Warning: This article contains big (and little) spoilers.
The latest installment of HBO’s Big Little Lies shows the action finally heating up between Mary Louise and Celeste, as their custody case threatens to put all members of the Monterey Five on the stand. Celeste’s lawyer has so far been unsympathetic and well, unhelpful, urging Celeste to take Mary Louise’s jabs and cold insinuations in stride as to not accidentally prove any of her points about Celeste’s deteriorating mental health. Celeste takes the bait and blows up at Mary Louise, fiercely asserting that she will never take her kids. Her refusal of joint custody will likely come with a big price tag. When the case goes to court, all five women can become character witnesses, and their word is under oath.
Bonnie in a Corner
Remember when I said something in Bonnie’s past must have sent her (and Perry) over the edge that night? We finally found out what that is...her own mother Elizabeth, not quite the beacon of wisdom and emotional intelligence that we thought, appears to have a history of anger issues and physical abuse. Her mother’s behavior has also strained Bonnie’s relationship with her father, whom she partially blames for never adequately protecting her from abuse. Elizabeth has also started talking in her sleep and claims to have had a vision of Bonnie drowning. This is the same flashback we saw at the end of the last episode, but we’ll have to wait a bit longer to find out if it comes true.
There seems to be a lot of hand-wringing in general for the dads of Monterey, who can never quite keep up with their wives. This is no longer true for Ed. After winning yet another battle of wits with Nathan, (“Can’t we just be comfortable not liking each other?”) “Bad Ed” is out for blood. He accuses Madeline of only marrying him for a sense of stability, not love or passion, and finds himself at the bar with Tori Bachman, the wife of the man Madeline cheated with. She’s clearly putting on the moves, but the episode closer was characteristically catty on whether Ed will give into temptation. Will evening the score really repair Ed and Madeline’s marriage? Or is it too late to even try?
Who Is This Corey Guy?
It seems that Jane, Celeste, Corey, and the boys have carved out their own little parental polycule. Corey is young and strong enough to play father to both Ziggy and the twins and seems happy to fill the role of camp counselor/wrestling playmate. Even with Corey as an outlet, the three boys recently got into trouble once again after teaming up on a schoolyard bully who called their father a rapist. (It’s true, but he shouldn’t say it.) The three-day suspension just gives them more time to kayak in Monterey’s rich outdoors, but Bonnie’s night walk by the police station revealed that Corey may have other motives to get close to the families. Had Corey recently tipped off our favorite ghostlike detective? Who is this guy anyway, and how much has Jane told him?
What’s to Come:
With only two episodes left in the season, everything must come to a head in the next week. With a sprawling cast and a necessity to do justice to each individual character (not least in part because they’re played by Hollywood’s gold standard), BLL at times can feel scattered, with one cutaway flashback making the difference between a big reveal and a blink-and-you-miss-it moment. Some have even commented on the show’s seemingly excessive editing team, with editor Jean Marc Vallée responding to a fan, “Would you like to édit [sic] episode five on your own? We air this Sunday. See how you fare, editing the Lies.” How much gets left on the cutting room floor? One moment I wish had made it to the final version was the infamous ice-cream-throwing scene between Madeline and Mary Louise. During shooting last year, paparazzi caught a deranged moment in which Witherspoon lands a vanilla cone on Streep’s head. Instead of that glorious scene, we got yet another terse exchange between the two women, in which Mary Louise catches Abigail in her crossfire. At the very least they could release a blooper reel.
The custody battle will continue to dominate the storyline of the next two episodes, but things may unravel even before any of the mothers go under oath, thanks to Corey. Madeline may decide to put family above lies when she discovers Ed’s erratic behavior, but to her credit, she’s really trying. Renata seems to be adjusting pretty well to her downgraded status, ironically, thanks to a talk with Mary Louise. Rather than stew about lost magazine features (well, she does that, too), Renata takes a day off with Amabella, focusing on something other than money, for once. Even as their worlds hang in the balance at risk of perjury, the women haven’t forgotten that motherhood isn’t all sacrifice, and it shouldn’t be, either.