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Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 4 recap: The 5 takeaways from She Knows

Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 4 recap
Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 4 recap. See below. Pic credit: HBO

On the last episode of Big Little Lies, emotions were as raw as ever. Madeline had a public meltdown during a school assembly which was more about the failures of fairy tale messages than the kids.

Renata’s daughter had a panic attack because her mother is losing it. Mary Louise kept trying to debunk the truth about her son Perry only to discover the truth was already being told. And Celeste’s therapist made her realize she was addicted to Perry’s abuse.

This week ‘s episode was about as emotional as it comes with all the women working through their issues more than ever. Plus, Mary Louise pulls an ambush on Celeste at the last second which will change everything in her world.

Here are the five takeaways from Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 4.

Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 4 recap Renata
Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 4 recap: Renata holds resentment. Pic credit: HBO

#1 Renata is resentful of Gordon

Renata’s resentment towards Gordon continues to grow as she finds herself in the line of sight of a no-nonsense bankruptcy court judge who threatens to take everything including her wedding ring and Rolex.

She grows even more embarrassed when she is forced to admit that one of her medical deductions was due to a Botox treatment. The only saving grace is that they were able to go to bankruptcy court on a Saturday, but that doesn’t erase the mortification Renata feels.

All of this shame has to find an outlet somewhere…and it does, in Gordon.

In an effort to bury her head in the sand, Renata plans an elaborate disco themed birthday party for Amabella complete with champagne and a famous live band.

As everyone at the party pretends to have a good time while secretly battling a myriad of personal demons, Gordon asks Renata if she will ever be able to forgive him. She is quick to point out it’s not about him but about the dreams of the future she had for Amabella which his selfish behavior destroyed.

A now emasculated Gordon finds himself doing what Monterey does best, pretending everything is ok even while his world falls apart.

Ever the dominant woman (and unflappable hostess), Renata buries her resentment of Gordon in fake smiles and expensive dresses, with no guest suspecting that their wealthy counterparts have just declared bankruptcy.

Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 4 recap Madeline
Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 4 recap: Madeline tells Ed her anxieties. Pic credit: HBO

#2 Madeline faces her anxieties about Ed

It is rare that everyone’s favorite, vapid, social butterfly Madeline shows any kind of vulnerability but this week Madeline shows her fearful side in spades. Reese Witherspoon’s depiction of a woman on the verge of a breakdown is so real and so easy to identify with for anyone who struggles with anxiety that it’s almost difficult to watch.

She starts her day off waking up from a nightmare with flashbacks of the incident with Gordon. Her own anxiety continues to grow throughout the episode when she realizes that all of the women wish they had been honest with the police about what actually happened, and all partly blame her for the fear that they are now living in.

Near the end of the episode, she has her own run-in with Detective Quinlan that only adds to her fear.

Compounding on her anxiety is the reality that she and Ed may be on the outs and for someone who always prides herself on being able to work her way around things with charm, the fear of losing her marriage is palpable.

When her daughter does a school project implying she is unhinged, she is wounded when she realizes this has become her reputation.

And in the most heart-wrenching moment of her arc in the episode, she tells Ed, “If you’re going to leave me just do it already.” When he says he’s still there, she simply says he hasn’t been there for a long time and just walks out of the room.

As she battles all of the insecurity and fear mounting in her head, will Madeline put aside her own selfish wants and save her marriage? Or will her anxiety win?

Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 4 recap Jane
Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 4 recap: Jane confides in Corey. Pic credit: HBO

#3 Jane opens up about her past

While Jane was not at the forefront of the episode, her character saw a major breakthrough emotionally. Most of the season thus far has seen Jane decide whether she is ready to trust someone again.

To open her heart to another in the hopes of not being wounded takes guts. And she has spent most of this time, examining whether she can be safe with her new love interest Corey.

Despite his good intentions though, Jane has remained guarded with him–until now.

While Renata was throwing her emotional masquerade of a birthday party, Jane and Corey were dancing among the crowd. But just like most victims of trauma, when things get happy and positive, the fear of pain creeps up again. And as they dance, Jane gets a flash of her incident with Perry and she shuts down.

