Sharp Objects: Episode 2 – “Dirt”

Welcome back to Wind Gap where this week we spend a little more time learning about the possible suspects in the serial killings of Ann Nash and Natalie Keene. We swing around town as the titles play, along with different music this time — when the needle drops, will there be a new message to listen out for each week? The first week titles played along with “Dance & Angela” by Franz Waxman from the original soundtrack to A Place in the Sun. This week opened with “Glance Backwards” by Jeffrey Brodsky.  The title pictures, too, are clues of what is to come I am sure — the pigs in the abattoir having a definite sense of foreboding.

The episode starts with Camille dreaming, some of the same flashes as we saw in Episode 1, but then a startling vision of a girl, all dressed in black propped lifelessly up against a wardrobe door. It is just a black dress, hanging ready for the funeral of Natalie Keene, but have we seen that girl somewhere before? She is not Marian — we will learn more as the series progresses no doubt. A flash then to the word “Fornicate” cut into flesh, presumably Camille’s.

Detective Willis is up early, examining the tributes left to Ann Nash in the centre of town, just yards away from where the body of Natalie Keene was found. In eyeshot of it, in fact — could the killer have been scoping out a place for their latest victim whilst pretending to mourn Ann? That is certainly what Willis believes. Noticing fresh flowers set at the site of Natalie’s body, he wonders if the killer had left them, to rid themselves of a guilty conscience. The local barber has another idea, however, believing that this is just one of the locals hoping to prevent any further children being murdered. The Wind Gap townsfolk are a superstitious lot and the barber tells Willis that after Ann’s body was found in the creek, the townspeople took the boulders that were used to help tie her down and destroyed them in an attempt to ward off the evil.

But who can you trust in this town? Those who want to protect its old Americana values are not going to give anything away. It is better for there to be folklore at play than admit that there is a monstrous, teeth-pulling killer in their midst. Later, Willis picks the brain of police chief Bill Vickery, wondering why the killer has changed their M.O. from secretly dumping the body in a river to propping their next victim up like a doll in a window in the centre of town. Clearly the killer wants to be noticed, they want to show the town who is boss, and they will do this by instilling fear. And it’s working. The gardens and playgrounds are empty of children. All the parents are terrified of their child being the next victim and the gun stores have sold out. Not surprising at all in a small town where things like this just don’t happen. Who is keeping secrets? It appears pretty much everyone in town is.

Breakfast is awkward at Adora’s house. The tension between her and Camille could be cut with a knife. Speaking of knives, I noticed some lingering shots of the maid cutting fruit, and the very creepy Amma, appearing to be mesmerised by the blades. After getting into a fight again about Camille being in town only to report on the murders, the family leave for the funeral. Except Amma.

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Camille heads for Jackie (Elizabeth Perkins) at the service, who initially it appears has forgotten that she even saw Camille the day before, putting her forgetfulness down to drink — another hint at Jackie being her real mother?  She certainly shows her more love, and in Episode 1 she called her “baby girl.” I am reaching I know, but it’s a hunch. It may go a little way toward explaining the apparent disdain that Adora has for Camille if she is not her own. At the end of the episode, Adora will tell Camille that she looked out for Natalie, that she reminded her of Camille, the way she played out in the woods, and she felt like she might have been able to save her, as she wasn’t able to save Camille.  It appears that Adora likes to fill the voids of her lost daughters with other girls. Does Camille do that too?

While Jackie and Adora are supposed to be friendly, they have no interaction at all at the funeral, despite sitting just one person apart. Subsequently, at the wake, no one appears to speak to Jackie at all. Is she even really there? I’d have thought I was onto something, but she is later discussed by Camille and Willis. Camille tells him that Jackie is the only person who cares about her, and this is the only time I have seen Camille smile when talking about another person, other than when she told Amma that Marian wasn’t perfect, but almost.

Camille scopes out the church and notices Bob Nash, Ann’s father, sitting alone. A couple too, the attractive female clearly wanting to get Camille’s attention, her partner looking somewhat sheepish. The brother of Natalie too, John who is totally devastated by his sister’s death, they were like best friends.  Curiously, Camille writes ‘Loser?’ on her notes as she watches him, it seems like a cruel thought to have of a grieving boy, and perhaps an insight to Camille’s less than savoury past. As Camille watches Natalie’s mother pour her broken heart out, the banner behind her changes from reading ‘Hope’ to ‘Hurt’. This mimics the premise of her speech, how her families dreams for Natalie are dead now, only pain remains, she wants revenge.

Camille leaves the funeral early and heads for the store to buy a sewing kit, purely for the needle it seems. As she sits outside the Keene house in her car, again listening to Zeppelin, about to scratch herself, she witnesses Bob Nash being ejected from the house in a shouting match with Natalie’s father. Why? We don’t know yet, but clearly something happened between the two dead girls. The number plates on the cars in front of the house read, ‘Bundle’, ‘Punish’ and ‘Tangle’.  If this is Camille’s mind projecting, what exactly is she thinking here?

