Big Little Lies recap: The walls are closing in on the Monterey Five
I’m officially worried about Big Little Lies season 2.
While many were skeptical of continuing what was such a closed-ended story, I was all for spending more time with five of our finest actresses (and getting to know newcomer, Meryl Streep). And just watching the misadventures of Madeline, Celeste, Renata, Jane, and Bonnie was enough for me through the first few weeks. But, now with only two episodes to go, I keep waiting for things to fully kick into gear. We’re really going to need major payoff from some of these storylines to make them worth it (I’m looking at you, Bonnie’s mom).
Like every week this season, “Kill Me” starts with flashbacks to the aftermath of Perry’s death. It’s Jane’s turn to wake up after that. We then quickly jump to Celeste getting up and having flashes of her own, but instead of Perry dying, it’s her having sex with a random dude in a bathroom. Once up, she heads off to meet with Mary Louise, their lawyers, and the judge ahead of the custody hearing. Mary Louise insists that her daughter-in-law isn’t a bad person, she’s just not well and they need to do what is best for Max and Josh. Afterward, Celeste confronts her lawyer Katie (The Night Of‘s Poorna Jagannathan) about staying silent. Katie believes that the judge will see past Mary Louise’s “performance,” while also preparing Celeste that the opposition will try to make her look “unhinged.” Well, definitely don’t ask Madeline for advice on how to avoid that.
Speaking of Madeline, her ex-husband and possible soon to be ex-husband have a run-in while running. This dynamic between Nathan and Ed continues to be my favorite comic relief of the season. Nathan tries to apologize for their fight at Amabella’s party, but Ed doesn’t believe him, declaring that they don’t have to get along. When Ed rides off on his bike, Nathan initially begins to run after the “nut f—,” before deciding against it.
The running continues with Bonnie doing her usual jog through the woods as she has flashbacks to the night of Perry’s death. But this time, we mix in Mary Louise and Quinlan shooting her suspicious looks. If she’s not out running, then Bonnie is sitting by her mother’s side at the hospital. And these moments provide their own flashbacks, with Bonnie recalling her rough childhood and the abuse she dealt with from Elizabeth. As she holds her mom’s hand close, Bonnie sees a glimpse of water, further hammering home (they’ve given up being subtle, huh?) the idea that Bonnie is going to drown by season’s end.
Elsewhere, Madeline and Ed are trying their best to keep their relationship from drowning. They’re headed to a healing institute that is definitely not a swinger’s convention. “We’re warriors, you and me,” she tells her husband. After a brief class of hugging strangers, they’re driving home when Madeline shares how grateful she is for her “really good man.” He agrees that he was a “sound choice.” She doesn’t like what he’s insinuating, pulling over and asking him to explain. He says that Nathan broke her world, so on their first date together, she was essentially interviewing him, but not for the role of lover or soul mate, rather stable provider and father. Ed checked all those boxes — until Madeline “got unsound.” Her hookup with Bachman left him “with the most difficult choice of all: to walk out with my dignity or to stay with a woman who I simply cannot trust.” She insists that he can trust her to love him and to never be unfaithful again. “All my future mistakes will be brand new ones,” she says. Honestly, I don’t find that as reassuring as she thinks it is.
Celeste is looking for her own assurances, seeking out Renata to make sure that Katie is as good a lawyer as advertised. I don’t remember this ever being mentioned before, but apparently, Celeste is a lawyer herself. Their chat is interrupted by Renata’s assistant, who informs her that, not only she is no longer on the women in power magazine cover, but she’s been fully removed because of Gordon’s drama. While Renata is speechless, she doesn’t blame the assistant, who needs to get lost and stop asking her boss if she wants African Zimbabwe tea!
Things don’t get any less aggravating for Renata when Mary Louise comes over for some tea at her very empty house. Like Renata’s frustration with metal detectors, her rolling a desk chair over towards Mary Louise is pure comedy. The interaction takes a quick turn as Mary Louise realizes this isn’t just a social visit. “It would be so nice if people could just be together,” she opines. “Maybe somebody will invent an app for that.” Mary Louise does her Mary Louise thing by poking at Renata over her bankruptcy and how it must especially hurt considering all the time she sacrificed as a working mother. “You seem like a very nice person…who lives in a big house with no furniture,” observes Mary Louise, a.k.a. The Shade Queen.
Confrontations are happening all over Monterey. At Otter Bay Elementary, Ziggy is minding his own business when bully Brian tells him that he’s got a hot mom and that he was a mistake. Like the good brothers they are, Max and Josh run over when they see this. Brian proceeds call their dad a rapist, leading the three of them to beat the crap out of him. I don’t support violence, but as a big brother, I was proud of them. The incident lands the boys each three-day suspensions. Their reward will be a day of kayaking together, but, before then, Jane has a heart-to-heart with Ziggy, who asks if he’s going to grow up to be like his father. “God no,” declares Jane. And she’s right, you’re going to grow up to be like Jim Parsons.
