The meaning of the pilot episode of Sharp Objects

Pilot episodes are important to capture the attention of the audience and to keep them hooked for future episodes. With the right use of cinematography, including sound, lights, and etc., this can change the way the show is conveyed.

The pilot episode of Sharp Objects, reveals the main character, Camille, and her troubled life. Working at a newspaper in St. Louis as a journalist and suffering with an alcohol addiction, Camille is sent back to her hometown to cover a disturbing story of a missing teenage girl and a murdered one, to understand how these crimes have affected the community of Wind Gap. Throughout the episode, Wind Gap is seen during the day with rich colours, bright landscapes and natural lighting. However, during the flashbacks which reveal glimpses of Camille’s childhood, Wind Gap is a small and eerie empty town which gives a feeling of uneasiness.

The plot of the episode moves seamlessly and subtly between the present and the past, reality and imagination,  to show the backstories of Young Camille as she gets lost in her own thoughts, giving depth to her character and allowing the audience to see where she is coming from. The scenes in the flashbacks incorporates the audience into Camille’s mind from a third person perspective often revealing her relationship with her deceased sister Marian as they go through life together, happily. It is evident that Camille is trapped in her childhood memories as she had a special relationship with her sister, that has made her into who she is.

In addition to her sister, we see the conversations between Camille’s domineering mother, Adora as her mother states that the house is not ready for guests, when clearly she is talking to her own daughter. Adora, her mother, does not want to get involved with the current crimes happening in Wind Gap, and is concerned about her image within the community. It’s almost as if, it pains her to be in the presence of Camille. Her half-sister Amma, who appears in several scenes pretends not to know Camille and comes off as a different person when she is not at home. She is the leader of the gossipy girls, and acts completely different when around her mother, more prim and proper, pretending to be someone she is not and to put up an act.

Throughout the episode, there are words engraved and shown in the background which convey certain

meanings. At Camille’s desk at home the words bad, drunk, and bleed are seen which summarize Camille’s troubled life as she has low self-esteem, has an alcohol addiction, and a self-harm problem. While in Wind Gap, Camille’s car trunk has the words DIRT and DIRTY, which is how the community views her as well as her own thoughts, when she identifies herself as “trash” to her boss. Everyone in the community knows Camille from her childhood, and has a different opinion on her.

Finally, the episode ends on a cliff-hanger with the words “Vanish” scarred into Camille’s arm, which evokes the idea that in addition to alcohol, she suffers with self-harm as well, which explains why she wears long sleeves to cover up her skin. With all the complex backstories, eerie settings and locations, dim lighting, sounds, editing, and visual effects, this episode effectively demonstrates the main character’s struggles and her personality. The close-ups and attention to detail gives clues to the mystery and reveals deeper meanings which makes this series undeniably enticing.