The disappointing second season of the Emmy-winning HBO series ends with a whimper.

By Derek Lawrence
July 21, 2019 at 11:25 PM EDT
Merie W. Wallace/HBO
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If we’re sticking with the “no more lies” theme, then I need to confess that I did not enjoy that. Actually, more specifically, I did enjoy Renata going full Lemonade, but that is where the enjoyment stopped.

Big Little Lies season 2 is over and there’s no other way to describe it than as a disappointment. I was all in after the original three episodes that were sent to critics, just glad to have these ladies back in my life and living for every piece of shade that Meryl Streep was throwing. But then a funny thing happened, or more like nothing happened. We really just spent seven episodes in family court, the aquarium, and Elizabeth’s hospital room. It all had to be building to something huge, right? Nope, instead all I could do was laugh in utter confusion that the Monterey Five walking into the police station is where we could possibly leave this show forever. So, before we get into the full recap, all I have to say is #releasethearnoldcut!

Like every week, “I Want to Know” begins with a flashback to the aftermath of Perry’s death. He happens to be on the mind of Celeste, who watches videos of him playing the role of great family man and husband until she comes across a shocking video that we can’t fully see.

What isn’t shocking is that the two best scenes of this episode belonged to Renata. Already on edge, she can’t believe the local Starbucks employee would even dare ask if she wants milk in her f—ing Americano. But things only escalate as Mary Louise turns up, especially when she makes mention of nannies. This really sends Renata off the edge, defending herself and Celeste against this “judgy judger.” Renata storms out before her coffee is ready, but don’t worry, because Mary Louise tells the employee that she’ll bring it since they’re headed to the same place. Iconic.

And that place is court. Both lawyers are trying to prepare their clients, with Celeste not wanting to hear Katie’s advice and Ira coaching up Mary Louise. Recalling how Perry called Celeste “Sleeping Beauty,” Mary Louise declares, “He was her prince, and she killed him.” Ira tells her to just answer the questions that are asked, and I think we all know that that isn’t likely.

Before court starts, we see a flashback to the aftermath of another deadly incident, this one being the car crash that killed Mary Louise’s son Raymond. And that accident is the focus of Celeste’s questioning of Mary Louise. Celeste brings up Mary Louise’s own past as a mother, asking if she ever lost her temper and caused an automobile to crash, pointing to that as the reason Raymond died. Mary Louise is hit hard by this, almost seeming like she was going to vomit on the stand. “Why are you doing this?” she declares. You know what, this is kind of cold-blooded. Celeste doesn’t back down, saying that Mary Louise had blamed Perry for the crash, also observing that Perry was an abuser and most abusers were abused. She then brings Jane into it, with Mary Louise calling Jane “mistaken” about Perry raping her. “He’s the victim here,” says Mary Louise. Yikes, okay, I now find Celeste’s questioning less cold-blooded. Celeste then plays a video of Perry abusing her that Max and Josh had recorded. “This was your son,” she tells Mary Louise.

That night, Max and Josh ask their mom if she was a superhero in court. “I was like Wonder Woman and Incredible Hulk combined,” she proudly declares. At that moment, Mary Louise shows up, confronting Celeste about lying, which her daughter-in-law denies. “You lost your boys, you don’t get to take mine,” Celeste harshly says as she closes the door.

The kids on this show have had to deal with some really grown-up situations and that now includes Ziggy being way too involved in his mother’s dating life. He thinks Jane really loves Corey, who Ziggy is clearly really, really in love with. “I want you to be with him,” he tells his mom. “And I think you want to be with him too.” Forget Young Sheldon, more like Young Hitch! Later, Ziggy gets his wish when Jane and Corey share a passionate kiss at the aquarium.

