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TV Review: Sharp Objects (Season 1, Episode 3)

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As I consistently award every episode four stars, I am racking my brain trying to find something to criticise about this week’s episode of Sharp Objects, but yet again I am at a loss. HBO has once again delivered an excellent piece of television that is very well deserving of its four stars. 

In this week’s episode we are finally shown the tragedy that is plaguing Camille’s conscience. Flashbacks take us back to Camille’s time as a psychiatric patient during which she shares a room with a young girl named Alice (who is revealed to be the owner of the smashed iPod Camille listens to religiously).

Camille and Alice’s relationship begins antagonistic, with Alice resenting her new roommate and Camille displaying scars on her stomach that read “Fuck U”. However,  Camille and Alice begin to develop a sisterly relationship throughout the episode, the one that Camille has mourned in the years following Marian’s death.

Sweet moments, such as Camille helping Alice to apply her lipstick and Alice laying a rose on Camille’s are intertwined with moments set in the present of Camille’s interactions with half-sister Amma, who is becoming more and more menacing as the series progresses.

At the start of the episode, Amma’s drunken whining, proclaiming her love for her long lost sister and exaggerated affection come across contrived and manipulative.

Later on, Amma reveals her true cruelty she spitefully mocks Camille in front of homicide detective Richard, belittling their burgeoning relationship and even going as far as to stick a lollipop in her sisters hair.

As Amma commits such childlike cruelty against her adult sister, she infantilises her and reduces her to a helpless victim of a cruel bully.  

Amma is shaping up to be the series’ most intriguing character so far, a distasteful combination of sweetness and spite that leaves a lasting sense of unease for the viewer at every turn. It’s a wonderful performance by newcomer Eliza Scanlen and brilliant direction by Jean-Marc Vallee. 

The episode builds up to its reveal slowly and only in the final moments are we shown the true horror of what Camille is unable to escape from as we are shown Alice’s body, blood-stained and lifeless, having committed suicide by drinking bleach.

The scene is all the more painful, as it follows Alice asking Camille if ‘it ever gets better’ only for Camille to respond that ‘it doesn’t, you just survive.’

Alice’s suicide clearly rests heavy on Camille’s conscience as she is seen holding onto the iPod belonging to her friend still in the present. However, in this episode she finally lets go and throws the iPod onto the side of the road. Finally, it seems Camille is beginning to leave her past behind. 

In terms of the murder at hand we are still no closer to finding out who has killed Ann Nash and Natalie Keene. Camille finally gets a chance to talk to John Keene, Natalie’s brother and subject of cruel town gossip but at the moment the chances of him being the killer seem slim.

His girlfriend on the other hand seems unusually fascinated with the publicity Camille is giving the investigation. Whether she is just hungry for fame or has more sinister motives is unclear at the moment but is sure to be revealed later on in the series.

Sharp Objects is shaping up to be a thoroughly intriguing and engaging piece of television. It really is Big Little Lies meets True Detective.

The character development is paced beautifully; the cinematography is strikingly bleak, yet still captures the quaint beauty of a small town and the score is chilling.

The dark undertones balance perfectly with the sickly sweetness the characters seem to exude. So far, although slightly slow in parts, this is the best work of television on screens at the minute. 

Sharp Objects is on every Monday at 9pm on Sky Atlantic. Check out the preview for episode four below.

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