For the pastthreeepisodes, director Andrea Arnold and the writers struggled to warrant a second season, particularly when season one concluded the story immaculately. The first season acquired monumental stakes by incorporating the law and alluding to a murder at a school fundraiser of all places. Episode four of season two, ‘She Knows’ wholly embraces a smaller but still formidable threat: the threat of the grandmother. Mary Louise initially wanted to know the truth about Perry’s death, but now she wants to take away Celeste’s children.
Mary Louise (Streep) has been the highlight throughout the season, generating Twitter memes and tweets many fans would exuberantly employ. In terms of minacious forces, Streep embodies a horror in the realist form. There are no laws or boundaries stopping Mary in her tracks, just pure motherly love, fueling her motivation to seek the best in her son even when the circumstances and his actual wife say otherwise. Throughout the entirety of the episode, Mary provokes Celeste, probing Celeste’s state of mind, judging her based on her unpredictable (and sometimes licentious) endeavors, but worst of all, has the sheer audacity to rent an apartment in Jane’s apartment complex (you know Jane, the one who Mary’s son raped).
In a shameless attempt to convince herself Perry wasn’t the absolute Devil, but he just needed something Celeste couldn’t give him, Mary mutters a repulsive comment to Celeste that gets her slapped. “How many other women did he go to? If there’s one…there are others.” Celeste slaps Mary, and Mary responds snarkily, “What shall we call that? Foreplay?” Disgusting and impulsive, Mary is unknowingly cruel, or at least that’s how she wants to be perceived. Mary’s determined to gain guardianship of the children, which is literally the worst thing she can do to Celeste, at least for now. Mary Louise is too intriguing of a character to ignore, hence why this season is maintaining an audience.
“I just feel like everything right now is so fucked,” is what Madeline proclaims to Jane and Renata, and by the looks of it, she’s most certainly right. The opening of ‘She Knows’ showcases the Perry incident again, but this time, Madeline is the one reminiscing the murder and the cover-up. Soon enough, the muted atmosphere, once featuring a despondent Madeline staring blankly out the window and relishing the far-reaching sight of the ocean, is disrupted by the laughter of Chloe, Ziggy, Max, and Josh, as they’re carving pumpkins.
Still weathering the uncertain future of her marriage with Ed (Scott), ‘She Knows’ spotlights a frustrated Madeline, and Witherspoon continues to deliver a refreshing side of her character, which involves a deep-dyed dive in self-realization and honesty. She tells it as it is in this episode. Personally, I believe Ed will stay with Madeline — even though he’s chatting up with Bonnie, it’s merely Ed’s form of cruelty against Madeline and her depraved affair. Even the nice guys need to radiate some anger and rancor once in a while. But even if Ed stays with Madeline, he may not be fully there. Like Madeline says, “You’re far from here.”
Renata (Dern) once again steals the show, pulling off a glitzy and appealing Disco party for Amabella, a second-grader who is concerned about the world ending and her dad going to jail. On the topic of Gordon (Nordling) and how he lost all of their money, Renata and Gordon file for bankruptcy on a Saturday of all days so they can avoid the company of destitute folks. Leave it to Dern to make a bankruptcy hearing feel so utterly heartbreaking and unnerving. Dern sold us on her anguish and financial distress this episode, but her marriage with Gordon has no end in sight. “They betray us and we stay…you know. They lie, they cheat on us, and…we stay,” is what Renata insensitively says out loud to Madeline and Jane, dredging up harmful but important truths about marriage.
In fact, ‘She Knows’ prospers when it explores the more grubby, icky contents of a marriage. From the outside, marriage is simply a lifelong commitment between two individuals, but it’s ill-advised to think marriage comes without lies and doubts. Two individuals can stay married, but they can never be more distant and far apart (in this case, Madeline and Ed). Celeste may have been ensnared in a baneful relationship, but she was blurred by the emblem of marriage and the lives of their children to view any possibility in which Perry does not have a place in her life. Perry was also incredibly manipulative, but spouses can be capable of such things, especially those mired in an abusive relationship.
Jane (Woodley) and Corey (Douglas Smith) are a beacon of light in an episode distorted by hardship. Jane bravely discusses the rape incident with Corey, and I just have to say, Corey is beginning to grow on me — I just hope he isn’t a mendacious undercover detective, or simply put, a liar. As far as Bonnie (Kravitz) and her eccentric mother go, it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot that can surface from the addition of Bonnie’s mother, other than more suspicion from more mothers. However, Bonnie is still mightily paranoid, evaluating the stare from Mary Louise as the eyes of the Devil, staring right through her lies.
It’s Renata’s Disco party that outlines the rollicking feud between Ed and Nathan (who argue like children again). The party also exhumes the truth of how Celeste and Bonnie feel about the grand lie: they both regret following along in Madeline’s cover-up story about Perry slipping to his demise. “And if I could do it again, I wouldn’t lie. I wouldn’t go along with the lie,” is what Celeste murmurs, leaving Madeline feeling betrayed and hurt, but it’s too late to change anything now. Hoping the spotlight, a bustling crowd and some killer Disco music would be the cure, Madeline’s efforts to win back Ed’s affection through dance are rather bootless.
Out of nowhere, Bonnie’s mother has a stroke at the end of the party, and it’s unclear what this will mean for Bonnie — although the occurrence felt tacked on. The party alone beguiles viewers with fashionable costumes, brimming soul and dirty little secrets, topped with some razzle-dazzle, but the drama that unfolds is deliciously messy and hectic (much like the editing and the characters’ emotions). A presentiment of disaster lingers throughout the party, and the whole of ‘She Knows’ for that matter, and everything begins spilling out, but whether or not it’s a mess that can be cleaned up has yet to be established.
Although progressing gradually and sprinkling moments of hardship that appear feigned, episode four continues to accentuate the most effective disputes and wrestle with the most temptingly defective relationships, and in the process, manifest some grating truths about marriage.