Big Little Lies S2E2: Tell-Tale Hearts

Courtesy of HBO

Last week’s episode of Big Little Lies provided us with the calm before the storm and now the boat has well and truly been rocked. On an episode airing on Father’s Day, you’d be foolish for thinking that the men of the show would be receiving a celebration. Oh no. In a huge f*ck you to Father’s Day, we learn that some of the men have been keeping a couple of big little lies of their own, and boy is it a glorious episode.

Celeste (Nicole Kidman) is now taking Ambien—presumably to help her try and sleep through the nightmares she’s been plagued with—but it isn’t working. Instead, she’s been driving around in her pajamas while under the influence of the pills and thinking about Perry. Ultimately she ends up crashing her car because of it. She’s trying to escape the nightmares she’s having about the torture she endured from Perry but by doing so she’s now torturing herself by daydreaming about the good times. The scary part is that it’s now becoming harder to differentiate between what’s actually happening in the show and the darker dream sequences that regularly occur. I was almost sure that the car crash would wake Celeste up screaming but it kept going; it actually happened.

After being breathalyzed by the police, Celeste is picked up by Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) and they see Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz) walking alone down the roadside. Madeline isn’t happy with Bonnie’s behavior and wants her daughter Abigail to move back home. “That woman’s not well,” she tells Celeste. It’s upsetting that Madeline can’t see that her best friend, who’s right next to her, isn’t well either. She’s suffering so much she’s now putting her life at risk and we see that still none of the women are really talking to each other about the things that truly matter. In her defense, Madeline has a lot going on too.

Meryl Streep and Reese Witherspoon as Mary Louise and Madeline in Big Little Lies
Courtesy of HBO

Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) is still singling Madeline out and going out of her way to continue riling her up. She tells Madeline that she’s sure that she’s a godsend but quickly takes away any nice feeling from the compliment by implying that she’s a bully. Is Madeline a bully, though? She did orchestrate the lie surrounding Perry’s death but I don’t think she bullied anyone into it. They followed suit because they were in a state of panic and wanted to protect each other. Obviously Mary Louise isn’t privy to the facts from that night but she certainly has her suspicions about Madeline. Has she put two and two together from the police report or does she just really have a good eye for spotting a liar?

The lie that Perry slipped isn’t the only thing that Madeline has been lying about and the past is about to come back to haunt her in a huge way.

One big thing we learn this episode is that the children of Monterey know way more than they let on. They’ve been listening in on their parents’ conversations and have since begun talking amongst themselves. The children talking is what makes the dominoes start to fall. Lessons should have been learned from the Season 1 revelation that Max and Josh had been listening to the abuse between their parents—that children have ears everywhere. Chloe has overheard her mother Madeline talking about Perry being Ziggy’s real father and has taken it upon herself to tell all the children involved, including Max and Josh (but more on that later).

Madeline is furious with Chloe but her husband Ed (Adam Scott) is even more angry with Madeline for not telling him this information. I’m going to be totally honest here and say that I don’t like Ed. Aside from the children, I can’t really see why he and Madeline are together as there’s just no real chemistry. His reaction to this secret feels over the top, especially when it’s something that has no impact on him or his relationship with Madeline. The secret of Ziggy’s paternity is really just Jane (Shailene Woodley) and Celeste’s business, so the fact that Ed is hurt for not being included seems petty. However, Ed has something else to discover.

Remember when Madeline was having an affair with the theatre director? Abigail remembers, and after bringing it up in a conversation with Madeline they realize they aren’t alone. Ed has taken a leaf out of Chloe’s book and is listening in on secret conversations. It isn’t really the affair itself that Ed has a problem with; it’s more to do with the fact that this is just another secret in a long line of them that Madeline has kept from him. They don’t talk to each other about anything anymore and Ed’s pride has been hurt more than anything. We know that Ed’s pride is important to him as it’s something that always takes the lead whenever he has a scene with Nathan (James Tupper). Ed declares that their marriage is over.

