Well, things are certainly starting to congeal in our little town of Wind Gap. At the risk of sounding like a Family Guy punchline, this episode could have a description like “Friends become enemies, enemies become friends…maybe our main character gets into a relationship, suffers a little heartbreak?”
In truth, this isn’t a Camille-centric episode. Instead, we get more clues from other characters’ conversation with each other: Adora and the Sheriff, who seem to have their own little history and familiarity; Adora and Alan, who finally shows a little backbone and stands up to Adora in a way that, by the end of the episode, feels a little “gray” if you know what I mean;Â Amma’s strangeÂ performance about Wind Gap’s “all-female militia” and her even stranger one-sided flirtation with the drama teacher Kirk Lacey; John Keene’s downward spiral and Ashley finding blood splatter under his bed. All these elements are leading us closer to the answer of who killed Ann Nash and Natalie Keene, and you get the sense that some people in town (SheriffÂ Â Vickery,Â Jackie, Camille and possibly even good ole’ Detective Dick) might be solving this caseÂ withoutÂ letting the audience in on it.
A few interesting conversations to note here in this episode, which was more about explaining Wind Gap culture than the killer currently at large. “We need to talk about your girls…one of them is dangerous and the other one is in danger,” Vickery tells Adora, which, as filteredÂ through the lens of Adora, is clearly about Amma being the one in danger of Camille’s influence/”willfulness.”Â But could it be read the other way? Clearly, Amma has some severe issues that her mother totally overlooks, and the cruelty we saw in the Crellin daughter last week makes you wonder who Vickery was really talking about. On the other hand, we know he thinks Camille Preaker is dangerous to the investigation of the murders. Add in Vickery’s second stop, to Jackie’s house, where his town is much more pointed. “What can you tell me about the Preaker girl?” he asks with little formality, so interpret that as you will.
Or this conversation about the past. “History is history Amma, you can’t change it,” Lacey chides Amma after her rehearsal.
“Is that why you’re always so sad?” Amma asks, “Because you can’t change your history?”Â That’s a heavy insight for a thirteen-year-old girl to have about the human condition, but we buy it because Amma isn’t just talking about Lacey here, she’s referring to all of history, including Wind Gap’s sordid past of crimes against children that Camille helpfully fills Detective Dick in on, even defendingÂ the actions of five high school football players who passed around a nameless middle school girl one night as her first sexual encounter. When Dick gets angry about the boys taking advantageÂ of a girl “too young to give consent,” Camille bitterly retorts that if it had been a boy having sex with five girls, they’d build him a statue.Â Then there’s another girl named Faith, whose mom was killed in either a murder/suicide with her lesbian lover orÂ was murdered along with her by a third party, and who grows up to be called a “slut” because she’s so desperate to prove she inheritedÂ none of her mother’s sapphic tendency. “See, in Wind Gap, every woman gets a nasty label if they don’t conform to the rules of engagement,” Camille tells us.
Now, consider these messages along with the town’s focus on its own cleaned-up version of history, and you begin to see a pattern of violence against women and young girls, usually at the hands of other women in town.Â Even the dead girls aren’t safe from the nasty gossip; as we learn from John Keene, his sister Natalie had gotten mad back when they lived in Philadelphia and poked a pencil through another girl’s eye, while the majority of the town now thinks John himself killed his own sister because he seems “too broken up” about her death. (Though that blood under his bed doesn’t seem to be helping anyone.) Even Dick’s theory about the murderer’s M.O. seems to be closing inÂ around some larger narrative about Wind Gap. “That’s where the teeth-pulling comes in,” he tells Camille as they visit more crime scenes, including the shed where Ann was murdered. “In our guy’s mind, it’s equivalent to rape. It’s about power…to someone who feels powerless.”
There’s some nugget of truth here, about who in Wind Gap has the power and how it is wielded: women and girls on one side, men on the other. This is a place where even the two dead girls lashed out at each other with physical torment,Â where self-harm is something to be hidden in order to look respectable, where the past is constantly being rewritten and the present is constantly being punctured by the past. And as for the future? Well, in Wind Gap, only one thing is certain: that stories and gossip hold more power than the truth.