The words that we see are projections of Camille’s thoughts of the situation — but the words scraped into her skin, are they what she really thinks of herself, or are they the projections of how her mother makes her feel?

Adora is once again painted to be a manipulative and cold mother to Camille. In a flashback to Marian’s funeral, a memory triggered by Camille seeing her mother pluck her eyelash out again, Camille recollects attempting to console her mother then, but being rejected. Her eyelash drops to the order of service card and Camille picks it up, strokes it against her cheek, one small moment of affection, the softest scratch, a tiny part of Adora from which she could take some maternal love.  Jackie tells Camille she wasn’t always like this, that before Marian’s death Adora was nice and fun. This is not a version of her mother that Camille can remember, and it appears that both of them were damaged considerably by Marian’s death.

So is Adora all bad?  She is certainly cruel and has unreasonable expectations of Camille, but sometimes she has a point about her daughter’s behaviour.  She scolds her for writing notes at the funeral, and I must admit that I thought this was rude, and then later for snooping around Natalie’s room without permission, which was just downright outrageous in my eyes. Adora quite rightly tells her that she should know better, that this is a private and personal place.  But you have to feel for Camille. The only person in her life who seems to have any real care for her is her Editor, Frank Curry. He is the one egging her on to get the story, and of course she wants to impress him and show him he is right to have faith in her. In doing so she lies to him about getting permission to be in Natalie’s bedroom, which will surely come back to bite her, and maybe Frank in the ass. She knows this too — she scratches the word ‘liar’ into her leg as an immediate punishment of herself for betraying him.

Camille does pick up on some interesting things of note in Natalie’s bedroom however. It is painted in colours that tomboy Natalie almost definitely wouldn’t have chosen, they certainly don’t fit with her tastes depicted in posters and spiders, which Camille sets free in the garden. Natalie’s jacket hanging in the hall is emblazoned with the word ‘Whatever’. It’s a brilliant encapsulation of the person Camille decides Natalie was — someone stuck inside a set of girly social expectations and restricted to a palette of pink and purple.

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Camille’s relationship with Detective Willis is growing stronger though his annoyance at her wanting him for his information more than his friendship still puts a wedge between them, I will be interested to see just how close she allows him to get as the story progresses.

More insight is given into the girl Camille used to be when she is cornered by a gang of bitches at the Wake. Old friends, the cheerleaders, her friends from way back when before Marian died. The attractive leader of this gang, a grown up Amma in many ways, with the sheepish partner, keeps an eye on Camille — she almost smirks at his wariness of her, an ex-boyfriend I would suspect, and he is perturbed by her presence in town. Did she do something to him? Was he the boy chasing her in the woods? What happened when he caught up with her? These elements of history repeating themselves, the roller skating girls, the bitches, those that want to rule the town all leads us to feel that it is perhaps the women in this town that should be watched, not so much the men.

It is a ‘Woman in White’ who becomes the next suspect. Seen by a little boy, James Capisi, allegedly snatching Natalie from the playground right in front of his eyes. The police put it down to the tall tales of a desperate little boy whose mother is dying of cancer and is a meth addict. He carries a gun at just 8 years old. And no-one really cares. A sign of the times in America eh? This may be an old fashioned town, but there are some things that nowhere can escape. Camille sees a woman in white slipping out of the trees, but is this a hallucination? Is the folklore creeping in through the cracks in her broken mind too?  On the surface Camille seems very capable, perhaps one of the sanest people there but her scars tell a different story.

With the police being certain that the killer is a man, purely on the basis that it would require a lot of strength to pull Natalie’s teeth out with a pliers, it appears that they are discounting half of the town’s population. Detective Willis attempts to reenact the dreadful brutalization on a pig’s head — the first link to the pigs seen in the opening credits. The second link being that James’ mother Crystal Capisi worked at the local abattoir. It may be time to visit the butcher.

Episode 2 may not have furthered the story significantly but it widened the scope of potential killers and deepened the mystery.  A few final thoughts I have are, why was Amma freaking out at the end?  Adora said it was because two of her friends had been murdered but it is pretty clear Amma doesn’t care about that at all.  Was this an act for her parents or were they doing something to her? Alan noticed Adora pulling at her eyelashes — last week I suggested that self harmers notice others a mile off, could this be something that the whole family are affected by? Or is he just a considerate husband? His calm nature, but yet need to escape his frustrations in music, just like Camille, shouldn’t really raise an alarm bells ringing, but there’s something not quite right about Alan.

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For more Sharp Objects analysis read Part 1 ‘Vanish’ here and keep an eye out for our new articles every Tuesday at 25YL: Sharp Objects


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