Sharp Objects Episode 5 Review: “Closer”

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Sharp Objects Episode 5 Review: “Closer”



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Keep your enemies closer.

“Closer” is the equivalent of all of Sharp Objects’ carefully laid details, no matter how minute, being thrown together with a whole lot of social terror and tossed into a pressure cooker. This episode is set-up after set-up for all the chips in Wind Gap to come crashing down. Ultimately, they don’t, at least not on a grand scale, which makes sense with three episodes still to go. But then two fairly small moments at the end deliver the payoff to all that tension, just after Sharp Objects lulls us back into a sense of safety and security.

Perhaps most remarkably, this entry builds on everything that made last week’s episode the best yet, and gets even more playful with the show’s small-town setting. Between the tough interactions while the family goes shopping for clothes for Wind Gap’s big holiday celebration and the elongated uneasiness of said festivities that take up most of the episode, director Jean-Marc Vallee is in full Big Little Lies mode here, capturing just about every judgmental little glance from every minor member of the town that HBO’s hour-long timeslot will allow.

And yet, “Closer” still has bookends that focus primarily on Camille, Adora, and Amma. The sizable first act of the episode deals with Adora forcing Camille to find a sunnier outfit just after Amma reads her latest article, which notes that the police believe the murderer to be a resident of Wind Gap. Amma’s abrupt, angry response seems pretty damning in terms of her innocence, but the town’s celebration later shows that Camille’s prose has put pretty much everyone in town on edge.

Still, Amma can’t help but torture Camille the entire time they’re shopping, which finally pushes the latter to a breakdown, occurring in a store’s dressing room when she’s forced to show her family the body she’s done so much harm to. But unlike Adora, Amma seems to have sympathy for the pain her sister has gone through once she’s made aware of it.

Camille, meanwhile, seems ready to give up on forcing herself to revisit the root of that pain. Perhaps the best relatively quiet scene in the episode is when Camille talks to her editor in hopes of leaving Wind Gap behind once and for all, only for her to work it out in her mind and put on an outfit that couldn’t be more outside her personality for the party — large sun hat and all. The scene acts as both a showcase for all the layers Amy Adams has pulled back from Camille thus far, while also inserting a necessary bit of comic relief as she scoffs at herself in the mirror.

But Camille’s forgiveness toward Amma feels cold and detached as the family is about to venture into the party Adora is hosting at their home. Once again, Camille’s work has spread like wildfire, and it’s led everyone at the party to react with the sort of quiet hostility only a conservative middle-American town could muster. The show’s sense of place is on full display during the celebration, which feels like it’s building and building throughout. From Adora’s tense private conversation with Richard to the drums playing over the party as Amma’s performance is about to begin, there is no safety here — not in the comfort of Adora’s hospitality, nor behind the smiling faces of the drinkers celebrating their town’s history (it was a nice touch, also, to have Wind Gap’s biggest celebration be in honor of such a brutal event).

So when the inevitable fight breaks out between John and Bob, the town’s two prime suspects, Amma, high on an unnamed drug, takes the opportunity to run. Adora loses it while the police and Camille race into the surrounding woods to search for Amma. If this was taken as the climax of the episode, it feels a little short and anticlimactic, considering Camille finds Amma after a few short minutes. But how and where Camille finds her are much more chilling. The Woman in White makes another shadowy appearance, leading Camille to the creepy shack where pornography hung on the walls. Regardless, Amma is quickly made safe (if inexplicably bloody), which leads to the real conflict of the episode.

Just when things start to feel normal, maybe even good for a change, with Adora seemingly extending an olive branch to her eldest daughter, things soon go awry. In one of the most stark but hauntingly played scenes on Sharp Objects yet, Adora explains to Camille that she never loved her because she saw too much of her father in her – both of them are too cold and distant – and that that’s why she’s too afraid to let Richard too close. It’s a devastating reveal that Camille probably already knew to be true, but Adams once again outdoes herself with a quiet, understated reaction the pushes Camille’s journey to exactly where it’s meant to go next. Wind Gap has done a number on her psyche, as hometowns often do to their escapees, so she rushes to Richard’s to prove her mother wrong. She thinks she succeeds, as they have sex, but Camille still hides her scars, and thus an integral part of herself, from their connection.

These complications are what make Sharp Objects such an exciting show to engage with. “Closer” is an episode that got to marry the show’s pulp tone with its spot-on sense of place and deep character introspections. First and foremost, this series is a study of Camille, and at this point in her story, it’s unclear what’s on the other end if she makes it out in one piece.

The Verdict

Sharp Objects once again turns up the heat this episode with a town celebration in which all eyes are on both Camille and Richard. The mesh of small-town politics and rich character drama make for an exciting entry that pushes the story forward in emotionally challenging ways.



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