Sharp Objects Season: 1 / Episode: 7: Falling / HBO
Content Warning: Self-harm.
Camille Preaker’s emotional trauma and effed up family has me all the way exhausted so I cannot fathom how she’s getting through life. I know she’s a functioning alcoholic, but I would not even be functioning.
I Need a Hug
When we left Camille, she was drunk, high, and passed out after some ill-advised partying with her little sister, Amma. Did I mention her dead sister’s ghost was whispering warnings into her ear as she slipped into sleep? Yeeeeeah, if I’m Camille, Imma need that Pulitzer in my actual hand if you want me to stay in Wind Gap.
Cut to today: Camille is in the foyer looking at the doll house when its lights come on. Then a shadow crosses one of the doorways.
The Sick Ward
Camille wakes in a sleeveless (first red flag) all white angel-looking floor-length nightgown. Adora is staring at her in a way that is half menacing and half doting and 100% repulsive. Adora put the nightgown on a passed out Camille and wants desperately to help her–with her swollen and bruised ankle and fatigue. She offers her daughter honey which Camille accepts and medicine which Camille doesn’t. Intermixed with this is a flashback to younger pixie-cut Camille refusing medicine.
“I need to get to work,” Camille says as she pushes Adora and her remedies away.
Across town, Vickery drives past Amma’s skating minions to the gas station where he runs into Jackie who is buying her daily dose of liquor. The two exchange an almost openly confrontational conversation about Adora.
Back at the plantation, Amma is in another sleeveless floor length night gown. She’s playing with her doll house when a fully dressed Camille checks on her. Amma is letting Adora take care of her which is how, the girls, Adora wants it. Camille is somehow unnerved by this and tells her she doesn’t have to let it be this way. After telling Camille that the police were going to arrest John Keene that day (thanks secret cell phone!), Amma continues to play with her house, resigned.
At the local meth clinic, Kansas City is asking about a nurse at the suggestion of Jackie. When he eventually finds her, she has a lot to say about Munchhausen by proxy. She will not say that Adora has it, but… I wouldn’t say that either if when I suggested, years earlier, that the town’s most powerful woman was hurting her “sick” daughter, and I was fired from my job at the local hospital. She does, however, give Kansas City enough to get his detective gears in motion (and pointed towards Amma’s medical records at the local hospital).
Across town Vickery, true to Amma’s tip, is at Ashley Wheeler’s place to execute a search warrant. We already know that Ashley wants nothing more in life than to be popular so she’s an obstacle right up until Vickery says she’d be a hero if she helped the investigation–might even get on the local news. After that, she pointed the police to the place where she found a spot of blood days earlier. I’m guessing she left out the part where she got on her hands and knees and scrubbed it.
Back at the plantation, Adora is trying to nurse Amma who is (for once) resisting. When Amma tells her that she had a beer or two the night before and isn’t sick, Adora counters with “it’s just dehydration” and is undeterred. Amma asks for lunch instead of medicine and Adora is so hurt that Amma doesn’t need her anymore, so Amma can do her own laundry and clean her own room and doesn’t need her doll house anymore. So Amma relents and takes her mother’s medicine.
In the local dive diner, Vickery is celebrating with some high cholesterol food and filling Kansas City in on the search warrant and blood. KC asks Vickery about Camille’s dead sister and mentions the nurse. Vickery is less than pleased and storms out.
The Other Side of the Tracks
Meanwhile, Camille is driving around the Other (yeah, that’s capitalized for a reason) side of the tracks looking for John Keene in the kind of bar so underground, it’s actually someone’s living room. She finds him and he as drunk as you might be if you knew you were about to be arrested.
John is aware of what Wind Gap does. He knows they’re going to get to him and knows he can’t stop it. Camille, too, sees the familiar machine working on him. In talking about his sister, he reveals that his sister’s nails were painted; she would have never done that. Camille is struck. Maybe her female perpetrator theory is right, you can almost hear her think.
At the local hospital, Kansas City is looking at Amma’s medical records and getting a bad, very bad feeling. His research is interrupted by a call from Vickery with an update on John Keene’s location (more on that in a second).