It’s much more of a rollercoaster for Bonnie. She relieves her dad of hospital duties and closes the door behind him. “So you want to go, huh?” she tells her unconscious mom, appearing ready to suffocate Elizabeth. “I love you, mom. And it took me my whole life to say that.” As she looks ready to start, we see Martin turn around after forgetting his keys, but when he walks in, he finds his girls lying in the hospital bed together. But then the rollercoaster truly begins to drop. First, Elizabeth wakes up, only to have another stroke soon after. Before that, she whispered into Bonnie’s ear, “I’m sorry,” and died shortly after. With her mother gone, Bonnie is finally ready to come clean — about everything. “I’m not in love with you,” she says to Nathan. “I know this isn’t the best time to tell you. I don’t think I’ve ever been. I just can’t lie anymore. I’m sorry.” He’s hit hard. Has anyone had a tougher season than Nathan? He’s constantly getting punked by Ed and now this?

From Nathan’s soon to be ex-wife to his current ex-wife, Madeline and Celeste are hanging out when Madeline confesses that she feels bad about starting that titular lie. “I can just see the damage it’s done and it’s eroding all of us,” she admits. Celeste then points out that the lie is what brought them together, saying, “The Monterey Five, whatever we call ourselves, the lie is the friendship.”

Luckily for Madeline, things are looking much better for her relationship with Ed. Maybe it’s because of the aggression that he’s been taking out through boxing, but Ed is finally ready to talk. He’s been thinking about their wedding day, which he describes as “joyous” but “delusional.” Understandably, we and Madeline are both then surprised that he wants to renew their vows, committing to living up to them this time around. “This is a shot at a new beginning,” he says. They later go through with it in a small ceremony that appears to be the sequel to Midsommar.

It’s now back to court, where the judge is going to make her ruling — until Mary Louise interrupts.  She’s “so sorry” about what she saw on the video, but says this is not about forgiveness or blame, it’s about Josh and Max. Mary Louise admits to being “ashamed” of Perry but that Celeste was “complicit” in it. While she goes on and makes more arguments, I’m still just sitting here thinking about Meryl Streep saying the words, “Memory book.” And now Celeste wants her turn. Can the judge make her ruling already?! Also, I’m no lawyer, but it seems like they’re basically just testifying now and that maybe Katie or Ira should jump in with an objection. But, again, and this is important to remember, I am no lawyer. Celeste argues that she’s already protected the boys under the toughest possible circumstances and kept them and herself alive. “I will raise them to be good men,” she asserts. “They will be good men.” And the judge finally gets to give her ruling, awarding full custody to Celeste, who takes a break from celebrating to send the boys over to give Mary Louise a hug. We could all use a hug right now.

Well, our hug is getting to watch Renata F—ing Klein, who has turned into a gif machine. Arriving home to her empty mansion, she finds Gordon in his train room with his toys. He’s got good news: He sold them all but gets to still keep them. She’s losing it, bringing up him sleeping with the nanny. “Now that she’s gone, I need something to play with, don’t I?” he cracks. He starts to admit that he went too far but he’s too late as she takes a bat to his train set, TV, and even him. “Maybe you should have shown a woman a little respect,” she declares. “I’m done. No more bullshit. No more lies.” Do you think David E. Kelley had a bet with his wife Michelle Pfeiffer about how many times he could have a character say “lie” or “lies” this season?

In our annual episode-ending montage, Mary Louise is driving back in the rain to San Francisco; Corey and Jane are preparing to have sex; Renata is snuggling with Amabella; Celeste, who deleted her masturbation video of Perry, is hanging with the boys and Ziggy; and Bonnie is sending a text before kissing Skye. Refusing to let Nathan drive her, Bonnie goes to the police station alone. The message she had sent went to Madeline, who spread the word, leading to the entire Monterey Five to show up and walk in together. I know Renata said “no more lies” but this is an extremely underwhelming ending if there is no more Big Little Lies.

The Biggest Lie of the Week: That there will be no more lies.

The Monterey Bae of the Week: Nathan is about to the biggest bachelor in Monterey. I wonder if he made Tori’s bucket list and diary.

The Emmy Submission Moment of the Week: If Laura Dern doesn’t win an Emmy, then I will take a baseball bat to the mancave of every Emmy voter.

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