‘Sharp Objects’ Recap: Episode 4 “Ripe”

Each week, I will recap the latest episode of Sharp Objects, which is currently airing on HBO. (See the previous episode recaps here.) The fourth episode, “Ripe,” marks the halfway point of the eight-episode series. Most questions I had so far were answered in last week’s “Fix” episode. But now I have about three times as many questions after seeing “Ripe.” This episode wasn’t as difficult to stomach as last week’s, which was a welcomed reprieve. But we did delve a little more into Camille’s past.

Let’s talk about “Ripe.”

Spoilers ahead, so beware!

The episode picks up a few hours after last week’s final scene. It is now early morning, and we see Camille retrieving Alice’s phone from the field she threw it in when she slammed on her brakes in the middle of the highway. She plugs it in to her dashboard and is relieved to see that it still works. She drives off in her car, getting pummeled by images of Alice, her sister Marian, her stay in the hospital, the murder victims Natalie and Ann, and her half-sister Amma, over and over in her mind.

At the Preaker/Crellin home, Adora is awakened by the sound of Camille’s Volvo’s loud motor. Outside, Camille sees her mother peering through her bedroom window, with a judgmental look on her face. She enters the house, goes to her sister’s bedroom, and opens the door.

A flashback occurs: she is 16 or 17 now, with long hair and wearing a high school cheerleader’s uniform, standing in the same place: at the door of her sister’s bedroom. Her mother is lying on Marian’s bed, sobbing. Camille turns and walks downstairs, where Alan and their maid, Gayla, have a birthday cake with lit candles waiting for her. (We see it’s her 18th birthday.) As they begin to sing “Happy Birthday,” Camille says, “Not the time, okay?” Perhaps she wants to wait to celebrate when her mother is feeling better.

In town, Chief Vickery finds Detective Willis in his office waiting for him. Willis wants to collaborate more closely (or “start to collaborate” would be more accurate) with Vickery. He tells Vickery that he has a meeting scheduled later with Camille and is willing to share whatever information he gets from her, in return for a status update on where he is in his investigation of the two murder cases. Vickery does not seem interested.

The next scene is very brief: we see John Keene (Natalie’s brother) working on the Preaker/Crellin farm. His boss walks up to him and fires him on the spot, without explanation. John asks him what he did wrong, but his boss does not respond.

Camille arrives at a restaurant to meet four women (including family friend Jackie who we haven’t seen since Natalie’s funeral in episode two) for a social lunch. When the others ask her where her mother is, she explains that she is nursing an injury (the rose bush scratch from last week’s episode), “…but she really wanted to be here.” And Jackie responds, “Uh huh. Well, that’s a crock of shit.”

Jackie has only had a few scenes so far, but she is an absolute breath of fresh air every time.

The women talk about Calhoun Day, an annual celebration of the town’s founding, and it’s held on the Preaker/Crellin property. Camille seems concerned that it might not be a good idea with the current state of affairs. But the other women seem to think it will be good to get everyone’s mind off of things. Then, after asking Camille who she thinks is guilty of the latest murder (and she deftly turns the question back to them without answering it herself), each woman offers her own theory. Jackie believe Bob Nash (Ann’s father) is guilty, primarily because she has caught him staring at her chest several times before. Another woman at the table agrees with the Nash theory, claiming that Bob has “always had it in for the Keenes, and we all know why.” (She does not elaborate.)

Next, we see Amma at school practicing for a play for the upcoming Calhoun Day celebration. In the middle of practice, the teacher, Mr. Lacey, gets a phone call and has to step outside. Amma follows him and asks him if he liked the rehearsal. He says it was entertaining but inaccurate in its facts (about the founding of Wind Gap). Amma questions him, saying that he couldn’t be so sure of everything, because he wasn’t around when it took place. He replies, “It’s history, Amma. You can’t change it, but you can learn from it.” Amma says, “Is that why you’re always so sad? Because you can’t change your history?” She then grabs his hand to hold it, and he does not immediately stop her.

