Sharp Objects Season 1 Episode 1 Review: Vanish

Wow, this is going to be a slow and heavy show. If you’re familiar with Gone Girl, the famous book turned movie staring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, then you might have an inkling of what to expect from Sharp Objects.

I’ve read both Gone Girl and Dark Places and was only impressed with the first, but I can see why HBO would pick Sharp Objects up as a show. In this first episode, we meet Camille Preaker, an alcoholic reporter from the town of Wind Gap, Missouri. She begrudgingly goes home from St. Louis to cover the death of one little girl, and another missing one.

We learn from a series of flashbacks that her youngest sister, Marian, died at a young age, too, possibly from an illness.

I enjoyed the flashbacks, they were calming and eerie at the same time. Camille’s childhood in Wind Gap was a mix of nothingness and tension. I’m looking forward to see how the show integrates her past into her present, and I’m sure it will be a constant thread throughout the show.

Of course, I was drawn to this show because Gillian Flynn wrote the book, but an added plus is that it’s a crime thriller. It’s hard for me not to love the tension that these kinds of shows build up when done correctly.

Most of “Varnish” covers the tense relationship Camille has with her home town. Everyone knows her, and she knows them, but she left, and everyone’s hurt about it.

Her mother stands out the most, plucking her eyelashes out, and aggressively asking Camille to not speak of any of the missing or dead girls. When Camille first shows up, Adora is disappointed she never called to warn her. She seems to fit the trope of Southern housewife: she knows everyone, and suspects everyone knows her business. I cannot wait to see what unravels here.

Something I think I will enjoy in Sharp Objects is how Camille is an unlikable character. Flynn is an expert at portraying unlikable women, and I love it. There is nothing in “Vanish” that suggests you should like her. The only part of her I liked was when she fell asleep in her car instead of driving drunk, and even that wasn’t something she chose to do.

Mostly Camille is a real woman with a past, who isn’t perfect and won’t apologize to anyone because of who she is.

Obviously, the most shocking scene was the discovery of Natalie Keene, propped up in an alley, dead and badly beaten. Among those who found her was her older brother, John, who was drinking at the bar the night before. I’m a little surprised that they discovered she was dead so early on, but I guess the story is really about catching a killer in a small town, so they’ve got to get on with it.

I also loved the reveal of Amma, Camille’s younger half-sister, who she’s never met. She saw her twice before, while Amma was roller skating with her two friends around town and Amma kept it to herself. This girl will be trouble, I can tell. She’s expected to act and dress like a southern belle when she is home with her parents. She certainly doesn’t act like that when she’s around town.

The final scene is when I knew Sharp Objects would be heavy through and through. Camille drinks a series of clear liquors before stepping into the bath and listening to the same playlist as always. We can see what might be thousands of self-harm scars all over her shoulders and arms.

The biggest scar on her right forearm spells out VANISH, which is, as you know, the name of the episode. There’s a sort of mixed fantasy and reality in Sharp Objects where the past melts into the present, and I can’t tell if Camille really has it scarred into her arm, or if it’s just how the director chose to represent the title of the episode. Even if that was the case, why would it appear at the end of the episode?

Either way, we should know by next week if there is another clever placement of the episode title, or if Camille ever explains the word on her arm. It definitely felt like a reveal when she was getting in the bath.

Regardless, I’m excited to watch next week’s episode. HBO has found a way to keep viewers hooked from one Sunday night to the next. Westworld only just ended, and now I’ve transitioned into watching this so easily.

Will you be watching Sharp Objects? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

[Photo courtesy of HBO]

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