Shailene Woodley and Zoe Kravitz as Jane and Bonnie in season two of Big Little Lies
Courtesy of HBO

If Ed and Nathan dropped the macho pride act for a minute they’d see that they have a lot more in common than they think and I imagine in some way that they could be friends. Both of them are having trouble with their wives and Nathan has taken the step to bring in Bonnie’s mother to sort out whatever is going on.

Elizabeth (Crystal Fox) wastes no time in making her presence felt and, much to Bonnie’s annoyance, she sets about trying to fix her daughter’s life. Her methods are somewhat unconventional, though, as she resorts to a bit of witchcraft and leaves crystals and bones next to Bonnie’s bed in the middle of the night. Their relationship is strained and there’s definitely a bit of bad history between them. Elizabeth used to have an alcohol problem and Bonnie has a secret of her own. Her mother asks her, “what did you do this time?”

And what did Bonnie do? Obviously she hasn’t killed before, but whatever it is was obviously enough to drive a wedge between her and her mother. Elizabeth notes that Bonnie is the only woman of color that she’s seen since she arrived in Monterey and asks if that’s why she’s here. Is Bonnie in Monterey with Nathan trying to escape whatever happened in her past? It may be nothing, but at this point in the story, I don’t think a line like this would be added for no reason.

During a meal, Elizabeth manages to do what no one else has been able to do yet; she identifies one of the main things that’s wrong with her daughter. She saw a man die, she’s traumatized, and is probably suffering from PTSD. We know there’s more to the story, but Bonnie is undoubtedly suffering from PTSD.

She goes on to attack Nathan by telling him he’s incapable of connecting with his wife on an emotional level and that he’s oblivious to anything that’s going on with her. I mean, he’s not completely oblivious to her having problems but it does baffle me why he couldn’t figure it out for himself that this all started on the night she saw someone die. I know that the women have done wrong by creating this lie, but the men are just as bad for not recognizing that the women they love are obviously going to be affected mentally by witnessing somebody die. In a way, Nathan has just made it about himself by suggesting that this is all because Bonnie is going to leave him. It makes me question just how much attention people really pay to their loved ones.

The only moments when Bonnie is honest about what’s going on is during her rushed collisions with Madeline. It’s hard to understand whether Madeline doesn’t understand how deeply troubled Bonnie is or whether she simply just doesn’t want to be the person that supports her. Half of me thinks that Madeline is just oblivious to how much the events have affected people (her being blind to Celeste’s well-being backs this up), but then the other half of me thinks that Madeline doesn’t want to be close to Bonnie. She’s the wife of her ex-husband and, before the incident, Bonnie and Nathan had a happy and open relationship, which is something Madeline never had with Nathan. Maybe there’s jealousy there or maybe she’ll just always resent Bonnie for making Nathan happy when she couldn’t.

The only person Bonnie seems to have a regular relationship with is Jane. They do yoga together and even though we only see them together briefly, they just appear to be friends. They don’t talk about the past or what they’ve been through. Instead, they have a normal conversation and for a tiny moment, we see both women in a state of normalcy and moving on with their lives.

Max, Josh, and Celeste in a scene from episode two of Big Little Lies second season
Courtesy of HBO

Jane is making massive strides when it comes to building a happy life again for her and Ziggy and genuinely seems happy a lot of the time. However, this week she was forced to finally explain to Ziggy about his father. After Chloe had told Ziggy about Perry at school, Jane asks if Chloe had told him anything else about his father and he says “something about Mr. Wright giving you salt. That’s how I happened. He salted you.” His confusion brought a lump to my throat and even though we never see the full explanation that Jane gives, it’s a really powerful scene.

We, the viewer, must give Jane the privacy of that moment with her son to have a conversation that too many people have to have. We have to use our imaginations to fill in the blanks of what she says and perhaps even think about what we would say to our children if we were in the same situation. The children in the show are there to remind us of innocence and how we can’t protect them from everything in the world, just prepare them for the hard times.

