'Sharp Objects': All The Girls Camille Can't "Fix"

In "Fix," last night's episode of Sharp Objects, we're introduced to the softer side of Camille. Amy Adams has until now played Camille as a prickly, self-destructive tempest who mostly drinks, seethes and observes. But this week we're treated to flashbacks of Camille's more recent history, and we start to understand her tragedy: that, despite her best efforts, she's doomed to fail in the role of big sister again and again.

“I won’t grow up, not me.”

Much of this week's episode – as gracefully edited as we've yet seen – is devoted to memories of Camille's time in a self-harm treatment center. There she meets Alice (The Handmaid's Tale's Sydney Sweeney), a younger patient who, after a reluctant start, begins to look up to Camille. Camille teaches Alice the proper way to apply lipstick (a skill unsurprisingly gained from the glamorous Adora), and Alice guides the culture-starved Camille in the ways of Led Zeppelin.

Their relationship is touching and tenuous, and it's given more substantial flashbacks than the hazy glimpses we've so far gotten of Camille's late sister Marian. Marian still looms as an intriguing specter over Camille's current life, clearly a significant influence on every decision Camille now makes, those both understandable and ruinous. But as Sharp Objects slowly develops, Marian remains nothing more than a ghost, while Alice feels real and actualized and full of life – until she isn't. It makes her suicide, by ingesting Drano while leaving one solitary rose on her bed, all the more devastating. It's one more brick in the wall that's built up inside the "Peter Pan of cutting," one more disaster keeping Camille detached, arrested and incapable of healthy emotional connection.

“I wasn’t nice either when I was your age.”

"Fix" spends most of the rest of its time on Camille's mystifying rapport with Amma, who seems to both idolize and resent her "long-lost sister," back from the big city after years of leaving Amma alone to contend with Adora's melodrama. Camille obviously sees some of herself in Amma, going out of her way to protect her drinking and sneaking out even while begging Amma to be careful of the local killer who targets wayward teenage girls. Adora keeps trying to keep her two daughters apart, finding no comfort in their new closeness, telling one daughter of the other, "She is not someone to be admired." Of course, it feels like she's warning the wrong daughter, because, though Camille is a terror behind the wheel when it comes to drinking and driving, she's nothing compared to Amma on those roller skates, rolling through town with hate in her heart and wielding a lollipop like a weapon. There's no question that all of the bitterness here, from both Camille and Amma, stems back to Adora. She manipulates and controls, pitting the girls against each other, putting one on a pedestal while treating the other like trash, and neither approach seems to be serving her daughters well.

Again, "Fix" focuses far more on these familial dynamics than it does the murder mystery that brought Camille to town, though we do spend a little time with two of the suspects, Bob Nash and John Keene. But Sharp Objects makes no bones about what the heart of this story truly is, and that's no typical serial killer procedural. The real mystery here is how any family could end up as twisted and wrong as Camille, Amma and Adora. The men in Wind Gap keep avowing that no woman could have done what was done to Ann and Natalie – "the women around here, they don't kill with their hands" – and while it's entirely possible that they're right, it feels like they might be underestimating the powerful viciousness of at least the women in this family.

“When mountains crumble to the sea / there will still be you and me”

"Fix" is Sharp Objects' most gorgeous episode yet, stylish and unnerving. Scenes are flooded with red lighting; memories are layered on top of impressions and mixed in with dreams. The rain, bright against a windshield, transitions into a bouquet of roses moving slowly toward a frosted glass door. Amma skates around a sun-drenched porch in a wholesome lemon frock that later morphs into a sexy lemon crop-top. Jean-Marc Vallée continues to direct these episodes like the most unshakable dream you've ever had, something that tickles your brain and weighs on your heart. We're now three episodes in and know less than ever about who killed and mutilated Ann Nash and Natalie Keene, but we're starting to know plenty about these profoundly interesting characters, and the dark history that they share.