Celeste’s Trump Card
Much has been said about Big Little Lies this week in the mainstream news. From the haphazard backstage shenanigans to the exclusion of a scene involving Madeline throwing ice-cream at Mary Lousie, Big Little Lies’ story off-screen has almost been as dramatic as that on-screen. Still, having said that the series continues to deliver a masterclass in acting and although the plot itself hasn’t quite reached the same dramatic spikes as the first season, there’s enough here to gush over nonetheless.
We begin the episode with Jane questioning Corey about what he was doing at the police station. He tells her the truth; he doesn’t know anything but the Detective suspects one of the Monterey 5 will crack. Throwing a spanner in the works, she tells him the first to confess will be given a free pass while the others will go to prison. With this hanging heavily over the group, they call an emergency meeting and make sure they’re all on the same page. Everything seems okay but a fiery exchange between Madeline and Bonnie prompts the former to feel a little guilty after lying to Ed when he questions her back home.
Celeste’s preliminary trial begins with the Judge telling Celeste she’ll be taking the stand shortly. In the hallway, Madeline apologises to Bonnie who realizes the pressure is getting to her. Before they can discuss this further, Renata arrives after saying goodbye to Amabella’s Nanny. As they all take their seats, Celeste takes hers on the stand.
Mary Louise’s lawyer, Ira Farber, asks her about the violence and sex with Perry, eventually leading to provocative questions surrounding the man she hooked up with on a one night stand. Unfortunately for her, all the other men she hooked up with are called into question too which rattles Celeste, knowing her character is coming under scrutiny. Even more so given the focus on aggressive sex. Determined to try and explain herself, Celeste addresses the court, telling them she’s a good mother. Only, she’s hit with a sucker punch as Mr Farber asks her if she’s ever lashed out at the kids or Mary Louise.
To make matters worse, he shows the court a computer simulation of the night Perry died and asks her outright if she pushed him. She defiantly says no however Bonnie looks rattled in the stands which the Detective notices with particular interest.
We then cut forward to later that evening as Madeline tries to find the words to help Ed trust her again. Jane meanwhile heads to Mary Louise’s and confronts her over what she’s doing, prompting her to lash out given what she’s been through.
The court returns to session the next day and Celeste is asked questions by her own lawyer. She explains she just wanted to push Perry out of her life – choice words indeed. Mr Farber then stands to ask her more questions but this is drowned out by Bonnie whom we see in hospital with her Mum, opening her journal and reading off a list of things she resents her Mother for – including killing Perry.
Renata and Gordon head to their auction about the bankruptcy soon after where their Nanny asks for severance pay and extra money for “stress management”. Renata shoots daggers at her husband and later explodes in rage on the way home, cursing Gordon before stuffing tissues in his mouth as they head home.
Meanwhile, the Judge returns with her verdict. She’s about to make her case when Celeste decides that Mary Louise should also be subject to examination, asking that she be tried the same as her, with a witness up her sleeve for the occasion. The Judge agrees and as the hammer drops, we fade to black.
When it comes to setting up dramatic finishes, Big Little Lies does a great job here with its penultimate episode, positioning all our characters perfectly ready for the final hammer blow. With the foreshadowed promise that someone will crack under the pressure, all eyes are on Bonnie given her behaviour and the way the series has been shot. However, my money’s on Madeline. Her desperation to make amends with Ed could see her coming clean about everything next week and that will certainly cause a catastrophic chain of events to follow.
The acting is once again fantastic though and with the intensity of the series increased as we ramp up for next week’s finale, Big Little Lies continues to deliver impressive individual episodes. As a collective whole, HBO’s all-star drama is not without its problems but individually, the episodes are nothing short of fantastic. Big question marks remain over what will happen next but given what we’ve seen already, one thing’s for sure – it’s going to be dramatic.