We have now entered the second half of the Sharp Objects series. This latest episode, “Closer,” focuses on the town as a whole coming together again, which last occurred during episode 2, “Dirt,” at Natalie’s funeral. Will Calhoun Day provide a relaxing atmosphere for the townspeople, who have been uptight and scared in the aftermath of the latest murder?
Of course not. This is Sharp Objects, after all.
Here is a recap of “Closer.”
Obligatory spoiler warning – read ahead at your own risk!
This episode picks up from last week’s frenetic final 90 seconds. We see Amma once again skating by herself down a street in the dark of night, and a car is shining its headlights on her, gaining on her. We now see that it is Camille in her Volvo, and she’s found her sister safe.
Camille wakes up at home, and it’s Calhoun Day. The front lawn of the Preaker-Crellins property is getting prepared for the festivities. Alan and Adora are getting dressed for the day in their bedroom. There is seemingly no turmoil between them, even though in last week’s episode, we saw Alan enter Adora’s bedroom after she told him she did not want him there.
After checking in with her boss Frank and giving him an update, Camille heads downstairs. As she passes Adora’s room, a flashback occurs.
She is 15 years old with short hair, and her sister Marian is with her, as when we first met them in the series premiere. The girls are watching a photographer stage their mother’s bedroom for a photo shoot. At one point, Camille picks up the photographer’s expensive camera and pretends to shoot her sister, who provides funny poses. Adora catches the girls and reprimands Camille only.
Back in present time, we see a framed cover of Southern Home magazine, and next to it is a write-up of the Preaker-Crellin home. The article features a picture of Adora and Marian in the bedroom, smiling for the camera. Camille is not included in the picture.
In town, folks learn that Camille’s latest write-up about Wind Gap has been published, and many people do not enjoy the light in which the town has been cast in it. Detective Willis is concerned about the fact that the article was released on Calhoun Day, believing it will reignite people’s fears and anger. Chief Vickery believes that Willis gave Camille confidential information and is particularly mad that the entire article is based on “…sources close to the investigation.” Willis says he did not tell Camille anything she hadn’t already figured out herself.
Back in the hustle and bustle at the Preaker estate, Amma asks Adora to help her rehearse for the play by reading through her lines with her. Camille offers to help Amma, and as they’re reading, Adora stops them and asks Camille what she is wearing for Calhoun Day. (Everyone dresses up in Confederate garb for the occasion, and Camille is wearing her usual all-black long-sleeved attire.) Adora says that she is taking her clothes shopping immediately.
The women arrive at the clothes store in town. It’s obvious that Adora has called ahead, because the shop owner is expecting her. She asks who Camille is, and Camille introduces herself. Adora says, “This is my eldest daughter. She takes after her father…his coloring, his temperament.” Inside the store, Camille confronts Adora. “That’s more than I’ve ever heard you say about my father.” “There’s not much else to say,” Adora responds.
Amma tells her mother that Camille’s latest article has been published, and in it, Camille claims that either John Keene or Bob Nash killed the two girls. Camille says that that is not what she said, but Amma points out that the article states that “Wind Gap kills its children.” This display is more humiliation than Adora can handle, and she growls – literally – at both of them to shut up.
The shop owner takes Camille to the dressing room with a few outfits for her to try on. All of them are sleeveless summer dresses, so Camille picks another dress that would fully cover her. In the dressing room, she asks for the dress she picked out, but no one gives it to her. And, her mother removes her clothes she was wearing from the dressing room door, so Camille is stuck inside the dressing room in her undergarments, with nothing to cover her scars.
Adora asks her which dress is the best one, and Camille says that none of them will work. Amma asks Adora what’s going on, and Adora says, “Your sister is being stupid.” Camille asks and then begs Amma to go wait in the car, but when Adora will not back down, Camille bursts through the dressing room door, in only her bra and underwear, and throws the dresses in her mother’s face. This is the first time Adora has seen her daughter’s skin in years, and it’s Amma’s first time ever.
Adora says, “It’s worse than I remember.” She then asks her if it’s over (referring to her self harming), and Camille lies and says it is. “Hardly matters. You’re ruined,” Adora says. “All out of spite! You want to know who your father was?! That’s who he was – all spite. I’m glad Amma saw.”
Camille returns to the dressing room, buries her face into the summer dresses, and screams.
Back at home, Amma apologizes to Camille for giving her a hard time about the article. Amma takes her to her room and shows her a dress with long sleeves that is suitable for Calhoun Day, that she has picked out for Camille. Camille puts it on and heads out to the front lawn.
