Big Little Lies S2E5: Kill Me

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

Last weeks episode of Big Little Lies set the stage for Mary Louise Wright’s (Meryl Streep) big move against Celeste (Nicole Kidman). Now we find ourselves hurtling towards the inevitable confrontation; the custody battle, which now actually looks like it’s going to be the epicenter for all the lies to be revealed. Will Mary Louise’s actions really be the undoing of The Monterey Five? Or is there someone else lurking in the wings?

It’s hard to know whether Mary Louise is simply punishing Celeste or if she genuinely does want custody of Max and Josh. I’ve defended Mary Louise in all of my previous articles about the show and will probably continue to do so until we get some real evidence that she’s as evil as people are making out. A lot of it is viewers guesswork so far, assumptions are being made about the mysterious circumstances surrounding her other son Raymond’s death. I know Mary Louise isn’t a perfect mother; she just wants to continue believing she is so she doesn’t have to admit her failings as one.

I think if she’d have been told a story that she could believe about Perry’s death then she wouldn’t be going after custody of the twins. She doesn’t believe he slipped, she doesn’t believe he was a rapist or an abuser, and the police have provided her with nothing. She wants to clear her son’s name and as she can’t do that she’s trying to punish Celeste. There will no doubt be some added twist when it’s finally revealed what happened in the Wright families past. It could potentially reveal Mary Louise to be the real monster. But until that time comes, I’ll defend her by reaffirming that she’s a grieving mother who’s lashing out because she’s presented with accusations she doesn’t want to believe.

Working on the theory that it was, in fact, Perry who killed his brother Raymond then we have the notion that Mary Louise is (in some way) a victim of Perry too. Maybe she panicked trying to protect her child and covered up the accident. Is that why her husband left her? He couldn’t cope with the guilt of what she’d done. I think really that all Mary Louise is truly guilty of is trying to be a perfect mother, which is just really what all of these women are trying to be.

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

Celeste is understandably angry at Mary Louise’s actions. But instead of trying to understand her reasons or make her see sense, she’s also lashing out. Every time Mary Louise lashes out, Celeste lashes harder. But it’s Celeste who isn’t doing herself any favors. She’s unraveling fast, and I’m not sure how much longer she’ll be able to keep it together. She still has bruises. It is some form of self-harm, or is she asking the men she’s sleeping with to be more forceful with her? I think if they both took the time to understand and trust each other that they would see that they have a lot more in common than they realize. Even from beyond the grave, Perry is continuing to destroy lives and relationships.

During the first meeting with a Judge, Mary Louise insists that she knows Celeste loves the boys, she just doesn’t think she’s well enough to look after them. Celeste barely holds it together despite what her attorney tells her. Her attorney also tells her that if the case gets to court, then the mysterious circumstances surrounding Perry’s death will be brought up. This would result in Madeline (Reese Witherspoon), Renata (Laura Dern), Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz), and Jane (Shailene Woodley) all having to take the stand to testify. The lie would become even bigger as they wouldn’t just be lying to the police, they’d be lying under oath. The women can barely hold it together with each other so I have no doubts that any of them could crumble under the pressure of a courtroom.

Despite the lie being created to protect one another, I still struggle to accept them doing it. I know they wouldn’t have gotten off scot-free by telling the truth, but surely it would have been less harsh than what they’re enduring now? If they had pleaded self-defense I’d like to have the confidence to believe that the law would have been more sympathetic to Bonnie for protecting her friend from a rapist/abuser.  Last week we got the hints that there was some resentment towards Madeline for somewhat pushing them into lying. I’d like to believe that any one of them could have stepped forward and told the truth there and then. Or did they just see law enforcement as some male-driven entity that would automatically go against women?

I don’t think they ever bargained on the officer in charge of the case being a woman. Detective Quinlan (Merrin Dungey) may have been more sympathetic to them had they been honest with her. Now with the court case looming and the threat of them having to take the stand, they all have a lot to lose.

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

We’ve seen Mary Louise go up against Celeste, Madeline, Jane and even sense something was off with Bonnie (despite only seeing her briefly) but I think the confrontation we’ve all been waiting for was with her and Renata. And it didn’t disappoint!

