Sharp Objects Review: Vanish (Season 1 Episode 1)

A woman returns to her hometown, where propriety reigns supreme over all things, even the truth. Old memories clash with an ugly reality to form the disjointed world of Wind Gap.

On Sharp Objects Season 1 Episode 1, “Vanish,” a reporter returns to her hometown to find out if the grisly murders and disappearances are connected, but returns with her own ugly memories. The disconnected flashbacks begin to fuse together just in time to make the viewer realize this town, and especially the people in it, are perhaps not at all what they seem.

Grow In Your Hometown

The first scene is a fun cliché, two young girls rollerblading, that idea of freedom drifting between them. The music is fun and easy, but perhaps with a slight tinge of something strange, an eeriness hidden in the notes. The line in the beginning of the episode, said to Amy Adams’s character, seems all too befitting of the tone of the show: “Life is pressure. Grow up”. Sent back to her hometown, it seems that she will be forced to relive her growing up again and again.

The Victims of Wind Gap

With enough candy and booze to fill a vending machine and a hotel minibar respectively, the character of Amy Adams’s Camille Preaker gets pulled into sharper focus. The sometimes distinct and sometimes broken flashbacks are the pre-warning to her hometown of Wind Gap, which seems to house more secrets than she does, a strong allusion to the presumed drinking issue. A missing young girl seems to be the tipping point, the crux of the show, the weight of it threatening to drown both Camille Preaker and the town itself. The choice in showing the “don’t be a victim” sign can house the message of that the onus is on the parents, the townspeople, and on the young girls to be more careful. As Camille greets the members of her past (and some new faces too), the shadowy remnants come into focus, that the monsters have always lingered, and that the real issue isn’t being addressed; it isn’t enough to “not be a victim”.

That Southern Charm

Seemingly stuck in the past in an oversized house (but with a electronic keypad gate), Camille’s mother Adora, played with an off-putting eccentricity by Patricia Clarkson, has a black maid. Her immediate response to her daughter is that the house isn’t expecting visitors, highlighting the estrangement between her and her family, but perhaps most especially on their idea of propriety, on making things look or seem nice, over the reality of a situation. The only person who greets Camille warmly and with a hug is the maid.

You’re Always Being Watched by the Local Gossip

Camille’s drinking lands her in a presumable place: the local watering hole, complete with an owner who tiptoes around homophobia and whose purchase of it seems to be a victory. A visit to a dead girl’s father reveals that the families are not alone in their suffering, that the town is withering too; no one, particularly in a gossipy town, exists in a vacuum. When her mother demands the propriety it seems Camille was never able to convey, even in childhood, she is seen to be under her mother’s thumb. They’re not really independents but rather entities of the town and they have to upkeep that good title. That, however, is squandered when another girl’s body is found and the detective’s wish has come true, which is something he wished hadn’t. Despite his job, the objective realization of the true horror seems to reveal he isn’t one to masquerade; even an out-of-towner, he’s suffering from this too.


The true masquerader, however, is the owner of the title, the half-sister to Camille, Amma. Seen several times before properly introduced, though looking very differently under her mother’s eyes, she obeys the rules and adheres to the boundaries provided for her, if only to exist in her own space and in her own way. Camille’s shown to have lost a sister in the past and gained another in the present, both seeming determined to teach her something.

What did you think of Sharp Objects Season 1 Episode 1? Does the premiere promise more than just another cop drama about a serial killer? Will the flashbacks come together to reveal the curse is not within a person but the town itself? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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