The Ecstasy & Misery Of Calhoun Day: Sharp Objects Ep. 5 Recap, "Closer"

Photo: Anne Marie Fox/HBO.
Closer. Closer to solving who is killing young girls in Wind Gap? Not quite. Closer to understanding if Camille Preaker (Amy Adams) is capable of writing an award-winning piece of journalism? Definitely not. But with episode 5 of Sharp Objects, "Closer", we are indeed that much closer to figuring out what makes Camille, Adora (Patricia Clarkson), and Amma (Eliza Scanlen) tick. And it's not pretty.
Adora wants to torture Camille. It's a daily routine for her. Wake up, put on makeup, emotionally abuse eldest daughter. Rinse, repeat. The intensity of her mother's verbal cuts distract Camille from her mental obsession with her physical cuts and it shows in a subtle, but immediately noticeable way — this episode is basically devoid of those lingering sharp objects. There is no bloody flashback to her stay at the hospital, or her time with Alice. Instead, Camille is too busy defending herself from the demon in her house to worry about the demons in her head.
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There are two life-altering moments between Camille in Adora in this episode, one in public and one in private, and each is evil in its own way. First, Adora punishes Camille for writing an article about Wind Gap (which is, um, her job — for better or worse) by taking her to a store to try on dresses for Calhoun Day, and then snatching her clothes from her so she is forced to show her hundreds of scars in a slinky dress. Camille does not want Amma to see her scars, and she is fully aware that her mother is publicly bullying her, picking at her wounds (figuratively). Camille stands in the dressing room, naked and afraid, before she comes out in a black bra and underwear to throw the dress directly in her mom's face. We, through Amma's wandering eyes, take in all the words on her body, from neck to ankle, wrist to wrist: "RIP," "whine," "oven," "sex," "wrong," "fuck," "blade," "girl," "proper," "aggression." Look at what you made me do to myself! is what she wants to say, but instead she asks, "This is what you wanted, right?" Adora calmly, but shakily, replies "You’re ruined. All out of spite. You want to know who your father was? That’s what. All spite. I’m glad Amma saw." Camille goes back in the dressing room and screams into bubble gum pink dress. She cries, she rips at the dresses, and she freaks the fuck out. Adora's finally broken her. Again. (Side note: Welcome to Adams' Emmys episode.)
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And if we thought that was bad — Phew! did that porch scene do us all in. After all the drama of Calhoun Day — starting with Amma's performance, then a fight between Bob Nash (Will Chase) and John Keene (Taylor John Smith), followed by Amma's disappearance, and her mysterious resurgence, covered in blood (notice a slight pattern here?) — Adora invites Camille to the veranda for a drink. She begs her, practically. Camille accepts the request (remember it was only this morning that Adora pulled that dressing room stunt), and sits with her mom. They apologize to each other, Camille for the article and then Adora for Camille's unhappy existence. “I never loved you," Adora tells her point fucking blank. She tells Camille she was cold from birth because of her father, and that she will never get close to anyone, and therefore never be loved. Camille's face spasms into a combined look of rage, hatred, and dejection. "I hope that is some comfort for you," the twisted mother tells her daughter, stroking the tears off her face. Wow.
While we recover from those two extremely depressing mother-daughter encounters I'd like to talk about Calhoun Day, an event that perfectly exemplifies the gross misogyny and racism of a place like Wind Gap. The Missouri town celebrates a day when the wife of a Confederate solider was beaten, raped, and burned alive while tied to a tree, all to protect her husband. But the day is named after, and therefore meant to honor THE HUSBAND. Still, gross husbands do abound in this town. The three local guys who we saw accosting Camille in the woods near the shack in last week's flashback (the show has hinted at a sexual assault, but that hasn't been confirmed), are all married, beer-bellied pigs. They're dressed up in Confederate memorabilia, getting drunk off beer, wine, or mysterious liquor-filled flasks, and watching their kids put on a play reenacting one woman's horrific life.
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And guess who plays the starring role? Miss Amma, of course, in a flow-y white dress. But being the rule-breaker she is, a little Ecstasy was required to make the performance complete. Her bug-eyed, trippy rendition of Wind Gap's history is actually hilarious to watch, but it's unclear if anyone knows just how much trouble the kids are getting into. The town is too distracted by speculation over whether it was Nash or Keene who killed the girls to pay attention to the living ones. Nash thinks the kid Keene did it. Keene doesn't seem to think Bob did, he's too depressed, but his girlfriend, Elizabeth (Madison Davenport) continues to be passionate about his innocence enough for both of them. She also low-key threatens Camille to actually quote her in the next article (she's the only person in town who wishes to be more involved in these heinous murders) and tells her, “You don’t want to burn this bridge. I know things Camille.” What things?!
Night caps:
- Will everyone stop talking about Camille behind her back? I know this town can't resist, but now Chief Bill Vickery (Matt Craven) is starting to sound like Adora and her little birds. "Good tree, bad apple," Vickery warns Richard (Chris Messina). Why don't you stick to the business of your own tree, and your own apples, Mr. House Visits To Adora Every Day. Does his wife know about all this? She looked unassuming enough at Calhoun Day. But you know who does know? Jackie O'Neill (Elizabeth Perkins).
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- Speaking of, sweet Jackie's gonna solve the murders. This mumu-loving, white wine-blooded housewife knows everything. I'd like a Gif of her vaping during the play immediately.
- We learn a little about the rules and context of the words on Camille: no names, no boyfriends. Are there any more?
- In between their two confrontations, the game between Camille and Adora is in full display. Camille is publicly affectionate towards Richard to piss off Adora, so Adora grabs Richard and takes him on a tour of the home where she warns him of Camille's "thorns," all while Amma angrily and enviously watches from the sidelines. I don't want to call it man-eater behavior, because it's emotional chess with male pawns. Will the all guys — Alan (Henry Czerny), Vickery, Richard (who ends up getting a desperate "I hate my mom" hook-up from Camille) and every teen in Wind Gap — ever catch on?
- The house is becoming its own character. We learn all about the luxuries it possesses, making it the worthy host of the Calhoun Day. There's the green and floral hand-painted silk wallpaper from Paris in the entryway, and the (now illegal) elephant tusk ivory floors in Adora's bedroom and bathroom which haunt Camille's memory because she was scolded for tracking in mud. The house was featured in Southern Home magazine with the title “Legacy +Ivory: Together in Perfect Harmony.” Inside the feature, Adora is seen photographed with Marian, even though Camille was present for the whole photoshoot. Adora is the legacy, and Marian is her perfect shiny ivory. Camille is just the dirt messing it all up.
If you or someone you know is considering self-harm, please get help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
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