As Sharp Objects approaches its final episode, the tension, anxiety, and apprehension is becoming unbearable in a wonderfully captivating way. In episode six, “Cherry”, we learn that underneath the shiny and luscious outside of Wind Gap is a deep, dark pit. This episode confronts the shiny facade of Wind Gap’s domestic life and the angst that lies just beneath the surface.
Episode six opens on three different groups waking up: Camille and Richard, Alan, and Chief Vickery. The two in particular that are in such stark contrast to one another are Alan and Chief Vickery. Alan wakes up on a pullout couch, where Adora has sequestered him. He starts his day alone, glimpsing a pile of vintage porn on the table. Alan is a symbol for hidden household dysfunction; while his wife and home appear perfect, he is pushed to another floor, to a bed that isn’t truly his. Then there is Vickery, who’s waking up sequence is almost exactly the same as in episode four. He has a set routine and a wife that cares for him. His unchanging routine is a breath of stability in a time of utter chaos. It’s a small sequence of events, but it speaks volumes about what happens behind closed doors despite the shiny airs put on to impress others.
As the episode progresses, Camille attends a girl’s night at an old friend’s house. The camera quickly cuts to various moments of stereotypical domestic life: pastel toys littering the patio, strategically-placed framed pictures, a dip spread. Camille takes it all in as she pours a glass of wine and regards the scene in front her: a group of women crying over a chick flick, and then, their various problems, including going back to work and not having more kids. Camille is the only one without kids, so she is met with “you can’t feel the pain that we do” and “your heart doesn’t work until you’re a mother.” Her response? A monotone “girl power”. The attitudes of these women are adopted out of duty – in this town, women have one role and that is the mother.
Underneath those plastered smiles and almost-rehearsed speeches about motherhood is something toxic. Katie, the party’s host, is married to the town’s music teacher. He also alludes to raping Camille as he catches her leaving their house. He says it has haunted him and now that he has daughters, he truly understands what he did wrong. Classic, right? A man realizing sexual assault is bad only after having kids of his own. This isn’t lost on Camille as she says, “Well we both got fucked.”
Camille then attends another get together with a much younger crew and a very different vibe— she is roped into going to a high school party with Amma and co. Bad idea? Yes, especially as Camille takes Xanax and ecstasy with her baby sister. At first, this party is something out of any teen comedy: underage kids with red solo cups in hand, screaming in excitement at the latest arrivals as music blasts. But Camille has infiltrated this space. It feels wrong. As one of Amma’s friends says, “you’re like my mom but hot.” She is not meant to be there.
This episode confronts something uncomfortable: the sexual tension between Camille and Amma. This tension has been growing since episode one, but now it feels much more palpable and obvious. There are more overt moments, such as Amma taking ecstasy and transferring it to Camille via her tongue. But then there are the long glances from Camille at Amma, as the camera lingers on Amma for just a second too long, or the small smile that appears at the corner of Camille’s mouth when she’s with her sister. There’s something strange between these two, and it’s another instance of confronting and tearing down domestic expectations.
Camille is surrounded by dead girls – from her sister to her roommate to the two murder victims. Her memories flash to these girls, and drugs only blur that barrier. The dread and suspicions are growing, and it’s about to snap. Some may regard Sharp Objects as a boring slog, but it’s one of the more tense and disturbing shows on TV.