Tuesday, 21 August 2018
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‘Sharp Objects’ Episode 3: Every Rose Has Its Thorn

‘Sharp Objects’ Episode 3: Every Rose Has Its Thorn
23 Jul
2:00

It isn’t difficult to see what these scenes of sinister and twisted feminine caretaking have to do with roses (and it’s probably worth noting that Alice, Adora and Amma all wear floral prints at some point in the episode). “Sharp Objects” is certainly not the first story to use these flowers as a symbol for love and the hurt it causes. They’re all over fairy tales, from “The Sleeping Beauty” to “Beauty and the Beast”; Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” is the quintessential hair-metal torch song. Then there are the white roses in yes, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” which that wrathful matriarch the Queen of Hearts forces her minions to paint red.

All of this cultural baggage weighs down the rose motif and the episode it permeates. But if roses as a symbol for love are cliché, their function on this show is more ambiguous, a lens through which to interpret character. Like the rose, every woman in the Crellin-Preaker clan has her petals and her thorns: Camille is prickly but psychologically fragile. Adora is the ideal patrician Southern lady until someone defies her. Amma is soft and sweet at home but cruel and rebellious in the outside world. So, when “Sharp Objects” warns us about roses, which of its characters is it actually telling us to look out for?

Reporter’s Notebook:

• This week in hidden words: Along with “belittle,” I spotted “faith” on a candle at the shrine to Natalie and Camille carving “fix” into her wrist. But probably the most telling word is “baby,” printed on the side of a building Camille drives by as she’s having a tantrum, just after her mother chases her out of the Nashes’ house.

• In other “sides of buildings” news, I keep noticing giant, smiling white faces on the exteriors of Wind Gap buildings. They seem to date back to the mid-20th century, and they create the impression of a town that lives under the watchful eye of 1950s American archetypes. Particularly unsettling — not to mention resonant with this week’s themes — is the woman offering “nourishing meat.” The Crellins do, of course, own the pig farm, a fact that also complicates the episode’s opening scene, in which a bunch of drunken locals chase a pig as Amma, John Keene and various other young townies look on.

• What is the deal with Alan? He barely speaks, he and Adora don’t share a bedroom (a preference that appears to be hers alone) and he’s always listening to music with headphones on. Every once in a while, a look of affection or concern crosses his face, but we really have no idea what’s going on in his head.

• Camille’s interview with John and his girlfriend, Ashley, was beyond weird: Ashley’s apparent desperation to prove his innocence, which extends to giving him a false alibi; her cheerleading uniform; her alarm at the idea that he hates Wind Gap, even though it’s the place where he met her. Last week, we overheard her after the funeral, claiming to have special knowledge about Natalie, whom she seems to have despised.

• Two related bits of dialogue that stuck out to me about women and gossip: Vickery tells Camille, “That boy from Kansas City [Willis] talks like a woman from Wind Gap.” And Bob Nash dismisses the idea that a woman killed the girls because, he says, “Women around here, they don’t kill with their hands — they talk and you’re dead.”

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