Sunday, August 19, 2018

REVIEW: 'Sharp Objects' - Camille and John Grieve Together While Adora Cares for Amma in 'Falling'

HBO's Sharp Objects - Episode 1.07 "Falling"

Camille crosses a line in her investigation of the prime suspect. Richard coaxes Jackie to offer up info about Marian Preaker's death. Adora takes pains to keep an ailing Amma under her roof and in her care.

No one in Wind Gap is particularly good at their jobs. In fact, that's the point of this story. It is highlighting how the system is broken because of the people involved not knowing the best way to conduct themselves. They are all dealing with their own issues. They are all selfish and are mostly using their professions in order to get something that they inherently want. Camille has no perspective when it comes to being a reporter. She doesn't understand the impact her articles could have on the community given the timing that they are realized. She doesn't know how to connect with people in order to get them to open up to her. Moreover, she has sex with two main figures in the story. She had an ongoing relationship with Richard. And now, she sleeps with John Keene right as he's about to be arrested for killing Natalie and Ann. Meanwhile, Richard is too distracted by digging into Camille's past instead of doing the job he came to Wind Gap to do. He was brought in as the professional help as someone who could handle this case objectively and with the proper experience. Instead, he has abused his badge in the hopes of solving the mystery of the woman he is now having sex with. He's not trying to understand her. He wants to know how she was broken. And then, Chief Vickery wants to prove that he doesn't need an outsider's perspective in order to solve this case. As such, he's willing to pursue the most obvious leads with complete conviction in the hopes of solving the case as quickly as possible to restore order. He doesn't want to believe that his view on the situation could be skewed because he has such personal feelings for someone who now looks like the killer. Even Frank Curry is pushing a very specific narrative on Camille for her to report on this case instead of allowing the story to dictate how it is being told. He just wants as many sensational details as possible in order to garner attention to the paper. He also knows that Camille has struggled with self-harm and it could be dangerous sending her back home. But he continues to push for her to do this story despite the trauma it is currently inflicting on her. All of these perspectives are very important and highlight how the world and the system can be broken. Everyone has a competing agenda and that can dramatically change someone's world while allowing another dangerous individual to go unnoticed for decades.

It also won't be surprising in the slightest if some of these individuals actually wind up getting rewarded for their actions in this story. That certainly shouldn't be the case. They are all to blame for things being allowed to get this bad. But again, that's the failing of the system. Chief Vickery simply can't be objective because he is investing a crime in a very close-knit community. He believes he understands everyone in town. To him, it has to be an outsider to this community - either as a grifter or someone who just moved here. And so, he's been looking suspiciously at John Keene ever since the case started. He hasn't trusted Camille either. To him, she is simply the reporter who doesn't understand the values the citizens of Wind Gap hold so dear. He could be seen as the police chief who makes a critical error in putting so much effort into hunting down John. Right now, he is running high because his theory on the case has been proven correct. He is able to coerce Ashley into being cooperative because she is simply obsessed with getting her name in the paper. That shows just how simple this community is. The people are so fame obsessed but are so reluctant to actually embrace the truth about their lives. Ashley is eager to say that John is a depraved individual because he won't have sex with her following the death of his sister. She sees that as a guilty conscience manifesting itself in an unexpected way. Moreover, the police find blood underneath the bed that fits their narrative. Richard even confirms later on that the blood belonged to Natalie. That's very damning. But it also seems fast for those results to come back. It may just be Richard saying that in order to hurt Camille after discovering what she has done.

Richard and Camille's whole relationship has been one out of defiance. Richard hung onto it because it was the most exciting thing to happen in this small town. Camille embraced it in order to escape from her mother and prove to her that she was capable of being intimate with someone. But Richard's investigation into her past is despicable and creepy. He is trying to get a sense of her upbringing and how broken and twisted she actually is. He's not doing this by actually talking with her. Instead, he seeks answers from hospitals who don't have a personal connection to her. Yes, the nurses are able to shine new light on Marian's health problems. That's a crucial detail. It puts everything in a completely new context. Richard walks away with the understanding that Adora was making her daughter sick because she craved being needed by her child. That's absolutely horrifying. It also highlights the breakdown of another system. None of the doctors were able to connect that this abuse was happening at home. Marian was sent to the hospital multiple times. Every time she got a new doctor and a new diagnosis that couldn't be completely confirmed. The nurses recognized her and understood the case better. They got the sense that Adora was poisoning her daughter. But at the end of the day, no one would believe them when they came forward with these accusations. Chief Vickery simply saw Adora as a noble and sweet person. She is a pillar of this community who could never hurt anyone in her life. That's the woman he knows and refuses to see her in any other way. Because Marian didn't have a doctor who saw her regularly, she was allowed to just keep getting worse and worse until she died. These are the horrifying compulsions of a woman who needs to be needed. And now, it seems like history is happening all over again. Richard getting to the bottom of this mystery may actually end up saving lives and proving that John Keene is completely innocent of these murders.

