Last week on Big Little Lies, paranoia hit the hearts of all the Monterey 5 as everyone felt some family strife. Renata’s husband got arrested for some illegal stock exchange decisions. Ed found out Madeline cheated on him with a theater director and decided to leave her. Also, Mary Louise discovered Celeste hid more from the police than she claimed.
In this week’s episode, Madeline’s anxiety builds to a crescendo with her fears of Ed leaving her and everyone else possibly doing the same. Also, Mary Louise keeps hoping her son is not a monster but keeps discovering there is no other explanation.
Here are the five takeaways from Big Little Lies Season 2, Episode 3!
#1 Madeline’s marriage is on the brink
Madeline’s life continues to spiral as her infidelity comes crashing into her marriage with Ed. At the start of the episode, both her and Ed are receiving marriage therapy from Celeste’s very own skillful doctor — Amanda Reisman.
During the session, nothing goes the way Madeline hopes, and a lot of her flaws as a mother are put under a microscope to be examined, including her need to push the idea of college on Abigail.
The episode also has her doing everything she can to reconnect with Ed, and he is not having any of it. The fun-loving, laid back man he once was seems bitter and cold, especially towards Madeline. Ed seems keen on enjoying himself with pretty much everyone except Madeline.
At the peak of her breakdown, she is called to speak in front of a school assembly about the teachers giving lessons on climate change in school — and how the topic is too stressful for second graders.
She ends up taking a left turn in her speech with her own fears coming out on the assembly. She speaks on how the world failed them growing up with stories with happy endings and makes a comparison to a story about rainbows being illusions.
She further draws that comparison to life and how their generation was chasing an illusion.
And at her most anxious, she looks out upon the crowd, and for some strange reason, she hallucinates no one being there. But when she looks again, the crowd returns. What this possibly hinted at was Madeline’s anxiety about losing everyone around her.
Shortly after, Madeline is back with her daughter Abigail and is confiding in her child. Holding and comforting her mom, Abigail says to her about Ed — “He’ll be back.”
#2 Jane faces her past and looks forward to the future
Considering where she started, Jane continues to prove the resilience of the human spirit. She and Ziggy find themselves more well-adjusted than ever in this episode, even as Jane comes head to head with her past. Jane continues to date Corey, realizing she is not over her past as she strives to enjoy her future.
When Corey moves in to kiss her, Jane jerks back in surprise, a testament to the trauma she carries with her. On top of this, Mary Louise has the gall to approach her and ask Ziggy to take a blood test to prove Perry is Ziggy’s father, and Jane is not lying. In spite of it all, Jane continues to flourish.
She takes surfing lessons from Corey, even introducing him to Ziggy, allowing her little man to take part in the lessons as well. Corey proves himself a patient man, warning Jane he wanted to hug her, and even slow dancing with her on another date. His charm, candid conversations, and patience are very obviously winning Jane over.
Bonnie asks Jane if Corey knows about her past. When Jane says no, Bonnie encourages her because no real relationship can succeed if they don’t really know who you are or what you have been through.
Jane doesn’t seem opposed to telling Corey, but she seems to be wrestling with how to do so. Her connection with Corey shows that for her to move on, she will have to face her past.
#3 Renata’s anger is causing her daughter panic attacks
Renata and Gordon’s stress continues in both their personal and professional lives, Renata won’t be able to shut her eyes to the reality of poverty much longer. Rather than trying to address the situation calmly, she yells at Gordon to “sell his sh*t!” She grows even angrier when Gordon tells her he is not the only one who noticed she is not there, and Amabella has too.
This revelation is hard to argue with considering Amabella has a panic attack at school about the reality of climate change that ultimately sends her to the hospital, but it doesn’t take a mind reader to see that Renata and Gordon are to blame for their daughter’s emotional health (or lack thereof).
True to form, Renata refuses to take any responsibility for Amabella’s stress level. She blames bullies, Gordon, and the teacher — never once acknowledging that her reaction to the possibility of being poor could primarily be to blame. Upon calling in a child psychologist, Renata seems annoyed to discover Amabella is worried about her.
Rather than acknowledge she may need to control her emotions around her daughter, she tells Gordon not to speak to her. She then goes to the school to have one of her legendary scream fests at the principal and the teacher, saying she’s bankrupt but still has power and intends to take them down.
It becomes more and more apparent that Renata will not be able to run from the past forever, at least not without losing what little control she has over her mind.
#4 Celeste is addicted to pain
Nicole Kidman makes Celeste the hardest woman to watch on Big Little Lies because of how well she plays the widowed, battered wife. Celeste continues to wrestle with mourning the man who abused and misused her, even feeling the need to defend him when Dr. Reisman points out he may have killed her had the marriage continued.
The concerned counselor goes on to explain she is worried Celeste might be addicted to Perry and the pain he put her through.
She finds herself wrestling with the two sides of Perry. Much like Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, Perry was a man with two drastically different personalities, and while she doesn’t miss the abusive side of him at all, she misses the part of him she fell in love with.
This episode shows Celeste reliving the good times with Perry, remembering when he read to the boys, and played with them, and even rather heartbreakingly when he made love to her, calling her Sparkles.
All of the good memories are colliding to make her journey through grief a rather strange and difficult one. She is managing to put her pain into words though, even apologizing to Madeline for not confiding in her about the abuse.
Will Celeste ever be able to move on? Will she forever be addicted to the war — both physical and emotional that Perry put her through?
#5 Mary Louise keeps receiving unsatisfying answers
Mary Louise keeps rolling the dice with those around her and keeps landing low results. For every person that she asks about her son, the less she wants to know. Starting with Jane, as stated previously, Mary Louise began her search with her in the worst way possible asking for a paternity test. What she found was a mother with no motives or vindictiveness whatsoever.
So, again she regroups to confront Jane but this time accepts the idea that Ziggy is her grandchild. But she wants Jane to be wrong that her son raped her. And again, Mary Louise is confronted by a woman that speaks precisely like a rape victim. Jane is blunt about her experiences and as much as Mary Louise tries to make her son the victim — she fails miserably.
Towards the end of the episode, Mary Louise is once again snooping for clues about Celeste being an unfit person, and Celeste herself catches her in the act. Mary Louise calls her out for having a Vicodin — to which Celeste responds, “Sometimes I needed it. For the pain. Like for when after he kicked me.” This response makes Mary Louise leave the room.
And this is how most of the episode plays for her. She keeps hoping that her son is not a monster, but the more she tries to disprove it, the more real it becomes. As passive-aggressive as she can be, one can sympathize with her, because who wants to acknowledge their son could do such a thing?
Although this episode has a rather abrupt and awkward ending, the tone of stress continues to build in an epic way. This episode showed the battle of the sexes as Renata faces off with Gordon, Mary Louise continues to try and reconcile what she remembers of Perry to who he became, and Madeleine tries to explain to Ed what may have pushed her to cheat.
After three episodes, this show continues to impress, perhaps even more so than the first season because this time there is no novel to follow.
Will any relationship remain intact after the truth comes out? The lies are already causing what was once stable to fall apart, is any relationship strong enough to withstand such a big little lie?
Big Little Lies airs Sundays on HBO at 9/8c.