Kansas City speeds off and right past Amma’s skating minions who are, in fact on their way to see Amma. Unfortunately for them, Adora sends them away and asks them not to come back again that day because Amma is “sick.” In bed, Amma is sweating and vomiting and she asks her mother if she’s ever going to grow up. Wait what now? Connect the dots faster, KC.
So where exactly is John Keene? Why he’s at a hotel with Camille, of course. This is a horrible, horrible decision for any number of reasons not even including the fact that the guy Camille is half-ass dating is speeding there with a warrant. The justification is that he should sleep off the drinking he’s done before the cops get him into an interrogation room. Okay [upward inflection]
That said, this scene was amazing. John strips Camille one item of clothing at a time and reads her. All the words. Every where. It is the first time in years she’s been seen. Of course, it had to be someone like John. Someone who is also deeply broken by the town. Someone who has also lost a sister. The object of gossip and rumor. They, of course, have sex. But that is the least interesting part of it.
At the plantation, Adora is mixing her homemade remedies for Amma. Alan sees and we know he’s complicit. Upstairs, Amma sneaks to try to use Camille’s laptop. It’s dead. She goes through her sister’s bag and finds her file. The dead girls stare back up at her. She hurries back to her room, knowing her mother is on her way up.
In the hotel, John and Camille are post-coital. It is sweet but not romantic. He is touching her scars and she is not flinching. He tells her that Adora is the only person in town who ever gave a shit about his sister. As he does, she flashes back to her mother trying to “help” her with her homemade concoctions. She makes a connection and gets out of bed to leave. She has her shirt on and nothing else when the cops show up. Kansas City was the first one in the door, of course.
Vickery, in a rare act of kindness, tells her to get dressed, and he leaves. Kansas City stands by the door at first but can’t resist coming in, closing the door, and giving her a huge pile of shit. And well, from his POV, who can blame him? Whatever they had ended in that room. Camille, confirmed in her “badness” and general unlovability. Kansas City perhaps converted to a believer because of the town’s gossip. Perhaps.
He sat outside the hotel long enough to see her leave. Once he knew that she would find her dead sister’s medical records, the ones he left, on her front seat, he left. And whose name was on each of those records? Who requested an autopsy? The only woman in Wind Gap that was nice to her.
So off to Jackie’s house she goes. if she was hoping for satisfaction or answers, she was disappointed. Jackie said to her basically what the nurse said to KC. No one was listening. Yes, she knew. But no one was listening.
After she has confirmation of what her mother was and is, she calls Curry. She can barely talk, but what do you say when you find out your mother is a killer? “My mother did it. My mother did it,” she sobs into the phone. He begs her to come home, but how can she? How can she leave Amma who even in that moment is being “nursed” by Adora?
She alternates between memory and conjuncture. She remembers seeing her mother hurt Amma as a baby. She bites her to make her cry and then laments that god gave her another sick baby. Camille imagines her as the lady in white that the little boy claimed to see at the edge of the woods the day the girl disappeared. She speeds home past Vickery.
He’s patrolling as Amma’s minions skate by. He stops them to warn them to skate safely and–Camille fresh on his mind–to be aware of speeding drunks. He asks where their third is; they tell him what Adora said: that Amma is “sick.” He seems struck by the word.
At the plantation, Alan is retreating into his music pretending that everything is okay and remembering dancing with Amma as a child. Upstairs, Amma is still sick and looks angry as Camille pulls into the driveway ready for… what exactly?
I Need Answers
Why does everyone know about Adora but no one is doing anything? Like for years? Decades? The police chief though? Alan? What is wrong with Alan that he let that happen to his daughter?
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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You literally asked my very same question. Why would this little girls father allow her mother to harm her? I however do not think that Vickers knows for sure. I think that she charms the Chief so much that she is not seen as a threat. But that husband knows EXACTLY what is being done and is doing nothing. Perhaps he has a bit of his own Munchhausen by proxy… Alas he too, lost a daughter, as he stated.