‘Sharp Objects’ Recap: Dirt

TW: SELF-HARM, ALCOHOLISM

As episode one ended with Natalie Keene’s death, episode two begins with her funeral. Here, Camille must finally show her face to the whole town in quite a public way, all while trying to report this story. We begin to see Camille battling memories and anxieties, not just associated with her mother, but with returning home to a town full of secrets and whispers. Episode two explores the toxicity and gossip of Wind Gap, the anxieties that arise when coming home and the destructive ways we cope with those anxieties.

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As Camille sits at the funeral, Jackie mutters a stream of gossip right into Camille’s ear, pointing out who is who in the family, remarking about Natalie’s brother crying too much, and more. Not even funerals are sacred in this town — in fact, this just throws more fuel on the gossip fire. The gossip only continues at the funeral reception in the Keene home. The whispers are amplified when Camille arrives, making you painfully aware that people are talking about her. It echoes the experience of returning home so well: you enter a crowded house, pretend to smile, but have a heightened sense of awareness as people stare too long or whisper behind their glasses. How does Camille cope? The drink, of course.

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As she attempts to quell her homecoming anxieties, several old friends from high school appear, oozing sickly-sweet welcomes that are dripping with disingenuity. They proceed to gossip about Natalie’s brother in the Keene home, saying that he is the killer, he’s weird for crying so much, and other nasty words only busybodies can conjure up. As Camille leaves the conversation, one of her “old friends” whispers, “I hate her dress.” Playing up the whispers and making them so obvious, hammers home the toxicity of this town and how it permeates everyone’s lives. We can also see Camille struggling to cope with this as she continues her heavy drinking, as well as showing temptations to self-harm. In fact, when told that she’s tackled her demons, she responds,  “My demons are not remotely tackled, they are just mildly concussed.”

While navigating these awkward adult social situations, Camille turns to the children of Wind Gap as sources. One of Amma’s crew states that the killer isn’t taking the popular kids, only the weird ones. Camille also speaks to a gun-wielding 8-year-old named Joe, who claims he saw Natalie kidnapped by the Woman in White, who is a staple of Wind Gap folklore. This is also the first time the killer’s gender has been called into question. While the police insist it’s a man due to statistics, Camille is intrigued by the claim that this could be a woman. Perhaps this is a piece of information to keep in mind as the narrative progresses.

The music continues to be one of this show’s strongest elements, switching between diegetic and non-diegetic music. In this episode, in particular, the opening song moves into Camille’s headphones as she wakes up. There is something to be said for shows that use music in such a fluid way, keeping the viewer in a particular state of mind evoked by each track. Music is also important not only to Camille, but to her stepfather, as he takes meticulous care of his speaker system. Music is a coping mechanism in Sharp Objects, a place for escape, memories, and sadness.

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As the show ends, the episode title is again shown carved into Camille’s skin, with “DIRT” written on her lower abdomen, right where her pants hit her waist. Wind Gap is becoming darker and darker with each episode, a place full of secrets. Strong performances from Adams and Clarkson, paired with a haunting soundtrack and visions of slow, sweaty summer, create a sense of foreboding that you just can’t shake even as the credits roll. If you thought that summer was for fun, then you haven’t been to Wind Gap.

 

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