Somebody’s dead on Big Little Lies. If you’ve read the 2014 Liane Moriarty book the HBO drama is based on, you know who that someone is, and who killed that someone. But this is for everyone else who hasn’t read the book (and if you have — keep your spoilers to yourself, please): Each week, we’ll take stock of which characters — played by big
little Hollywood names including Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, and Zoë Kravitz — seem the most suspicious… and which ones seem the most likely to end up killed during an elementary school trivia night fundraiser.
The first sound we hear is a woman panting. She’s at the scene of the crime, which we see through blurred, frantic vision — the eyes of that woman. And with that, there’s Clue No. 1: Our killer is (probably) female. And given her panicked perspective and heavy breathing, she probably wasn’t planning to murder someone that night. On the other hand, maybe even seasoned murderers get a little nervous post-kill.
Cut to the police station, where a variety of parents are being interviewed about that night and saying things like “Women don’t let things go” and “Sexist how the women always get blamed.” We get it: The show’s trying to tell us women love to kill. So maybe the killer isn’t a woman then. Murder mysteries are all about the tricks, and this feels like a classic murder mystery trick. On that note, let’s sort through said tricks and try to figure out which characters had the worst trivia night.
Madeline (Reese Witherspoon)
Is she dead? Seems likely: She has more feuds than anyone else, and clearly isn’t afraid to get up in other people’s business. Plus, her teenage daughter at one point says, “You aren’t dying, are you?” which is a pretty weird thing to have a character’s teenage daughter say unless their mom is indeed about to die. But she does seem like the most obvious choice here, meaning she probably is alive and well by season’s end. HBO loves a red herring, after all.
Is she the killer? Could be! Again, she has more feuds than anyone else and seems to have a habit of acting impulsively judging by the way she stops her car in the middle of the road to yell at a teenage driver for texting at the wheel.
Ed (Adam Scott)
Is he dead? Nah. Sorry, Ed, but you’re not important enough.
Is he the killer? Ed is calm and caring and level-headed, a.k.a. the opposite of his wife, Madeline — meaning he’s the perfect candidate to do some unexpected murdering down the line.
Celeste (Nicole Kidman)
Is she dead? No, too obvious. Her husband, Perry, proves he’s violent toward her at the end of the premiere, which is probably supposed to set off “HE’S GONNA KILL HER!” alarms. But we’re smarter than that! (Also, we hate Perry.)
Is she the killer? Maybe. She could kill Perry in an act of self-defense (or revenge). Like Ed, she seems like a pretty chill person, but with some rage hiding underneath: The way she takes a deep breath in her car before meeting up with Madeline and Jane for coffee after they drop their kids off is definitely suspicious. Also, let’s revisit this little tidbit: “It’s Monterey! We pound people with nice!” Madeline cheerily tells Jane. “To death,” Celeste adds. A press conference does reveal that the victim had a broken pelvis, a fracture at the base of the skull, and a liquified brain, which all sound like the result of a pounding, so…
Perry (Alexander Skarsgård)
Is he dead? If he is, the extremely loyal Madeline probably did it once she found out he was hitting Celeste.
Is he the killer? No way.
Jane (Shailene Woodley)
Is she dead? Maybe, partly because it’d be a good twist.
Is she the killer? The episode’s end reveals Jane sleeps with a gun under her pillow, so at this point, she’s the most logical choice. So she’s in the same boat as Perry: not the killer.
Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz)
Is she dead? Based on how mad it made Madeline that her daughter had a great time peeling potatoes with Bonnie… sure!
Is she the killer? The super zen Bonnie is another addition to the These People Seem Too Relaxed To Be Murderers So Maybe They Murdered Someone Club.
Bonnie’s husband (James Tupper)
Is he dead? I can’t even remember his name, so nah.
Is he the killer? See above.
Renata (Laura Dern)
Is she dead? “I’m not liked,” she tells her husband at one point. True — but because it’s so clear she’s an a–hole, it would be boring for her to be the one who ends up dead. It’s no fun if we hate the victim!
Is she the killer? The way she kneels down and basically threatens little Ziggy after her daughter accuses him of choking her is weirdly aggressive, so, like Madeline, she could be a good candidate purely based on her temper. Then again, it’s no fun if we already hate the killer!
Who got murdered? Celeste killed Jane. Neither are too obvious or too much of a dark horse, making them good candidates. And there’s something funny going on with their chemistry the whole episode: They’re both a little too shy and polite and awkward when Madeline introduces them to each other, and later when Jane gives her strange speech about feeling like she’s on the outside looking in, Celeste is mysteriously all, “oh, yeah, I get you.”
There’s also the parent at the police station who says “had Madeline not fallen, nobody would have gotten killed,” referencing when Madeline and Jane became friends after the former tripped in the road. This implies the murder somehow ties back to their initial connection, and Celeste and Jane only met because of Madeline. Plus, Celeste and Jane are the ones (along with Madeline) featured in the show’s main advertisements, so, I don’t know, truth in advertising or something?
Big Little Lies airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.