The final episode of Big Little Lies is inching its way to our screens. Whether the season two finale marks the end of these characters and their dirty little lies has yet to be established — especially since any show can easily be revived for more seasons as long as the writers, creators, or even viewers can dredge up any snippet of potential for a story extension. Season two is clearly inflated and unnecessary, but it sure is entertaining and surprisingly purposeful in its tinkering with parental concerns, the wobbly structure of marriage, and the distinctive methods one utilizes to deal with trauma and grief – as we see in ‘Kill Me’.
In case Ed (Scott) and Madeline’s (Witherspoon) crumbling marriage is far too distressing, the opening of episode five, ‘Kill Me’, comically depicts another cage match between Ed and Nathan (Tupper). “Can’t we just be comfortable not liking each other?” Yes, please. Scott and Tupper are still at each other’s throats for the audience’s enjoyment — but at this point, the characters seem to enjoy their little feud as well. In all seriousness, Madeline and Ed are seeking marital bliss, looking to bring back the passion and connection once present in their marriage by going to a zany couples’ retreat — as you may have guessed, it doesn’t work.
Ed’s convinced Madeline just settled for him because he was father material and could provide. “On our first dates, it was like you were interviewing me” Ed responds to Madeline during an argument. And from what I’ve seen, Ed and Madeline were never noticeably intimate. Yet, I’m still here rooting for their marriage, even when I know marriage does need that extra fuel and constant maintenance. Witherspoon continues to be emotionally resonant and compelling, proving to be one of the more hidden characters despite being loud and zestful.
‘Kill Me’ is declaring war on the Monterey Five’s cover-up, as Celeste’s (Kidman) custody battle with Mary Louise (Streep) will inevitably involve the FBI, more specifically Detective Adrienne Quinlan (Merrin Dungey), who is looking for any reason to re-open the Perry case. With the Monterey Five under oath, there’s more opportunity for one of them to contradict the story of Perry’s incident. There’s going to be dire ramifications to this custody battle, which may as well include orange jumpsuits or even more murder, whether it is intentional or not. It’s another intriguing plot thread, reeling viewers in by the possibility of the truth getting out, but in a fashion audiences may not fully expect.
“I do not consider Celeste Wright to be a bad person,” is literally what Mary tells Judge Cipriani (Becky Ann Baker), the judge investigating whether or not Celeste is capable of caring for her kids. A Mary Louise’s compliment is then followed by a scathing and impulsive insult: “That said, she’s not well.” Mary’s lawyer is visibly trying to stop Mary in her tracks, but her peculiar spirit is enough to overwhelm anybody’s attempt to stop her before she trips on her words, including the implacable Renata. Later on in the episode, a fuming and exasperated Renata (Dern) politely asks Mary to her house for a cup of tea, and what transpires between them is another iconic Mary Louise moment.
Renata respectfully asks if she can speak to Mary, mother to mother, but an awkward Mary interrupts Renata by asking ‘What happened to your furniture?” Not like that matters, but then again, maybe it does in this case. Mary is able to verbally attack Renata in an equanimous and unnaturally courtly manner, using the fact that Renata is a working mother, who lost so many moments with her daughter she can never get back, as a subtly vile affront. The unusual conversation leaves Renata perplexed and even more suspicious of the whole eccentric act Mary is radiating. Soon enough, Renata organizes a day with her daughter. Dern and Streep have palpably bitter chemistry worth relishing. The Mary “fan” club is expanding, and although Celeste is still the founder of it, Renata will gladly join. I’m sure of it.
Bonnie’s (Kravitz) story is decidedly the most contrived subplot of ‘Kill Me’, trying to develop the character but doing so in a manner that doesn’t hold as much weight as it should. There are flashbacks and fragments of dialogue alluding to Bonnie’s childhood abuse, but it appears to exist simply to give her something else to reminisce about. Granted, all of these characters are getting more than they bargained for, but Bonnie’s abuse needs a bit more exploration, especially when her motionless mother, still injured by a stroke, urges Bonnie to end her suffering. Hopefully, the episodes follow-up on Bonnie’s agonizing childhood and how she was able to persevere. How did she end up in Monterey? It must be bad luck she ended up in a place where secrets covertly blemish everyone’s seemingly pristine life. And if Bonnie does end her mother’s agony, she’ll have racked up quite the body count for an everyday mother.
Jane (Woodley) and Corey (Douglas Smith) first appear to be doing great, and Jane is finally experiencing intimacy again, but like a skeevy little demon or parasite, the trauma overpowers the euphoria of a potentially perfect relationship. But everything is far from being perfect. Ziggy is being bullied and being branded “a mistake,” and Jane fears she’ll always be mired in her trauma. Unfortunately, Jane may be unknowingly involved with an undercover agent, or somebody who’s being swayed by the police. In the last scene of ‘Kill Me’, Bonnie skulks around the police station, only to see Corey walking out. This “twist” has been replayed over and over again in other shows, but looks can be deceiving, and I don’t think the writers would be this negligent.
At the end of ‘Kill Me’, Ed is being hit on by Tori, the theater director’s wife. Madeline is more vulnerable than ever, recognizing how she’s reckless and prone to self-started storms. Celeste is reassuring her kids to remain calm and honest when a social worker scrutinizes their living conditions. Renata is trying to keep Amabella unflustered so another panic attack doesn’t befall. Bonnie is looking back at her childhood, while Jane is struggling to adapt to a normal relationship. There may be a murder and a cover-up, but Ed’s and Corey’s future betrayals may be more deleterious and nocuous than any physical harm.
Catch up on our previous Big Little Lies reviews here.
Episode five is grooming the conflict that’ll most likely cause the Monterey Five cover-up to erupt. Celeste’s custody battle will bring all five of them to the podium, where a law-abiding interrogation will unfold. The majority of the drama persists on engulfing the authenticity of marriage and stress (including a child’s subdued stress, speaking as to how Max and Josh fear for their mother), but Bonnie’s blurry past and a possible twist has me thinking these lies and traumas are becoming a bit trivial.