“It’s getting to you, isn’t it? It’s getting to you,” Bonnie Carlson (Zoe Kravitz) says early in Sunday night’s newest Big Little Lies episode, “The Bad Mother,” the last one before the upcoming season 2 finale. The “it” Bonnie is not-so-subtly referring to is “the lie” — as Bonnie calls it earlier in the season — that Perry Wright (Alexander Skarsgård) fell down the stairs at the Otter Bay fundraiser. The lie that Bonnie didn’t push him down the stairs to save the lives of four women, including Perry’s wife Celeste (Nicole Kidnam).
In the moments directly after Perry’s death, the Monterey Five — Bonnie, Celeste, Madeline Martha Mackenzie (Reese Witherspoon), Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley), and Renata Klein (Laura Dern) — believed lying about the crime would be their best way out of a complicated situation. As season 2 has proven in painstaking detail, they were wrong. Detective Adrienne Quinlan (Merrin Dungey) tracks their every move (does she not have a single other case?). Celeste is dragged into court in a custody battle. Renata’s husband is arrested for various financial crimes.
Increasingly, everyone’s lives are in shambles. And, penultimate season 2 episode “Bad Mother,” unravels all the ways “the lie” is truly breaking Big Little Lies’ leading ladies. That’s what brings about Bonnie’s aforementioned shocked statement. After six episodes of a calm and cool Madeline, she finally seems shaken by the secret they’re all hiding. With just one episode left this year, it seems inevitable someone will spill the truth about Perry’s death in 2019 finale “I Want to Know.” The only question is who.
Let’s go through the Monterey Five to figure out which woman is most likely to break, in order of least likely to most.
Celeste was directly faced with telling the truth in “Bad Mother.” During her examination in family court, lawyer Ira Farber (Denis O'Hare) asks Celeste how Perry fell. She is under oath. He has what appears to be a police-made animated rendering of where a natural fall would have left Perry on the stairs and where a push would leave him. Still, Celeste says, “He lost his balance, and he slipped.”
She kept the lie safe even when it meant definite perjury and the possible loss of her sons. Celeste isn’t telling anyone what happened that night unless Mary Louise Wright (Meryl Streep) casts an truth spell on her.
Odds of spilling the lie: 0:100.
Jane is going through one of Big Little Lies’ most emotional storylines. Her rapist, Perry, may be dead, but she is still finding her way through the trauma of her assault. However, Jane is dealing with the least amount of fallout from the lie specifically. The first time it even touches her is with “Bad Mother,” as she learns her new boyfriend Corey (Douglas Smith) was secretly brought in for police questioning. On top of that, the increasingly paranoid Mary Louise starts asking questions about Jane’s mothering skills.
Yet, neither of these obstacles feel large enough to actually push Jane to betray Bonnie and the rest of her friends. The questioning of Corey poses no real threat to Jane. It seems inevitable they’ll work their relationship out, and he genuinely doesn’t want to push her on her secrets. And, the suspicions of Mary Louise should be more of a nuisance than a legitimate problem for Jane. Mary Louise can’t take everyone to court.
Odds of spilling the lie: 22:1. The only detail Big Little Lies drops that may entice Jane to tell the truth comes from Corey, who tells her the cops are offering a deal. The first Monterey Five woman to come clean “gets a break,” and the remaining four are “fucked.” How much does Jane not want to be in that latter group?
At face value, Bonnie seems to be the member of the Monterey Five most likely to take the police's deal. She spends much of season 2 going on long walks that lead her to the police station. She is so withdrawn that even her emotionally inept husband Nathan (James Tupper) realizes something is wrong. In “Bad Mother,” she writes out a confession and spends most of the episode fantasizing about loudly screaming that confession in public places.
Yet, all of these issues are the result of a guilty conscience. By the end of “Bad Mother,” Bonnie alleviates a lot of that pressure by confessing to her own mother Elizabeth (Crystal Fox), who is the person she is truly upset with. Bonnie uses that bedside unburdening to unload all of the darkness she has held from her childhood abuse and adult trauma.
Afterwards, we see Celeste in court once again. Noticeably Bonnie doesn't spiral into a confession fantasy. Is she finally done blaming herself?
Odds of spilling the lie: 11:1. We still don’t know how much better Bonnie is doing — just that she is, in fact, better.
Renata Klein will not not be rich. Her bankruptcy trial with husband Gordon (Jeffrey Nordling) is only getting worse now that we know he was also sleeping with the nanny (Nelly Buchet) as “stress management.” Now the Kleins owe her an extra $160,000. Renata is enraged and alone, without even a magazine cover to keep her warm. Who’s to say she wouldn’t take a deal to make all of this stop?
Odds of spilling the lie: 6:1, if telling the truth will somehow save her evaporating finances. Otherwise, Renata Klein and her speedy middle finger will never break.
Madeline Martha Mackenzie
It is wildly unlikely Madeline, initially the calmest person about the lie, will ever go to the police. But at this point in Big Little Lies, it seems inevitable she will bare her deepest, darkest secret to husband Ed Mackenzie (Adam Scott). The entire season has been leading up to this twist.
In “Tell-Tale Hearts,” Ed finds out Madeline has been hiding the paternity of Ziggy Chapman (Iain Armitage) for months. Then he finds out Madeline was cheating on him. In the following episodes, he desperately asks her to open up to him and tell him the truth. Madeline tries, but the lie is sitting between them, unbeknownst to Ed. He tells her in “Bad Mother” that he can feel her emotionally “hiding” again after he asks why the Monterey Five had a secret meeting. In that same episode, Tori Bachman (Sarah Sokolovic) propositions Ed.
It is almost impossible Madeline won’t tell Ed what happened in order to save their marriage and keep him from cheating on her. In fact, she raises the possibility to Renata in “Bad Mother,” and her friend smartly explains why that is a terrible idea. Yet, we all know
Madeline Martha Mackenzie loves bad ideas.
Odds of spilling the lie: 2:1. It will be so perfectly Big Little Lies for the lie's architect and smoothest operator to be the one to crack.