Two years ago, I reviewed the Big Little Lies finale. The show was intended to be a limited series with no plans for a season two. But of course the dramedy had to go on and win every award in sight, and thus, here we are with a second season.
The most important thing about this premiere is that it doesn’t tarnish the show’s legacy. In fact, it’s very much the world we remember. “The Monterey Five” are at the center of it all as they struggle to hide the truth behind Perry’s death while it rips away at them from the inside. It’s definitely a promising arc for the season, with an increased and very welcome focus on Bonnie – a character who didn’t receive nearly enough backstory last year. It’s a lot of really great material for Zoe Kravitz as Bonnie struggles with her mixed feelings towards the gang and turning herself in to the police. Also, my money is on her being revealed as a victim of abuse (the show somewhat hinted at this before).
As expected, Meryl Streep is quite impressive in her Monterey debut. Her performance as Celeste’s mother-in-law Mary Louise is impeccably bizarre. Perry’s mom is sweet and comforting when the moment calls for it, but also venomous (her various attacks on Madeline), and suspicious (the episode’s cliffhanger). Of course the episode’s highlight is Streep’s harrowing scream over dinner – a moment that’s immediately iconic and meme-worthy. It’s going to be fascinating to watch the show unravel her various layers this season.
Truth be told, I was a bit afraid the show’s visual style would suffer now that director Jean-Marc Valée (who helmed all seven episodes last year) stepped down. Thankfully, Andrea Arnold keeps the show’s signature visual style intact down to the dreamy editing flourishes and ethereal cinematography. There’s nothing on TV quite like this production.
Bits & Lies
- How cool that they’ve integrated Meryl Streep into the credit sequence with her driving? Brilliant touch.
- Notice how the kids are walking towards the camera one by one this year as opposed to the ladies in season one.
- I can’t tell you how pleased I am to see that Celeste’s therapist is still a part of the show. Robin Weigert was very compelling to watch in season one. Interestingly enough, it looks like she doesn’t know the truth about Perry’s death. This should be interesting.
- Nathan asking Ed to take Bonnie out to lunch has to be the most random and awkward request of all time. I’m still not feeling both these characters. Maybe the show will finally give them both proper character arcs this season?
- So Madeline is a real estate agent now (when she’s not on the phone ignoring her clients).
- You can tell Laura Dern had a ball in that photoshoot. Also, her house is still insane (and her husband is a depressed alcoholic).
- Not sure what the show is going for with the suggestion that Detective Quinlan is a lesbian.
- It took me a moment to remember but Tori is the wife of Joseph (the drama teach who Madeline had a fling with). Will she and Ed start an affair?
- It’s a heartbreaking moment when you realize Madeline is only mad at her daughter for not wanting to go to college because she feels she never had a life herself (without an education).
- Of course the show’s soundtrack is as terrific as ever. My favorite songs found below!
- Since Celeste discovered that Perry was Jane’s rapist, she’s been sending video to help raise his son Ziggy. Jane refuses of course because it’s “rape money” but the dynamic between the two women is wonderfully nuanced.
- I hate the show for showing us Perrys’ good side with Celeste flashing back to happier family times with her abusive husband. But that’s real life people.
- One of Celeste’s twins is still violent and it’s very unsettling.
- Celeste’s nightmare consists of Perry identifying the ladies as his killers. It’s appropriately chilling and the cliffhanger is fantastic: a screaming Celeste wakes up from her dream as Mary Louise comforts her only to ask the creepy question “So who are we planing to kill?” How perfect!
The Monterey Grapevine
Madeline: Ed, this is the first day of school. We have to earn our good-mom badges all over again. “Has she gotten fatter over the summer? Does she look older?” These questions get asked, Ed, and we all get judged all over again. It’s a complete double standard ’cause if a dad shows up, they’re like, “Wow, there’s a dad here. He’s involved.
Madeline: I’ll take one for each thigh. I don’t even like to chew. I just shove ’em down. Maybe you can give one to Warren so he can shove it too.
Madeline: How are you?
Mary Louise: Good, good. The kids are good. I can’t complain. Actually, I can. My son is dead.
Madeline: But Celeste tells me that you continue to be so helpful with her and the boys.
Mary Louise: She should just get a proper housekeeper. You’re very short.
Madeline: Excuse me?
Mary Louise: I don’t mean it in a negative way.
Mary Louise: Maybe I do. I find little people to be untrustworthy.
Madeline: Mary Louise, I realize that you’re still grieving, and that you’ve been through a tremendous amount of heartbreak, but I don’t care for the way you spoke to me before. It was rude, and I didn’t deserve it.
Mary Louise: No, you didn’t. Um, I apologize.
Madeline: Well, thank you.
Mary Louise: The truth is, it had nothing to do with you.When I was in boarding school, I had I had a best friend, or so I thought, who revealed herself to be quite treacherous, and, uh, caused me a lot of pain. So she was just an itty-bitty little thing with a big, bubbly personality that, um was designed to hide that she was utterly vapid inside. You remind me so much of her that I suppose I punish you for that. That’s wrong of me, and I apologize.
Madeline: I don’t care about fucking homeless people.
A skillfully-written premiere that sets the stage for an engrossing season. I’m definitely optimistic.