A moment later, the show reveals Jane next to Renata’s pool consumed in thought. Soon, Corey comes by her side, seeing something is off.

At first, she is reluctant but then she opens up about her being a rape victim and that the man who did it to her is Ziggy’s father. The two share a long pause and she has a small concern about whether he will handle the bombshell like a man.

But he grabs her hand signifying he still wants to be a part of whatever is next.

What is clear is Jane is making massive leaps in her emotional well being. While the rest of the group falls apart, Jane seems to be putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 4 recap Mary Louise
Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 4 recap: Mary Louise seeks custody. Pic credit: HBO

#4 Mary Louise seeks custody

Mary Louise was raining hellfire down on Celeste this week and unfortunately, what many fear is actually coming true. The overly insensitive pushy grandmother is seeking to take the kids away from Celeste.

What’s even worse is it seems like she has been planting the seeds for this since the beginning. Snooping around in medicine drawers, pushing her buttons to make her ill-tempered, even gaslighting Celeste the way Perry used to.

But through much of the episode, Celeste does not do herself any favors for making the case she is emotionally fit. In a heated exchange, Mary Louise implies that Perry might have sought comfort in many women due to their marriage and Celeste slaps her — and rightfully so.

This is the beginning of the end though as far as Mary Louise is concerned.

The final straw comes later when Celeste has another episode with Ambien but this time in front of the kids. She wakes up in her bed with not much memory of anything and feeling sick.

Mary Louise checks her warmth but she has no fever. And right as Josh and Max enter the bedroom and show concern, a half-naked man awkwardly walks through the room and greets everyone.

This indicates to Celeste and Mary Louise she blacked out and let a stranger in the home without knowing.

This leads Mary Louise to seek an attorney to take the kids. And when Celeste finds out, she feels betrayed, humiliated, and most of all pissed off. And unfortunately, she might lose them both if she can’t swallow her pride — which her therapist warns her to do.

Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 4 recap Bonnie
Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 4 recap: Bonnie’s mom has a vision. Pic credit: HBO

#5 Bonnie’s mother has a vision

Bonnie is still very obviously the woman fighting the most private, and most difficult battle in spite of the fact that much of her isolation is self-imposed. Even though all of the women and her husband have offered to be there for her, she continues to retreat inside herself.

The interesting thing about Bonnie is how little she speaks lately, it’s almost as though all of the grief and fear have rendered her nearly mute.
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When she does speak her words pack a punch though, and her anger causes her to come out swinging, especially at her mother. While at Amabella’s birthday party Bonnie’s mom attempts to do some sort of mystic reading to figure out the negative aura she senses around Bonnie.

Furious Bonnie pushes her off and walks away. As they leave the party, Elizabeth Howard (played by Crystal Fox), sees another flash of something when she shakes Renata’s hand in thanks. Shortly after this vision, she falls to the floor, the victim of a stroke.

Bonnie and Nathan rush her to the hospital, where Bonnie is joined by her father who (not so subtly) accused her of causing her mother’s stroke. When Bonnie walks away to get some air who should she run into but Detective Quinlan?

Thinking she is there to investigate Perry’s death, Bonnie’s anger quickly gets the best of her, and Jane rushes her away. Later, when Bonnie wakes up to her mother mumbling in her hospital room, viewers see that Elizabeth is having a vision of Bonnie drowning.

Surrounded by water will Bonnie attempt to take her own life or will she seek the help she desperately needs before it’s too late?

Final Thoughts

The tension in this episode was much like the beginning of a rollercoaster ride, building and building with moments that make your stomach drop. Will Madeline and Ed survive the undoing of their marriage? Will Bonnie find her voice again? Will Celeste lose custody of her children?

More importantly, is Mary Louise right, does she need to take a break from her kids before she makes a mistake with consequences she can’t take back?

As the show’s crescendo builds it gets harder and harder to tell who is paying the ultimate price, and whether or not the women did the right thing on that fateful night.

Big Little Lies airs Sundays on HBO at 9/8c.

John Dotson is a film and television reviewer and commentator from Texas. His favorite part of what he does is getting to discuss film and... read more
John Dotson

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