"Mama." Of all the words written on Camille Preaker (Amy Adams), and of all the hidden phrases woven throughout Sharp Objects, this one word has officially become the most ominous. Nothing is more chilling than Amma (Eliza Scanlen) uttering "mama," in her Southern accent, dripping with fake sincerity. Our little Amma is slowly revealing herself to be a well-dressed Rosemary's baby. And her mama, Adora (Patricia Clarkson), made her that way.
This week's episode, "Ripe," is all about the subtle manipulations the Preaker-Crellin women are pulling across Wind Gap. As the episode title suggests, Camille, Amma, and Adora are ripe with influence, beauty, and sexuality. Even though Sunday night's episode has been the slowest of the season, we finally got to see theories, characters, and relationships ripen — some to the the point of spoiling.
The episode opens with Camille transfixed in the same haunting flashback of Alice's (Sydney Sweeney) brutal death. We're immediately given our first sharp object of the night, the screw from the toilet that Camille used to harm herself in the previous episode. This sharp object has been flashed in every episode, and I believe it is at the forefront of her memory because it is the last time she really hurt herself. And she's sort of addicted to that memory. Another memory that has made several damning appearances is the one from the shack. We and Detective Richard Willis (Chris Messina) finally find out more information about the shack and all the dangerous and criminal activity it has hosted. Much like the shack behind the baseball field in 13 Reasons Why, the flimsy, decrepit building, deemed the "end zone," has been used by athletes to "hang out" with girls. Camille was one of the "lucky" cheerleaders to be invited to the shack in the woods, and this experience is clearly one that still plays a pivotal role in her adult life. It's why she ultimately left Wind Gap, the other women look at her weirdly, and those guys at the bar felt empowered to heckle her. While alluding to her own time in the woods, Camille explains to Richard how one girl's memory of being raped is another boy's memory of consensual and awkward high school sex. But the expressions on their faces leave no doubt as to which label fits the assault that happened to Camille and many other girls she knew.
Camille takes Richard into the woods to show him other crime scenes from the town's past in exchange for an on-the-record quotes from him. The woods are full of secrets...and dead bodies. This whole tour of death weirdly (or not so weirdly because this is Wind Gap) turns Richard on. He even refers to it as their "first date." Camille dutifully lets him put his hand down her pants, but she doesn't reciprocate. Her clothes remain on the whole time; he doesn't know about her scars. The two have some level of chemistry, but Camille is using Richard to get information.
What Camille does before her transactional semi-hook-up with Richard reveals where her real interests are: she is passionate about using the Wind Gap women for scoop and she is passionate about John Keene's (Taylor John Smith) story. First, let's start with the women. The bottle blondes of Wind Gap invite Camille to lunch (read: to drink champagne where Camille uses their loose lips to her advantage) and they each share their theories with Adora's curious daughter (most of the women are Adora's friends, not Camille's). The two main word-of-mouth suspects are Keene and Ann Nash's (Kaegan Baron) father, Bob (Will Chase), the only interview subject who has given Camille decent quotes. They think it must be a man from one of the victim's families because the Nashes and Keenes "had it out for each other." Apparently, the girls were more frenemies than besties. They were also both outsiders, which we knew from the parents' descriptions of the girls, and their families were viewed as "other." Considering the women of Wind Gap are Chief Bill Vickery's (Matt Craven) leading sources, it's no surprise that he too favours the theory that John killed his sister and Ann (Kaegan Baron). Vickery has been tailing John to catch him acting suspiciously, but with his focus solely on this kid, he isn't leaving much room for other suspects, and it's starting to frustrate Richard. One thing the two agree on though is that the suspect has to be a man, it just has to. No matter that the women are the most evil residents of this town.
Quick aside: speaking of evil women, we learn that Adora had Camille very young, and that she also had a bad relationship with her own mother. “It felt like you were punishing me for being born," Adora tells Camille one night in their dimly-lit living room. "It made me feel like a fool," she says. "Like a child.” Their beef started the day Camille was born. After this conversation, Camille has a flash of sharp object number 2, the toilet screw again.
Back to John: John and Camille are kindred spirits. Both feel like outsiders, both lost a sister who they loved, and both love a good Maker's Mark to drown out the existence of Wind Gap. The two have an enlightening conversation at the bar where John reveals that Natalie has a history of violent behaviour towards other girls (she stabbed another classmate in the eye with a pencil, a hypothetical sharp object number 3) which is why his family moved to Wind Gap in the first place. But this information is immediately overshadowed but what John says next: that Natalie (Jessica Treska) and Amma were friends. Not only that, but Amma was also friends with Ann. They would all go play in the shack together. Yes, that shack.
With Amma's history of not following the rules, Camille's mind goes to the most bleak situation, imagining Amma being the next victim. She jumps in the car and the scene flashes from Amma rollerblading, to Amma lying on the floor of the shack with all her teeth pulled out, to Amma being caught, alone, in bright headlines. As the episode cuts to black, we don't know if what Camille is thinking is actually happening.
Before we go, let's talk about the iconic Tupac Shakur music moment. We've heard Alan (Henry Czerny) and Camille's music preference (classical and rock 'n' roll, respectively), and now we know Amma's: hip-hop. She puts on Tupac's "Dear Mama," blasting it on her dad's speakers, and I braced myself for Adora to start screaming for her to turn it down. Instead, Amma approaches her from behind and the two start swaying to the rap. "When I was young me and my mama had beef / Seventeen years old kicked out on the streets / Though back at the time, I never thought I'd see her face / Ain't a woman alive that could take my mama's place." Camille happens to be home, and she watches the surprising interaction not in envy but in… acceptance. She has never, and will never, have a relationship like that with her mom.
- Amma will mess with anyone. At school, she openly flirts with her scruffy 30-something teacher. All she wants is attention. Especially from guys. Will this backfire? Has it already and we just don't know it yet?
- What is going on between Adora and Vickery? Not only are they openly flirting in front of Alan, but it feels like they were previously having an affair. Is Adora using Vickery to keep an eye on Camille, who she continues to call dangerous?
- Speaking of their beds, did Alan force himself on Adora? In the final scene, he aggressively walks into her bedroom, showing a darker side to himself than we've seen before. He has growing animosity towards his wife, and her version of events. (He rightfully points out that he, too, lost a daughter when Marian Preaker died.)
- Is Amma safe? Is Camille?