The final minutes of Big Little Lies’ newest episode, “Kill Me,” come together as one of the years’ most intense montages. Does Bonnie Carlson (Zoe Kravitz) kill her mom Elizabeth (Crystal Fox)? Does Madeline Martha McKenzie (Reese Witherspoon) really love her husband Ed (Adam Scott)? Is Ed about to cheat on his wife? These are the question rattling around your head as “Kill Me” comes to an end.
Then, one person walks out of the Monterey Bay police station and knocks all those concerns out of your mind: Corey Brockfield (Douglas Smith), new boyfriend to Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley). Sweet, sweet Corey is the last person anyone would expect to see caught up in the murderous intrigue of Big Little Lies, which makes him such a perfect candidate for a surprise betrayal. So, is Corey about to reveal himself as a secret informant to the police on the Monterey Five — thus making him season 2’s ultimate villain?
Let’s look at the evidence.
Before Corey’s stroll out of the Monterey police department — flanked by a uniformed officer no less — there is only one moment that suggests he may be interested in Jane for reasons other than the romantic. It’s during his very first introduction in season 2 premiere, “What Have They Done.” Jane, in one of her first true moments of joy in the series, dances by the water to Sufjan Stevens’ Call Me By Your Name track“Mystery of Love.” Then, Corey approaches her in his wetsuit, clearly about to go surfing.
“A little advice: You probably don’t want to act weird and shit in public,” he says. “The way people talk in this town — I don’t need to tell you … You’re one of the Monterey Five, right?”
It’s a moment that leaves Jane shaken. All of sudden, she’s worried about who’s talking about her history and why. “It was just the way he said [it],” Jane tells the Monterey Five in their usual cloak and dagger car meeting. “Like we all have scarlet letters on our backs.” But, knowing what we know now about Corey’s police-visiting activities, this supposed chance run-in is much more concerning than it originally appears. Monterey is huge. According to Google, it’s over 3,000 square miles in size. How is it, of all the coastline in the world, Corey ends up exactly where Jane is at her most vulnerable? Was Corey, Jane’s new co-worker, sent there to purposefully strike up a relationship of some sort by the police?
It’s not like Detective Quinlan (Merrin Dungey) doesn’t seem to know the Monterey Five’s every movement and habit.
However, if Corey is an informant for Quinlan, he’s genuinely terrible at it. Corey spends most of his first “End of the World” date with Jane talking about the intricacies of raising salmon. When things eventually get real — and Jane nearly gets hit by a bus avoiding Corey’s physical advances — he doesn’t ask why Jane needs to “idle in neutral,” as she says. Instead, Corey immediately responds, “I can do that.” It’s very clear Corey doesn’t need to know anything more than that.
We see this level of understanding again in Jane’s two most emotional scenes of season 2. In last week’s “She Knows,” Jane starts to tell Corey about her obviously painful past. In response, he tells her, “We don’t have to talk about it,” in a very reassuring way. When Jane explains she was raped, and that is how she got her son Ziggy (Iain Armitage), Corey is visibly shocked. Then, in “Kill Me,” Jane begins to sob the moment she tries to get sexual with Corey. He holds her while she cries, remaining quiet and prioritizing supporting Jane over getting to the bottom of her trauma. Later, he plays with Ziggy, acting as a healthy, loving male role model.
It would be unimaginably painful to realize all of this kindness was a trap set by Corey to get her to implicate herself and her friends in the death of Perry Wright (Alexander Skarsgård). So it seems far more likely that Corey either went to the police to talk about Jane’s rape or his visit isn’t connected to her at all. Is it too much to hope Corey may have a family member on the force?
At least Shailene Woodley’s own season 2 comments can give us hope. “I will say that the way Jane’s storyline ends just filled me with a lot of warmth and a lot of hope for the world. And for women and for men who are of any age who are trying to move past trauma in a way that fuels their future with a sense of comfort,” she recently told The Hollywood Reporter.
The idea of Jane's new boyfriend — someone she nearly had sex with — using her and manipulating her is the farthest thing from that very comforting future Woodley promised viewers. So, let’s not turn on Corey just yet.