Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 1 Review: What Have They Done?

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So, is Mary Louise Wright under the same spell that has befallen Celeste when it comes to her son, or did she really have no inkling of his nastier side?

On Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 1, the grieving mother of Perry is living with Celeste and the boys under the guise of being helpful, but it sure seems like she wants to catch the women in a lie about the night her son died.

And who can blame her, as it's revealed that instead of telling the truth, the women made up an impossible lie that suggested Perry slipped and fell during a confrontation in which he was beating Celeste.

Four Monterey Friends - Big Little Lies

There couldn't have been a Big Little Lies Season 2 if the group wasn't going to be taken to the mat over what they did to Perry, so it's unsurprising that they covered the truth with another lie.

After all, the title of the show reveals the women don't know how to tell themselves the truth.

Bonnie is a Mess - Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 1

They're embroiled in a lie that would have very likely not been necessary given the weight of the situation they encountered at the fundraiser. But Bonnie reveals that while she was going to tell the truth, Madeline said Perry slipped. To protect Bonnie.

Except Bonnie is a damn mess because she can't come to terms with what she did. It's a secret driving a wedge between her and the family she loves.

Meryl Streep's Inspired Addition Heightens Big Little Lies Season 2

If they'd told the truth, at least Bonnie could talk about it to the people she needs to lean on for support. She doesn't feel supported by the other four. 

With Madeline a powerhouse real estate mogul and Renatta enjoying her time in the spotlight for the Women in Power article, Bonnie's not high on their lists.

Jane at the Beach - Big Little Lies

Jane is trying to move on with her life, as it had been in full stop mode since she conceived Ziggy.

She's happy to be free of the weight that was her rapist and Ziggy's father. She's not even accepting money from Perry's estate that was earmarked for Ziggy.

Jane: Do you ever hate me? Just a little bit?
Celeste: How could I hate you?
Jane: Because I slept with your husband. I mean I didn't...
Celeste: He raped you.
Jane: But I knew he was married. I didn't know he was married to YOU, but I knew he was married to somebody.

Jane was so matter of fact when she spoke with Celeste about how she'd feel if she were Celeste, and that highlights the lies Celeste is still telling herself.

She's blaming herself for Perry's death because if she had broken up with him sooner, he wouldn't have been at the fundraiser. It's so easy to tell yourself garbage to pile all of the blame for an unfortunate incident onto yourself, and Celeste excels at it.

Celeste is Troubled - Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 1

If she can't address Jane's part in Perry's infidelity when Jane holds offers it without fear as a token to Celeste, then how can she ever come to grips with the truths about herself when it comes to loving Perry in spite of his brutal behavior?

Celeste is recalling only the good times when she's awake, but in her dreams, she's confronting the monster who was her husband.

Meryl Streep Joined Big Little Lies Without Reading the Scripts

Doing it in front of her mother-in-law can't possibly have a good outcome for her. She stayed with Perry longer than she should have, and now she's with his mother when it's also not good for her.

Why does Celeste think she's undeserving of good in her life? Is that what she'll address before the season is over?

Her behavior is painting a very concerning picture for her mother-in-law.

Mrs. Wright - Big Little Lies

Gosh, Meryl Streep is a marvel as Mary Louise. Mary Louise is all over the place. She's cold and abrupt and warm and loving and cruel and possibly vindictive, too.

She's inserted herself into Celeste's life and made herself entirely accessible for her grandchildren. That way, she can put a lot of pressure onto Celeste with the hope she'll reveal what really happened to her Perry.

And as it's Meryl Streep, she makes Mary Louise as unlikeable as possible with minimal effort.

Madeline: But Celeste tells me you continue to be so supportive with her and the boys.
Mary Louise: She should probably just get a proper housekeeper. You're very short.
Madeline: Excuse me?
Mary Louise: I don't mean it in a negative way. Maybe I do. I find little people to be untrustworthy. My apologies. I pride myself on being a very good judge of character, but you have always presented such a difficult read. You seem like a nice person, loving, but also, you strike me as a wanter.
Madeline: A wanter.
Mary Louise: Mmmm. You know, there are people in life who content themselves with what they have and then there are others who just, they just WANT.
Madeline: I'm not a wanter.
Mary Louise: Oh, you don't have to take it personally. I'm a wanter myself. You know what I want? I want Perry back. I want to know what happened that night, and I'm very tempted to ask you, but I doubt I would get the, uh, truth, would I?
Madeline: Your son lost his balance, and he fell.
Mary Louise: Yes, that seems to be the company line, depending on whose company you keep.

