Big Little Lies Season Finale HBO Jane Madeline

Big Little Lies Finale Recap: Don't Be Cruel — Plus: Grade It!

Whew… anyone else need a couple of Otter Bay cocktails after that?

Sunday’s marvelously tense, emotionally draining season finale of Big Little Lies answered just about all of our burning questions — and served as a damn fine episode of TV to boot. Before you rush down to vote in our poll (and give the finale an “A,” obviously), let’s dig into the highlights.

We open with yet another instance of vicious domestic abuse at the hands of Perry, with Celeste lying on the floor gasping for air. Perry insists she “just got the wind knocked out of her,” and assures the boys she’s fine. But the way Celeste cowers away from him, meekly holding her hand up in surrender and flinching when he touches her, is flat-out heartbreaking. (Reese was my early Emmy favorite, but Nicole Kidman is really making a late push, isn’t she?)

RELATED Big Little Lies: Will There Be a Season 2?

A few other men here aren’t exactly saints, either. When Madeline spots Joseph’s wife Tori stalking her, she runs to tell him about it. But he responds by bluntly offering to have sex with her again, and when she refuses, he calls her a “rich bitch” and orders her out. Then Renata’s husband Gordon corners Jane at the coffee shop and threatens her with a restraining order if she ever comes near Renata again. But hey, the barista Tom steps up and kicks Gordon out — and even asks Jane out! (No, he’s not gay, despite what Madeline said.) We’ve got a good one!Big Little Lies Season Finale HBO Ziggy Jane

We also get our first burning question answered when Ziggy claims to be too sick to go to school. Jane thinks it’s because no one at school wants to play with him, but he says he has lots of friends… including Amabella. (“She likes Star Wars, too.”) Jane’s confused: So Amabella doesn’t think Ziggy’s hurting her anymore? No, Ziggy says, and he knows who the real culprit is. He swore to Amabella he wouldn’t say, but Jane talks him into pointing out the abuser on a school photo. He points to… Celeste’s son Max. Hmmm, the woman-beating apple don’t fall far from the tree, do it?

Jane breaks the news to Celeste, though she admits Ziggy might be lying: “Violence could be in his DNA, given who his dad is.” (Oof, that one hits Celeste hard.) Jane reassures her that it’s just childhood bullying, and Max will grow out of it. “Sometimes they don’t,” Celeste replies coldly. She goes home and hugs Max tightly, encouraging him to tell the truth about what happened at school: “We all do bad things sometimes.” The kid weeps in her arms. So that’s one mystery solved.

Then we arrive at the lavish “Elvis & Audrey” fundraiser — aka the moment we’ve been waiting all season long for. And it doesn’t disappoint: The sense of slowly building tension is incredible as the moms and dads arrive, decked out in costume. Madeline and a clean-shaven Ed have an awkward run-in with Joseph and Tori… and Ed definitely notices. And Jane (who looks great as Breakfast at Tiffany’s-era Audrey) brings Tom as her date! But as Celeste and Perry prepare to leave home, he hands Celeste her phone and says she has a message from Tracey, the property manager at her new apartment. She freezes in fear. He knows, basically.

On the drive over, Perry presses her about the apartment, and she admits she’s leaving him. When they arrive at the party, Perry aggressively drives past the valet and parks the car himself, locking Celeste inside with him. He tells her she can’t do this: “You have to think about the boys.” She tells him Max is the one hurting Amabella, and twists the knife by saying it’s no wonder: “They know what their father does to their mother.” Perry breaks down in tears, insisting he’ll change and asking for her help in getting rid of “these f–king demons in here.” But she’s made up her mind: “I should’ve left you a long time ago.” A knock on the car window from Renata gives Celeste a chance to escape.

Big Little Lies Season Finale HBO BonnieInside the party, Bonnie is singing — beautifully, of course — and an increasingly drunk Madeline snipes: “I’m sure the room is full of erections.” A mesmerized Ed replies: “Yeah.” (!) He follows Bonnie on stage and, after a sip of his triple vodka rocks to steady his nerves, sings “The Wonder of You.” And he’s really good! It’s a sweet love song, and the look on Madeline’s face as she watches him — a mix of long-dormant affection and overwhelming guilt — is fascinating. (Bravo, Reese.) She runs off in tears, and confesses to Jane that she cheated on Ed: “He’s the greatest man I’ve ever known. I feel like a selfish f–k.”

Meanwhile, Celeste finally enters the party, with Perry following behind. He spots her talking to Renata, and though she’s just telling Renata about Max and Amabella, Perry doesn’t believe her and firmly asks her to come back with him to the car. Celeste refuses, and walks away. She calls the babysitter and tells her to get the boys out of the house, and when Perry confronts her again, she slaps him away — as Bonnie watches from afar.