Camille has never believed that John killed his sister and her friend. The narrative just doesn't make any sense. She thinks it's perfectly fine for a man to be very emotional about the death of a loved one. She doesn't want him to repress his feelings. She's the only person in town who is willing to share the difficult truths of what it means to keep living after this tragedy. She does so as a person who took her anger and rage out on herself. She's not the best person when it comes to understanding and dealing with trauma and grief. But that forges a connection between them. They have the shared pain of losing a sister. They deal with that by drinking. They both keep running into each other at the bars. They do see each other as the reporter and murder suspect. But there is so much more as well. It's incredibly toxic and unprofessional. Camille is willing to be seduced and open with John unlike any previous man because he understands her pain better than anyone else. Of course, it's also abundantly clear that he fetishizes her scars. He actually noticed them though. He is observant of the world and can see the pain that Camille carries. Now, it doesn't take a whole lot of investigating to know that Camille is dark and twisted. But Richard never saw the scars she carries on her body. They had sex multiple times. He never understood the importance of her remaining fully clothed though. John innocently saw the scars and wants to see the extent of the damage. It's such a strong and powerful sequence because Camille allows herself to be seen. She is exposing herself to a teenager. Sure, John Keene is of age. She is free to go after the police come in to arrest him. But she is willing to do this because she feels a strong connection. It continues to highlight how self-destructive she is. This is a new way for her to hurt herself. She puts herself in a position where she feels uncomfortable and spiteful. But she's also just so willing to go along with any suggestion because that's simply been the way that her brain has been wired by Adora.

All of this is perfectly expressed through Camille's confrontation with Jackie. Much like the nurses, Jackie knew that Adora was hurting her daughter. She requested the files over and over again. But she could never get her hands on them to confirm that her friend was a monster. She could never make a difference. She was a town drunk going up against a well-respected socialite. Camille has more love for Jackie than her mother. But she's so hurt by her as well. She confirms that Marian died because of Adora. And now, the same is probably happening to Amma too. That is confirmed with the show proving that Adora's cure for a hangover only makes her sicker. It's the kind of attention Amma wants as well. She enjoys being taken care of by her mother. That's why she loves defying her so much. She knows that she can act out and still be cared for by Amma. Camille never wanted that support. She acts out against it. That's what led to such a fraught relationship between Camille and Adora. Meanwhile, Marian and Amma welcomed it. They enjoyed having a mother who was there supporting them no matter what. It was just also them fueling an addiction that only became more sinister and dramatic. And even though Camille defied these advances, she is still trained by her mother to do whatever she is told even when she isn't fully listening. The sound goes in and out as Camille is processing this news from Jackie. But she still takes a swig of a Bloody Mary whenever Jackie tells her to. It's not because it's a great drink either. It's because this is the way that Adora has programmed her. She was raised to act out and seek comfort. Camille never wanted that from Adora. So, she only had the acting out portion define her life. But now, she's racing home in the hopes of saving Amma from this tragedy. It's just so brutal for her to accept and understand - especially with the fear that Adora did this not only to Amma but to Natalie and Ann as well.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Falling" was written by Gillian Flynn & Scott Brown and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée.
  • Alan is such an ineffective and bad father as well because he would rather retreat to the comfort of his music instead of witness the horrors happening elsewhere in his house. He doesn't even go to check on Amma during her worse. He just listens to his wife. He sits back and simply embraces the good memories of dancing to this song with his daughter. He doesn't know that Adora is trying to kill her.
  • Frank is a bad editor. And yet, he and Eileen also present themselves as the only genuine friends that Camille has in this world. She calls them when her whole world has turned upside down. They are afraid that she is hurting herself once more. Instead, they are just getting a glimpse of this destruction as Camille understands that she simply can't flee and allow this pattern to continue with Adora and Amma.
  • It makes no sense that John would kill Ann. Chief Vickery sees him as guilty because he was an employee who had access to the Preaker pig farm. And yet, that doesn't explain why he would be there at midnight in order to lure Ann into a trap and throw away her bike. Plus, John also points out the killer painted Natalie's nails because she never did that herself. As such, that could also serve as evidence that a woman was behind these murders.
  • Does Chief Vickery have any suspicions about Adora being more dangerous than she seems to be? Earlier, he was concerned that Camille was dangerous and Amma was in danger. That was the perspective that Adora wanted him to have though. So, could he be seeing things more clearly once Richard presents this separate case to him about what happened to Marion? Or is he just going to choose to keep ignoring it?
  • This twist with Adora also invites the question of just how much of it is intentional. She is suffering from a psychological condition. She is a sick and twisted individual who has abused several young woman. But did she only get close to Chief Vickery in the first place in order to earn his trust and get updates on the various investigations? Did she want to keep Camille in bed to ensure that she couldn't investigate further? It's certainly possible.