We know how Mary Louise operates already. She somehow senses the slightest weakness in somebody and uses that as a way to take them down and gain power over them. Celeste has gone to Renata for advice and she decides to help her out by having Mary Louise round for a sit-down chat over a cup of tea. Mary Louise thinks it’s a friendly gesture but as soon as she realizes that Renata has another agenda, her guard comes up and she instantly finds the chink in her armor. She quickly points out that there isn’t much furniture in her house. We can all see that most of the furniture has gone but we’ve seen her home before and we know of the bankruptcy troubles the Klein’s face. But Mary Louise doesn’t, or does she?

Mary Louise could have easily been distracted by how gorgeous the house is (despite its lack of furniture), but she sensed straight away that things weren’t right. I think wealth is what Renata uses to define how powerful a person is as money is something she’s always used in her arguments with people. She’s trying to teach Amabella that they don’t need money to be happy and instead its what’s in her heart that counts. But I don’t think she even believes that herself, she just doesn’t want Amabella to worry. In Renata’s mind, she’ll regain her fortune, become powerful again, and crush anybody who’s stood in her way. She perhaps equates her unhappy childhood to having no money so it’s natural that she would now believe that the only way to give Amabella a happy life is with money. I want her to see that she can provide it without the cash.

She thinks she can fix all the problems she faces in life with money, but now with Mary Louise stoking the flames of doubt, she’s presented with the possibility that she can’t always do that. Problems will always exist regardless of how much or how little you have. Renata now knows that Celeste has one hell of a fight on her hands.

Courtesy of HBO

Renata and Celeste aren’t the only ones being confronted by Mary Louise as she continues to rub Madeline up the wrong way too. After bumping into her and Abigail in the street, she riles Madeline up by asking if this is the daughter that’s going to college. Madeline responds the only way she knows how; by having a go. Now, I’m not sure if you’re aware, but this scene had become a meme last year as it was supposed to end with Madeline throwing the ice-cream at Mary Louise’s head. But for some reason, it’s been cut. I’d waited a long time for this moment so I really hope we get to see it as a Blu Ray extra someday. Perhaps they didn’t want it to seem that Madeline was bullying Mary Louise. If they keep up the pretense that she’s a villain, it’ll be more heartbreaking when we discover that she really isn’t. Who knows.

Madeline and Ed (Adam Scott) still aren’t working and after a very brief check in to a couple’s counseling retreat, they have a breakthrough during the journey home. Ed believes that Madeline only chose him because he was a safe choice and he would be a stable father figure to Abigail. That’s pretty much what I’ve always thought myself, to be honest. I’ve never seen any real chemistry between him and Madeline and it seemed like they both just settled for one another. She doesn’t really deny that this was a big factor in her choosing him, but she does try to reassure him that she loves him and wants to be with him.

I’m not at all convinced that he even wants to be with her at this stage. Is he staying just for the children? He doesn’t trust Madeline and he’s spent most of his time ignoring her every word and action. During an argument with Nathan (James Tupper), he seems happy with the fact that they don’t get along and admits that he’s choosing to be a fuck. Is he choosing to be an awkward fuck with Madeline too? He certainly isn’t happy with her, he doesn’t trust her, and he doesn’t seem to know what he wants.

She can’t promise him that she won’t self-sabotage again as she herself doesn’t understand her reasons for doing it. I liked this rare moment of honesty; she knows she isn’t perfect and has started a journey to discover why she is the way she is. She promises him that she’ll never cheat on him again. He doesn’t seem convinced and I’m now not even sure he won’t cheat on her to even the odds.

There have been quite a few scenes of Ed and Tori (Sarah Sokolovic) over the two seasons and quite a few of us have been sensing a little something between them. Well, this episode ends with her coming on to him as her husband Joseph (Santiago Cabrera) watches on. In case you’d forgotten Joseph is the guy that Madeline had the affair with originally. The fact that he’s watching her come on to Ed makes me think it’s some sort of game between them. He cheated so now she’s allowed to have an affair too. What harsher way to get revenge than to crucify Madeline too?