Celeste is taking a slightly different tactic with Max and Josh, choosing to grill the boys over dinner. One of them calls her a bitch, causing her to lash out before crying. Deciding to take the honest approach, she reveals that grandma Mary Louise is trying to take them — but she won’t let that happen (seems like some heavy info for second graders). But they later prove to be ready for it when Celeste says they need to tell anyone who asks that they want to stay with her. “We can protect you,” says Josh, reaching out to touch his mom’s face. “We can say whatever you want us to say.” She insists they don’t need to protect her, just need to tell the truth. Damn, I think I’m officially all in on Max and Josh.
And me getting emotional over the actions of second graders continues when Chloe interrupts Ed’s work in the kitchen by giving him a very sad, silent hug. The food bonding continues with Abigail and Madeline getting ice cream. Madeline is considering trying golf to bond with Ed, even though she hates it. Speaking of things/people that Madeline hates, Mary Louise happens to walk by and pulls a classic ML move by bringing up college to Abigail (she’s so good that she doesn’t realize she’s poking a nerve). Madeline can’t help but confront her about Celeste, causing Mary Louise to leave, and causing me to demand a gif of Madeline yelling, “What’s wrong with you? Huh?! Huh?!” Also, that’s my response to the editor who decided not to include the viral photo of Reese Witherspoon throwing that ice cream at Meryl Streep.
Those aren’t the exact words that Bonnie has for her dad, but it’s pretty close. Martin interrupts Bonnie’s “cash cow” sleep apnea class to say that he thinks they need to move her mother out of the hospital. Bonnie then snaps at him for finally being involved. “If only you goddamn knew,” he retorts, to which she responds, “I do goddamn know — I was there.” Their tense relationship continues at home. After she arrives to a new treadmill courtesy of Nathan (I don’t know, I feel like she enjoys the fresh air, man), Martin defends himself, sharing that he thought he was protecting Bonnie by keeping the peace. “I was trying to do my best to keep the rage away…for you…and for me…and for her,” he admits, further revealing that Elizabeth was mumbling that Bonnie is drowning. “Sometimes the things she feels and sees turn out to be right, and now I’m worried.”
Back at the hospital, Bonnie tells her sedated mom to stop worrying about her. Subsequently, Elizabeth starts making noises, eventually declaring, “Kill me.” I’m not sure Bonnie could handle another body on her conscious.
And that leads perfectly into Celeste meeting with Mary Louise and the lawyers. With Ira threatening to bring some troubling details to light, he offers joint custody, which Celeste quickly shoots down. Celeste again accosts Katie for being silent. Admitting that it’s a decent offer, Katie warns that Perry’s death will come up at trial. That has Celeste sending out the bat signal for a beach meeting. All of the ladies are on the witness list for the custody trial, which Renata declares a “f—ing perjury trap.” Madeline wants them to all stick with their story and stick together. “We’re gonna be fine,” she says, seemingly hoping to convince herself as much as the others.
While Ziggy, Max, and Josh are starting their school-free day at breakfast, Corey and Jane are dancing, then kissing, and then getting physical on the couch. But when Jane quickly starts crying, Corey holds and comforts her. The actions then jump to the beach where Corey is playing with the boys as Celeste tells Jane that it will take some time for her to get there. Meanwhile, Amabella and Renata are having their own skip day, which is definitely because they’re going broke, even if Renata says, “Everything isn’t about money. Well, it is, but it isn’t.” (Whispers: “It is.”)
Time for our annual episode-ending montage! Here are the lower priority highlights: Mary Louise longingly looks at a photo of Perry and the boys; Renata and Amabella have fun in the pool; Celeste, Jane, and the boys enjoy kayaking and then dinner; Madeline is drinking alone and thinking of her rendezvous with Bachman. And that brings us to the big cliffhangers. Alone at a bar, Ed is approached by Tori (last seen telling Ed about her boob job), who is making a move on him as her husband watches. Oh yeah, don’t forget that she’s married to Bachman! And in even more pressing news, Bonnie goes to the police station, but before she can walk in, she spots Corey walking out! Could this be a 21 Jump Street situation but with the aquarium instead of high school?!
The Biggest Lie of the Week: Other than the whole “Perry fell on his own” thing? Probably Bonnie’s dad thinking he protected his daughter. The flashbacks would say otherwise, sir.
The Monterey Bae of the Week: Definitely Ed. I called it back in the season premiere that something would happen with him and Tori, but I couldn’t have quite predicted that he could be pulled into a Devil’s Threesome with the man who might have ended his marriage.
The Emmy Submission Moment of the Week: Celeste telling the boys what to say to the judge. Forget Kidman, who is a lock for an Emmy nom, Cameron and Nicholas Crovetti need to be up for at least a Preteen Choice Award!