Written by Scott Brown
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
Camille Preaker dreams of Amma Crellin, the hunting shed and dead girls. She wakes to hear Amma and her friends prepare for their performances in the Calhoun Day play. Adora and Alan Crellin get ready for the festival.
St. Louis Chronicle editor Frank Curry checks in with Camille to tell her her article is “blowing up.” He wants another installment in 48 hours. On her way downstairs, Camille drops her water bottle and watches it roll into Adora’s bedroom — triggering a flashback to a time when a magazine photographer visited to profile the Crellin home, including the ivory floor in Adora’s bedroom. Young Camille isn’t allowed to walk on the pristine tiles but sneaks in anyway to impress Marian. She’s scolded by Adora.
In the present, Detective Richard Willis leaves Camille a message about her article: “Beautiful. Right on Calhoun Day.” Richard runs into Chief Bill Vickery at the barbershop and asks him to call off the festival. He doesn’t think it’s wise to have the town gathered together given the circumstances and tension from Camille’s coverage. Vickery declines.
Amma asks Adora to practice play lines with her. Camille offers instead. Amma runs through her lines as Millie Calhoun, an alleged heroine of Wind Gap during the Civil War but for sinister reasons: She was raped. Adora gets angry with Camille’s unfestive outfit and prepares for a “field trip” into town for new clothes.
In private, Amma sneaks a glance at her other phone (“Don’t tell Mama”). Camille asks Amma if she used to hang out with Ann Nash and Natalie Keene. Amma says she doesn’t like to think about them because it scares her. Their conversation is interrupted when Amma’s friends text her a link to Camille’s article; Amma is angry that she found out about the story through her friends rather than Camille.
At a local dress shop, Adora introduces Camille to the owner, Sarahbeth. “She takes after her father… His coloring, his temperament.” Amma, meanwhile, lashes out. She tells Adora about Camille’s article, which insinuates that police are looking at John Keene and Bob Nash as primary suspects, in addition to Vickery’s theory about out-of-towners. Adora is furious and punishes Camille by making her try on spaghetti strap dresses. Camille is pushed to her limit and throws a dress at Adora. Amma can’t help but stare at her sister’s scarred skin.
Back home, Amma apologizes to Camille and begs her to stay. She makes a peace-offering: a dress that will cover Camille’s scars. Guests and police — including Richard, Vickery and his wife Jocelyn, Bob Nash, Jackie O’Neill and the rest of Adora’s friends — arrive for Calhoun Day. Jackie tells Adora to read Camille’s article: “It’s refreshing. It’s honest.” Camille, meanwhile, calls Curry to tell him she thinks she should head back to St. Louis: “When I’m here, I feel like a bad person.” She decides to stay to “see it through.”
Bob Nash approaches Richard and asks if he’s being followed. He grabs Richard’s arm, which makes Richard defensive. It’s clear Bob has been drinking and is mourning Ann. “All I’m asking is for you to lock him up,” he says of the killer. “Jesus, he’s right over there.” He points to John Keene as John and Ashley Wheeler approach Camille. Ashley is livid that she’s not mentioned in the story. “You don’t wanna burn this bridge,” she warns. “I know things, Camille.”
Camille finds Richard, who’s only half-mad at her about the article. Camille hooks her arm around his when she’s sure Adora is watching. Adora is approached by Vickery and Jocelyn. She asks the chief if he shares Camille’s “notions” about the case. He declines to comment.
Camille gets called away from Richard by Jodes, who tells her Amma needs help. On her way to the house, she’s stopped by her high school friends. Adora finds Richard and offers him a tour of the house. Camille searches for Amma and runs into Kirk Lacey: “I’m glad you’re back,” he says. Camille flashes back to when she was a teenager in the woods. Young Kirk Lacey removes his jacket. He tells her he’s thought a lot about her. She gets pulled away by Jackie.
In the Crellin house, Adora allows Richard to walk on the ivory floors. Her vibe toward him is uncomfortable flirtatious. She warns him about Camille: “Even now she’s recovering from a recent episode. She’s delicate. A rare rose, but not without thorns.” Outside, Camille is cornered by her high school friends who invite her to a girls night the following evening: “You’ll get a month’s worth of articles in the first 10 minutes.” She agrees to go.
Richard finds Camille in time for the play to start. The entire party is gathered to watch. Amma takes the stage and looks to her scene partner. It’s revealed the two took ecstasy prior to showtime. The drugs kick in and Amma looks to see if Camille, who’s flirting with Richard, is paying attention.
As the play ends, Bob Nash tackles John Keene and starts to beat him. They’re broken up by Richard and Vickery’s officers as Amma runs away, which sends Adora into hysterics. A search for Amma begins. Camille sets out into the woods and finds Amma in the hunting shed.
Later that night, Adora tends to Amma before inviting Camille to have a drink with her. Adora apologizes, though it’s unclear for what. Camille interrupts her and apologizes for letting Curry publish the article on Calhoun Day. She also brings up Amma’s acting out: “She’s scared of something. I think that’s why she’s doing what she’s doing.” Camille thanks Adora for not telling Richard about her cutting. Adora assumes he’ll find out eventually. Their conversation sours when Adora admits to Camille she’s never loved her.
Camille drives to Richard’s motel room. With her clothes on and lights off, they have sex.