Big Little Lies S2E4: She Knows

Courtesy of HBO

As the residents of Monterey are forced to celebrate Halloween early, Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) ups the ante in her quest for the truth. As the pressure begins to mount, cracks start to appear in the strongest of friendships and things aren’t looking good for the Monterey Five. In an episode called “She Knows,” we immediately think that someone is about to discover the truth, but who is it?

Perry (Alexander Skarsgård) was the big villain throughout Season 1, and I know a lot of people now like to think that Mary Louise has taken on that role in Season 2, but I just don’t see it. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a complete bitch, but she is such a delight to watch. She’s a woman who has lost her son, she’s being lied to, she’s lonely, and she just wants to be a part of her family’s lives.

I think if any mother was presented with the possibility that their son was a rapist and an abuser, their natural instinct would be to defend him. No mother would accept those allegations and they would go out of their way to discover the truth. That’s exactly what Mary Louise is doing here. Fair enough, she might be making some bad choices in how she goes about things, but grief affects people in different ways. It makes them act irrationally and do things that they really do believe are right. People need to remember this about her.

She turns up unexpectedly and uninvited at a get together at Madeline’s (Reese Witherspoon) house where the kids are carving up pumpkins. Jane (Shailene Woodley) was reluctant to let Mary Louise into Ziggy’s life last week, so Mary Louise has found a way to see him. She feels that if Ziggy is with Max and Josh that nobody will create a scene if she just turns up; they’ll just allow her to be there. She hasn’t taken into account Celeste’s (Nicole Kidman) increasing frustration at her being around, though.

Meryl Streep as Mary Louise Wright in season 2 of HBO's Big Little Lies
Courtesy of HBO

When Mary Louise announces that she’s decided to rent an apartment in the same building as Jane, Celeste is horrified. She tells her that she’s going to be living in the same building as her son’s rape victim but Mary Louise is still in a stage of denial. She brushes it off and makes it clear that she still doesn’t believe Jane’s claim. Mary Louise tells Celeste that if Perry was having an affair then there was probably more than one woman, and if he’d been cheating that obviously it was Celeste’s fault in some way.

The thought had never really crossed my mind that there could have been more women like Jane out there. We already know that Perry was away on a lot of business trips and I’m not sure we will ever truly know what he got up to on all of them. Are there more Wright children out there? More of Perry’s rape victims?

Celeste is upset at the insinuation that his cheating was her fault so she slaps Mary Louise. Well, she actually hits her so hard she slaps the glasses off her face. Mary Louise’s response is nothing short of genius: “What shall we call that? Foreplay?” You can see the instant regret on Celeste’s face, but it’s too late; she’s given Mary Louise another reason to suspect her. She doesn’t just suspect her of lying about Perry’s death, she suspects her of being unable to look after Max and Josh. She then proceeds to play her harshest hand of all: she’s going for custody of the twins.

Nicole Kidman as Celeste in HBO's Big Little Lies
Courtesy of HBO

Celeste isn’t doing herself any favors here and she’s self-destructing on a huge scale. We’ve already seen her crash her car after driving while on Ambien and it doesn’t look like she learned anything from that mistake. After having a drink with Jane, Celeste stays at the bar and ends up bringing the bartender home for a one-night stand. This supplies Mary Louise with more ammo, but the most worrying part is that Celeste doesn’t even seem to know who he is or what happened. Has she picked him up during an Ambien-induced blackout, or has she moved on to even harder drugs? The twins can already see that their mother is acting differently. We can all see it.

I find myself becoming more and more frustrated with Celeste as the episodes go on. This week it was mainly down to her lying to Jane. Jane asks her if Perry ever raped her, too, and she says no. We know that she’s lying; we witnessed her being raped by him. It pains me that after spending so long defending Jane’s story and being sympathetic towards her that she would just outright lie like this. I know she has her reasons but I’m really struggling to see what they are right now. After seeing Jane dancing at the party with her new boyfriend, Celeste looks shocked. Is she starting to doubt Jane’s side of the story?

Jane, on the other hand, is definitely team Celeste. After hearing that Mary Louise is going for custody she heads round to her place to defend Celeste and tell her just how much of an amazing mother she is. She’s also scared that part of Mary Louise’s plan is to also take Ziggy away from her. Mary Louise reassures her that this isn’t the case as she thinks she’s an excellent mother. Does she think that or is she using this as a way to get Jane on her side?

Mary Louise has spent weeks observing these women. She’s seen them support and defend each other; she’s seen them stick together through everything. So it’s no surprise that she sees this as an opportunity to add a few more cracks into already fragile relationships. She tells Jane that Celeste has been driving whilst on Ambien and that Ziggy could be in danger if he’s in the car.

Shailene Woodley and Douglas Smith as Jane and Corey in HBO's Big Little Lies
Courtesy of HBO

Jane is still happy with Corey (Douglas Smith) and he seems equally happy to continue taking their relationship at a slow pace. She’s still plagued by visions of the rape, though, and is obviously scared to sleep with Corey. It’s understandable that her next sexual encounter is going to remind her of what happened with Perry. She decides that the best way to tackle her worries is to be honest with Corey and so she tells him briefly about her assault.

It’s really touching that she trusts him so much and it’s great to see her finally having the courage to talk about what happened with new people. Is Corey too nice for his own good, though? I have my suspicions about him. It’s natural for us to be protective of Jane. We’ve witnessed her story and want for her to have a happy ending. In a show where the men are turning out to be utter bastards, I have big doubts about Corey. I hope I’m wrong.

