The time has come. As the acclaimed HBO series reaches its season two finale, the “Monterey Five” remain united as one of their own faces her biggest obstacle: her mother-in-law and the custody of her own children. With the added conflicts involving the future of a marriage, the fallout from bankruptcy, the search for love while taking back control, and the mixed feelings toward an ill mother, the second outing of Big Little Lies ends with a much needed resolution—and a cliffhanger.
Related – Review: Big Little Lies – “The Bad Mother”
Celeste (Nicole Kidman) has been granted her wish: to question Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) in court. Finding a window that allows her to turn the tables on her mother-in-law, Celeste brings up a dark and personal moment from the White Family past. A moment that questions Mary Louise’s own questionable parenting. As Mary Louise remains defiant and continues to deny that her son was abusive, Celeste reveals to the court a video she discovered just the night before—a video secretly recorded on the family iPad by one of her boys that caught Perry (Alexander Skarsgård) viciously beating Celeste in their bedroom. As the video shocked those in the courtroom (including Jane), Mary Louise was finally forced to see the evil that her son was capable of.
After days of silence and the cold shoulder, Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) and Ed (Adam Scott) finally have a sit down. Ed finally expresses to Madeline what he feels they need to do: renew their vows. This time around, it wouldn’t be a big party to tie everything in a bow, but a personal event between them and their daughters to signify a new beginning of trust. Madeline wholeheartedly accepts his proposition.
Renata is surprised to find her husband Gordon, in their nearly empty soon-to-be-sold house, still playing with his train-set in his game room. Revealing that he has sold it but the new owner has asked him to keep it at the house, Gordon basks in his joy and even suggests that it’s the only thing he has to play with now. This, of course, pushes Renata over the edge. Grabbing one of his treasured baseball bats, Renata unleashes her anger and frustration by destroying every toy in the room.
Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz) continues to be plagued with the thoughts of putting her mother Elizabeth out of her misery. However, when she visits her in the hospital, instead of reenacting the dream she’s had of suffocating her mom, she instead lays next to her in bed, telling her she loves her. And while Bonnie and the family have a glimpse of hope as Elizabeth awakens from her coma, it doesn’t last long as she falls back under after suffering a stoke—a stroke she does not recover from. In her moment of pain due to the loss of her mother, Bonnie reveals to her husband Nathan (James Tupper) that she was never in love with him.
This all leads up to the judges final decision, awarding Celeste with full custody of her two boys. In a show of respect—and potentially showing she is nothing like Perry—Celeste allows her boys to give their grandmother hugs and kisses goodbye. With that, everything seems in its right place for the “Monterey Five.” Jane (Shailene Woodley) and Corey (Douglas Smith) finally have their moment together, this time without Jane suffering from debilitating flashbacks of Perry’s assault. Madeline and Ed happily celebrate their vow renewal. Renata lays with her daughter in bed. Celeste relaxes at home with her boys, putting this court case behind her.
Yet, just before the close of the episode, Madeline, Celeste, Jane, and Renata receive text messages on their phones. As the scene jumps to Bonnie parking her vehicle and exiting, four other cars pull up and park near her. Exiting their respective vehicles, the “Monterey Five” are united and walk alongside Bonnie down the sidewalk—and into the Carmel-By-The-Sea Police Department.
While the series has made the news due to possible behind-the-scenes production dramas, Big Little Lies season two delivered an intriguing continuation in the story arch and exquisite performances from an all-star team of women. Streep was a welcome addition to the already high level of talent coming from Witherspoon, Kidman, Woodley, Kravitz, and Dern. Her take on the vengeful mother-in-law was spot-on and presented a heavier, threatening element to the protagonists.
Moreover, each actress had their time to shine on screen. Kidman and Woodley excelled in expressing their respective character’s shared trauma and pain from the same individual. Witherspoon and Dern rode the balance of keeping up appearances while battling their personal issues—one dealing with the effects of infidelity and mistrust while the other is the cause of it in her relationship. And then there’s the quiet, guilt-ridden torture that Kravitz embodies ever so delicately. Bonnie is this strong, independent being who is made numb and is questioning her own moral code after her part in the lie from last season, and Kravitz makes the viewer feel every inch of that internal conflict.
These veteran actresses have fully embraced their characters to a T and I for one am excited to see what ride the “Monterey Five” are in store for next season—should one be given the green light. While season two didn’t provide as many shocks as its first outing, the story dig deeper into the characters and the performances alone are enough to keep one glued. Given its ending, it will be interesting to see where the story goes from here.
Big Little Lies is available for streaming on the HBO Go and HBO Now apps.
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