Zig-zagging flashbacks. Eerie music. A jolt out of a nightmarish memory. Welcome back to Wind Gap, and back to Camille’s haunted past. Does she ever rest? Her mind is spinning even when she sleeps, probably because she keeps falling asleep to the spookiest music. She uses the music to drown out her thoughts, but instead it seems to help them thrive, like water to a dried out plant. Despite the utter exhaustion, it’s time for Camille, and us, to continue digging deeper into the darkness of this small murderous town in episode 2, “Dirt.”
It’s the day of Natalie Keene’s funeral, and the Preaker-Crellin home is full of jubilant sunlight, yet burdened with a still somberness. The only person who seems unaffected by the situation is Amma, who stands around, bored, shining the clean white floors of her creepy dollhouse. The family eats breakfast together (the first time they ever resemble a family), but the situation is fraught from the moment Camille walks in the room. Adora immediately starts touching and smoothing Camille's dress, critiquing the way it fits. Amma chimes in, “curvy!”, admiring her half-sister’s almost rebellious body compared to her and her mother’s own tall, thin silhouettes. The dimly-lit kitchen is also where we see our first sharp object of the episode: a long, glistening knife. Camille reaches for it to cut an apple — Adora immediately interferes and hands the utensil to their housekeeper, Gayla (Emily Nancy), who knowingly accepts it. She also collects all the other knives from around the kitchen and tidily locks them up in a drawer. They must know about Camille.
During the funeral, Camille accidentally splits her dress open, requiring her to pick up a sewing kit, containing seven shiny needles. Sharp object number two. She uses one of the needles to outline an already raised word on her forearm, “SCAR.” Camille also jams one into the side of her fabric car seat. She mindlessly fidgets with while she drives around town. Sharp object number three.
The flashbacks in this episode are brutal. The memories weave in and out, transporting us back-and-forth between Camille at Marian’s funeral and her at Natalie's. We see a few familiar freeze-framed memories from episode 1, including droplets of blood, a janitor's cart, and that rancid porn-filled clubhouse. Later, at the reception for Natalie’s funeral, Camille hears a cascading waterfall of nasty whispers about her. Women and men calling her out, asking if that’s really her, remarking that she’s a “bitch.” It feels like voices in her head, but they also feel like memories of other parties at which she felt a similarly isolated. Back at home, in each of the richly-colored rooms of her family's Southern mansion, Camille's flashbacks continue to blur with her reality. She's playing with Marian until their mother yanks her away and slams a bedroom door in front of Camille's face. Her whole life, Adora has kept everyone and everything she loves far from Camille.
We also learn a lot more about the girls’ murders, and how the town is handling the details of their deaths. At the barber shop, Det. Richard is told by his Colonel Sanders-looking friend that much of the town’s reaction to the murders is rooted in superstition. The flowers being left out on Ann Nash’s memorial? They’re being left there as an offering to protect the rest of the town's children. The townspeople also went and physically removed every single rock from the creek after word got out that Ann’s body had been hung up on a clothes line using them. They smashed every rock, hoping to ward off whatever evil had led to the girl’s death. In a flashback, we also see that Ann’s teeth were also removed like Natalie’s. Both sets of teeth were removed with pliers, specifically household pliers. Like Ann’s family, we learn that Natalie’s family also keeps to themselves. Both the Nash and Keene families are considered outsiders in the town, and their daughters didn’t conform to the girlish ways of the other girls like, say, Amma. The smaller inconsistencies in their supposedly linked murders (Ann found at her kill site in the woods, Natalie propped up “like a doll” in the middle of town) continue to frustrate Richard.
Speaking of Amma, we witness just how much her and her group of crop-top wearing friends love to get into trouble. They steal alcohol from corner stores and manipulate adults into thinking they’re full of pure doe-eyed innocence. But Camille sees right through them. She used to be them: young, pretty, reckless. They also feel untouchable because, as one of the Kelseys say, the murderer isn’t killing the “cool ones.”