The situation also forces Celeste to start admitting some truths with her family as she tells Max and Josh properly about their brother. She explains that their father was a good man but sometimes he was weak and made mistakes just like everybody else does. Her fears that the twins have picked up Perry’s worst traits are fueled even more after they fight, and after Max tells her to f*ck off she pushes him to the ground.

Her every word is being listened to by the lingering threat of Mary Louise, who is moving to the area to keep an eye on everything. Celeste has finally told her the truth about Jane, the rape, and the ongoing abuse that she endured throughout her marriage. Obviously, Mary Louise is having none of it. It’s a natural motherly reaction to defend your children so of course she was going to deny it happening. All these accusations do is make her more determined to prove that her son didn’t slip (and now she definitely suspects that Celeste had something to do with it).

In a flashback to the beginnings of their relationship, we strangely discover that Perry had a brother who died when he was five years old. Is this something significant or a hint that Perry was a bad child that killed his brother? I think it’s certainly plausible given how the twins are acting at a young age. We also learn, from Mary Louise, that her husband died in a tragic accident. We don’t know what the accident was but it certainly feels like something big is going to come from all these hints. Why does so much death and tragedy surround Mary Louise? She’s lost a husband and both of her children in what are all probably suspicious circumstances and accidents. What happened to the Wright family exactly?

Laura Dern as Renata Klein in season two of Big Little Lies
Courtesy of HBO

Laura Dern is absolutely relishing every moment as Renata and once again my favorite scenes of the week came from her. Gordon (Jeffrey Nordling) is arrested by the FBI and we quickly learn what’s been making him feel so down lately; he’s lost everything. He’s been committing fraud and hasn’t just squandered his money away, he’s thrown Renata’s away too. Naturally, she’s furious.

We’re finally given a little insight into Renata’s past as we learn that she wasn’t born into money and she’s had to work harder than anyone to get it. She’s scared that Gordon has sent her back into the penniless life she’s escaped and so she reacts rashly. She barely finishes telling Madeline what’s happened before she rushes off trying to fix things. She screams at Gordon, “I will not not be rich,” and it’s amazing. Despite the betrayal and the hurt, she still bails him out and drives him home. Not without a quick pit stop though.

After Gordon implies that her wanting more and more might have led to this situation, Renata loses it and forces him out of the car in the middle of the highway. As she speeds off with horns blasting at her, she sticks her middle finger out of the sunroof and screams, “won’t somebody give a woman a moment!” She isn’t just screaming it at Gordon or the other drivers honking their horns; she’s screaming it at the world. I’m not a woman, but f*ck do I know they deserve more than anything to just have a moment to themselves. She has her moment and goes back for him.

It feels like this storyline is a little disconnected to the others and perhaps Renata is still being written as a side character despite being one of the Monterey Five. Her and Madeline briefly theorize that perhaps Detective Quinlan has tipped off the FBI about Gordon’s illegal affairs and I hope it’s true. We know that she won’t close the investigation into Perry’s death, so perhaps she’s begun investigating each woman’s family individually in the hopes of finding something she can use against them. Could she leave Renata with nothing and offer her a big cash reward for telling the truth? I’m not sure; it’s possible, but who knows where this is going to go.

I’m glad I have a week off from the show. Despite being desperate to know what happens next, I need some time to recover from the nonstop bombshells and revelations that this episode has thrust upon us. I think we all need to go and have a moment to ourselves and prepare ourselves for the impending storm.

Written by Martin Hearn

Martin Hearn is a Social Media Manager for 25YL who also writes, has a penchant for interviews, watches too much TV, and plays too many video games. He joined the site through his love of Twin Peaks and also has a passion for shows such as The OA, The Crown, American Horror Story, Lost, and Desperate Housewives. His hobbies include insomnia, dancing in secret, and buying too much Twin Peaks merchandise from eBay. Martin lives in Middlesbrough, UK, which is the birthplace of the Parmo (you may want to google that amazingly beautiful delicacy that definitely won't cause a heart attack). He loves spending long weekends binge-watching TV shows with his partner Anthony.

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