Sunday, July 22, 2018

REVIEW: 'Sharp Objects' - Camille is Haunted by What Happened During Her Latest Stint at Rehab in 'Fix'

HBO's Sharp Objects - Episode 1.03 "Fix"

Camille relives a recent tragedy as she struggles to piece together the murders in Wind Gap. Richard grows frustrated with Chief Vickery's assumptions regarding potential suspects. A defiant Amma shows off her wild side to Camille, while Adora admonishes Camille for meddling in the investigation and a town in mourning.

Camille is dangerous. That has been a fundamental aspect of her character. She is dangerous in that she harms herself. She is dangerous in that she threatens to expose the dark truths about her hometown. But should people actually be worried to be around her? Adora certainly feels that way. She just sees Camille as her biggest disappointment. She is nothing but a troubled girl who only leads people down a dark path. She is digging into these vicious crimes with no consideration for how the town is mourning the tragic deaths. As such, Adora is quick to blame Camille whenever something tragic or unfortunate happens. Amma starts acting out and Adora sees it as Camille being a horrible influence on her half-sister. Adora cuts her hand while gardening and it's Camille's fault for distracting her and getting her worked up. Adora is so particular and controlling with her views. It's gotten to the point where Camille even internalizes a lot of these feelings. It's easy to form the connection between Adora's abuse and Camille's trauma. There is so much in Camille's past that has led to her destructive present. And now, the show is peeling back more of the layers of the character to reveal just how dangerous and destructive she can be. But again, the question must persist: is she only dangerous to herself or to the people around her as well? Camille blames herself for a lot that happens around her. She wants to be seen as a good person who genuinely cares about people even though she's not going to sugar coat anything. She wants to ensure that Amma doesn't make the same foolish teenage mistakes that she did. She wants her roommate at rehab to be fully aware of the struggle of their disease. But in the end, both interactions still end in tragedy. Is that a byproduct of Camille actually trying to reach out and form a human connection with these young women? Or is it proof that these women are equally complicated and damaged? It's probably the latter but that still has a profound effect on Camille. It makes her seem like the only way to do any good is to just run away and avoid dealing with these complicated feelings. That's the way she's been dealing with a lot of these emotions. And yet, that still leads to those explosive moments where she actually cuts herself. And that is so agonizing and brutal to watch.

It's also clear that this time spent in a St. Louis rehab had a profound effect on Camille. She is still listening to the music that Alice had curated for her pleasure. That was Camille's first interaction with this program. She is signing herself in right after her latest cutting spell in the parking lot. She needs to get attention for her wounds. But Alice is just sitting next to the nurse's station listening to her music. The nurse only allows her to have this privilege for a few moments every day. All of that is communicated without having to share any words. Camille and Alice then become roommates. That proves the extent of this destructive disease for Camille. Almost her entire body has been cut apart by her. It's so horrifying to see that she is carving words into herself. Yes, it's such twisted dark humor that she can just lift up her shirt in order to tell someone to fuck off. But it's also her showing off the trauma of her disease. In moments of passion and anger, she cuts herself. Afterwards, she is left with these scars. The words signal a pattern for her. They show that this is something she has carefully planned and thought out. That's not always the case. There's a terrifying moment where she is just hacking away at her wrist. But the aftermath of that injury is profound as well. It's on that wrist where "fix" appears. That could be a message of hope. The clarity that Camille needs to remind herself to get better and keep working on her issues. But it's so absolutely traumatizing that all of this comes after showing Alice a genuine moment of compassion. It seems as if Camille has the worst visitation day. But Alice is the one who ultimately succeeds in killing herself with Camille being forever reminded of this day and her role in what ultimately occurred.

There was the fear all throughout these flashbacks that Adora and Alan wouldn't even show up to see Camille in rehab. They would have to travel to St. Louis to see the daughter who has always kept her distance and been plagued with numerous problems. They don't understand what it's like for someone to actually hurt themselves. They don't have sympathy or understanding for what Camille is going through. They just see it as this problem that needs to be kept a secret. It's the evidence that Camille is a troubled individual who only causes chaos and destruction wherever she goes. Moreover, Adora doesn't even see her daughter. Instead, she throws a fit after the nurse tells her she can't give her roses because of the thorns. That seems so obvious to any normal human being. But again, it serves as evidence that Adora is a very specific way with her ideas of etiquette. When people are in the hospital, it's expected that visitors bring them flowers. When she is told no, she lashes out so that all that's left behind is a quick glimpse of Alan and a bunch of disheveled flowers on the floor. That shows to Camille that her mother doesn't care. As such, she wants to show compassion to her roommate. Alice is yearning for that connection even though her mother does show up to visit. Camille understands the importance of music to Alice. But all it takes is that gentle kindness to push Alice over the edge. It's after Camille leaves the room to return the phone that Alice hurts herself. It's in seeing that carnage that Camille relapses as well. All of this proves that Camille has not had an easy time handling this disease. She is still tempted by it and plagued by the memories of Alice. She still acts impulsively as well. She throws the phone out the window. She hopes it's a moment of putting the past behind her. But it could also serve as more repression of her trauma with the disease.