With all this talk of girls, we need to talk about a few guys: James Capisi (Dylan Schombing) and Alan Crellin (Henry Czerny). James, a local kid with a big mouth, tells Camille that he saw the “woman in white” who took Natalie in the woods and thinks she killed the girl. He even told the police, but they didn’t believe him. He maintains it wasn’t “no ghost,” but even Camille has doubts because the "woman in white" is an old piece of Wind Gap folklore. She and her friends used to scare each other with stories of a wicked witch in the woods. It's going to be tough to prove, especially considering that the Capisi family, with a meth addict mom (who is also suffering from cancer) and absentee dad, is the perfect heart-breaking foil to Camille's. They're the "trash" Camille was referring to in Frank's office.
Then there’s Alan, who is Adora’s champion. He's the dandy man of the town; Adora's little pet. He's not Camille's real father (here's what we know about the real Mr. Preaker), and he makes that abundantly clear. The only person he cares about is Adora. He tells his wife to eat, to stop pulling out her eye lashes (“you’ll look like a hairless cat”), and he even convinces her to loosen up enough to dance in their living room. Where James is open and trying to spread the truth, Alan is an accomplice to hiding whatever his family needs hidden, including from Camille.
The most intense scene we've had at the Preaker-Crellin mansion takes place in the final scene of the episode. Camille turns in her first piece on the murders, detailing Natalie's bedroom (which has the skeletons of a girl-y bedroom, but is actually full of sports memorabilia, pillows with bugs on them, and even a live tarantula). While editing it, she pulls out another sewing needle from the plastic lining of her pack of Parliaments and runs it up and down her thigh. Sharp object number four.
Her thought process is interrupted by loud yelps, and she rushes downstairs to see Amma in the midst of a full-on fit. It's weird. She's acting like she's possessed, thrashing around on the floor. Camille asks if everything's okay, only to be met with Adora's growling, violent criticism of her drinking. It's a completely irrelevant topic, considering the state of her other daughter, but it's typical. Adora harnesses all her negative energy at Camille, and then wonders why her eldest daughter never seems "nice." It's in this scene that we fully understand the toxicity surrounding Adora. She drives Camille mad. What would you do if the biggest demon in your life was your own mother? And your own thoughts? Camille's current state of mind can be summarized in a key moment she shared with Jackie at Natalie's reception: “My demons are not remotely tackled," she says, almost laughing at the idea of ever being free from her vexing memories, "they’re just mildly concussed.”
Back in her room, Camille grabs one of the needles and lays on bed with her ear buds in. She lifts her shirt and starts to press it into her exposed stomach. Sharp object number five.
- “More dead little girls, as if Marian wasn’t enough.” That’s what Adora mutters under her breath during breakfast to no reply. It’s a strange thing to say since it doesn’t look like Marian’s death had anything to do with the other girls. Any dead child is sad, but Adora feels that there’s a strong connection between her deceased daughter and these girls’ murders 20 years later. Is there something she knows that we don’t?
- Frank and his wife are so damn charming. They really do love Camille, or "kiddo" as Frank calls her. Frank wants a story, but mostly he wants to push Camille into the next phase of her career.
- I love Camille’s addiction to rock ’n’ roll music. Led Zeppelin doesn’t seem like the obvious choice for her, but it works so well. The angst of slightly metal guitar solo? Extremely Camille. And LCD Sound System? The range!
- We finally meet the mean Stepford Wives of Wind Gap. They’re not as stylish as you’d think. But it’s a reminder of where we are — a place devoid of modern fashion and maybe even modern morals. The box-blonde peanut gallery reveal their own theory to Camille: John Keene did it. They think he’s been too emotional, which means he is either gay or had the hots for his sister. They have zero proof of any of this, only the confidence of being wine drunk.
- Who knew the sound of someone peeling teeth out of a decapitated pig’s head would be so incredibly gross?
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