Zoe Kravitz as Bonnie in season two of HBO's Big Little Lies
Courtesy of HBO

Elizabeth (Crystal Fox) is unable to communicate following her stroke as Bonnie continues to watch over her. After the hints in previous episodes, we’ve received some confirmation that it was Bonnie’s mother that abused her while she was growing up. Before this revelation, I’d seen a lot of people jump straight in to declare that due to the silence between Bonnie and her father obviously, he’d been abusing her in her childhood. I do wonder why the blame was put straight on to the father and why people didn’t consider that a woman is capable of abusing too. After Elizabeth rushed to town earlier in the season to help Bonnie, we now understand that she did it because she probably feels guilty.

Bonnie can’t confront her mother and instead takes it out on her father who she blames for not protecting her. He, however, thought that by trying to keep the peace that he was protecting her. In reality, he was keeping her in a situation that was hurting her more and more. I’m not sure where they can go with this backstory considering we only have two episodes left but at least now we have more reasoning as to why Bonnie acted so quickly in pushing Perry off Celeste. She’s been on the receiving end of abuse, she knows what it’s like, and she wasn’t prepared to let someone else go through it.

Elizabeth is still seeing visions of Bonnie drowning and now Bonnie is seeing them too. We see her washing Elizabeth, and in a way, it feels as though Bonnie wants to show that she’s become the better person. Elizabeth didn’t look after her while she was growing up but now Bonnie can look after her. It’s almost as if she’s taking control of the power in the relationship. The same can probably be said for most characters in the show; they’re all playing some battle for power with whoever they’re dealing with.

Potentially scared by the vision, she takes another nighttime trip to the police station and see’s something unexpected. Jane’s boyfriend Corey (Douglas Smith) emerging from the station and getting into a car. What the hell? I said last week that I had my suspicions of him and it looks like they were right. I genuinely want there to be an innocent explanation as to why he’s there. Bonnie will ultimately tell the gang and carnage will ensue even if it’s all innocent. It will create even more paranoia for Detective Quinlan to use to her advantage. But Corey is young and could probably be easily manipulated so maybe he is doing Quinlan’s dirty work for her. This wasn’t what I expected with my suspicions though so I love this little twist in the tale.

Iain Armitage and Shailene Woodley as Ziggy and Jane in season two of HBO's Big Little Lies
Courtesy of HBO

I wanted to take some time this week to talk about how incredible the younger members of the cast are. They can often get overlooked in favor of the adults, but each and every one of them is delivering an outstanding performance every week without fail.

Ziggy is being bullied at school by a boy who proceeds to tell him that his father was a rapist. Max and Josh are quick to jump to the defense of their newly discovered brother and the three of them beat the bully into next week. We’ve seen Max and Josh behave violently in previous episodes but this is something totally new for Ziggy. It feels like his behaviour scares him as he asks Jane if he’ll grow up to be a bad man. He knows he did wrong by beating up the bully and his awareness of that reassures us that he’ll grow up to be anything but bad.

I can’t say the same for Max and Josh though as they never seem to show any remorse for their bad behavior and it tends to get worse as each episode passes. I think their problem stems from what Celeste is teaching them. They obviously know a lot of what their father did to her which is where their own bad behavior has evolved from. In season one Max was acting out on Amabella what he’d heard Perry do to Celeste. When they ask her if their father was a bad man she says he wasn’t and tries to reassure them that he was a good man who made mistakes like everybody else. This, in a way, tells them that Perry’s behavior was ok. They think it’s acceptable because their father did it and he is still being described as a good man.

It’s heartbreaking that despite trying to protect them, Celeste is inadvertently making their behavior worse. Perhaps if Mary Louise really did protect Perry after he killed his brother, she made his behavior worse too. How can children learn if they aren’t taught what they do is wrong?

Just two episodes left now and I don’t think any of us can truly predict where things are going to go. Especially as we keep getting some new curveballs thrown into the mix. I’ve been on the edge of my seat since the season began, I’m not sure how much more drama I can take. Whatever happens next though, we can be guaranteed one thing: it’s going to be big.

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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