Renata finds Madeline and Jane, and apologizes to Jane for accusing Ziggy. Jane accepts her apology, and even Madeline softens a little towards Renata: “It takes a really big person to apologize like that.” Now Celeste joins them… and Perry’s right behind her, having downed a tall glass of Scotch. He asks Celeste again to come back to the car, and when Renata tries to step in, he gets nasty: “I’m talking to my wife, not you.” Then Jane’s eyes go wide, and she shudders with a sudden realization: Perry is the guy who raped her. We flash back to that scene of her on the beach, and we see Perry is the guy she was running after.

Big Little Lies FinaleMadeline sees the look of horror on Jane’s face, and Celeste sees it, too. Then Perry lunges at Celeste, and… police lights. We flash forward to the aftermath, with cops and firemen everywhere and detectives standing over Perry’s dead body. He’s lying halfway down a flight of stairs, his throat impaled by some object. The women all tell the cops Perry was beating Celeste and then he fell, but the main investigator (the one with the clicking lighter) isn’t buying that it was an accident. She thinks he was pushed.

As we see shots of Perry’s funeral and the women enjoying a peaceful day at the beach together with their kids, we see what really happened: Perry grabbed Celeste and started beating her, pushing the other women off of him. With Celeste on the ground, he kept kicking her… until Bonnie ran in and shoved him down the stairs to his (accidental) death. In the aftermath, Bonnie and Madeline share an intimate embrace, their petty differences finally behind them. These women spent all season fighting each other — but when they joined forces, they were able to slay a monster.

Big Little Tidbits:

* Bonnie, Ed, Nathan… so is everyone in Monterey just an amazing singer, or what? I suspect at least some of that singing was dubbed; in the credits, there are three names listed as “Trivia Night Vocalists.” But I could also see that being Zoe Kravitz’s real voice. She is Lenny’s daughter, after all.

* A great little character moment came when Perry entered the party and two of the moms fawned all over him, not wanting him to leave. (Hey, they don’t know he’s a savage wife-beater. He’s hot!) Then after Perry walked away, one of the women turned to Gordon, disappointed: “Gordon, how are you?” Ha!

* So Madeline never told Ed about her affair, huh? It seemed like maybe he knew already, or at least suspected. And the truth would come out eventually… like the next time Madeline “mis-drank.”

* I liked the epilogue, even though we heard virtually no dialogue from the women after Perry’s death. (Jean-Marc Vallée’s artful direction filled in the gaps beautifully.) But I do have to question one thing about that happy ending with all five women together on the beach: So Amabella is OK hanging out with Max, the boy who abused her? I guess his father’s death made his violent tendencies magically disappear?

* And I have to agree with my esteemed colleague Michael Ausiello: We need a Season 2. I know, I know, it’s based on a book, and they covered the entire plot in one season. But wouldn’t you love to see how Celeste moves on after Perry? How Madeline and Ed work things out? How long these women can remain friends before things go south again? I’m sure if Reese and Nicole wanted a Season 2 to happen, it would happen. So get to work, ladies — please.

But what did you think? Vote in our two polls — one on the finale, the other on the season as a whole — then hit the comments to share your thoughts.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. It was an amazing run. Yes, I want a S2, but I also appreciate it for what it is: an inside look at the complexities of being a mother. And really, it was ALL about the mothers.

  2. GabeBabe says:

    Loved it. Excellently directed and acted story. They managed it all with minimal dialogue, which I think definitely ended up enhancing the emotions of everything happening. WONDERFUL series and season 2 or not, I’m sure it will be fondly remembered.

    However, one question. THAT CLOSING SHOT. Was someone watching them from afar? Stalker, that detective lady, someone??? For a show as meticulously directed as this one, I have to assume ending with the binocular effect was intentional… But to what end?

    • Jackie says:

      It was the detective….you could hear the lighter clicking. She is waiting for one of them to trip up, she doesn’t believe it was an accident.

    • Hill says:

      I think they left a tiny crack in the door for a second season because I’m the book there’s more resolution in terms of Bonnie’s involvement.

      • Sue says:

        When I watched the scene, Bonnie watching Perry pull Celeste and her push him away, I said to my husband, Bonnie had an experience in her past with domestic violence. That’s all that’s needed, her face changed and she followed them. This series was perfect imho and I hope no season 2.

        • Sue says:

          Wait, my only question, was there something in 2 or 3 looks between Ed and Abigail? Hope not

          • Lena says:

            I also felt some weird chemistry between Ed and Abigail. Some of the looks he gave her was down right creepy.
            Did anyone find it hard to believe that Renata would self park and not use the valet? I thought it was a random woman who knocked on Perry’s car window.

  3. GuessWhat says:

    loved it — great acting, storytelling, music, etc.

  4. TJ says:

    READ THE BOOK! The book is so much better. Sorry but I hate how they made this darker than it needed to be and added more drama to a story that already had enough drama in it. I will agree the actors were great.

