What Have They Done? – | Review Score – 4/5
Tell-Tale Hearts – | Review Score – 5/5
The End of the World – | Review Score – 4/5
She Knows – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Kill Me – | Review Score – 4/5
The Bad Mother – | Review Score – 4.5/5
I Want to Know – | Review Score – 3.5/5
When Big Little Lies dropped in 2017, it was easily regarded as one of the best shows of the year. With slick editing, masterful acting and a tightly woven script, this HBO Original did an excellent job in establishing itself as a successful and critically acclaimed series. Extending a story that’s all but wrapped up is always a tricky ask and in many ways, Big Little Lies both succeeds and fails in its task. With a second season chock full of great performances and boasting the star power of Meryl Streep, Big Little Lies had all the ingredients to succeed. Unfortunately, behind the scenes drama slowly unraveled the series leaving an underwhelming, pointless story devoid of any real consequences for our characters.
The story itself picks up after the events of the first series. The Monterey 5 are in a state of flux after Bonnie pushed Perry down the stairs and killed him. Suffering with visions and struggling to keep it together, Perry’s Mother Mary Louse arrives and immediately causes problems, getting under the skin of the other characters and blindly convinced Perry was a sweet child and incapable of the abuse he dished out. As the series progresses it becomes apparent that she’s the main catalyst for the drama that unfolds and as Celeste struggles to deal with her, she sets out to try and take her kids away while the lead Detective on Perry’s case debates re-opening the investigation.
On paper, the narrative seems like it’ll have far reaching consequences for our characters who all struggle to contain the lie and because of it, their personal lives slowly suffer. In reality, nothing really happens. To be fair, our characters do progress and if there’s one thing this season does right, it’s the individual character journeys. Renata finds herself coming to terms with a shocking revelation, Bonnie has to confront old demons in the form of her Mum and Madeline finds her marriage reaching breaking point. All of this, combined with Celeste’s fight to keep her sanity and boys, interwove perfectly throughout the 7 episodes. Unfortunately, when you step back and look at the big picture, the entire season crumbles.
The biggest problem with Season 2 of Big Little Lies comes from its overarching narrative. There’s a lot of teasing glimpses that the girls are going to get caught by the police which amounts to nothing, Celeste’s struggle never quite packs the right level of urgency and all the while, the season sets itself up for round 3 with an ambiguous ending that leaves things wide open, unresolved and unsatisfying. In a way, Big Little Lies delivers one of the best filler seasons I’ve ever watched.
Once again the acting makes for a very enjoyable season. Meryl Streep injects an amazing amount of charisma here and her scene-stealing performance as Mary Louise really ignites every frame she’s in. The rest of the girls do well too and some of the script work is cleverly done, with realistically depicted conversations and a profound lack of expository heavy discussions, much to the credit of the show.
The editing and general cinematography are good but the style does noticeably changes midway through the show. As it happens, it turns out there were some production issues backstage which may explain it but the use of sound and sharp edits are consistent and do well to strongly reinforce the same techniques used through the first season.
Big Little Lies Season 2 certainly packs a lot of enjoyment into its 7 episodes. Between the tight cinematography, a masterclass in acting and some really memorable scenes, Big Little Lies does hit some of those big peaks the first season achieved. Unlike the first season, with an ending that makes the rest of the story shine, the ending here has the opposite effect. With a lack of resolution or consequence for anything that happens this year, you can’t help but feel – what’s the point? Big Little Lies delivers another season of decent drama; a story that’s easily one of the most enjoyable filler seasons I’ve ever watched.