Warning: This post contains spoilers for HBO’s Big Little Lies.
We finally know whose death Big Little Lies has been leading up to for the past seven weeks. In the penultimate scene of the season (?) finale, Perry is fatally pushed down a flight of concrete stairs at the school’s trivia night fundraiser. It’s a chaotic scene in which his violence against women reaches peak levels and, in an unexpected show of unity, Madeline, Celeste, Jane, Bonnie, and Renata band together to ward off a common foe. The scene is an interesting metaphor for the current state of women in this country, down to the specific details.
Celeste, Madeline, Jane, and Renata are congregating on a secluded terrace outside of trivia night when Perry confronts them, demanding that Celeste leave with him. Celeste refuses — after finding out that one of her boys has been bullying Amabella all along, she’s finally decided to leave Perry. When he appears, Jane, who hasn’t met Celeste’s husband before tonight, has a visceral reaction that lets everyone know Perry is her rapist — and Ziggy's dad. Once Perry himself puts all the pieces together, he charges at Celeste. Madeline, Renata, and Jane all try to stop him but he is in full Hulk-mode, knocking them all away. Having witnessed Celeste trying to escape from Perry earlier in the night, Bonnie followed the couple to the terrace and has been watching the entire ordeal unfold from a distance. When Perry goes berserk, it is she who rushes in, and pushes him off of Celeste to his death.
Last week I wrote about Bonnie’s race being ignored on the show, but as a viewer, I can’t help but think about the symbolism of a Black woman witnessing such an injustice and actually doing something about it.
We know that women’s rights are under attack in the United States in the wake of November's election. Calls for women to band together have resulted in the Women’s March, a call for sustained solidarity, and lots of pussy hats. Black women have been side-eyeing these efforts, because while 53% of white women voters led us to this point — and many are still struggling with the concept of intersectionality — 94% of Black women cast our vote for the candidate most aligned with our interests. Just as in Big Little Lies, it was Black women who tried to put in the work to save all of us.
It's worth noting that the conclusion of Big Little Lies imagines the best case scenario for contemporary America. Obviously, the formidable enemy antagonizing women is actually defeated in the show. Furthermore, Bonnie isn’t forced to take the brunt of the fallout, nor is she targeted as a result — a consequence that is typically reserved for Black women. In fact, Bonnie’s white peers actually use their privilege to band together and protect her from prosecution. The show ends with all of the women enjoying a day at the beach with their kids. This is the kind of unity and allyship we need in the real world. I guess the going ons of Monterey are more utopian that I thought.