Raging Infernos Everywhere
Those little fires are quickly turning into burning infernos this week as we return to our present timeline for one heck of an episode. Full of interesting juxtapositions, fights and the truth slowly starting to be revealed after so much deceit, Little Fires Everywhere delivers a brilliant hour of drama that sets the scene nicely for the remaining episodes in this series.
Following on from last week’s flashback, episode 7 of Little Fires Everywhere sees us begin in July 1997 with Izzy convinced to go to a party with her friend, where she clearly doesn’t fit in. During spin the bottle Izzy and her friend are forced to kiss in the cupboard together. Only, when the others open the door Izzy’s friend betrays her, accusing Izzy of “molesting” her.
We then skip forward to December 1997 where Elena organizes her family around the Christmas festivities while the issue surrounding Mia and Bebe Chow goes all the way to court. The Judge is tasked with the difficult job of figuring out who should keep Mai Ling – Linda or Bebe Chow. Bebe is on the stand first and she talks about her ordeal, including passing out and being taken to the hospital that night.
Once there, she asked the officers to find Mai Ling but they told her she lost that right after leaving her at the station. Bebe talks about turning a corner and how her fate has now been changed for the better.
Bill takes to the questioning next and asks about Bebe’s finances and character. It’s a pretty savage examination and in the recess, Elena and Mia talk in the bathroom, where Elena brings up Pearl and reveals she knows the truth. She blackmails Mia and warns that everything will be revealed if she stands up as a witness by Bebe’s side. It’s a difficult situation and one that sees Mia caught in two minds about what to do.
Tripp brings up Mia’s finances to Pearl while they’re talking but she brushes it off as a rumour. Back home, Lexie learns she’s got into Yale and as her Mother gives a rousing speech and the family share in the celebrations (apart from Izzy who happens to be upstairs on her computer), Lexie looks back in regret over the secrets she’s kept from them all.
In the aftermath of this, Izzy and Elena come to blows over their Christmas photo, prompting Elena to lash out and swear at her daughter. Elena is frazzled at home but Bill calms her down, reminding her that people like Bebe Chow don’t win as he continues to prepare for court the next day. However, when she leaves the room he notices a discrepancy in their finances.
Forced into a corner, Mia decides to come clean about the money to Pearl. The aftermath of this sees her daughter lash out, forcing Mia out the room as their relationship starts to unravel. Izzy meanwhile heads to school with baskets of cabbage patch kids, and riles up the school with her racist presentation on inequality. Izzy’s former friend scoffs at her too, leaving Izzy feeling isolated and alone.
The court case continues the following day, as Mia takes to the witness stand and calls Bebe a good mother. She tells the court Bebe did the most selfless thing a Mother could do in that situation. Bill stands for the prosecution and inevitably brings up Pearl and ghosts from her past. After an impassioned plea, Bill takes mercy and decides against pressing further, a move that may just turn the tide of the court trial.
At school, Moody senses something up with Pearl and questions her, getting one step closer to learning the truth about Tripp. Before he does however, Elena picks up Izzy from school after her stunt and admits that it’s hard to be her mum. “Then don’t be”, Izzy mutters and leaves the car.
Instead, she heads over and visits Mia, where they talk about her stunt at school. Izzy opens up for the first time and tells Mia she feels caught and in danger of drowning. With truths being revealed, it’s Mia’s turn and she admits that the newspaper picture is of her after all. She talks about her love for Pauline and it’s something that Izzy clings to; finally someone who understands exactly what she’s going through.
“You won’t swim forever” Mia promises, and this sweet moment is a small glimmer of hope in an otherwise dark, despairing episode of drama and tension.
Lexie and Brian have a fight about their future and in particular, Lexie’s under-handed way of taking Pearl’s essay and making it her own. While they talk, Lexie looks set to reveal her pregnancy but thinks better of it, instead telling him to leave.
Pearl and Tripp return home where Elena greets her and asks to speak alone, presumably spilling the truth about her parentage. At the same time, Mia looks through her old belongings and Tripp has second thoughts, deciding against telling Moody the truth.
In his office, Bill pores over receipts of Elena’s trip to New York where he uncovers a substantial bill for champagne while Lexie and Izzy both mention how they’ve been dumped. As the episode closes out, all four Richardson kids sit together on the sofa; this happy Brady Bunch ain’t so happy anymore.
As the episode closes out, Elena drives Pearl home and she furiously brushes past Mia and heads inside, as both Mia and Elena exchange dark looks at one another.
Following last week’s dive into the past, Little Fires Everywhere comes roaring back into the present with a thoroughly enjoyable and intricately detailed episode. From the symbolic way Elena cuts Izzy from the family photos to Lexie and Pearl’s changing fortunes surrounding their families, there’s so many interesting details and comparisons to make with this one.
In a way, the show really feels like a spiritual successor (at least in anthological terms) to Big Little Lies, especially given the way this layered drama presents its characters and pushes big ideas and themes our way. While the racism angle is sometimes a little too on-the-nose, the ideas surrounding class and commentary on this is enough to offset the negatives.
It’s not perfect, and the show has sagged around the middle of this 10 episode drama, but on the whole Little Fires Everywhere has been a compelling drama to watch and one that seems to be kicking into high gear after this excellent episode.