Warning: This post contains spoilers for Big Little Lies.
The first season of Big Little Lies was an unconventional murder mystery. We knew that someone died during the Otter Bay Elementary School fundraiser, but we didn’t know who.
Big Little Lies' climactic finale answered all of our questions — though by then, many of us guessed the victim was be Celeste Wright's (Nicole Kidman) abusive husband, Perry (Alexander Skarsgård). The real surprise was the murderer's identity, which we never saw coming.
Time to brush up on your spoilers, because this murderous fundraiser is at the heart of the second season of Big Little Lies, which premieres on June 9 on HBO. If the first season is about how a person is brought to murder, then the second season is about the murder's aftermath. What is the lifespan of a lie?
Picture this: on the night of the Otter Bay Elementary School finale, most parents are wearing Elvis and Audrey Hepburn-themed costumes. Slightly removed from the party, a few dramatic revelations are unfolding for our main characters.
The unraveling begins when Perry tries to fetch Celeste, who is standing with her friends Jane (Shailene Woodley), Madeleine (Reese Witherspoon), and Renata (Laura Dern), and leave the party. Celeste refuses to comply — an important step in her defying his emotionally manipulative behavior. Her friends stand by her.
Then comes the finale's first Big Revelation. In that charged moment, Jane realizes Perry — her friend's husband! — is the man who had raped her years ago. Perry is the father to her son, Ziggy. Madeleine and Celeste make the connection just by looking at Jane's horrified face. So does Perry.
Cornered, Perry begins attacking his wife. Renata, Jane, and Celeste are unable to pull Perry off Celeste. Even though it's four against one, the women are outmatched. Until Bonnie shows up, that is.
The fight ends when Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz), watching the brawl from afar, runs and pushes Perry down the steep staircase. He falls to his death. Ding, ding, ding, we have a hero/murderer: Bonnie.
In the show, Bonnie's motives for killing Perry remain unclear (it's chalked up to helping a friend in need), but her reasons are spelled out in the book. Perry's behavior was particularly triggering to Bonnie because she watched her father abuse her mother growing up. Now, she has PTSD.
Bonnie explains her toxic childhood to Celeste in the book, saying, “When I was growing up I lied all the time. To the police. To social workers. I had to keep big secrets...I remembered the last time I saw my father hit my mother. I was 20. A grown-up. I’d gone home for a visit, and it started. Mum did something. I don’t remember what. She didn’t put enough tomato sauce on his plate. She laughed the wrong way. You know” Bonnie agrees — she intimately knows about living in that kind of environment.
Here's the most important part: when the police investigators question them, the women all have the same story. They each say Perry accidentally fell down the staircase. After a season of bickering and rivalry-mongering, the five women forged a deep understanding and band together. Free from Perry's threat, the women conclude the season with an idyllic, man-free picnic on the beach.
In season 2, the Monterey Five's bond will be tested by the legal system and by Mary Louise (Meryl Streep), Perry's suspicious mother. Alexander karsgård came, he left, he won his Emmys. This will (likely) be a Perry-free season. But Perry's memory will still haunt the women's lives, and potentially their futures.