Speaking of bastards, Gordon (Jeffrey Nordling) is asking Renata (Laura Dern) for forgiveness after stealing her self-made fortune. I know I probably say this every week but Laura Dern is absolutely owning this season. We’re used to seeing the angry and over-the-top side of her personality when something goes wrong, but this week we were given a glimpse into her sadness. Watching her having to hand over her wedding ring in the bankruptcy claim was heartbreaking. We were waiting for her to shout but this time she didn’t. It was also hilarious as she pointed to her expensive forehead and proceeded to tell the judge that she’d had it done because she’d spent her life dealing with men like him.

Saving her marriage isn’t too high on her list of priorities, though, as she’s throwing everything into a huge party for Amabella. This could be the last time she throws a party of this scale so obviously Renata wants it to be the party to end all parties—and it definitely is. It made me wish that every episode could be like this. I love seeing the characters in costume, getting dressed up to hide their fragility behind afro wigs and groovy clothes. Obviously, Amabella is wearing the same costume as Renata. Renata is living the childhood she didn’t have through Amabella now; she wants her to have the things she never got. Unlike Amabella’s party in Season 1, the whole gang’s here, but friendships are about to shatter.

Adam Scott and Reese Witherspoon as Ed and Madeline in HBO's Big Little Lies
Courtesy of HBO

Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) and Ed (Adam Scott) are still on rocky ground and, despite Madeline’s best efforts to save their marriage, Ed doesn’t seem to know what he wants anymore. So many scenes seem to keep ending with Ed just stood on his own looking useless and it makes me want to scream to be honest. Is he just searching for the answers for what he should do, or has he completely given up and just doesn’t know how to walk away?

Madeline is putting all of the blame on herself for what happened but Ed seems incapable of realizing that he played a part, too. I’m not saying that Madeline should have received instant forgiveness but she doesn’t deserve the cold silence that Ed is giving her now. She tries to fix things but he sits there in silence—it’s infuriating. Then when she says that if he’s going to leave he should hurry up and do it, he acts surprised. He rejects every conversation and attempt that she makes but is baffled that she thinks he is going to leave her. I’m not even sure what he wants from her at this point.

Madeline’s strongest friendship since day one has always been with Celeste but now it looks like it could be about to break. She overhears Celeste saying that she wished they hadn’t lied and that they only went along with it because Madeline started it. This makes Madeline think that she’s being gossiped about by everyone. Out of all the women, it’s Madeline who appears to be less affected by Perry’s death than anyone. We learn this week that she’s started dreaming about it—has she been ignoring it for too long? It would be an interesting twist for it to be Madeline who cracks first. We already know that out of everyone, nobody regrets the lie more than Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz).

Laura Dern and Zoe Kravitz as Renata and Bonnie in HBO's Big Little Lies
Courtesy of HBO

Bonnie’s mom Elizabeth (Crystal Fox) is still in town and she’s coming to the party. She’s still using her spiritual side and senses that something is off with Renata’s house, and she’s still getting the visions of someone drowning. I wonder if her spirituality is one of the reasons their relationship is so strained. Does Bonnie know there’s some truth to her visions and she’s scared that the truth will be discovered that way?

As the party ends, Elizabeth gets a strong premonition but before she can fathom out what it means she collapses and has a stroke. Bonnie’s father shows up at the hospital and is quick to blame Bonnie for stressing her mother out too much. It’s a strange accusation to make. There’s been little interaction between Bonnie and her father, and as they had dinner a couple of episodes ago he seemed unfazed by the state of his daughter. Elizabeth once asked Bonnie, “What have you done this time?” implying that something big appears to have happened in her past.

Did she do something to her father? Lash out at him perhaps, and this is why their relationship is so strained? I can’t imagine Elizabeth ever putting up with someone abusing her but maybe that was the reason why she turned to the bottle. Could it be that an abusive father caused her to lash out and now history has repeated itself with Bonnie lashing out to rescue Celeste? I’m intrigued by Bonnie’s past and I need more. Even Mary Louise noticed something was off with Bonnie during the pumpkin carving get together. It was almost as if she’d never noticed Bonnie before and now she has someone new in her sights.

At the hospital, Bonnie spots Detective Quinlan (Merrin Dungey) hanging around and assumes she’s there to talk about Perry’s case. She isn’t and Bonnie ultimately loses her cool. It’s a bad move and obviously gives Quinlan more reason to be suspicious. I originally thought Quinlan would be the antagonist of this season and would slowly force her way to the truth. Now, I’m not so sure. It feels like she’s just in the right place at the right time and it’s the Monterey Five’s paranoia that is giving them away. Quinlan doesn’t need to do anything as the women are slowly destroying themselves (and the lie). Mary Louise is also doing Quinlan’s job for her by planting seeds of doubt amongst the group, which is causing them to slowly turn on and doubt each other.

As Elizabeth wakes up in the hospital we see the full reveal of her visions: Bonnie drowning and floating lifeless in the ocean. It’s a vision we’ve been teased with before but it’s still upsetting to see it fully. There are only three episodes left now—is that really going to be enough time for the women to sort themselves out and save Bonnie from suicide? If they’re barely talking to each other, how are they going to come together for her? Maybe Bonnie’s mother will actually die as a result of the stroke and this will be what finally pushes Bonnie over the edge.

Whatever happens, it’s not going to be good and the fallout will be anything but pretty.

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.

One Comment

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  1. Great review as always but I have two thoughts to share. I think you underestimate the pathology behind Perry’s mothers behavior. This women has been forcing herself to deny her sons tru nature all her life and she will do anything at this point to protect her imaginary world. Of course she knows her son was a sociopath! She is a sociopath as well. She knows Perry had something to do with his brother’s death, and she can’t emotionally afford to face it.
    Also, I think the reason Ed is so out of it is he’s close to figuring out what’s going on. He’s locked in his thoughts. Thanks for the great review!

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