HBO’s Big Little Lies season two premiere, “What Have They Done?,” has a lot of flashy moments bound for meme infamy. Meryl Streep’s guttural scream, for one, will likely never disappear from our national consciousness. Screenshots of “I find little people to be untrustworthy” and “You’re a snide fuck” will be surreptitiously deployed in shady group chats for the rest of time. People are going to wear Laura Dern’s sparkle gown for Halloween.
However, one deceptively subtle encounter may be the premiere’s most Monterey-shattering moment. At least for one miss Madeline Martha McKenzie (executive producer Reese Witherspoon). That’s why it’s time to talk about the breast augmentation conversation.
Long before Ed Mackenzie (Adam Scott), Madeline's second husband, is called a “snide fuck” by her ex, Nathan Carlson (James Tupper), he's minding his own business in the grocery store. Amidst the cauliflower and watermelons, he accidentally bumps his cart into a woman. “Tori?,” he asks, slowly realising he recognises the woman in front of him. She is Tori Bachman (Sarah Sokolovic) and she immediately announces she had her breasts “done.” Why? Because she was always self-conscious about her… nose. “Now nobody notices it so much. Everybody notices these though,” she says, pointing to her breasts. “And that pisses Joseph off.”
That last line sounds like a throwaway line about yet another Big Little Lies woman rebelling against a dissatisfying husband. But, it’s not. The Joseph Tori is referring to is Joseph Bachman (Santiago Cabrera), the theatre director Madeline was sleeping with last season (they officially, angrily broke it off by the finale). Ed is talking to the other victim in Madeline’s little love square — a love square he knows nothing about.
Unfortunately for Madeline, “What Have They Done” suggests her secret isn’t going to stay hidden forever. When Tori walks away from Ed, she stops and stares at him with a look of irritation and pity. In season one, Tori suspected her husband was cheating on her with Madeline. At this point, it’s possible she knows cold hard facts about the affair. Remember, an entire summer has gone by between the season one finale, “You Get What You Need,” and the events of the season two premiere.
It’s possible Tori will finally outs Madeline and Joseph’s indiscretion this time around. She certainly looks like she wants to pull Ed into infidelity drama in the grocery store. After all, Big Little Lies quietly began planting the seeds of Tory’s fixated rage with “What You Need.” If you watch the episode carefully, you’ll notice the camera turns to Tori repeatedly at integral moments in the episode. Madeline runs away after Ed’s amazing “Wonder of You” fundraiser performance. At that exact moment, Joseph tells his wife he’s going to the “restroom.” Tori looks extremely suspicious of the coincidence. When Celeste Wright (Nicole Kidman) enters the party minutes later in a visibly erratic state, Tori also looks directly at her.
What if Tori got up to check on her husband — or poor, terrified-looking Celeste — and happened to see Bonnie Carlson (Zoë Kravitz) push Perry Wright (Alexander Skarsgård) down the stairs instead? What if she wants to use that knowledge to blackmail Madeline into revealing her past cheating to Ed — or much worse?
As we see at the beginning of “What Have They Done,” memories of Madeline's cheating past are keeping her up at night. Initially, Madeline's anxiety over the affair — as opposed to the crime she’s covering up — seems to be short-sighted. But, with Tori serving up dubious looks at the local Trader Joe’s, Madeline’s newfound insomnia is very, very appropriate. As Whoopi Goldberg once said, “You in danger, girl.”
Big Little Lies season 2 airs on Sky Atlantic and Now TV on Mondays at 10pm