As HBO’s Sharp Objects continues to expose the many secrets of Wind Gap, Missouri, one thing has become perfectly clear. The majority of the residents conform to Adora Crellin’s (Patricia Clarkson) way of doing things and those few who don’t are often either shunned or eliminated altogether. This week Adora fired one man—Taylor John Smith’s John Keene—and threatened another—Matt Craven’s Chief Vickery—effortlessly flexing her control over the town. On this week’s episode of Vanity Fair’s companion podcast, Still Watching, everyone’s favorite Wind Gap rebel, Elizabeth Perkins a.k.a. Jackie O’Neele, explains how her loud, brash, boozy character may be the key to unlocking the show’s many mysteries.
Towards the end of “Ripe,” Chief Vickery visited Jackie’s house to get some background information on Camille (Amy Adams). While the old family friend may have stayed quiet in the moment, audiences can bet there is a lot going unsaid. “Jackie knows everything that’s gone on in the [Crellin] house, what’s going on in the house,” Perkins tells Still Watching co-host Richard Lawson. “She absolutely knows everything.”
Perkins went on to explain that not only does Jackie go way back with Camille, she goes way back with her mother, Adora. Jackie alluded to as much earlier in the season during the Keene family wake when she told Camille that Adora used to be much wilder in her youth. Perkins reveals that in future episodes, audiences will see those crazier Jackie and Adora days for themselves thanks to flashbacks. They may be on the outs now, but there’s a “great love” shared between the two women.
Clearly, as the years wore on, Adora leaned hard into becoming the more sedate and controlling figure that Perkins calls “a wildly wicked character” and a “quiet witch.” When speaking with the podcast a few weeks ago, Sharp Objects author Gillian Flynn explained how the mythological figure of Persephone inspired Eliza Scanlen’s Amma. But as Perkins makes a connection between Adora’s witchy control over both the townsfolk of Wind Gap and the hogs of Preaker Farms, another classic allusion comes to mind: Circe.
Not to be confused with the Lannister queen who roles over King’s Landing on Game of Thrones, Circe (same pronunciation, different spelling) is a witchy figure from The Odyssey who transforms Odysseus’s men into obedient swine. Circe, like Adora, presents herself as an attractive, sweet, and welcoming figure. Clarkson may have drawn some inspiration for Adora’s eerily, hushed presence from director Jean-Marc Vallée himself who runs an unusually silent set that has resulted, Perkins observes, in some characters practically whispering their dialogue.
All that calm and quiet masking something darker makes the frustrated screams from Camille or the warm and friendly shouts from Jackie stick out like a sore thumb. This, Perkins says, is one of her favorite aspects of the show. “People are afraid to be individuals,” she says speaking of both the current state of America as a whole and the docile, hog-like residents of Wind Gap. Sharp Objects continues to examine a toxic brand of “groupthink” that Perkins believes is “very representational of our country right now” prompting audiences to root for both Camille and Jackie—the women who don’t fit in.
Listen full interview here!