She's a better judge of character than she realizes. It WAS Madeline who began the lie about Perry's death. But I can't determine if Mary Louise is really as blind as she seemed to Perry's ways or if she's so similar in nature that she doesn't care.

Mary Louise is certainly manipulative although she'd likely deny it.

She pushes the buttons to get response to questions she hasn't even asked yet. 

An Uncomfortable Meal - Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 1

Mary Louise thinks she wants to know the truth about what happened, but can she accept the truth if it reveals to her that he wasn't the moon and the stars but flawed and abusive?

It will be an unexpected journey for her, and a highly entertaining one for us.

Big Little Lies Season 1 Episode 7 Review: You Get What You Need

It's been a year and they're still struggling with what happened and the realization that life can change in an instant. Life is fleeting, and every decision you make counts.

It's ironic that Madeline doesn't recognize that she fails to practice what she preaches.

Madeline: You're going to college because I said so!
Abby: Because you said so? What do you know? You didn't go to college!
Madeline: That's EXACTLY why you're going to college. Exactly! Because you will have NO LIFE!

Celeste at School - Big Little Lies

It was her earlier life decision not to attend college that has left her feeling worthless and unaccomplished.

But instead of riding with Abby's wishes that she do something fulfilling with her life, she wants to make another poor decision to set up Abby for success even while knowing her own decision-making process is highly suspect.

After talking with Bonnie about Bonnie's feelings of loneliness and despair as a result of what she did, Madeline still couldn't see that it was her poor decision to lie that has all of them in such a precarious position.

She acts without thinking, while Abby is proving to have put a lot of thought into her future even if it's not what Madeline might want for her.

Madeline's in capable hands with Reese Witherspoon, who makes Madeline's struggles very accessible even if we know they're mostly of her own doing.

Madeline and Bonnie - Big Little Lies

One of my favorite interactions from the premiere was between Nathan and Ed.

Nathan cannot communicate with Bonnie, so he tried to trap Ed into doing it for him. 

Ed: Look, Nathan, I'm no expert on marriage. Something tells me that if you're seeking out the help of the husband of your ex-wife to lead the communication charge with your new one... [cocks his head]
Nathan: Why do you always have to be so snide?
Ed: I don't mean to be snide.
Nathan: No, you don't mean to be; it just comes naturally. It's like you're a snide fuck. That's what you are. You're a snide fuck.

Things may be incredibly dire for the group as a whole, but they will always manage to entertain with their pushing and pulling at each other.

Something seemed off with Gordon when he retreated to a room full of trains. 

The men remain one of the best aspects of Big Little Lies, and if their stories increase, I'll be very pleased.

The premiere proved that the little lies are still eating away at people while one large, prevailing lie threatens to pull them all apart for good.

In less than an hour, Mary Louise proved to be a formidable adversary for the Monterey Five while still presenting as one of them if she's used little lies all her life to keep her from fully understanding her son.

I have no idea where it will end this time around as the mysteries are more personal than explosive. The odds are even if they get discovered, it's going to be charges of impeding an investigation and not murder or manslaughter.

But who cares about that? With all their secrets, it will continue to be one of the juiciest shows on television with one of the most talented casts ever assembled.

What did you think of the premiere? What character's plight do you most understand?

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What do you think about Meryl Streep's arrival as Mary Louise?

Make sure you watch Big Little Lies online and come on back to share all of your thoughts in the comments!

What Have They Done? Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (38 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 1 Quotes

Ed, it's the first day of school. We have to earn our good mom badges all over again.


Fine young men don't suddenly become fine young all of a sudden in a woosh, you know. It starts with being fine young boys, and part of being a fine young boy is respecting your mother. She works so hard for you. That's why the sun shines on her so.

Mary Louise