Big Little Lies recap: Let's party like a second-grader!
It’s Halloween on Big Little Lies, and everyone is dressed up as someone whose life isn’t totally falling apart! “She Knows” brings us past the halfway point of this seven-episode second season, and anyone still skeptical about the merits of continuing the Emmy-winning limited series clearly doesn’t enjoy watching six of our most gifted actresses do their thing. Also, this whole season was officially worth the price of admission just for this week’s disco party.
But before we get to the greatest birthday party since Amabella’s last one, let’s start with a very awkward pumpkin-carving session. The Monterey Five (the only gang in Monterey) and their kids are all over at Madeline’s house, but our host is busy outside smoking a cigarette and declaring that “everything right now is so f—ed.” Preach, says Renata, who is headed to bankruptcy court Saturday. But more importantly, she is killing it in this Halloween outfit. “We stay,” she says of why she doesn’t leave Gordon. “They betray us and we stay. They lie, they cheat on us…” Oh snap, she just realized that she’s talking to noted cheater Madeline.
Renata is saved by the bell when Mary Louise shows up. She’s clearly there to see her newest grandson, Young Sheldon, but she also meets the “so beautiful” Bonnie, whom she shares a weird glance with. Mary Louise has big news: She’s moving into Jane’s building. And she wastes no time tickling Ziggy and inviting him over for sleepovers. Celeste pulls her mother-in-law aside to tell her to stop overstepping, especially with the woman her son raped. Mary Louise still isn’t sold on the circumstances of Perry and Jane’s night together, adding that she still has questions, including how many other women Perry cheated with. This causes Celeste to slap the glasses right off Mary Louise’s face. “What should we call that?” Mary Louise asks a horrified Celeste. “Foreplay?” Boom, roasted.
Mary Louise and Celeste later meet for coffee, with Mary Louise saying she’s worried for the boys’ safety because of Celeste’s “erratic” behavior. Oh, you just wait, Mary Louise. She tells her daughter-in-law that grief is meant to be shared, even though she did it alone when her young son died and her husband left her. “People can move on after tragedy, just not together sometimes,” Mary Louise says. And with that, she’s on her way to move her grandchildren away from their mother. Mary Louise has enlisted the services of lawyer Ira Farber (American Horror Story’s Denis O’Hare), who is so ruthless that he advises her to call all the best family attorneys in the area so that they’re conflicted and can’t represent Celeste. He also prepares her to be alienated from the boys. “Everyone needs to be liked,” he opines. “I find that’s especially true with grandmothers.” And grandmothers deserve to be liked!
Right about now, Madeline would love to at least be liked by Ed. She’s pitching a couples workshop getaway to Big Sur, but he’s dead silent until Chloe comes seeking her parents’ thoughts on a school project about opposites. Chloe has a picture of a door and a picture of her mom. Get it? One is hinged and the other is unhinged. Madeline’s not a fan, while Ed hasn’t smiled that wide in weeks.
The troubled marriage theme continues when Renata and Gordon arrive at bankruptcy court. In an amusing callback to Renata’s earlier court appearance, the metal detector goes off as she walks through, but this time it cuts away before we see her lose her sh—. The Kleins’ meeting with the trustee is rough considering how cold-blooded he is, both making her hand over her wedding ring and outlawing future “medical” work (I’m not sure which is worse). Thankfully, she soon gets the ring back, and all it costs them is their Tesla and the price of a cab ride home.
But bankruptcy is a problem for another day, because today is Amabella’s day and we’re going to party like it’s 1977 (minus the drugs, since it’s a second-grade party). Honestly, this may speak volumes about my social life, but this is definitely the coolest party I’ve ever been to it, and I wasn’t even really there. Everyone has come out to support our favorite climate change truther, whether it’s Bonnie’s mom, Elizabeth, or Jane’s boyfriend, Corey. Bonnie and Renata adorably tease Jane about how cute he is, prompting Jane to tell them to be cool. “I’m never cool,” Renata says with a laugh. Hey, Renata, don’t ever say that about my friend again!
The fun times only last so long, though. First, Bonnie interrupts Celeste and Madeline’s conversation to ask what Mary Louise knows. “If anything, she’s suspicious of me,” Celeste admits. “If I could do it again, I wouldn’t go along with the lie.” Madeline thinks she’s being blamed and doesn’t appreciate her friends talking bad behind her back. “You’re right here, it’s to your face,” cracks Bonnie (insert fire emoji). Elizabeth notices this and grills her daughter about the bad “energy.” She really pisses Bonnie off when she grabs her head and tries to get inside it with some voodoo.
