The previous episode of 'Sharp Objects' ended with Amy Adams' character, Camille, hurling her iPod out the car window in an apparent attempt to rid herself of the past and its trauma. It's left, essentially, with the expectation that Camille is going to make a step forward out and try move on with her life.
Instead, it opens with Camille digging around the greenery where she hurled the iPod, fishing it out and carrying on. What so much of 'Sharp Objects' focuses on is how the past can't be escaped, and it seems Camille can't even bear to leave behind an iPod. This sense of entrapment is echoed in Chris Messina's Detective Willis, who remarks that he's "still in Wind Gap," and still circling the town trying to gain access to its secrets and its people. For a murder-mystery miniseries, we've so far seen precious little investigation and actual detective work by anyone - be it Camille or Willis, or Chief Vickery.
What makes 'Sharp Objects' so fascinating to dissect is that you don't actually realise until after the fact that it's showing you all the information you need to try and piece it altogether. It's broken up by glimpses of memories from Camille's shattered mind as she takes a swig of vodka from a water bottle, rather than a conventional sense. 'Ripe', however, marks a departure from this setup in the series so far as Camille takes Willis on a tour of the woods on the proviso that for every site she brings him to, he has to answer a question on the record. Again, that's 'Sharp Objects' in a nutshell - people revealing secrets, but only at a crack and very often in a transactional way rather than genuinely opening up to people. The norm in Wind Gap is to keep secrets and present a facade. There's a scene that underlines this, right towards the end, when Camille meets John Keene at the local dive bar and talks about they're both "weirdos" in Wind Gap as they open up to each other. More on that later.
The simmering sexual tension between Camille and Willis comes to a head during their tour of Wind Gap's crime scenes, but rather than it being something in the way of a romantic or even erotic moment, it's so clearly lacking in emotion that we're reminded yet again how shielded Camille is. The moment, as well, is punctuated by Camille's own memories of the area and the likelihood that she herself was raped there. When Willis questions her on it, she replies flatly that if she says yes, "you’ll think less of me or feel sorry." When he tries to lean in for a kiss, she responds by pushing him off and forcing his hand down her trousers. It's only later that night, in full view of her mother watching from the window, that she's able to kiss him.
Pulling back from the emotional violence that plays out so unsettling in the scene, the investigation itself has stalled and it's probably why 'Sharp Objects' feels less like a conventional murder-mystery than it's been billed as. There's a moment, shortly after John Keene brushes off his girlfriend Ashley to go hang out in the bar where he meets Camille and opens up to her, that she discovers a speck of blood underneath his bed and - deliberately - she cleans it up and hides the evidence. It's almost too obvious a moment for it to be ignored, so you Camille and Willis' tour of the crime scenes doesn't necessarily reveal anything immediately, but it's only when she talks to John Keene at the bar does she realise that there's a connection between the two dead girls and her own sister, Amma. The investigation moves on, but it's so stop-start and so lacking in a clear narrative that it can be frustrating to piece together after the fact.
Again, that's either what makes or breaks the series for you. You can either get on board with how leisurely it progresses, luxuriating on the scenery and the depth of performances from everyone concerned - Patricia Clarkson's ice-queen mother, Adora, plays a blinder here especially - or you can get frustrated and give up on it entirely. It's worth sticking out, just don't expect it to be spoon-fed to you.