Despite all of this, Camille is still making her way through the investigation. Frank still expects more personal details from her with her articles. He wants her to talk about what it's like to be back home covering such a horrific and brutal crime. He wants her take on the potential of her hometown being home to a serial killer. That's the outsider perspective of this case. Camille, Frank and Richard all understand that these murders are personally motivated. They aren't random. Ann and Natalie were taken for a reason and brutalized the way they were because of something from their past. As such, Richard understands the value in getting better acquainted with Wind Gap and the various crimes and grudges that have occurred over the years. He wants to know the history of a place that isn't welcoming to outsiders. Everywhere he goes he is seen as the enemy. He stands as out as one of the few people saying someone in this sweet and wholesome community could have committed these heinous acts. Chief Vickery just wants to go about believing that it was a random trucker or Mexican immigrant. That's such a racist and limited opinion for a man who is suppose to represent the law in this community to have. He finds himself too blinded by his personal loyalty to the community. He doesn't want to share any details about the case with Camille. He judges Richard for telling her things regarding the investigation. And yet, he has no problem turning around and calling Adora to tell her that her daughter continues to be harassing Bob Nash. Adora is so ashamed that her daughter could behave in this way. She sees his pain in having to relive every horrible detail of this tragedy. And yes, Camille is pressing him to get closer to the truth of what happened. But she wasn't acting inappropriately as a journalist. She is capable of doing a good job. Her mother just refuses to see Camille outside of beyond a damaged and troubled individual.

That fuels that moment where Adora tells Amma that Camille is dangerous and that she shouldn't get too close. That only fuels Amma's fascination with her sister even more. For her entire life, Amma has been shielded from the truth about the darkness lingering around this family. The audience is blind in that way as well. We are aware of some of the details regarding Marian's passing but we aren't privy to all of them just yet. Adora has lifted Marian up as this perfect human being. That's been Amma's only experience with her. And Adora has also cautioned against getting too close to Camille. And yet, Amma doesn't know exactly what plagues her half-sister. Right now, she's happy to have a sister at all. That's a relationship she has never had in her life. Of course, her presence is enough to remind Adora and Camille of Marian. As such, this potential dynamic is tainted for them because they don't want anything to replace that bond they had with Marian. Camille is still traumatized by it while Adora still has her bedroom as a shrine to her. Amma is pushing back against the world to have more clarity. However, that's mostly manifesting as typical teenage rebellion. She is getting drunk with her friends past curfew. That's nothing more dangerous than what Camille did at that age. But Adora warns Amma that she shouldn't aspire to become like Camille because she left this idyllic and perfect community as well as her own inner demons. Amma shouldn't model her life after Camille. And yet, Amma doesn't get what the big deal is with Camille. She just sees someone who is trying to keep her from making the same mistakes. Amma still goes out with her friends. Camille goes out as well. It's through the two of them actually confronting each other in public that they see each other's true colors. They are cut from the same cloth. Both are being extremely reckless right now. Amma is tempting fate believing that she's safe in a group while Camille is getting close to Richard in the hopes of getting his exclusive perspective on the case for the paper. But the fight that they get into also shows that the two of them don't know how to be family because they have both been traumatized in similar ways simply by growing up in this place.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Fix" was written by Alex Metcalf and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée.
  • This has become such a breakout year for Sydney Sweeney with three notable television series. Sure, the Netflix show she was starring on - Everything Sucks! - was cancelled after one season earlier this year. But she also had a recurring role on Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale in addition to this memorable guest appearance. Big things are going to keep coming her way as well for a bright career.
  • A lot of the specific trauma from this series comes from young women being brutalized. That's a potent and possibly destructive image as well. Marian died and forever changed the family. Camille went to rehab only for the roommate who looked at her for guidance to kill herself. And now, Natalie and Ann have been kidnapped and killed in Wind Gap. As such, it's very easy to be worried about Amma moving forward.
  • Camille gets to sit down and interview John Keene for the first time. She still isn't able to get a whole lot of information out of him though. Instead, it's mostly a telling sequence for how much his girlfriend, Meredith, is currently taking care of him. He relies on that relationship to get through the day. This community sees him as a potential killer because of rage towards his sister. But now, he only wants to escape this community so that he can escape into the unknown of a city.
  • Camille is only making slow progress with getting Bob Nash to open up to her as well. She is getting somewhere interesting when Adora barges in to stop Camille from embarrassing the family any further. Bob was talking about how his wife didn't really want children and that didn't change after having several. As such, he definitely feels the need to blame her for leaving especially after Ann was killed.
  • Alan is still such a complete mystery. He has a few more private moments here. And yet, it's still difficult to get a good read on what's going on with him. It is pointed out that he and Adora don't actually sleep in the same room. That's very telling of their relationship even though he has a calming presence on her. More interestingly though, he is seen outside on the porch during Camille big crumbling montage at the end of the hour.