Big Little Lies Season 2, Episode 6 Recap: The Bad Mother


Big Little Liars, can you even believe it? A mere six weeks ago we were basking in the return of Big Little Lies‘ Monterey Five, a group of women all about supporting one another, covering up murders that probably didn’t need to be covered up, and great skincare. (Honestly, amidst all the clandestine beach meetings in which everyone agrees they need to stick together yet no one really sounds like that’s what they’re going to do, they are all glowing! Must be that Monterey air.) And here we are today, standing on the precipice of the grand finale of what is sure to go down as the Greatest Trial in History — er, the Greatest Evidentiary Hearing in History — because Celeste (Nicole Kidman) will be interrogating Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) while under oath and fingers crossed the woman finally goes full monster in public. We were denied Academy Award Winner Reese Witherspoon throwing an ice cream cone at Academy Award Winner Meryl Streep, do not deny us this!

But how do we get to this point where Celeste is calling out Mary Louise to answer for her sins in a court of law? Well, we learn, not surprisingly really, that Mary Louise plays dirty. After the judge (Becky Ann Baker) decides she hasn’t seen enough evidence to rule either way in this case — she doesn’t want to take the boys away from their home, but also she has questions — Celeste will have to take the stand. Oh, but don’t worry you guys, Mary Louise assures Celeste that they are still family. If Reese Witherspoon came out of nowhere and hurled a dairy product at Meryl Streep in that moment, I wouldn’t even care that it made no sense story-wise.

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Celeste’s time up on the stand is particularly gut wrenching. Mary Louise’s lawyer (Denis O’Hare) wastes no time getting into the violence surrounding her marriage, her Ambien-fueled car ride, and yes, that dude Joe, who we (including the judge and the rest of the Monterey Five sitting in the courtroom) find out is just one of many men Celeste has been hooking up with either in bars or in her home because YES MARY LOUISE HAS BEEN HAVING HER FOLLOWED. Hurl! That! Ice cream!

We hardly have time to get into Celeste admitting to some self-destructive behaviors that she wants to make clear have nothing to do with her ability to parent before Mr. Garber goes for the jugular — he asks about Perry’s (Alexander Skarsgård) death. He even has a cute video simulation proving that Perry must have been pushed in order to die the way he did. And guess who is in the back of the courtroom watching this all go down? Detective Quinlan (Merrin Dungey). Does this woman do anything but show up places she’s not wanted, make things awkward, and menacingly squint at the Monterey Five? Like, what is her self-care routine? Detective Quinlan, you deserve a face mask every once in a while, OK? Take a break!

So, no, Celeste’s time up on the stand does not go well. The second time around, Celeste gets to explain that she’s seeking help, that she knows she’s being reckless, that she’s been sleeping with men in order to push Perry out of her life (hi, I’m not a lawyer but that’s probably not the best turn of phrase to use here), and that she stayed with Perry for so long because she had to in order to survive. She comes out looking a little bit better, but that’s relative to the trainwreck that the morning was. So when the judge is ready to make her decision — one that looks like it may not go Celeste’s way — Celeste stops her. If they’re deciding where it’s best for the boys to live, shouldn’t Mary Louise be questioned too? Honestly, I can’t believe Celeste is the only one who thought of that, but the answer is yes, of course. What makes it more complicated is that Celeste says she wants to be the one to question her mother-in-law. Get your popcorn ready because this is a real matchup, folks.

Nicole Kidman and Poorna Jagannathan, Big Little Lies

As excited as I am to see Celeste and Mary Louise face off (Maybe too excited? Probably too excited), Celeste’s time in court is heartbreaking to sit through, and that fits in with the overall theme of the episode. True story: I finished watching this episode and then googled the Whitney Houston’s “Heartbreak Hotel” video because 1) I had heartbreak on the brain and 2) she wears a fabulous white coat on the beach which is a power move because you know it’ll take forever to get all the sand off of it. Anyway, it’s not just Celeste who is suffering some major heartache this week.

At this point, Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley) should legally change her name to Poor Jane Chapman because honestly you guys, Poor Jane Chapman! The good news is that Corey (Douglas Smith) is not a cop, nor is he turning Jane in. The bad news is that Quinlan called him in for questioning. Thankfully, he doesn’t know anything, but he does inform Jane that Quinlan knows all about her history with Perry and is sure that she’ll get one of the five women to crack — the first one to confess the truth will get a deal; the other four will not be so lucky. Corey’s all very innocent in this, but it reinforces Jane’s belief that she isn’t ready to trust anyone, so she cuts him off. I am all for Corey trying to win her back — those two kids deserve love! — but I am not for Corey randomly showing up to places where he knows Jane will be with her son and saying things like “I’m not walking away!” Who does he think he is? Detective Quinlan?

