If there's one thing that can be said about 'Sharp Objects' that makes it so compelling, it knows where it's going and it isn't afraid to take its time to get there.

That can make for something of a frustrating experience as a viewer; you want to know where everything's going and what everything means, but the sign of a good story is knowing that there aren't any extraneous pieces left over and the third episode of 'Sharp Objects' finally solves one mystery in the whoddunit show - namely, who that weird, darkly-dressed girl that Camille (Adams) keeps seeing everywhere. The girl, played by Sydney Sweeney (yes, she was in 'The Handmaid's Tale'), is Alice - a fellow patient at a mental hospital where Camille checked herself in for treatment and formed a tender bond with her, completely unlike the one she has with her actual half-sister, Amma. More on that later.

What 'Sharp Objects' does so smartly is funnel emotion through music rather traditional, visual methods and we see where Camille's constant tapping of the broken-down iPod comes from. While there isn't much to go on in terms of what it has to do with the mystery of who killed the two girls, it does give a sense of just how broken and damaged Camille is and how truly toxic the relationship is between her and her mother Adora, and specifically her half-sister Amma. It's laid out in pretty blunt terms when Adora tells Amma that her half-sister is dangerous and that by looking to her as a role model is only going to end up in a terrible place.

With Camille stuck in Wind Gap for the next while, she decides to try and get some time with the suspects in the case - namely, the father and brother of one of the victims - to understand how they're being perceived, what they think about the case and where it's all going. This is a central theme in 'Sharp Objects' - how people are perceived and the desperation in keeping up appearances in a small town.

There's a moment when John, the brother of one of the victims, describes how living in the city gives an anonymity whereas small towns are invariably the opposite, and blames that in part for why his sister's dead. All this, by the by, comes out with his overly-preened, exceedingly contrived girlfriend sitting next to him in a cheerleader's outfit.

The other interview, with Bob Nash, tells another story - that the men of Wind Gap are pretty dismissive of women and the theory that the killer is a woman. As he tells it, "women around here, they don't kill with their hands. They talk." For a small town, that's a kind of death - but not the one that's being investigated. If the last episode, 'Dirt', was about grief, then 'Fix' is about reputation. Just as Nash is about to unburden himself with Camille, her mother storms in and apologies for her daughter's insensitivity - all of which seems kind of bewildering to Nash, but further drives the wedge between the mother and daughter.

Perhaps the most harrowing moment of the series so far comes right at the end of the episode, when we finally see why it was that Camille was haunted by Alice, the dark-dressed girl. To say that it's hard to watch is an understatement - it's harrowing and intimate and speaks to just how raw the performances are from Sydney Sweeney and Amy Adams. It's violent, but in a way that feels way too personal, and when you understand the significance of it, it makes sense - only in the arc of the story, not in real terms. The episode ends with Camille driving drunk through the night before she squeals on the the brakes and, in desperation, hurls Alice's iPod out the window and her memories out with them. The question now is, where does she go from here?



Review: 'Sharp Objects', season 1 episode 2 - 'Dirt'

Review: 'Sharp Objects', season 1 episode 1 - 'Vanish'