Film & TV

Apocalypse Now: Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 3 Recap

This week we were introduced to new alliances—and deeper tensions.
Reading time 4 minutes

Warning: This article contains big (and little) spoilers. 


Episode 3 “The End of the World” has just about every character in the throes of a breakdown. Ed, upon learning his wife’s infidelity, has gone full rogue, even entertaining an eyebrow-raising rendezvous with Bonnie. Talking to Ed, Bonnie’s smiled for the first time in months—something Nathan couldn’t even begin to accomplish, even with her mother’s help. What could possibly put Bonnie in such a good mood? Is it possible she’s eased off some of her guilt? The story also featured intermittent flashbacks between Bonnie and her mother, the most prominent being a childhood swimming lesson when her mother dunks her under the water without warning. The question not enough of us has asked is: What happened in Bonnie’s past that made her instinctively push Perry? We just might get to find out.


If You Can’t Handle the Heat

One of the most harrowing scenes of the past episode happened in the second-grade classroom when Mr. Perkins had been telling eight-year-olds about the environmental impacts of the meat industry and found Amabella passed out in the closet. Luckily, she had only had an anxiety attack—largely due to her fear of the end of the world. The kids haven’t enjoyed much stability at home, and rather than get a break at school, they’re hit with the horrors of global warming. Renata, Tiger Mom as ever, tears Principal Nippal a new one, and Madeline gives a tearfully unhinged speech at the following parent assembly. Why do we lie to our kids? she asks. Global warming affects us all, but especially those with million-dollar beachfront homes.


Two’s Therapy

Why does everyone in Monterey share the same therapist? Ed and Madeline have started couples’ therapy with limited success, causing Madeline to uncover her own father’s infidelity as the root cause of her fleeting impression of marriage. The theme of this season has been “like mother, like daughter,” and we have yet to see the woman responsible for the force of nature that is Madeline MacKenzie. Expect that to come. Celeste continues to deny the full aftermath of her abuse, possibly self-inflicting bruises in memory of Perry, and even pleasuring herself to old videos of him. The whole family is living in the past, but Celeste seems especially indisposed to reckon with reality. Meanwhile, Mary Louise is poking her nose in every urchin habitat in Monterey.

Renata and Gordon learn their dysfunction is (shocker) contributing to Amabella's anxiety.

The Devil Works Hard

When she’s not painting an unrealistic portrait of her dead son to her grandkids or snooping through her daughter-in-law’s medicine cabinet, Mary Louise likes to frequent the local aquarium. She turns up to ask Jane to take a paternity test, insinuating that a stranger could have drugged and impregnated her without her knowledge. Mary Louise seems to be every old wives’ tale of internalized sexism wrapped into one nosy person. After refusing to take a paternity test, Jane catches Mary Louise camping outside of her car, but she softens when she realizes Ziggy looks exactly like Perry’s lost brother, Raymond. We still have no idea how Raymond died, but if I had to guess, it wasn’t from whooping cough. Mary Louise is still in deep denial about Perry’s true nature and asks Jane if she saw any good in him, you know before he assaulted her. Jane, to her credit, doesn’t walk out of the café immediately as any sane person would. Renata is the only one bold enough to withstand Mary Louise’s off-putting personality, asking the question we’ve all been wondering: What the fuck was that?


What’s to Come

The lie seems to be unraveling at two different angles. For one, Ed seems to be on the right track to discovering why his wife’s friends have been acting so weird lately. He and Bonnie have always been the outsiders of the group, less inclined to surface-level posturing. If Bonnie has confided in Ed, it’s only a matter of time until Madeline catches the heat. Mary Louise has also paid her long-awaited visit to Detective Quinlan’s office, hoping to confirm what she’s always suspected. Adrienne has so far played a fairly behind-the-scenes role, but we can expect to see her do more than just lurk in cars in the future. We can also expect more insight into Bonnie’s childhood—her parents seem lovely, but people don’t push abusers down stairs without a larger backstory. Add on some theories about Raymond’s untimely death (the twins sure have been fighting a lot, lately) and you have the blueprint for a mind-racing episode. On a lighter note, Jane might finally get a steamy sex scene by the end of the fifth season.

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