  5. Sylvia says:

    Loved the 7 episodes and the Finale!!! Bravon ladies! You were all awesome!

  6. Jackie says:

    Fantastic end episode! Even though I suspected most of what happened I was still on the edge of my seat. While this story (book) is wrapped up, I think they totally could have a season two, if all were willing. But I’m also happy leaving it as is. Interestingly, the description for the episode on charter spectrum cable called this season 1 finale, not series finale. Hmmmmmm…….

  7. Paige says:

    Do we know if Perry recognized Jane?

  8. Zane McGuire says:

    It absolutely DOES NOT need a second season. One of the appeals of this show was that we were promised (and got) a solid, single season story. That’s a beautiful thing. Don’t ruin beautiful things.

    Just like a good book, if it left you wanting more, mission accomplished. That’s why we have imaginations.

    • Kathy Hobbs says:


    • Sue says:

      You summed it up perfectly. . . Don’t mess with perfection. Celeste will help Jane and Ziggy financially, Madeline and Ed will work things out, Renata and Bonnie will be closer/the tragedy will solidify the 5 women. And the adorable kids will be friends at the amazing public school that’s like a private school. Celeste will have her amazing therapist recommend a child psychologist for Max and Josh. Can anyone tell, I was consumed with the series, I’ll probably cry Sunday night.

  9. T.W.S.S. says:

    No, no season two. A show either dies a hero or lives long enough to become a villain. These seven episodes were perfect. Let’s leave it at that.

  10. Lani says:

    No way was that actually Adam Scott singing, right?

  11. Koyon says:

    Is it me or is this mature version of Pretty Little Liars? I’m like who would be Alison, Emily, Aria, Hannah and Spencer?

    • Mag says:

      I thought the same! I think…
      Alison = Madeline
      Emily = Jane
      Aria = Bonnie
      Hannah = Celeste
      Spencer = Renata

      • Koyon says:


        We agree on Spence lol. She’s the easiest ones. I thought Ally would be Celeste, Hannah would be Madeline, Emily would be Bonnie and Aria as Jane.

  12. Ana says:

    This is what all TV should aspire to be. Masterclass performances from all involved. There is no need for a second season, this is the story that the book told and there is no need to expand on it.

  13. Tip says:

    So Ziggy & the twins are half brothers.

  14. Greg says:

    Amazing show, very powerful. My only issue is I wish we got a little more context to why they had to lie in the end. It was self defence, he was hitting all of them so I don’t know why they really needed to lie.

    • Jim says:

      Image. C’mon. The whole show should have made that clear, how much they all value it. If they were having an argument and he stepped backwards and fell, that’s embarrassing, but much less embarrassing than the truth that he was a wife beater and rapist who was physically attacking them. It’s the difference between Celeste being a social pariah in Monterrey forever, or not.

    • Donna2712 says:

      Actually by Bonnie rushing in and pushing him (having not been involved in the incident directly) she could be charged with second degree murder. They were protecting Bonnie which is why they all lied and said he tripped.

      • liame says:

        Not likely, he was kicking the crap out of Celeste while she’s on the ground, which Bonnie witnessed and for some reason I couldn’t understand, the other 3 women were trying to stop him, but couldn’t???

      • rowan77 says:

        That’s manslaighter at best. It doesn’t matter if she wasn’t involved directly, as long as she was protecing Celeste, which she was since he kept kicking her, hard.

    • Danielle says:

      That’s addressed in the book. Bonnie has a backstory of being a victim of domestic abuse as a kid and it triggered her. The ladies all lie to protect her. In the book Nathan and Ed are there too. There’s also another fight between two of the dads over Renata’s nanny.

      • Paige says:

        I thought the actress playing Bonnie did an amazing job non-verbally telling us this part of her story. The way she watched Celeste and later Perry. At one point in the finale you see her bring her hands up to her throat as if she is thinking about her own experience with abuse.

  15. Nellbelle says:

    Enjoyed the series immensely and I hope for a season 2 I’m curious about the relationship with Ziggy and Perry’s 2 sons, I believe they are half brothers?

  16. Maryrose Duffy says:

    I liked it. Yesss! second season plz..I feel some stuff unsaid much to do with these characters

  17. Amanda says:

    Great but we loved a season 2.

  18. Ignacio says:

    Oh god I fell in love with this series, season 2 is mandatory!

  19. Pamela R. Brown says:

    Would have loved a two hour finale especially lingering on Perry getting plumeted! Thought the acting was excellent. I know the entire book was depicted in the series but would love a follow up.

    Pamela R. Brown 62, Sun City Hilton Head SC

  20. Debby fisher says:

    A truly gripping series. By The final show I had already figured out Oerry was Janes rapist. Did expect the Bonnie pushing Perry down the stairs. That was genius. Loved the show.