Detective Willis runs into Bob Nash on the lawn. Bob, who has been spiking his drinks with liquor from the trunk of his car and is now properly drunk, asks Willis why he is there and if he has forgotten that he has lost a child. Willis reassures him that he is taking the investigation very seriously, but Bob is not satisfied and points out John Keene across the lawn and tells Willis to lock him up.
Meanwhile, John and his girlfriend Ashley confront Camille about her article. Ashley is most concerned with the fact that none of her words from Camille’s interview of them are included in the write-up. “I am John’s only advocate! You don’t want to burn this bridge. I know things, Camille,” Ashley says.
Camille catches up with Detective Willis, and she tells him the history behind the Calhoun Day celebration. Millie Calhoun, Camille’s great-great-great grandmother, was the town founder’s child bride. When the Union Army came to arrest her husband Zeke for deserting his duties, they kidnapped and tortured Millie. “And this is a holiday?” Willias asks. “We don’t have a lot of happy stories around here,” Camille explains.
Throughout the day, Adora has noticed Camille and Detective Willis getting close, enjoying the day together. At her first chance, when Camille leaves Willis to help Amma with her lines for the play, Adora pounces. She invites him up to the house to give him a tour. The women from last week’s luncheon scene (including my fave, Jackie) are on the porch. They notice Adora taking the detective inside the house, and it appears Adora wants them to.
Jackie sees Camille on the lawn and tells her that Willis is alone with Adora in the house. As she makes her way back to the house, Camille runs into some old friends that we first saw at the wake of Natalie Keene. They make fun of her relationship with Detective Willis and ask her personal questions about him. Then they ask her why she thinks John Keene is the murderer of the girls. When Camille says she does not believe that, they say her article makes it sound like she does, and they point out that Bob Nash, who is even more drunk at this point, also got the same idea from the article.
A quick flashback cuts into her vision: she is an 18-year-old with long hair again, in her cheerleader’s outfit we saw in last week’s episode, and she is surrounded by others on the cheerleading squad. This flashback tells us that these “friends” of hers were a part of the cheerleading squad with her in high school and probably treated her as badly back then as they are in present time.
Camille looks up and sees her mother and Willis in Adora’s bedroom window. Adora tells Willis about Camille’s sister Marian and how, when she died, Camille’s strength died with her. Adora also tells him that she is recovering from a “recent episode,” and that she is very delicate. “A rare rose…but not without thorns.”
It’s time for the play to begin, and we learn that Amma and some other schoolmates took drugs – likely LSD or ecstasy – a few minutes earlier. Camille downs a few beers. Ashley is still shocked and offended that nothing she said was included in Camille’s article. Chief Vickery is keeping a close eye on the very impaired Bob Nash.
Amma makes it through the play and does a good job, even though she is obviously under the influence of something psychoactive. She does notice at times throughout the play that Camille is not paying much attention, because she is too focused on talking with Detective Willis. This seems to upset Amma.
As everyone applauds the actors on stage, there is a ruckus at the back of the crowd. Bob Nash has begun attacking and punching John Keene. Chief Vickery and Detective Willis rush to break up the fight. Bob is screaming at John, calling him a murderer. Others from the crowd join in, and Camille starts to realize the impact her article might have had on everyone’s biases and emotions.
And while all of the partygoers have their backs turned to watch the fight, Amma seizes the opportunity to run off stage. And no one sees her.
As a screaming and crying Adora yells for her daughter from the front porch, a search party assembles and runs into the woods to try to find Amma. Camille joins, and as she’s running through the woods, she sees a girl dressed in white – as Amma was – about 50 yards ahead of her, hiding behind a tree. It is her sister, Marian. Camille follows the vision of her sister and eventually ends up at the creepy hunting shed. Inside is Amma, who has obviously been physically attacked but is alive and conscious.
Back at the Preaker home, Amma is resting comfortably in her own bed. Adora and Camille are on the veranda. Adora says she wants to apologize for something, but Camille interrupts her and thanks her for not telling Detective Willis about her history with self-harm. Adora points out that he will find out eventually, if their relationship continues… “when you get close.” Camille says she never gets close with anyone, precisely because of her scars. Adora then says that is what she wants to apologize for:
You can’t get close. That’s your father. And it’s why, I think, I’ve never loved you. You were born to it — that cold nature.
I hope that’s some comfort to you.
Camille leaves the house in a rage and goes to Detective Willis’ motel room and spends the night with him.
So, we already knew that Alan wasn’t Camille’s father. But we now know that Camille does not know who her father was at all. Does Adora resent Camille because she was perhaps an unwanted pregnancy? Is that why she’s so damned mean to her? And is Camille’s father still alive?
Be sure to return for a recap of Sharp Objects‘ sixth episode, “Cherry,” which will air on Sunday August 12th at 9 p.m. EST.