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'Sharp Objects' Episode 6 Recap: 'Cherry'

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“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 six 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.

Camille wakes up in Richard’s bed with visions from the night before in her head. She sees herself in the woods trying to find Amma, and follows visions of both her little sister and the roommate she lost — both wearing white. She goes back to the conversation she had with her mother, but instead of saying, “I never loved him,” (referring to Camille’s father) Adora says, “I never loved you.”

Our other characters are getting out of bed. The police chief gets up the same way he always does — with his uniform already laid out, breakfast ready and a kiss from his wife. Alan gets up, and we see he actually sleeps on a pullout couch while Adora takes the bedroom. (Why do you put up with this, Alan?) Adora wakes up from a phone call, and says to whoever is calling, “Don’t do a thing until I get there.”

Camille is in the kitchen eating cherry pie, and has a flashback to her younger self entering the kitchen in a cheerleading uniform. “Couldn’t you just take a bite out of her?” her sister says, referring to how cute Camille looks in her uniform. Her mom replies, “Like a plump, juicy cherry.”

Back in the present, Camille throws down her fork and gives the housekeeper a hug.

Going to hang out with her friends, Amma shows Camille the scratches she got from the night before. One of her cuts almost makes a C, and she says she could spell out Camille — a reference to Camille’s own cuts.

This makes Camille angry, but Amma insists she wasn’t serious. She thanks Camille for coming after her the night before and says, “I get funny ideas sometimes.”

Driving around town, Detective Richard runs into Jackie O’Neele, the woman who has a soft spot for Camille. She’s putting flowers at the place Natalie’s body was found. Instead of asking her about the case, though, Richard asks Jackie about Camille.

Jackie doesn’t give much up, but also implies that she doesn’t talk about people when she’s sober. She also tells him, “You’re getting warmer,” which is super weird. What does Jackie know about the case?

Detective Richard is digging through. He asks someone to get him hospital records about Camille, which can only mean trouble. Focus on the murders, detective, leave Camille alone.

At the pig farm, they’re pulling a bike out of a pond. It’s Anne’s bike, the first girl who died. Adora, Detective Richard and Anne’s dad, Bob Nash, are there. When Bob sees that it is, in fact, his daughter’s bike, he starts crying. Adora comforts him. Now they’re looking at people who used to work (or currently work) at the farm. (Natalie’s brother John Keene used to work at the farm.)

Amma and her friends are hanging out by Ashley’s pool, where John is staying. Amma flirts with him, clearly trying to taunt him, and John gets angry. When Camille shows up, she overhears John saying to Amma, “Just know I’ve got an eye on you. It’ll be your day. Soon.”

Either John is a straight up murderer, his threats are empty because Amma is being annoying or John thinks Amma knows something about his sister’s murder. Either way… very suspicious.

Camille is there to interview John again, and Ashley is resuming her peppy, “everything is OK” act. She’s buttering her up, and she keeps talking about how much she looked up to Camille. Camille asks her about the girls who were murdered, and Ashley raves about how sweet they were. “It’s like God picked the very best girls from Wind Gap to take for heaven for his own.”

Camille shuts off her recorder and accuses Ashley of wasting her time. She does say something interesting through. She says she knows John wouldn’t kill the girls because it would make him “popular,” which is weird. Then Camille notices that Ashley has some kind of mark on her ear — a bite?

Richard calls Camille and tells her about the bike they found. Furious, Camille confronts her mom about it, clearly mad she missed the details for her story. Adora turns to Allan and says Camille has outstayed her welcome and wants Alan to take care of it. Of course, she asks him in the most manipulative way: “Let her know how you feel about it, please.”

Meanwhile, Richard goes to the same hospital Camille stayed at, walks to the same counter Camille and her roommate would ask the nurse for their phones, and then talks to the same nurse. I’ve visited a psychiatric hospital before, and this kind of access — that you’d be able to walk in and talk to a nurse that directly oversees patients — is so unrealistic to me. It makes me sad because Wind Gap is such a believable place. The bare/incomplete setting of the psychiatric hospital stands out to me.

Detective Richards talks to a doctor and says he needs to know “what kind of people” stay in the hospital for a case he’s working on. The doctor explains there isn’t one type. Some people have mental illnesses, like depression and bipolar disorder. Others, he says, are just trying to distract from painful feelings resulting from trauma.

Our patients can be impulsive and aggressive, but they are very rarely violent. Whatever is going on with them, they take it out on themselves more than other people.

— Doctor at the psychiatric hospital

Despite the bare bones setting of the hospital, I do love this moment. When psychiatric hospitals and murder are featured in the same plot line, this fact — that people who are distressed are more likely to hurt themselves or others — is never brought up. The ex-psychiatric patient is almost always the killer, not the protagonist, and I appreciate them addressing Camille’s mental health issues in a compassionate way.

When Camille leaves the house, she walks by Allan on the porch, who shows his true colors. He tells her, “You’re making your mother ill, and I’m going to ask you to leave if these conditions don’t improve.” Nooooo Allan! I was rooting for you! 

It gets worse. He says to Camille, “I know how jealous you’ve always been of anyone else’s well-being,” and then goes on to describe how horrible Adora’s own mother was, as if that justifies her behavior. And, of course, in some ways, it can explain it. If her mother never showed Adora loved, of course, that can affect how she parents. But the cycle of abuse doesn’t mean Camille should just take it, or that she should be nicer to her mother. Her mother isn’t self-aware enough about her own behavior, and while past trauma can be an explanation, it doesn’t mean it’s an excuse to treat others abusively.

One of her old friends from high school picks Camille up, and they head over to the house where all the ex-cheerleaders are gathered. It’s funny because within minutes, it seems, everyone is crying. It would be funnier if they weren’t so unhappy. One woman is crying because she wants to go to work but still feels like she doesn’t have a purpose. “Don’t let feminism tell you what to do with your family,” another woman replies. Then, another woman starts crying because her husband doesn’t want to have more kids. We can see Camille is happy she got out of this town.

While she’s at the house, the man who had sex with her in the woods when she was in high school is there. Again, he tries to talk to her about it, and again, Camille shuts him down. He says he can’t stop thinking about that day… that it’s haunted him. Camille replies, “Looks like we both got fucked.”

Meanwhile, Detective Richard meets Jackie in a bar, and she’s willing to spill some more details — but nothing too shocking or revealing. Richard wants to know why Camille hurts herself, and to my surprise, Jackie pretty much says what Adora said. That Camille is sensitive, special and that things weren’t the same after her sister died. There still seems to be some missing information here, and we still don’t know exactly how her sister died.

In the last scene, Camille goes on an adventure with her step-sister. They take drugs together, and roller blade around town. Their relationship has been so rocky, it’s a sweet scene. Amma wants to move away with Camille. They crash together in the same bed, and Adora sees them, asleep.

Our Rating: 

I keep expecting something to happen that hasn’t happened yet… it’s like this lingering feeling I’m still in a plot set-up, without much movement. In that way, this episode was a little disappointing. But — I did like how they touched on violence and mental health.

Discussion Question:

If you had an abusive parent who was also abused, how did it make you feel to learn about this abuse? Did it change anything?

Originally published: August 13, 2018
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