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Big Little Lies Season 2 Premiere Recap: Monterey's Most Wanted


Welcome back to Monterey! Big Little Lies is back with more impossibly expensive houses and beautiful ocean views… but that picture-perfect setting has some cracks around the edges, too.

Some time has passed since Perry’s fatal “accident,” but the ladies are clearly still haunted by what happened. Celeste wakes up screaming from a Perry-themed nightmare, and is comforted by Perry’s mother Mary Louise (oh hi, Meryl Streep!), who’s staying with Celeste to help with the boys. Mary Louise helps get the boys off to school, but she also asks Celeste: “What was it about? Your nightmare… you said ‘rape.'” (Yikes.) She does break up a fight between the boys on the way to school, though, and sternly instructs them to show their overwhelmed mother some respect.

Big Little Lies Season 2 Premiere Jane Celeste MadelineIt’s the first day of second grade for the kids, and Madeline is her usual tightly wound self: She complains to Ed, “We have to earn our good-mom badges all over again.” She reunites with the other ladies at school… but while they all kiss and hug, the other parents are staring at them. Plus, Bonnie doesn’t seem happy to see them — or happy about anything, really. Nathan tells Madeline she’s been “shut down” for a while now… and we think we know why.

Madeline seems to have shrugged off the tragedy: She’s working as a real estate agent and already back to sniping about Renata. (Boy, the afterglow of sisterhood wore off quick, huh?) But when she runs into Mary Louise, it’s stilted; Madeline asks how she is, and Mary Louise replies, “I can’t complain… Actually, I can. My son is dead.” (!) She bluntly points out that Madeline is “very short… I find little people to be untrustworthy.” (!!) She pegs her as a “wanter,” never content with what she has, and she still wants to know what really happened to her son that night. She’d ask Madeline, she says, but “I doubt I would get the truth, would I?” Whoa. Madeline dutifully repeats that Perry “lost his balance and fell,” for the record.

Big Little Lies Season 2 CelesteCeleste is back seeing her therapist again — the seat next to her is conspicuously empty — and talks about her nightmares, and how she blames herself for “the accident.” If she’d left Perry sooner, or not told him she was leaving him that night, maybe he’d still be alive… and her therapist points out that she’s still beating herself up, even though Perry is gone. She suggests that Celeste go out and see someone new, but Celeste shrugs that off: “That part of me’s still dead, I suppose.” Meanwhile, Bonnie is going off on long runs by herself, trying to outrun her memories of that night… but it’s not working.

Madeline and Nathan meet with Abby’s college counselor, and it quickly goes south when Abby admits she doesn’t even want to go to college. (“The planet is dying, Mom! But God forbid I don’t study Lysistrata?”) That naturally doesn’t compute for Madeline, and she unloads on Nathan, blaming him for essentially condemning their daughter to a life of fast-food service jobs. At her realtor’s office, she bumps into Mary Louise again, who’s looking to rent a place in town so she’s not on top of Celeste and the boys. Mary Louise slyly notes, “I see you’re wearing heels,” but she does apologize for how she spoke to Madeline before. She had a friend back in school, she explains, who was short and who turned out to be “quite treacherous… you remind me so much of her.” Damn, Mary Louise… you’re going to fit right in around here.

Big Little Lies Season 2 JaneAs for Jane, she’s now working at the local aquarium, but she’s stunned when her weird coworker refers to her as one of “the Monterey Five,” like they’re a gang or something. She huddles with the other ladies (minus Bonnie), and Renata assures them the cops don’t have anything on them. But Madeline senses Bonnie is the weak link, and confronts her about her moodiness. Bonnie flatly reminds her: “I killed someone, remember? That’s heavy.” She blames Madeline for cooking up that lie about Perry and making them all stick to it; if she’d just told the truth, she could be free by now. Madeline doesn’t have any more luck with Abby, who says instead of college, she wants to go work for a start-up building housing for the homeless, to which Madeline responds: “I don’t give a f–k! I don’t care about f–king homeless people!” Yup, that’s our Maddy.

Celeste is working through her very complicated feelings about Perry: She still has fond memories of their time together, along with the nightmares. At dinner with Mary Louise, she scolds her sons for fighting, but Mary Louise relates to the anger they’re feeling. She talks about how “amazing” their dad was, and how “unfair” his death was. She admits she’s annoyed that her friends’ “mediocre” sons are still alive, and hers isn’t. She even lets out an anguished, cathartic scream at the dinner table, which rattles Celeste. (“My grief is too loud for you?” Mary Louise chuckles.) In fact, she wonders why Celeste isn’t as angry as she is.

But Celeste’s nightmares won’t go away, and she wakes up from one — with her and her friends in a police lineup, and Perry on the other side of the glass — screaming, “No! I’ll f–king kill you!” Mary Louise rushes in to comfort her, but also asks, “So… who are we planning to kill?”

Big Little Notes:

* Laura Dern’s Renata didn’t have much to do this week besides brag about Amabella’s genius-level IQ and strike power poses during a photo shoot… but, having seen a few episodes ahead, we can assure you there’s something big brewing for her.

* We learned that Celeste has been sending Jane child support money for Ziggy, which Jane rejects as “rape money.” But that’s another ticking time bomb that’s bound to go off soon, right?

* Looks like Detective Quinlan is still reviewing video of the ladies’ testimony from the night of Perry’s death. Maybe the case isn’t as closed as Renata thinks? Bonnie came pretty close to walking into a police station and confessing, too, before stopping herself.

* I like that Ed and Nathan still hate each other’s guts. Nathan asked Ed if he could talk to Bonnie for him, and when Ed hesitated, Nathan called him “a snide f—k.” Guess we shouldn’t expect an all-guys poker night anytime soon.

* Speaking of Ed, he ran into Tori, the wife of that theater director Joe who Madeline slept with, and she happily showed off her new breast implants! She said she got them to distract from her big nose (“Now nobody notices it so much”), and we’re not the only one who sensed some flirting there, right?

* We knew Meryl Streep would be good, of course… but damn, she’s really good here, right?

Alright, it’s your turn: Grade tonight’s premiere in our poll below, and hit the comments to share your thoughts.