Little Fires Everywhere returns for its second episode and with three released in one go on Hulu (something I’m a big advocator for more services to follow suit in doing), this time we deep dive into the persona of both Elena and Mia. With a little more plot development and plenty of characterisation for our main ensemble, Little Fires Everywhere continues to deliver decent drama.
After a brief glimpse of the past, episode 2 of Little Fires Everywhere sees us jump forward to September 1997 as we see a stark contrast between Mia and Elena getting their kids ready for the day ahead. Bill tells Elena to talk to Mia about the references while Elena herself struggles to get a family portrait picture with the kids all smiling outside. Predictably, Izzy is the one who won’t smile.
While the kids head to school, Mia arrives at Elena’s and she talks to her about Mia’s working role but dances around mentioning her references.
At school, the Principal talks to Pearl about her lessons while Mia smokes and continues to do her art work at home. Elena arrives at her house and eventually confronts Mia about the references. Back at the office, Elena gets a call from Mr Carter, claiming to be her previous landlord but actually posing as one, given this guy is working in a restaurant.
Mia examines Elena’s house while alone, looking through every room. When she makes it to Izzy’s, she’s immediately captured by her art work. When Izzy returns home, down in the kitchen they discuss the “psycho” calendar before she mentions how bad her day at school was. Izzy opens up and admits to being bullied, prompting Mia to give her some words of encouragement and to stand up for herself in the face of this.
We see these stark differences again as dinner for both Mia and Pearl is vastly different to that of the Richardson’s. The former eat Chinese in a restaurant while the Richardson’s sit round the dinner table talking about school, with Elena proudly claiming that she “made the right choice” with the kids.
In the morning things are chaotic at Elena’s, as Izzy continues to rebel while Pearl heads over and asks for her help in switching classes. After some sweet talking she manages to convince the Principal to allow Pearl to take part in these tougher classes while Izzy’s bullying gets worse, prompting her to snap and lash out at the music teacher.
That evening, the book club joins together and although the group initially scoff at Elena for her views, Mia arrives and confronts the group on their point of view for feminism, telling them they need to take a look inwards themselves. It seems to work too and everyone appears to be impressed with her. In the aftermath of this, Mia confronts Elena about what happened and thanks her for being considerate and allowing her to rent. As she mentions her race, Elena drops her guard and they have a drink together.
Meanwhile, Moody and Pearl smoke and after joking about the entire situation surrounding their parents, start to grow closer. At the same time, Elena probes Mia about her painting above the fireplace and the talk turns dark, mentioning demons of the past along with growing older. It’s here we’re graced with a really touching speech about growing up and how your kids no long need you the older they get. Both Mia and Elena bond over this until the latter mentions Pearl’s letter and Elena helping her out. Mia’s demeanour immediately changes and she hurries out the house.
As the episode closes, Mia probes Bebe Chow about what happened to her daughter as they sit together outside the restaurant.
This episode is all about deepening bonds and although there isn’t an awful lot plot-wise to progress the story forward, there’s enough characterisation and foundation-setting to make this a decent episode in itself. The various juxtapositions between the two families continues to be the most intriguing part of this show while the conversation at the end between Elena and Mia is a really touching and poignant reminder of how fast time slips by.
Quite what episode 3 has in store for us remains to be seen but based on this showing, there’s certainly plenty of drama in the pipeline to come.