Before it debuted, Sharp Objects was frequently compared to last summerâ€™s Big Little Lies, due to both shows being splashy HBO miniseries with big-name casts. But Big Little Lies, among other things, told a story about its female charactersâ€™ struggle to prove their innocence in a town that knew better. And Sharp Objectsâ€™ third episode, â€śFix,â€ť is the inverse of that. Itâ€™s all about women who are fully capable of murder, and a town that doesnâ€™t want to believe it.
â€śWomen around here, they donâ€™t kill with their hands,â€ť Bob Nash (Will Chase) â€” the father of one of two girls thatâ€™ve been murdered in the small Southern town of Wind Gap, Missouri â€” tells Camille (Amy Adams), when she visits him. â€śThey talk.â€ť
In the aftermath of two ritualistic and grisly murders that happened less than a year apart, Wind Gapâ€™s citizens donâ€™t seem to be terribly concerned about their lives being in danger. The parental warnings being issued to the townâ€™s children are weak (and several of the kids are sneaking out on a nightly basis), and life, for the most part, seems abnormally normal.
What Wind Gapâ€™s residents are more concerned about is playing a game of whodunit and speculating why each of the victims was targeted. They seem more entranced by the spectacle of it all, and in some ways, Camille â€” whoâ€™s now finished with her initial story â€” does too. Peopleâ€™s interest in the murders is rooted more in morbid curiosity than in personal safety. Finding the killer is more about closing the loop on the story than it is justice.
Sharp Objects has focused heavily on this sentiment in its past two episodes by unpacking Wind Gap residentsâ€™ opinions on who the murderer might be â€” and heavily hinting that it wonâ€™t be anyone they expect, specifically because few folks in town seem to believe the killer could be a woman.
In â€śFix,â€ť getting away from how the town of Wind Gap thinks about and treats women is as impossible as Camille getting away from a bottle of vodka. It seems like every interaction between two characters contains at least a slip of a remark about the women of Wind Gap, or rather, how the women of Wind Gap are viewed and treated in the town.
Many residents of Wind Gap clearly believe that women are only good for one thing: gossiping.
This sentiment builds on what weâ€™ve seen in previous episodes: Adora worrying about Camille sullying her reputation around town; Camille having to deal with her own Wind Gap legacy; and Wind Gapâ€™s mean girls whispering away at Natalieâ€™s funeral.
The implication seems to be that a woman from Wind Gap could never be capable of anything more than mindless talk, let alone murder. But weâ€™re not really meant to trust this characterization.
The people spreading the â€śall women are gossipsâ€ť generalization are all men who have been doing their fair share of talking too. The sheriff, for example, hasnâ€™t been particularly successful at his job â€” keeping the town of Wind Gap safe â€” so his remark about how women in the town keep talking and how men like Willis should know better than to act like them feels more like frustration coming from an incompetent character than an objective observation.
Itâ€™s also obvious that the women of Wind Gap know how to take advantage of what others think and expect of them.
Take Camilleâ€™s sister, Amma (Eliza Scanlen), who shares a drunken chat with Camille in the first scene of â€śFix.â€ť Sheâ€™s figured out how to alter her behavior in front of the girlsâ€™ mother, to her benefit. Amma knows how sheâ€™s expected to behave, and that she can wriggle out all kinds of freedoms as long as she maintains a certain image â€” thatâ€™s why we see her wearing different outfits and putting on a different demeanor when sheâ€™s at home. No one, including Adora, suspects her of being capable of more.
But as Amma reveals to Camille during their chat, sheâ€™s nowhere near as innocent as she seems.
â€śThey do anything for me,â€ť she says of her friends, flashing a sly hint that she might be capable of more nefarious things than she appears to be. â€śI just ask, and theyâ€™re my besties.â€ť
Full disclosure: Although Iâ€™ve seen (and loved) the movie adaptation of Gone Girl, Iâ€™ve never read Gillian Flynnâ€™s books. I donâ€™t know how Sharp Objects ends. With that said, I fully believe the Wind Gap killer is a woman, by virtue of the fact that the showâ€™s male characters are outright saying women arenâ€™t capable of murder.
I keep coming back to what Nash said: â€śWomen around here, they donâ€™t kill with their hands.â€ť Granted, a sullied reputation in such a small town can probably feel like a punishment worse than death. And we donâ€™t know how much Nash is exaggerating or how much he fully believes his statement.
But in Sharp Objectsâ€™ first three episodes, weâ€™ve seen various male characters get asked about their alibis, have their possible motives explained and explored, and have their pasts delved into. Meanwhile, no one has been asking where Amma or Adora was on the nights of the murders, even though Amma tells the Sheriff in â€śFixâ€ť that she personally knew both of the dead girls. We also donâ€™t know exactly why John Keeneâ€™s suspicious, clingy â€śJackie Oâ€ť girlfriend Ashley is suddenly in the picture, but no one except Camille seems to care.
These women all seem like potential suspects, but theyâ€™re being dismissed because the general thought in Wind Gap is that women are harmless. Yes, they talk, but they arenâ€™t seen as â€śstrongâ€ť enough (to pull the victimsâ€™ teeth with pliers) or heinous enough to commit violence of the type that killed the girls.
And â€śharmlessâ€ť doesnâ€™t just refer to the harm they might pose other people but also the harm theyâ€™re capable of inflicting on themselves, as we see in a flashback to Camille checking into a psych ward and befriending her cellmate Alice. Camille and Alice both engage in self-harm, but Camille seems to be the only person who can sense how troubled Alice is or notices the extent of her cutting. The scenes feel safe. Alice shares a playful relationship with the nurse. And that all comes crashing down in the final sequence when we find out how Alice died.
Thereâ€™s something deeper beneath the surface of each one of Wind Gapâ€™s women, something that possibly belies the person theyâ€™re presenting as in public. Writing off the townâ€™s women as harmless gossips fails to recognize what kind of people, perhaps monsters, some of them might be. Which makes it no surprise that the sheriff hasnâ€™t found the murderer yet â€” heâ€™s underestimating half the population.