Camille checks in with her boss, Frank, who is receiving chemotherapy while on the phone. (It is unclear if Camille is aware of his treatment.) She tells him of her meeting with Detective Willis later that afternoon, and Frank is surprised that she thinks she can get his remarks on the record. “He’s ambitious. Cops like to see their name in print. They want to look good today,” she assures Frank. She ends the call, stocks up on vodka at the store, fills up her water bottle, and drives back home.

The next scene is so weird that Twitter nearly lost its collective mind after it aired.

Back at the Preaker house, Amma is seen turning up the stereo on 2Pac’s “Dear Mama.” While that’s playing the background, she walks up to Adora in the kitchen, hugs her from behind, and together they sway and dance to the music.

If they were literally any other mother/daughter pair in the universe, this scene would be sweet and – dare I say – cool. But with Amma and Adora, it is borderline frightening, because it is so inexplicable. Camille sees this “event” take place, and she has a “You have GOT to be kidding me” look on her face.

There is another flashback now, continued from her earlier one: it is still Camille’s 18th birthday. She opens the door to her mother’s bedroom, and Gayla shoos her away, telling her “Not today, child. Your mother isn’t well.”

Camille receives a call from Detective Willis. It’s time for their meeting.

As they walk together into the woods, Camille reminds him that he owes her one answer to any question she asks, in exchange for every crime scene she shows him.

Crime Scene #1: Two teenage girls who were in love were found dead in the woods. One of the girls left behind a baby, and Camille mentions that she went to school with that baby, whose name was Faith Murray. Camille says that the other kids bullied her constantly because her mother was gay. So Faith became very promiscuous, in an attempt to prove that she wasn’t gay herself. Camille says that no murder weapon was ever found, so no one is sure if it was murder or suicide.

Camille’s question to Willis: Why did you become a cop?

Willis’ response: While volunteering at an animal shelter as a kid, he saw so many abused animals come through the doors. Over time, he “became less interested in treating the animals and more interested in catching the animals that did that to them.”

Crime Scene #2: Another place in the woods, called the “End Zone” by the local kids, was where the high school football team “had their way with that week’s lucky cheerleader,” as Camille describes it. The girls were often 9th graders, and the police were never notified. “Some would call that ‘rape,'” Willis says. “Some people would call that ‘consensual,'” Camille retorts. Willis asks her if she was ever one of the girls, and Camille says that if she says she was, he would think less of her.

A few minutes later, we see a brief flashback of Camille as an 18-year-old in her cheerleader garb, at the same scene with several boys.

Camille’s second question: Has the tire sample from Bob Nash’s car matched any tread collected in the two girls’ cases?

Willis’ response: No.

Crime Scene #3: Camille and Willis are at an abandoned hunting shed in the woods. We have seen this cabin previously in Camille’s flashbacks only. There were/are pinups of pornographic images on the walls and rotting animal skins hanging from the rafters. Willis mentions that both Natalie and Ann used to hang out in this shed. Camille is obviously upset to be there and goes back outside in the open air to collect herself.

Camille’s third question: Did the girls know their attacker?

Willis’ response: He is certain they did. He believes the killer is a hunter, who tracked the girls, like prey. “It’s no coincidence that the only two girls that were killed in this town used to play here,” he says.

While Camille and Willis were in the woods, Chief Vickery pays Adora and Alan a visit at their home. He tries to convince Adora not to host Calhoun Day. He’s concerned that the killer will be on the loose and might be in attendance. Adora disagrees and says the town needs some frivolity for a change. She then concedes that Vickery does have the power as Chief to do what is best for the town in the name of public safety. He agrees with her, but then she reminds him that there are some in town who have the power to remove him as Chief.

Willis brings Camille back to her home, and they run into Chief Vickery leaving. Willis says he would be interested to hear about his social visit to the Crellins, and Vickery said he would be just as interested in Willis’ afternoon with Camille. It remains to be seen if they will collaborate at all.

Camille enters the house and sees Adora waiting for her in the living room. Adora asks how the lunch went earlier that day, and before Camille can go into detail about it, Adora says, “You were always so willful. Never sweet.” Adora then begins a long rant of all of Camille’s “faults” and recounts one story in particular. When Camille was about six years old, Adora wanted to put her hair in rollers for the school picture. Instead, Camille got Adora’s fabric shears and cut off all of her hair.

