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Sharp Objects recap: “Closer”

Written by: Adriana Gomez-Weston, CC2K Staff Writer

While the first half of Sharp Objects goes at a slower pace, the second half shifts gears with the latest episode, “Closer.” The episode centers around Wind Gap’s annual Calhoun Day, a celebration of Southern (Confederate) pride. Each year, the Calhoun Day festivities are held on Adora’s front lawn, as the Preaker family are Calhoun descendants. Unwilling to change tradition, this year’s Calhoun Day has a sinister feel as the killer roams free.

The holiday itself is a horrible indication of Wind Gap’s twisted history. Founded during the Civil War, Calhoun Day celebrates the town’s founder, Zeke Calhoun and the sacrifice of his child-bride Millie. When the Union soldiers came to retrieve Zeke, Millie refused to give him up. Because of her defiance, the Union soldiers tied her to a tree and sexually violated her. So what is inferred here is that Calhoun Day makes a celebration of pedophilia and rape? Each year a play is performed to celebrate Millie’s “bravery.” This time around, Amma plays the titular role.

With the majority of the town’s residents congregated in one place, it’s an evident recipe for disaster. On the exact same day, Camille’s piece about the murders is released. Even though Camille attempts to be as unbiased as possible in her writing, the story immediately causes a stir. The town is still in a heated debate on whether Bob Nash or John Keene are the killers. John sticks at his girlfriend’s side while John stumbles around drunkenly.

Another affair in which Adora desires to save face, she drags Camille and Amma to a boutique to find outfits for Calhoun Day. Not wanting to be embarrassed by Camille’s uniform of a dark sweater and jeans, Adora forces her to find an acceptable dress. She picks out sleeveless, feminine attire, knowing about Camille’s maimed body. Camille is obviously flustered, reluctant to show her skin.

While Amma’s guilt hasn’t been confirmed yet, it’s evident she is a little sociopath. Amma is more than an annoying, spoiled twat; she’s something far more threatening. She thrives in demeaning Camille and being the center of attention, much like her mother. At the mention of Ann Nash and Natalie Keene, Amma admits the thought of them scares her. As Camille attempts to find something to wear, Amma constantly pleads for attention, then exposes Camille’s story when she isn’t the object of her mother’s focus. After some intense arguing, Camille steps out of the dressing room revealing her scars in their full grotesqueness. Adora in disgust says, “You’re ruined.”

With the residents of Wind Gap gathered at Adora’s home, there is a ticking time bomb. Camille promises to help Amma practice her lines, but Camille’s attention is occupied by Richard. Camille finds comfort by his side, educating him on Wind Gap’s strange customs and sexist history. As Camille briefly helps Amma, Adora welcomes Richard into her home. She shows him the place, elaborating on all her exquisite possessions, including her bedroom floor tiles made from ivory. In the span of a few minutes, the conversation transforms from that of meaningless heirlooms to Richard’s relationship with Camille. Adora warns Richard about her daughter, stating she is “delicate”.

After the talk, the play commences. While Amma performs, Camille converses with Richard, completely ignoring the play. Amma looks jealous and then distraught. Towards the end, Bob Nash and John Keene get into a fist fight. Frightened, Amma runs away from the stage and deep into the woods. Immediately a search party is sent for while Adora wails in pain. Camille finds Amma hiding out in the hunting shed. It is revealed that Amma ingested ecstasy before her performance and had an adverse reaction to it. When Amma is taken home, Adora nurses her back to health.

There is no question that Adora is an awful mother to Camille, but in “Closer,” we see how vile she really is. After Amma returns home safely, she invites Camille to have a drink. During the night, Adora is abnormally soft and sympathetic. Camille apologizes for publishing her story. For a moment it seems as if the two are going to make amends, but that turns out to not be the case. After apologizing for her behavior, Adora says, “You can’t get close, that’s your father. And that’s why, I think, I never loved you.”

As soon as we think Adora can’t transcend into another level of awfulness, this admission takes the cake. Camille’s father is mentioned on multiple occasions, but who he is remains a mystery. From what is said, he was an awful man. What’s sadder is that Adora gently strokes Camille’s face as she speaks, oblivious to the horrible statement she has just made. Camille sits there stunned, her face showing that she is attempting to process what was said.

Emotional abuse is front and center in Sharp Objects. It’s one of the saddest aspects of the series. Adora never physically harms Camille, but hurts her at every opportunity. Adora has been cold towards her eldest daughter, making her feel inadequate and unwanted. As shown in flashbacks, Adora treats Camille as less than the rest of her family, and even less than their maid. Adora goes out of her way to exclude Camille, as evidenced in a flashback of a magazine photo shoot in where Adora is pictured with just Marian. Of course, Adora kept Camille in a magnificent house and provided for her, so there can’t have been a strong case for her to be taken away. Adora, obsessed with appearances, would be too prideful to discard her unwanted daughter.

After the conversation, Camille drives to Richard’s motel in order to seek “comfort.” After that night, it is best to leave Wind Gap for good, but we know that won’t happen. With a lack of emotional connection, perhaps it will be easier for Camille to seek the truth and expose it.