Elsewhere at the disco party, marriages continue to be on the rocks. “I suppose we will never be giving her anything like this again,” Renata says to Gordon as they watch Amabella dance with one of Celeste’s boys (hopefully not the one who bit her). Gordon wants to know if his wife will ever be able to forgive him. It’s not about him, she insists, as she’s spent her whole life planning her child’s life. “I’m having a difficult time reconciling that all my dreams have gone to sh—,” she admits. “All my hopes and plans for Amabella have gone to sh—. And I married a man who would take my life and all my accomplishments and just turn them to sh—. That’s on me… my f—ing bad.” Damn, I need my girl Renata to stop being so hard on herself.
Things aren’t going much better for Madeline and Ed. She wants them to dance, but, as much he’d love to, he doesn’t want to pretend for this “dog and pony show.” When she walks away, Nathan checks on his bud Ed, who tells him to shut up, leading to an adorable attempt at a fight. Soon after they’re broken up, both Madeline and Nathan notice how good a time Ed and Bonnie are having together, which is definitely a seed that has been planted this season.
Well, at least one relationship is Monterey is going strong. Jane and Corey are dancing and having a romantic time when she suddenly has a flashback to the night with Perry. This leads to her sharing more about the circumstances with Corey, who comforts her by taking her hand.
Even with all the drama, the party is a huge success — that is until Bonnie and family are receiving their surely expensive gift bags and Elizabeth suddenly drops unconscious. At the hospital, Bonnie learns that her mother’s seizure was the result of a stroke. When her father shows up, he insinuates that Bonnie said something to cause this, leading her to storm out. And in that emotional space, Bonnie spots Quinlan talking to a doctor and goes off on her. Thankfully, Jane arrives and pulls her away, revealing that the detective was there for an unrelated case.
Elizabeth’s collapse has Madeline taking stock of things, telling Ed that if he’s going to leave her, then he should just do it already. “I’m still here, aren’t I?” he retorts, to which she fires back, “Is that what you think, Ed? You’re far from here. You’re not even f—ing close.” Later, Madeline tries to snuggle with Ed as they sleep, but he rolls over, sending her off into flashbacks of hooking up with the theater director.
Celeste will soon be having her own romantic flashbacks. With Jane heading to check on Bonnie and Mary Louise keeping the boys overnight, Celeste is alone at a bar and orders another drink from the Skarsgardian bartender. The next morning, after a night of trying to be Cool Grandma, Mary Louise brings the kids home early because they skipped church due to Max thinking God is a “douchebag.” Celeste seems completely out of it, and she’s just as surprised as the rest of the Wright family to see shirtless bartender Joe appear out of nowhere. It turns out that once again Ambien didn’t quite agree with her. Mary Louise drops Max and Josh off at Jane’s apartment so she can talk one-on-one with Celeste. “You’re a mess,” she declares, saying the boys are at risk in Celeste’s care. As she leaves, Mary Louise notifies Celeste of her intentions to take the children. In complete shock, Celeste can’t even hold the paperwork.
Like a true friend, Renata has helped Celeste get a good lawyer, but it’s not the best since Mary Louise already scored ruthless Ira. “Everything feels like it’s unraveling,” says Renata, who noticeably took her wedding ring off in an earlier scene. And as if things couldn’t unravel anymore, Quinlan happens to make another drop-in, sharing her regret for having missed out on Madeline’s big speech at the assembly. I know she’s trying to take down our girls, but I respect the hell out of Quinlan.
Outraged over Mary Louise’s actions against Celeste, Jane barges over to her apartment to ask if she’ll try to take Ziggy next. Mary Louise insists that she would never since she believes Jane to be a wonderful mother, while she has questions about Celeste. Meanwhile, having already been betrayed by Mary Louise, Celeste is panicked that Dr. Reisman will do the same and testify against her. “I don’t feel strong enough for this,” says Celeste. But when Reisman suggests settling, Celeste declares, “I’ll win. I’ll f—ing win.”
Bonnie gets a win when her mom starts making noises and appears to wake up, but then Bonnie takes a big L when Elizabeth has a vivid flash of her drowning. I mean, to be honest, it’s not surprising after how much time we’ve seen her spend staring out at the ocean.
Biggest Lie of the Week: That Renata is never cool. You take that back!
Monterey Bae of the Week: Get it, Celeste!
Emmy Submission Moment of the Week: Celeste slapping Mary Louise. That’s a scene that plays during the reading of the nominees at the Emmys if I’ve ever seen one!