Sharp Objects Recap: Mommy Dearest

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Sharp Objects/ Episode 2: “Dirt”/ HBO

We join our unlikely hero… um, our unlikely… uh… we join Camille Preeker in bed. Her memory is flashing between past and present, a disorienting experience that seems to plague her often. It’s after the discovery of the Ann Nash’s body in the alley so the image of that toothless girl is being shuffled in with flashes of her dead sister and another girl, taller and a bit older.

Everyone is preparing for the funeral. Her (hateful ass) mother is proper in all black and a Jackie O hat. Amna, who is menacing in her own saccharine sweet way, is playing with her doll house and watching; she’s always watching.

Meanwhile, Kansas City, the big city cop still stuck in Wind Gap, is getting the straight razor smooth shave and chatting the barber up about who’s leaving flowers where the most recent dead girl’s body was found and the town’s peculiar and superstitious ways of warding off future violence.

The tension between Adora and Camille is so good and thick and horrible that I want to start a GoFundMe to pay for their family therapy. Patricia Clarkson and Amy Adams outdo themselves in every scene they have together. Even as Adora nitpicks Camille’s funeral attire because she is after all a reflection of her mother, Adora chides her daughter about treating their funeral as work. But isn’t that exactly what it is for Adora, town matriarch?

The not quite parallel and not nearly as full of outright animosity between Vickery and Kansas City is in full display outside the funeral. Vickery mocks the younger cop for his hyper awareness that the killer might come to the funeral, calling him Agent Starling in a wonderful moment of intertextuality.

Inside the funeral, Jackie hails Camille over—offering a kind of oasis. Adora follows. Camille took notes, trying to make sense of the players in the town and in the investigation, and of course Adora took the pen out of her hand. But Camille snatched it back. I was hoping she might stab her in the thigh with it, too, but she didn’t.

Again, memories invade the present, and Camille is at her sister’s funeral watching her mother mourn. When she tried to go to her mother, Adora pushed her away. I hate this woman. She is perhaps the worst mother I’ve seen on television in years. And while it’s a testament to the actress and the writers, she’s literally hard to watch.

Camille can’t sit next to that horrible overbearing woman any longer and leaves, tearing the dress she borrowed from her mother. For a flash, we see her waist. It’s scarred somehow. And then she’s on the move…at the store buying a sewing kit and liquor.


She ran into her double-life leading sister, Amma, who’s there with her little friends sneaking vodka into Sprite bottles and being a cutesie little asshole in general as usual. Her friend causally says that girls are being killed but “not the cool ones.” So, yeah, a town full of jerks.

On the phone with her editor, Camille reveals that there’s an after-funeral get together she plans to attend to get more personal info for her story. Her editor is as per the norm, a mix of caustic and paternal. Something is going on with him. His wife(?) is in the background again cautioning him against pushing Camille too far “right now.” What’s happening right now with them? Hmmm.

At the super fun funeral after party, Camille sees Natalie’s dad get… escorted out of the festivities, and she realizes that Kansas City was taking soil samples or a tread imprint from his car at the funeral. She traces a scar on her wrist with one of the sewing needles from her kit she bought. It says something, a word.

She hears the current cheerleaders, led by Ashley, being catty about John and complaining about how standoffish he and his mother are being; that’s why they don’t fit in she says. Never mind that Ashley is his girlfriend. Never mind that the funeral today was for their daughter and sister. Who are these people?

Meanwhile the former cheerleaders, corner Camille and start tossing out theories about whodunit and generally gossiping. These are the women Camille grew up with; they were cheerleaders together, and we get a window into who Preeker had to be to survive that town and why she left.

She wandered into the Ann’s room and found a tarantula. In letting it go outside, she met the dead girl’s father. She gently pumps him for information and gets more of the same: Natalie’s father did it. Inside, Adora who seems to be following Camille just to make her disapproval apparent, chided her to leave the mourners alone and “report somewhere else.”

At home, Adora’s ineffectual husband tries to cheer her up with jokes and then with a dance. But Adora is determined to be out of it, so he retreats into his music.

At the morgue, Kansas City looks at the dead girl. He questions what it takes to pull out a person’s teeth with pliers. And then [holds back vomit], he somehow obtains a pig’s head and pulls one of its teeth… just to see if he has what it takes [upward inflection].

Meanwhile, Camille sees two boys; the first kid she’s seen out playing. One of them tells her his ex-friend saw Ann the day she disappears. That kid, the one who saw, invokes the local legend of the lady in white. In a memory or a daydream, Preeker sees this lady in white at the edge of the forest.

Camille finds the little boy and through a screened window, he tells her what he saw: the lady in white. He says he can take care of himself and hold up a gun. Annnnd that’s when Camille decides she needs to talk to his mom. And this mother-of-the-year candidate is utterly indifferent to that tidbit.

Back at Adroa’s house, which honestly I want to call a plantation, Camille has more memories of her horrible mom being horrible, loving Miriam (her dead sister) generously while Camille stood just on the periphery of that love. In Miriam’s room, which is more of an altar, Adora sobs in the bed, so Camille leaves.

On her travels, she runs into Vickery and asks why the cops aren’t following up on the lady in white “lead.” There’s something there. Vickery asks how her mom is, Camille says that she’s holding up, “you know.” Does he? Does he know? Hmmm.

Next up is—of course—a bar. While Camille orders a drink, the local dips hicks start giggling and laughing and you just know these are the asshole from high school. She sees Kansas City and sits with him. The giggling idiots buy them drinks and then offer to buy Camille four “blowjob shots” because they are charmers. She takes it stride; she’s heard it before, evidently. One of the idiots storm out, the same haggard looking guy who was watching her too closely at the funeral.

Back on the plantation, she calls her editor, Curry, to update him, and she sounds good. As good as we’ve seen her be. But then she starts… playing with the needles. It’s not directly against her skin. And it seems without… intent. Downstairs, suddenly, Amma starts wailing apparently in grief. Adora manages to ask Camille about her drinking at the funeral after party while she’s supposedly comforting Amma? Who is this woman? It’s heartbreaking but not surprising when Camille goes back to her room and escapes to her headphones and a needle scraping across her belly.

Things I need to know: Why is Jackie so nice to Camille? In a town full of gossiping backbiting, why does she tell Camille over and over how beautiful she is? Why does Adora so obviously hate her daughter? Who’s the woman in white?

If you or someone you know struggles with self-harm or substance abuse, please seek help by contacting the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 1–800–662-HELP (4357). For additional resources visit www.hbo.com/sharp-objects/resources.

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  • Shirley

    I felt Jackie has to be her aunt or pseudo auntie. That’s why Camille and Adorable sat in the same pew at the funeral.

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