The problem with following up a successful season of television is ultimately where to take the story from here. It’s always a tricky thing to get right, especially when you inject more drama and tense confrontations than before. Somehow Big Little Lies achieves this and with its latest episode, absolutely justifies the decision to renew this for a second season with one of its strongest episodes yet.
We begin with Celeste crashing her car in a daze. Madeline rushes to the scene and picks her up, only to find Bonnie walking aimlessly by the side of the road too. When they return home, Mary Louise asks her where they’ve been and after a vague explanation, she has another fiery exchange with Madeline. After struggling to deal with her emotions, and mother-in-law, Celeste heads to therapy again where she confronts the demons of her past, screaming to the heavens when she sees the abuse she suffered from a different perspective.
Renata’s husband Gordon is arrested early in the episode by the FBI too and as it happens, he’s made some pretty shady decisions at work resulting in him being caught for fraud and worse, making them both bankrupt. Unable to control her emotions, Renata storms out while Madeline tries to calm her down.
Celeste snaps too soon after, this time at her boys while they’re fighting. Max angrily spews an expletive causing her to explode with rage, shouting to them “Don’t be like him!”, while Mary Louise quietly clears up the toys while Celeste embraces her kids after in shock.
Bonnie and her husband continue to have difficulty connecting and things get pretty intense during a dinner with her parents, resulting in Bonnie storming off and Nathan following shortly after.
After reminiscing of better times with Perry later that night, Mary Louise confronts Celeste over Perry’s other son, Ziggy. This causes a ripple effect between the women as Madeline, Celeste and Jane all try and deal with the gravity of the situation. Ziggy is told about his Father while Madeline realizes that Chloe was the one who overheard her originally on the phone. Meanwhile, Mary Louise refuses to believe her son was capable of rape and instead, decides to tell the police about Celeste’s secrets she’s been hiding, including the apartment and knowledge of his unfaithfulness.
As more drama unfolds, Renata takes things badly when Gordon is released from prison while Madeline and Abigail’s argument about family in the kitchen leads to the secret about her affair with the theatre director to be leaked out in the open. Right infront of Ed. After heading out to cool off, he comes back and they talk. Hands shaking, Ed tells her they’re through.
This dramatic episode then ends with a moment of respite as the Monterey 5 all deal with their situations, the door left wide open for the next episode to try and pick up the pieces from this toppled tower of lies.
Grief is a tricky thing to nail down but here, this complicated emotion is personified perfectly. It helps too that the acting is masterful and I don’t just mean that in a sensationalist way either. Whether it be Bonnie’s hinting comments toward her Mother’s previous alcohol addiction, Madeline’s shifting, uncomfortable stance while Mary Louise grills her or even Ed’s subtle hand shakes as he tries to control his anger, all these little things add up to make Big Little Lies such a beautifully written and acted show.
I could go on and discuss the cinematography, which is equally as artistic with its use of waves and the sea, complementing the sound design with its muffled audio but I’ll go into that in more detail for the full season review. For now though, Big Little Lies delivers a fantastic episode; a masterclass in acting and a full 50 minutes of drama that will almost certainly act as the anchor to which the rest of the series revolves around.