Here’s hoping they work things out by the end of the season. Or at the very least, here’s hoping Jane moves. After that blowup with Mary Louise, I can’t believe she hasn’t at least thought about leaving Monterey for good. Of all the tough things to watch scenes in this episode — in this season — Jane showing up at Mary Louise’s door and yelling at her for trying to destroy Celeste’s life tops the list. Is there anything more upsetting than Mary Louise once again asking Jane if she’s lying about everything and then shutting the door in Jane’s face as Jane yells about how hard Ziggy’s (Iain Armitage) life will be? Yes, the answer is yes: Mary Louise’s reaction to Jane screaming at the door is simply to stand there and take a deep breath. It chilled me to my core, people!

Giving that scene a run for its money, though, is Bonnie’s (Zoë Kravitz) big confession to her mother. Bonnie’s been on a slow path to falling apart all season, but I fear we’ve reached the tipping point. The news Jane brings them from Corey’s questioning certainly doesn’t help — nor does watching Celeste get pummeled in court over Perry’s death (those fantasy sequences in which Bonnie stands up and confesses were a little too real, ya know?). She’s spending all of her time at her mother’s bedside, or the courthouse, or in secret meetings on the beach where people tell her that they are “tired of taking care of [her] f—ing feelings,” none of which seems particularly healthy. Why her father (Martin Donovan) isn’t more concerned when she asks the doctor if they can kill her mother because she doesn’t want to live like this, one will never know. Perhaps not all Monterey mysteries are meant to be solved.

All of this leads to Bonnie writing out a very full, emotional confession in her journal (Writing this down is a mistake! Abort! Abort!) and reading it to her mother, who is still mostly unresponsive at this point. She finally says everything she’s ever wanted to: that she resents Elizabeth (Crystal Fox) for, well, everything. For her terrible childhood, for physical and emotional abuse, for making her feel so bad about herself that she ended up marrying a guy she doesn’t love (!!), and finally for being the reason she snapped and killed a man. She leaves it all there in the hospital room and we see a supposedly unconscious Elizabeth silently cry as she takes it all in. So who knows what Bonnie’s going to do next, but she seems poised to burn everything down to the ground.

Laura Dern and Reese Witherspoon, <em>Big Little Lies</em>Laura Dern and Reese Witherspoon, Big Little Lies

If you were already having a super uplifting time, we haven’t even gotten to Renata (Laura Dern) and Madeline (Witherspoon). Renata discovers, in front of a very large crowd gathered for her bankruptcy hearing, that not only did Gordon (Jeffrey Nordling) lose all of her money, but he was also sleeping with Amabella’s (Ivy George) beloved nanny. How many times can Renata use the f-word in one raging monologue? The answer is a lot. Like, so, so many times. But hey, Renata’s always going to Renata, and if anyone is going to “rise up” after such a spectacular fall, it’s this broad.

Though it’s really not saying much, Madeline gets the most optimistic storyline of the episode. Sure, Ed (Adam Scott) is having coffee with Tori New Boobs (Sarah Sokolovic) and we have to listen to her talk about her “masturbation diary,” which, like, I need something stronger than a latte in order to hear any of those words, but in the end Ed doesn’t seem super gung-ho about acting on Tori New Boobs’s proposition to get back at both of their cheating spouses. There’s no way this storyline will end here — especially since there were lots of Monterey eyes peeping these two together — but it does seem like Ed is fighting, a little bit more than he was, for his marriage.

Madeline wants to tell Ed the truth about Perry and what she’s been keeping from him all this time in order to get a true fresh, trustworthy start on their relationship, and it almost seems like she will, until Renata talks her off the ledge (a true get-a-grip friend if there ever was one). So, for now, that lie remains an obstacle between Madeline and Ed. There is still hope though: Ed catches Madeline wearing her wedding dress and dancing around to their song in their bedroom and she explains that she just wanted to remember who that woman was — the one who was so sure she’d be a great wife. And she wanted to listen to their song because it always makes her dance. I will have you know, reader, that Ed Mackenzie actually smiles at his wife. Yes, our Ed! There’s no easy fix to their problems, but he tells Madeline that this was a step in the right direction. So that’s nice.

Don’t get used to it, though. I’m sure everything will come crashing down next week. Monterey is far too beautiful a place for everyone to get a happy ending.

Big Little Lies airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO. Need HBO? Add it through Hulu or through Amazon.

Previously on Big Little Lies
Season 2, Episode 1 Recap: “What Have They Done?”
Season 2, Episode 2 Recap: “Tell-Tale Hearts”
Season 2, Episode 3 Recap: “The End of the World”
Season 2, Episode 4 Recap: “She Knows”
Season 2, Episode 5 Recap: “Kill Me”

Source : TVGuide