‘Sharp Objects’ Episode 5, Closer Review — Adora Sabotages Camille at Every Turn

Culture


Warning: Spoilers for Sharp Objects episode 5, “Closer,” ahead.

In Sharp Objects, there’s nothing more damaging than a mother’s scorn. In tonight’s episode, Adora (Patricia Clarkson) launches multiple underhanded strikes against her estranged daughter Camille (Amy Adams), who’s becoming less of an antihero and more of a sympathetic victim of circumstance by the minute. If I’d grown up in a town like Wind Gap—which gets its kicks celebrating the rape of a confederate soldier’s wife on Calhoun Day each year—with a mother hell-bent on keeping me on a tight leash, taking solace in a bottle of vodka disguised as spring water might not seem like such a bad plan.

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Now it seems Camille may have outstayed her welcome, even before Adora hears of her daughter’s latest article on the Nash and Keene murders—one that has apparently gotten her newspaper’s website more hits than ever before and was published on the day of Adora’s annual BBQ. When it seems Camille and Amma (Eliza Scanlen) have a chance to bond over memorizing lines for the day’s big Calhoun Day reenactment, Adora declares that they must all go and find Camille an appropriate outfit to wear.

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HBO

At the store, Adora pushes Camille into a dressing room with some flowery, skimpy selections, and that’s where we see how far Camille’s self-harm has gone. Her whole body is littered with scars from the neck down, with things like “RIP” scratched into the skin. She’s asked for a long-sleeved maxi dress, but one never arrives. Instead, her street clothes are quietly removed from where they’re hanging over the doorway, and Adora asks which of her selections works. Clearly in distress, Camille asks for her clothes back but is ignored.

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When she realizes she’ll have to leave the dressing room, she begs for Amma to wait in the car. Ignored again, she finally exits in just her underwear to stunned silence from her mother and sister, before Amma is shooed away. Adora tells Camille that it’s worse than she remembered, so she had to know that there had been at least some scarring—and that spaghetti-strap dresses probably wouldn’t cover them. Her cruelty doesn’t end there. “So it’s over?” she asks. “It hardly matters—you’re already ruined. I’m glad Amma saw.”

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At first, it seems like Amma might have taken her sister’s clothes—she had been upset that Camille didn’t tell her about the article before it ran. But later, when she attempts to convince Camille not to leave, she says, “I didn’t think she…I didn’t know about the scars.” Was she about to say that she didn’t think Adora would do something like that?

Revealing Camille’s scars to her little sister is not the only moment in episode 5 where Adora lets slip one of her daughter’s secrets. Camille is faced with many moments during the Calhoun Day festivities that almost seem designed to trigger her. She’s faced with at least one of her former rapists—the man in charge of Amma’s play—who, for some reason, wants to play catch up. She’s forced to watch the role-play rape of her sister, dressed eerily like herself in a long white dress. But nothing seems to get to Camille as much as realizing her mother has taken Detective Richard Willis (Chris Messina), whom she seems quite taken with, on a solo tour of the manor. Camille is visibly terrified that Adora might tell him about her scars, too.

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HBO

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The moment he returns, Camille probes Richard for anything her mother may have said about her. She may not have told him about the scars, but she did share that Camille is “delicate” and recently suffered some sort of “episode.” Richard keeps this to himself.

Later, after a series of unfortunate events—John Keene and Bob Nash get into a fist fight during the Calhoun Day production, which leads to Amma running off distraught to that ever-present shed—Adora asks Camille to have a drink with her, seemingly as thanks for rescuing her favorite daughter. She attempts to apologize to Camille, who assures her she doesn’t have to. Apparently, it was all her fault for not telling her editor to wait to file until after Calhoun Day. In fact, she appreciates that Adora didn’t tell Richard about her scars. When her mother points out that he’s going to find out eventually once they get close, Camille says she never gets close. “But that’s what I wanted to apologize for,” Adora responds. “You can’t get close—that’s your father. And it’s why, I think, I never loved you.”

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HBO

The only way for Camille to recover from that blow is to drive directly to Richard. She strips him of his clothes, pointedly leaving hers on and turning out the light. As he goes to remove her clothes, she grabs her arm. “My way,” she says. It’s clear this is how she is taking back control—by getting as close as she can.

In Wind Gap, everyone has their secrets. Amma hides her second phone, Ashley Wheeler (Madison Davenport) discovered blood at the Keenes’ residence and scrubbed it clean, and, of course, Camille has many: her scars, what happened in that shed, why she checked herself into that psychiatric facility. In Sharp Objects—both Gillian Flynn’s novel and the HBO adaptation—the way the town’s secrets are revealed is often more telling than what’s being concealed in the first place. This episode, it’s Adora’s spite that comes through with every revelation she makes about Camille. It’s chilling and sad to watch, but even more so, Adora’s cruelty is loaded with her own secrets—ones that she seems to want to keep at all costs.

Sharp Objects airs on Sundays at 9 P.M. EST on HBO.



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