls up to the Keene residence just as Ann Nash’s father is getting thrown out, being screamed at all the while. Clearly something happened between the families, but what? As soon as Camille heads inside, she hears the whispers of Natalie being an odd girl, of the brother being even odder. Accusations that perhaps the brother killed her, or that he and Natalie were…closer than siblings. But she needs more than rumors and whispers, she needs to get to know the dead girl she’s writing her story on. So, she sneaks into her room, and what she finds is…interesting. The walls are pink, the decorations very pretty and proper, clearly the mother’s doing. But on the mirror is written a list of girls that Natalie liked, and a list of girls that she hated. Ann Nash, curiously, made both lists.
Hanging from the ceiling are fake spiders, and in a jar on the dresser lives a real one. Camille takes it outside so it won’t starve, and she runs into Natalie’s father sitting alone. He opens up to Camille, somewhat bitterly, about how Natalie loved the outdoors. It was good for her, he claims, but he always thought she was weird. When Camille asks about Natalie’s relationship with Ann, he’ll only say that he was glad when they stopped being friends. But he won’t say why. Camille also manages to find out that he was away on business when his daughter was taken, and that it happened at a park in the middle of the day. So, she decides to visit the scene of the crime.
When she gets there, she sees two young children playing catch by themselves, a notable sight considering she hasn’t seen any kids outside by themselves during her stay so far. She makes conversation with them, trying to figure out what happened to Natalie, how she was taken. And apparently, a weird boy around their age, James, saw the whole thing happen, and claims it was by the Woman in White. The Woman in White is an old Wind Gap folklore. Legend has it that she would go around kidnapping and murdering children. Stories have been told for years, but they were always known to be just that: stories. So, no one believed James’ story. No one except for Camille.
Camille heads around the park to the edge of the forest, and as she stares into the dark woods, she swears she sees a woman in a long, white dress looking towards her. Another hallucination? Or could this actually be real? She pays James a visit to hear his story, and it’s exactly as the other kids said. According to him, it was the Woman in White who took her. Camille’s confused by his sincerity. Sure, he’s just a kid, but why isn’t his account at least being considered? She gets her answer not even a minute later.
His mother is sick, but she’s also addicted to meth. James has to fend for himself, and even though he’s only eight years old, his mother lets him keep a gun by his side. Camille later finds out from the Chief that he rarely shows up to school, and when he does, it’s with made up stories. But that isn’t the only reason his story can’t be taken seriously. Even if there is an actual Woman in White, there’s no way these murders could have been committed by a woman. At first, it seems pretty sexist. But as Detective Willis proves, this is more than just a misogynistic theory.
Willis is trying to narrow down every lead possible, so he decides to do some experimenting. Both girls were found with all of their teeth pulled, and according to the coroner, it was done with household pliers. So, Willis picks up every type of household pliers you can think of, along with a pig’s head. And he starts pulling. Just one tooth in and he’s sweating like crazy. He confesses this all to Camille, off the record, over a drink at the local bar. What the relationship between these two will be is still unclear. Will they become lovers? Will they solve the murders together? Only time will tell.
When Camille returns to the house, she hears wailing coming from the living room. She rushes in to see Amma on the floor, being held by Adora who claims that she’s simply allowing herself to feel the grief of losing her friends. We know that’s not true, considering the fact that she and her actual friends pointed out that neither Natalie or Ann were one of the “cool kids”. No, Amma is clearly drunk, and Adora is too blind to see it. Instead, she chooses this moment to lecture Camille on how she was apparently drunk at the funeral! And Amma is playing along, pretending to be the golden child, and Adora is eating it up.
Camille heads back up to her room, frustrated and upset. She climbs into bed, lifts up her shirt, and reveals more scars along her stomach, leading down further. She takes a small sewing needle and begins to dig it into her skin, a look of euphoria on her face. It begs the question, in the previous episode, when it seemed she was pleasuring herself, was she actually self-harming? The episode ends on this worrying and questioning note, leaving us wondering what could possibly happen next. Her editor keeps checking in with her, making sure she’s okay, but what use is it when she pretends she’s handling things fine when obviously she isn’t? Her dysfunctional family certainly isn’t helping anything. What will they do next?
Sharp Objects Airs Sunday Nights On HBO.