One reason you can be sure that HBO's Sharp Objects is a true Southern Gothic is that when its debutante gloves finally break out, you not only get a barrage of secrets and darkness and many deeply buried social dysfunction , In episode six, "Cherry," as soon as the passively aggressive courtesy begins to tell the truth, you also get a raging savagery: buzzing, mild incest, severe sociopathy, and a literal crap.
Yes, the intensity and the memories rise for Camille as she visits her hometown Wind Gap in Missouri. But in "Cherry" there are also some significant developments in the case, if you were so distracted by all the sociopathy and incest that you forgot that there were murders to solve.
Granted, we do not learn much about the murders. But what we learn is important.
The tangled family ties between Amma and Camille become even crisper
Like every episode before, "Cherry" stints on procedural case file crime solution and delivers juicy drama, tons of gossip and subtext thicker than summer heat in a tent revival. Director Jean-Marc Vallée focuses on Amma's relationship with Camille in this round, as our favorite teenage fatale lures her older sister through a typical suburban home party where Amma briefly meets John Keene (the brother) of the murder victim No. 2, Natalie) and his girlfriend Ashley about their mutual suspicions.
We get a quick sis-on-sis kiss, then a rare moment of sister bonding that does not feel quite manipulative on Amma's side – at least until she asks Camille to take her to St. Louis.
It is a revealing moment for both sisters. Amma, who candidly admits that none of her friends like her, but she knows how to control her, calls Camille her "soulmate," then she laughs and says that such a bond feels like the Sisterhood. Camille, drugged and feeling pretty good about it, has flashbacks to all the dead girls she loved before – her dead younger sister Marianne and her dead roommate in the hospital – but she still gives herself to Amma.
Meanwhile, Camilles flimsy relationship with her mother is almost exhausted; After the ice-cold statement from Adora last week that she has never loved her daughter, this week's mother wants daughter out of the house. However, Camille is dragging her feet, in part because new facts about the crime are emerging, and in part because she's developing feelings for Detective Willis, who investigates Camille's ill-fated stay in the hospital where her roommate died, suicide. And there's probably a lot of reluctant love for Amma as well.
And we also get important murder indications! Camille notes that someone seems to have bitten off a large chunk of Ashley's ear, which is just as disturbing in the episode as in the episode. When Camille confronts her and asks if Natalie could have done it when she was murdered, Ashley hisses that if Camille wants to know anything about Natalie, she should ask the girl's mother.
And when we talk about another dead girl, we still do not know how Camilla's sister Marianne died, even though in this episode someone asks if anyone ever did an autopsy. "Of course not," says Adora's best friend Jackie Detective Willis; Adora did not allow her to be "dismembered." (At this point, I think we can probably put "best friend" in irony quotes, Yikes, Jacks.)
And finally, the biggest clue: workers from Adora's pig farm pull the bike out of a mud pond from Ann Nash, the first victim she lost on her disappearance. Later, one of the workers claims he saw John Keene burying it there. Of course, that does not look good to John. For one thing, there is Bob Nash's cut-off claim from an earlier episode that he saw John behave suspiciously while working on the pig farm; and Adora quickly shoots him from the farm for unknown reasons.
But we also know another suspect who likes loitering around the slaughterhouse: Amma. And since Sharp Objects is keen to signal that the killer is a woman, it's probably high time we looked at the evidence for and against our favorite burgeoning Machiavellian.
It's probably not Amma!
I'll break up here with my colleague Alex Abad-Santos and say that I do not believe it's Amma – though I have to agree that no one has suspected her (except John Keene, who clearly thinks she's a criminal) ,
First, because she's the only suspect who knows who was super friendly with the murder victims, she's too obvious a champion. But more importantly, I do not believe that the tools in Amma's toolbox-arms-like femininity, emotional manipulation, and secret knowledge-really are associated with sociopathy.
True, we saw her manipulating and appeasing Camille and her friends throughout the series. We have seen her manipulate and lied to her mother while effectively creating a double life for herself. And she apparently reads Machiavelli, what, okay, Amma, you're doing, girl.
But her manipulation of her mother has so far led to creating this double life and getting unhealthy escape from leisure just because she's bored. This is pretty typical for teenagers.
And while her ugliest moments – the lollipop in Camille's hair, forcing Camille to reveal her body in the previous episode and her decision to run into the forest on Calhoun Day – were a huge drama, they were all very ugly I turned also about her need for love and attention from Camille. She puts the used lollipop in Camilles hair after seeing her with Detective Willis and reacting with jealousy; She runs into the woods after realizing that Camille is not paying attention to her performance because she talks to Willis instead of watching her. She steals Camille in the dressing room in rage that Camille did not share her article with her before she published it for the entire city.
Although we have no reason to believe that Amma is actually sexually attracted to her older sister (except that it would not be Gothic without some incest), she has clearly become possessive of her, fast. That makes sense, because until now she lives a doll life for a terrible mother, among shallow friends who do not understand her. She wants Camille to idolize her the way she adores Camille. But is that sociopathy or just loneliness? My money is on loneliness.
But that does not mean that Amma is not dangerous
I also think that Sharp Objects has been trying to make a clear distinction between the types of weapons that give power to a woman in a city like Wind Gap, and the kind that does not. Amma's weapons (her femininity, a growing number of secrets) give her power over the people around her, and they make her dangerous – and also vulnerable to anyone who knows more than she does.
But we also saw weapons that did not work. Ashley's attempt to manipulate the story of the murders for John fails because she does not know enough; She tells Camille that they will not be "outcasts", but in the end they are laughed out by teenagers from the house party. And Camille's internalization of the trauma and abuse she has suffered is literally written all over her, but she has turned inward and withdrawn from Wind Gap, making her only a target for gossip and judgment on her return , Trying to move power too early in the Game of Secrets will not help you win – but to hide what you know forever just makes you vulnerable.
Significantly, Sharp Objects fades out the bird's-eye view of the completely linear viewpoint that we saw in our last episode of Calhoun Day, to immerse ourselves more deeply than ever in Camille's masterfully cut, nervous, deteriorating state of mind. How Camille's relationships unravel, and so does her memory; When Amma's history teacher – who is also one of the football players who raped Camille years ago – tries to apologize to her, she reacts to his horror as though she hardly remembers what he's talking about.
As she logs off with her old cheerleader friends, who are now all predominantly conservative suburbanites, she tries to apologize to the team's only black cheerleader for the way they treated them all, only to be gutted. Memory is another deceptive weapon that Camille still learns to master; without her she can not control her story. And it's clear that Camille's story is tied to Ann and Natalie's murders – and Marianne's.
Is Camille forbidding to know about the murder of her sister? Does Adora want her to get off because she digs too deep and gets too close? Does Amma want to be more than just sisters?
I think (hopefully?), The answer to all these questions is yes, and with only two episodes, I can not wait to see how Sharp delivers objects.


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