Sharp Objects is not for the faint of heart — that much we knew already — but the HBO series delivers its most disturbing instalment yet. Entitled “Fix”, the third episode sees Camille Preaker (Amy Adams) continue to investigate the murder of both Ann Nash and Natalie Keene, but as she tries to move forward, we’re given our first proper look at her past.
The wonderful editing techniques used in Sharp Objects aid in creating the superb atmosphere of the show, and only add to the mystery and intrigue of the narrative. You only need look at the amount of editors listed on the opening credits to see how much effort goes into making the editing as sharp as can be. They put the ‘flash’ in flashback, that’s for sure. But in “Fix”, we’re given more than just the usual flashes. We’re given some of the story. Just as Camille is searching for Ann and Natalie’s story, we’re searching for her’s —we’re trying to piece together the clues given to paint a picture of the young reporter.
A conversation with her younger sister Amma (Eliza Scanlen) takes Camille back in time — presumably months before the events of the show — where she voluntarily enters a Rehabilitation centre. While there, she friends a young woman named Alice (Sydney Sweeney). I mentioned last week about how music is such a key part of Sharp Objects’ magnificent atmosphere, and this week, we discover that Camille first fell in love with music because of Alice. The two listened to the young girl’s iPod as a manner of escapism, which makes sense because, since arriving in Wind Gap, Camille listens to her tunes when she’s craving freedom. It’s a way out. Both physically (as she often listens to music when driving) and metaphorically.
Back in the present day, Camille tries to strike up a conversation with Detective Richard Willis (Chris Messina), but he refuses to speak to her because of the piece she published. The conflict between the two is a necessary story move. He’s a cop and she’s a reporter, so there’s no way that he’d divulge secretive information about the murders to her. Not yet, anyway. His refusal to talk leads Camille back to Bob Nash (Will Chase), where she interviews him once more. It’s another great scene — one that’s made even better when Adora (Patricia Clarkson) shows up unannounced at Bob’s house, apologising for her daughter’s “inappropriate” behaviour. What’s so great about Camille and Adora’s relationship is that it only intensifies the already claustrophobic vibe of Wind Gap. The town is bad enough on its own, but having a watchful mother like Adora is understandably pushing Camille over the edge. Their subsequent scene together sees Adora blame Camille for everything, scolding her daughter for never accepting responsibility for her actions. Their relationship is truly tragic, and nobody could blame Camille for running away from the town, because it’s becoming more and more apparent that her mother simply doesn’t understand her.
Amma’s character development takes up a pretty large portion of this episode. The young woman is torn between the girl she wants to be and the girl her mother wants her to be. She begins to dress differently and encourages Camille to go out with her past her curfew. When she discovers Camille chatting to the charming Detective Willis, she taunts her older sister. Camille can’t get a moment to do her job – if it’s not her mother interfering, then it’s her sister. It’s also pretty ironic that Adora admonishes Camille, suggesting that she’s a bad influence on her daughter when it’s becoming more evident that it’s actually Amma that’s the bad influence.
The episode’s final moments take us back to the rehab centre, and it’s a shockingly disturbing turn of events as Camille finds Alice lying dead on the floor having killed herself. It’s made clear that the protagonist of the series blames herself for this tragedy, as she had previously told Alice that the desire to cut doesn’t go away as one gets older. Camille throws up in the nearby toilet, but it’s simply not enough. Desperate for a release, she loosens the screw on the toilet seat and proceeds to cut herself. It’s violent, and it’s horrifying, but it’s also very real. As disturbing and upsetting as this scene is, seeing Camille hurting herself like this is important for us, as it aids in understanding her as a character.
“Fix” is without a doubt the darkest episode of Sharp Objects yet, and with Alice’s death still very much on Camille’s mind, chances are the story is going to get even darker as we move further into the series. As much as Jean Marc-Vallée’s direction steals the show each week, it’s Adams who shone more so than ever in the latest episode. And with the pieces of the puzzle coming together ever so slightly for Camille, Adams will likely have many more opportunities to do so in future episodes.
Contributed by Stephen Patterson
Sharp Objects is simulcast at 2am on Sunday nights or shown in a more regular slot at 9pm on Mondays on Sky Atlantic.