Camille has a shocking response to that story: “No, mama. That wasn’t me.”

Adora doesn’t acknowledge this statement and continues with her berating. She goes so far as to say that, starting from birth, Camille disobeyed, “like you were punishing me for being born. You made me feel like a fool, like a child. And now you come back here {to this house], and all I kept thinking was… you smell ripe.”

At Ashley and John’s place, they have an argument, and John leaves. Ashley happens to notice what looks like a bloodstain under their bed. She frantically cleans it up with bleach and puts the bed back in place. Meanwhile, we see John pulled over near a park, and he walks back into the woods. Chief Vickery is at the opposite side of the road, far enough away not to be noticed by John. A few moments later, we see John back at his family’s home, with a large spider for his sister’s room, to replace the one that Camille freed during the wake in episode 2.

Back at the Preaker home, Alan and Adora get into a heated argument. Upset by how Adora talked to Camille earlier, Alan says, “I lost a daughter, too. I don’t think you’ve ever stopped to consider that. Marian was taken from me, too, and I would just like to see some appreciation for how I have worn that!”

“It’s Camille, isn’t it? She brings discord into this house,” Adora says. “Not everything is the girl’s fault, and you know it,” Alan replies.

At the local bar, Camille runs into John Keene. They talk about his getting fired from the family farm earlier that day, He eventually tells Camille that Natalie got in trouble when they lived in Philadelphia. At school, a student stole Natalie’s pencil, so Natalie stabbed the pencil in the student’s eye. John also talks about Natalie and Ann’s friendship and how he was concerned that they would one day “kill each other,” because they were always fighting. And the only one who could keep things calm was Amma.

This news understandably shocks Camille. She says that she knew Adora tutored the girls, but she had no idea that Amma was close with them, too. John says, “Oh yeah. The three of them would always go play in that creepy hunting shed.”

The final 75 seconds is confusing (by design). There are three events happening at once: Camille is searching for Amma, starting at home and then rushing to the hunting shed; Amma is skating through town with friends, raising hell; and Alan is preparing to enter Adora’s bedroom, seemingly without her consent. The very final scene shows Amma skating alone on a road, and a car is following her, speeding towards her.

We have made it to the halfway point of the series relatively unscathed. Here are a few of the 80,000+ questions I have that I hope are answered in the next four episodes:

  • I think it is safe to assume that the event Camille’s boss Frank hopes she will be able to “get back on her feet” from is her stay in the psychiatric hospital. How long ago did that take place? And what prompted her to check in in the first place?
  • What did the social luncheon participant mean when she said “Bob Nash has always had it in for the Keenes, and we all know why”? What is the history between the Nash and Keene families?
  • Where did the blood under Ashley and John’s bed come from? And would John know the answer to that question?
  • When did Camille start self harming? In this episode, we see an 18-year-old Camille wearing a sleeveless, short-skirted cheerleader’s uniform. So at that point, she did not feel it was necessary to hide her arms and legs like she does in present time. And while she was in the hospital with Alice, she mentioned to her that she hasn’t been able to wear dresses since college, because of her scars.
  • Why in the hell is Adora so damned mean to Camille but not Amma or Marian?
  • Why has Chief Vickery insisted that he believes the murders were committed by random truckers but is concerned about the killer appearing at Calhoun Day?
  • When Camille said “No, that wasn’t me” in regards to the hair-cutting incident that Adora refers to in this episode, was Adora wrong in her recollection, or was Camille?
  • Alan is Amma’s father, but was he also Marian’s father? (We know he isn’t Camille’s father, for sure, and we now know that he was a part of the family for at least some of the time Marian was alive.)
  • How does the drama teacher Kirk Lacey fit in to everything? And what do Amma and the town know about his history? IMDB lists Evan Castelloe as a “young Kirk Lacey,” and I have only seen him in Camille’s flashbacks in the first and most recent episodes – both times while Camille was running through the woods with young Kirk and a few other boys (and appearing happy/not in danger in any way), while wearing the cheerleader’s uniform we see in this episode.

Be sure to return for a recap of Sharp Objects‘ fifth episode, “Closer,” which will air on Sunday August 5th at 9 p.m. EST!

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