Sharp Objects Episode 4: “Ripe”

Camille played by Amy Adams in Sharp Objects

Some people long to go back to “more simple” times, typically associated with characteristics from the 1950s—small towns where everyone knows everyone and the community deals with their problems together—instead of our current culture where people are lucky to know the names of half of their neighbors. These “more simple” times are typically depicted on TV with bright blue skies, wide streets, bustling local stores (no national chains) and calming era-appropriate music. There’s typically a dual meaning, though. This projection of peace and simple times typically depicts places that have a dark underbelly, covered up with white picket fences, community events, and forced smiles. The outer beauty isn’t the story to follow; the story is what’s happening behind closed doors. Wind Gap is one of those towns.

Victim No More

Camille’s 15th birthday was shown to us in a series of flashbacks. A shot of Alan and their housekeeper Gayla trying to present Camille with a cake, while Adora laid in the bed of her deceased daughter crying, further established how unavailable Camille’s mother was to her (much like she is in the present day). Camille was alone, not only dealing with her feelings over losing Marian but also of being an unwanted daughter. Another flashback showed Camille later that day in the woods, wearing her cheerleader’s uniform and surrounded by a group of boys. Later on, we see a disheveled Camille return home and light a single birthday candle on her cake, alone again.

The woods and the hunting shed (where Natalie and Ann played) are two of the places Camille takes Detective Willis on their “date”: a tour of Wind Gap crime scenes. During this tour, she takes Willis to the clearing in the woods they called “the end zone” and confides in him (in vague terms) that she was raped by members of the football team there. From the flashbacks, we know that this assault happened on her birthday. Camille implies that she was not the only one and that it’s likely that the community was aware of the football team’s tradition of having their way with the “lucky” cheerleader of the week. But this is just another thing the people in Wind Gap don’t talk about.

Later in the episode, when Camille and Adora have their argument and Adora refers to her as smelling “ripe,” I couldn’t shake the feeling that Adora not only knew about Camille being raped but also blamed her for not staying silent, perhaps even thinking her daughter brought this on herself. Another major takeaway from Camille and Adora’s argument was that Adora remembers Camille cutting off her hair in an act of defiance, to which Camille responds that Adora is thinking of the wrong daughter. Is this a case of one of them misremembering the past? Could Marian, who Adora viewed as the perfect daughter, have committed this act of defiance first? I suppose my fixation on this scene stems from knowing that one of the recent victims cut her hair off and was murdered shortly after. Young, short-haired Camille, obviously in emotional pain, also went to the creepy shed. Was she there to mourn her sister? Or was this just a place kids went? At this point, these could be clues or simply details I’m looking too far into but isn’t that half the fun?

Despite giving us more insight into Camille’s pain, this episode was not about Camille, the victim. “Ripe” was full of scenes about Camille taking charge of her own life, empowering herself, and in the process, hoping to find a killer. Take the argument with Adora, for example, Camille stood up to her mother while listening to Adora recite her sob story. She didn’t console her self-centered mother; she doubled down on the fact that Adora acts like a child. The sexual encounter with Detective Willis in the woods was another prime example. After having visited the site of her rape, she took Willis to the shed—another place that holds all sorts of dark memories for her—and here was this man she does have feelings for trying to kiss her. She couldn’t be intimate with him there of all places, but she did take charge of the situation, using him to satisfy her sexual desires. Later in the episode, far away from the scene of her attack, she did finally kiss Detective Willis, allowing herself to get emotionally vulnerable in a way she hasn’t in a long time.

Familiar Pain

In this episode, we learn that Adora has John Keene fired from his job because the public opinion seems to be that he’s at least partially responsible for the murder. Interesting to note that it’s not just the townspeople who think so. Detective Willis is also highly suspicious of John. The only person that doesn’t seem to believe that he’s guilty is Camille. The bond of familiar pain—the pain over losing a sister they were each close with—makes her understand him and his grieving process. While the others are watching his every movement, Camille is watching out for him.

Camille and John share a drink at the bar in Sharp Objects
Pain understood, shared over a drink.

John’s girlfriend Ashley appears to fit into the Wind Gap stereotype of a woman simply existing to protect and please her man. John’s lack of sexual interest in her stems from his pain. On some level, he probably does care for her even though she’s not his type at all. She’s there and willing to protect him, the way that his own grieving mother can’t. How will she react when the realization hits that John has no interest in staying around long enough to marry her and fulfill her happily-ever-after fantasy? And then there’s that bloodstain: where did it come from, and why was Ashley so eager to clean it up?

Adora, The Mighty

Not only did we see Adora place one phone call to have John Keene fired, but she also threatened to fire Chief Vickery. He didn’t take her threat lightly either. Exactly how and why does Adora have all of this power in Wind Gap? Vickery might have played nice, but that didn’t stop him from driving to Jackie’s house to inquire about what Adora may be hiding from him. My guess? A lot. It was nice to see not only Camille but also Alan stand up to Adora in this episode. Has Alan simply had enough? Has Camille coming back into town awakened suppressed feelings in Alan too? Is Adora’s empire going to come crashing down if not held up by those around her?

Visions & Seductions

Camille’s visions have been a link to us as viewers learning about her past, but now also seem to serve as an insight into her fears. After we learned that Amma was friends with the deceased girls, and used to play at the shed with them, Camille had a vision of Amma as the next victim of the killer. Will we see Camille go out of her way to protect Amma, so she doesn’t have to experience losing two sisters? Speaking of Amma, while her screen time was briefer this week, she made the most of it. After watching her improvise her town’s history and having her teacher lecture her about the past being the past, she tried to take the much older man by the hand. Is this a relationship that’s happened before? Or is he just aware of how she operates? Something to keep an eye on for sure.

Final Thoughts

This story still strikes me as one of a town, of a culture that suppresses pain and change and wants to keep things the way they have always been, regardless of what that may mean for individuals. As Camille heals and takes more control over her own life, what will that mean for both the town and the case? Will Adora, the human representation of the town’s suppression, be able to cope with any forward momentum, all in the name of healing? Only four episodes remain. Thanks for reading and your support of 25YL!

For more Sharp Objects episode analysis and new articles every Tuesday visit: 25YL: Sharp Objects

Written by Andrew Grevas

Andrew is the Founder / Editor in Chief of 25YL. He’s engaged with 2 sons, a staunch defender of the series finales for both Lost & The Sopranos and watched Twin Peaks at the age of 5 during its original run, which explains a lot about his personality.


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