The time has come: the Big Little Lies finale is here. And the mommies are done lying. Or rather, they're finally owning up to their past lies and ready to move forward. We knew this finale was being teased as a big one after Celeste Wright (Nicole Kidman) dared to call Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) to the stand and question her. Unfortunately, this finale was about as exciting as Renata Klein's (Laura Dern) Starbucks order.
A good finale has closure, but a great finale leaves the viewer with a deeper perspective on the show they've committed to watching for the past two months. Tonight's, "I Want To Know" was barely good. The writers left so many loose threads dangling, leaving me with so many unanswered questions. Yes, it had its moments (Mary Louise's gasp! Celeste's tears! Everything Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz) did!), but that final scene?! That's it! I refuse to accept it. Let's break it down by character because... we probably aren't getting a season 3 and this is legit it.
Is it true that Mary Louise's verbal and emotional abuse was the root of Perry's (Alexander Skarsgard) evil? That's what Celeste implies when she gets her mother-in-law on the stand. Ready for battle, Celeste pulls out the big guns and reveals a secret that Mary Louise has been harbouring for years. Her son, Raymond, was killed in a car accident when Perry was five. She, throughout his childhood, blamed Perry for his brother's death because he distracted her in the car. It's very complicated and very emotional (reaching a jarring climax when Celeste shares a home video of Perry beating her up that her sons secretly recorded), and it gets into the dynamics of growing up in violent home. It's clear that Celeste's biggest concern isn't her own happiness, but that her sons, Max and Josh, grow up to be good men — better men than their father.
In the end, Celeste proves that she can and should keep her boys, and Mary Louise heads back to San Francisco, grandchildren-less. I wonder if the boys will have any residual judgements of their grandma in their adult life knowing that she tried to take them away from their mom and the only home they've known. A lot to unpack with Dr. Amanda Reisman (Robin Weigert) in the next session.
Jane probably had the best ending, as Shailene Woodley teased at the beginning of the season. She gives Corey (Douglas Smith) another chance, and the two finally have sex. It is sweet. And Ziggy (Ian Armitage) is also more in tune with his emotions that I will ever be. I think he'll be a good influence on his brothers.
It's not all smiles though. Jane did have to stomach a particularly gruelling scene in the courtroom when Mary Louise calls Perry the victim of their violent night together. This poor woman has had to talk about the worst night of her life so much this season — I hope she's done for awhile now.
Madeline Martha Mackenzie
Madeline and Ed (Adam Scott) are taking a shot at a new beginning by renewing their vows. They host a private and small Coachella-inspired ceremony in their backyard with Abigail (Kathryn Newton) and Chloe (Darby Camp). Things are magically fine?!
You know that Phantom Thread line, "I cannot begin my day with a confrontation!" Well, Renata Klein would actually love to start her day with a confrontation. Her two big moments are both intense confrontations, one with Mary Louise in a Starbucks and another in Gordon's (Jeffrey Nordling) cursed train room. "Maybe you should have shown a woman a little respect," she snarls at Gordon after smashing his collectable toys to smithereens.
"No more bullshit," she tells him. "No more lies." How Renata has not killed Mary Louise or Gordon is beyond me.
While most of the episode is about Celeste's fight for her kids, it's Bonnie's story with her mom that felt like the real breakthrough of the episode. I hope Kravitz gets nominated for Bonnie's arc this season. Each of the women in the Monterey Five have had their personal lives and marriages crumble in some way, but it's Bonnie who works through decades of trauma and self-loathing in a hospital room, coming to the conclusion that she A. will not kill her mom B. actually does love her mom, despite the years of abuse C. does not love Nathan and never has, and D. will confess to the lie.
The final shot of the season, series, and show, is of the five women meeting up to enter the police station, presumably to support Bonnie as she frees herself from the secret she's been harbouring with them. "The lie is the friendship," Madeline tells Celeste at one point. She's right, but these women are so much more than the lie — they're moms and wives and friends and good and bad and finally, finally ready to, in the words of Hilary Duff, come clean.
But, with all this closure, I do a few lingering questions I'd like to share:
- Is Abigail going to college?
- Has Amabella (Ivy George) gotten over her fear of climate change?
- Is Mary Louise just start driving back to San Francisco literally right from the court room?
- Where is Detective Quinlan?
- Is Perry's dad still alive? Have the boys met their grandfather?
- Will Renata be rich again?
- Can Chloe not be so snoopy?
- Does anyone else in Monterey actually care about the lie?