  21. OMG, We need more!! We need a season 2, a season 3, more!!! This is the quality TV we need these days!!! AMAZING FINALE!!! AMAZING PERFORMANCES!!! Women sticking together and Women supporting women! We need more shows like this! Thank you Big Little Lies! Best thing of 2017 so far!! Please Reese and Nicole, we want a Season 2!!! Work on this girls!! In fact, Reese said in her facebook that a Season 2 was in the talks, so i will be praying for more!!

    Also, Just give everyone an Emmy!!!

  22. Also, the finale was trending all night!!! Come on HBO, Reese and Nicole, we need a Season 2!!!!

  23. Sandra Santilli says:

    Another smash hit for HBO. They always knock it out of the park. It will be a loss if if Reece and Nicole do not bring it back for another season. Please bring it on!!

  24. Cynthia says:

    All of the ladies were out of this world, but Nicole Kidman… perfection! Alexander Sarsgaard was so chilling and did a difficult job of being the abuser.
    Kudos to the writers, directors and on down the line. Outstanding

  25. Red Snapper says:

    I thought it was very well done. I gave both an A. I read the book and thought overall they did a great job adapting it. I get why they made the changes they did. However, I wish they had gone into why Bonnie pushed him and some more detail into the aftermath. I do hope there is a second season but I don’t see how they could get that cast together again. They are all so busy. Maybe in a couple years? Though, If there isn’t another season I’m satisfied with the ending.

  26. Rebecca Langston says:

    I rarely watch TV because as a working mother of five, I simply don’t have the time. But, when I saw the cast in a publication, I sought the show out. I recorded the series to watch at times convenient for me. It was amazing. I found myself counting down the days until the next episode. I would absolutely love to see a season two that shows what happens next. It was a great ending that brought everything together , but there are still questions that need answering .

  27. The idea of exploring further into these beloved characters of course is very welcoming. But I think Big Little Lies is already great as it is sans the second season.

    Besides, HBO is getting ready to serve us with another delight from Jean-Marc Vallee; an 8 episodes adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects with Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson. Can’t wait!

  28. rowan77 says:

    I think the take-away with Max and Amabella is that Celeste is getting him help for his bullying and anger behavior. She said to him she would help him, so likely that’s what’s happening. Also, since he no longer has a parent modeling abusive behavior, and his mother is in therapy herself, he’s likely behaving better.

    Ed clearly has put two and two together, but being Ed he’s passive aggressive (and a little creepy which I like that they have in there, so he’s not a one-dimensional good-guy whose out of the loop) and he may not address it directly.

    I liked the ending with all of the women banding together when it counted, instead of infighting, but without any folllow-up with Bonnie (who is the most centered and least machevellian of the crowd) as to her actions Perry’s death, I felt a little like a ball was dropped. It was terrific right up until that point, then a tiny letdown storytelling-wise. But to go that far in the show with such a small hiccup is amazing.

    • varshaben says:

      Well stated. I really like your comment about Ed, that was the one part I was wondering about. Following the inference strategy of storytelling- I think that a victim of abuse knows one when she sees one and that is what happened with Bonnie, hence she was drawn to help Celeste (even while her husband was on stage).

  29. Cate says:

    As to the point about Amabella and Max, whe. You are dealing with children of, what 6? it isn’t abuse, it is bullying behaviour. but clearly knowing Max’s exposure to violence at home, thanks to Perry, it is something that can be rectified.

  30. Annie heeney says:

    I was hooked on this show and so was my husband he couldn’t wait for Sunday nights we actually watched it twice was so good….. I need more otter bay

  31. varshaben says:

    1. Quite while you’re ahead- One season only. Allow us to discuss and infer the rest of the story. Nothing can follow this season with such verve.

    2. In regards to Domestic Violence, a mandated reporter, which the therapist is, is required to file a report to Children’s Services (can be based on suspicion alone) for the exact reasons witnessed, if no intervention is made the kids are next and trauma is already occurring.

    3. I LOVED this series. Thank you everyone for shining light on how pervasive and secretive family trauma can truly be. It was amazing!

  32. Lucy Garcia says:

    The best show hands down in a long time. I was riveted. Absolutely love the who dun it type of movies and this one did not disappoint. I must say, for the first time in a long time, I did NOT guess who got killed or who did the killing. Never in a million years would I have guessed Bonnie. But then a real pro sleuth would have known it would be the one less likely. Oh well. Thanks for a fantastic show with the perfect cast. I don’t need a Season 2 but wouldn’t be opposed.

  33. Anne Theresa Smith says:

    Delighted to see Perry get his cumuppence. He was brutal. Think Cileste was very lucky that he didn’t murder her. I think she should have left him much sooner as should any woman or man suffering domestic violence and she should have confided in her friends.

  34. L Bolton says:

    Please have a season 2!