'Sharp Objects' Episode 4 Recap: 'Ripe'

“Sharp Objects” is a new HBO limited series that covers topics like trauma, self-harm and addiction. We’ll be reviewing each episode, and analyzing what it means for the mental health community.


Editor's Note

This post is a review of episode four of “Sharp Objects” and contains spoilers. If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.

Although not too much happened in this episode, we do learn more about the murders — and the ending left me in complete suspense.

After stopping her car on the side of the road after her night of speeding (and flash-backing), Camille finds her phone and returns to her mom’s house. When she gets home, she looks in her sister’s room and has a flashback of her mom crying in her sister’s bed, like we’ve seen her before. But this time, Camille is 15, wearing her cheerleading uniform.

When young Camille goes downstairs, Alan, Camille’s step-dad (who I begin to love in this episode), says she needs to talk to her, but actually brings her into the kitchen where Eileen, their maid, is waiting with a cake lit with candles. They sing happy birthday to Camille, but she interrupts them and leaves. Eileen blows out the candles.

Back in the present, Amma apologizes for being mean to her sister the night before, and her friends show them a meme someone at school made of John Keene, Natalie’s brother. It’s his yearbook picture, but his teeth are pulled out and blood is coming out of this mouth. It says, “Smile! Ain’t karma a bitch!” People still think that John killed his sister and the first girl who died — but kids at schools are making a joke out of it. Amma and her friends think it’s funny.

Meanwhile Alan, Camille’s step-father, who is the real MVP, literally waits hand and foot on Adora because she scratched her hand in a rose bush. Adora loves being helpless, and Alan (for some reason) keeps taking care of her.

In an attempt to share information, Detective Richard tells the police chief he’ll fill him in about what Camille knows if he reveals why he’s following John Keene. Camille and Detective Richard are meeting later that day. (Later that day, John gets fired from his job at the pig farm, too.)

At the school, Amma and her friends are practicing for some kind of performance about the history of Wind Gap. There’s a man playing the piano, and I had to look him up to remember who he is. He’s Kirk Lacey, and we met him during Natalie’s funeral. He’s married to one of the women Camille went to high school with, and in episode two, we see him at the bar. When one of his buddies makes a joke about “blow job shots” and Camille, he leaves. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it.

Now, when he steps outside to smoke a cigarette, Amma follows him out. She alludes to something dark or shameful in Kirk’s past and holds his hand… suspicious.

Camille and Richard meet up and make a deal — for every crime scene Camille shows him, he’ll answer a question on the record. They bond and flirt, but here’s what we learn: Camille takes him to a place in the woods people call the “End Zone.” “It’s where the football team would have their way with that week’s cheerleader,” Camille said. When Richard suggested that some people would call that rape, Camille argues back that it was consensual, implying she was one of the girls who would have sex with the football team.

We also return back to the shed in the woods we first saw in one of Camille’s flashbacks. We find out Anne and Natalie — the two girls who were murdered — used to play in the shed, despite all the creepy pictures of people having sex. Richard thinks whoever killed the girls were able to capture them in this shed. Camille doesn’t go inside, and Richard asks her if something happened to her in the shed. She doesn’t give him an answer, but when he goes in to kiss her, she does shove his hand in her pants (instead of letting him kiss her). They do kiss when Richard brings Camille back to her house and Adora sees them.

The chief pays Adora a visit, and Alan is clearly annoyed that he comes over so much to talk to Adora. Their conversation is tame — the chief tries to ask her about canceling this big annual event she throws at her house considering what’s been happening in Wind Gap. Adora is warm to him, warmer than she usually is to Alan, and we can see this causes some tension.

When Camille enters her house, she and Adora have a tense interaction. “You were always so willful, never sweet,” Adora tells her daughter. “I remember when you were about 6 or 7, I wanted to put your hair up in curlers for your school picture. Instead, you cut it all off with my fabric sheers.”

Camille tries to tell her mom that wasn’t her, but she doesn’t listen. She continues, saying she felt like Camille was punishing her by being born, like as if Camille’s love would make her own mother love her. She finally tells her, “You smell ripe,” as Camille’s eyes well up with tears, and she walks away.

My favorite scene in this episode is when Alan confronts Adora. He starts by asking her if she needs anything else from him tonight. (What is he, her slave?) When she says no, he lets her have it. “I lost a daughter, too,’ he says. “I don’t think you’ve ever stopped to consider that.” She literally curls up in a ball at the slightest sign of confrontation, but he continues, “How is it that you show more compassion for the local civil servant [referring to the police chief] than to your own husband.” First Adora blames Camille, and then asks, “Why are you trying to hurt me?”

“Hurt?” Alan replies. “You have a very peculiar idea of the word ‘hurt,’ dear.”

He leaves, slamming the door behind him.

Yes, Alan! Yes. You deserve so much better, you well-mannered gentleman. Stop hiding in your music and get control of your life.

Camille, of course, ends up at the bar, where she runs into John Keene. He tells her some information that leaves us not knowing what will happen in the next episode. He tells her that his sister, Natalie, had gotten into trouble where they used to live. Apparently, she stuck a pencil in a girl’s eye, which is pretty dark. He also tells her that Amma, Camille’s step-sister, was friends with the girls who died. Apparently, Amma would also hang out in the shed in the woods with the girls.

This triggers Camille immediately. If Richard is right — if the killer is targeting girls who would hang out in the shed — Amma might be in danger. She leaves to go see if Amma is home, and she isn’t. We see Alan blasting his music and drinking. While Camille goes out looking for Amma, there are flashes of Alan looking at a gun (which really scared me). There are flashes of Amma dead in the shed, but I can’t tell if it’s real or just something out of Camille’s imagination. Alan goes over to Adora. We see Amma rollerblading in the street. This is where it ends.

Other things not to miss from this episode.

  • Camille’s boss from the newspaper is in the hospital, although we don’t know what he’s been diagnosed with yet.
  • Camille sees Amma have a tender moment with Adora and is jealous. Her mom was always cold to her, and in flashbacks, we see she practically ignored her after her sister died.
  • Ashley, John’s girlfriend, finds a blood stain under his bed and cleans it.
  • The police chief visits Camille’s friend, Jackie O’Neele, and asks her about Camille. She refuses to give any information. 

Our rating: 

This episode was really interesting — but it mostly felt like a set up for the next episode. I really hope Amma is OK, even though she’s been acting strangely. I’m excited for more pieces of the puzzle to come together.

Discussion Question:

How can past trauma affect our current sexual preferences? Camille seems to have an interesting relationship with sex, and we can see this might have to do with her past.


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