Previously on Big Little Lies we left off with Celeste doing a drum solo to the memory of her dead husband so we gotta get straight into it. What the fuck is happening next in Monterey, California? Well, lemme tell you.
We pick up with another flashback of the night that haunts them all, as Madeline lays in bed recalling Bonnie pushing Perry down the stairs and Madeline telling everyone the story they’ll tell the cops. It’s a brief scene, so you gotta question its purpose and realize that shit’s gonna come back like I Know What You Did Last Summer. Madeline’s feeling guilt and that’s gonna start to be exploited sooner than later. Can’t be out here being a reluctant accessory to murder, no sir. These hearts ain’t hard enough.
Jane and Renata are with Madeline out back of the house while Madeline’s tryna take the edge off with an organic non-GMO gluten-free cigarette. The kids are inside making jack-o-lanterns and, of course, one of Celeste’s twins is busy stabbing his pumpkin. Jane asks Renata what time she’s throwing the party for Amabella and Renata tells her it’s gonna be on the early side at 2 o’clock because she’s gotta hit up bankruptcy court after her husband drove them into the poor house. Jane like, why the fuck you still with him? and Renata breaks it down, how women stay through the worst of the fuck shit because that’s just what they’re supposed to do. They lie, we stay; they steal, we stay; they cheat (no offense, Madeline) (none taken), we stay. Speaking of staying, Mary Louise shows up to the pumpkin-carving party unannounced with a bunt cake and a smile like, heard y’all was chillin’? Madeline’s too polite to turn Mary Louise away so she invites her inside, and the rest of the Monterey 5 got that face you make when the wrong cousin got invited to the party. Celeste is fucking befuddled, like she don’t believe the moment is even real.
Mary Louise has her first moment with Bonnie, meeting her for the first time and calling her beautiful, while Bonnie looks down and feels that special type of awkward you feel when you dated somebody’s ex or, say, gave their son the Goldberg spear to his death. Mary Louise got news for everybody though, especially Jane. Turns out that Mary Louise found an apartment… in Jane’s building. Jane suddenly got the same look on her face as Celeste did, like, my building? My fucking home, my place of peace where I go for long scenic runs to classic rock music, that building? My rapist’s mother just moved into my… is this real? Well it’s fucking real alright, ’cause Celeste asks Mary Louise for a word and pulls her into the hallway to talk. “Talk” was short-lived though, ’cause when Celeste told Mary Louise that she’s crossing boundaries by moving into Jane’s building, Mary Louise tells Celeste that she doesn’t even believe she was raped, and then insinuates that Perry was probably just trying to get away from some shit at home and — SMACK! Celeste pulled back and slaps Mary Louise across the face and sent grandma’s glasses flying. That smack sound echoed across dimensions, that shit was heard in Atlantis, Narnia, the Seven Kingdoms, fucking everywhere. Celeste smacked Mary Louise and that shit rippled through the multiverse. Celeste starts to apologize immediately (this is the second time this season that Celeste lost her temper and showed it through brute force) but Mary Louise ain’t even phased. She puts her glasses back and says it’s fine. Matter fact, Mary Louise asks, what should we call that? The Monterey Handjob? Oh, I know… Foreplay. Celeste is fucking shook, confused that she slapped her own moms-in-law in the face and still get served that L. Mary Louise walks away calmly, glasses on straight, clean as fuck, like that shit just made her stronger. You can’t use melees against Mary Louise fam, she absorbed that kinetic energy like the Black Panther suit.
Over at casa de Madeline, Ed walks into the kitchen and Madeline goes into a rant about anything and everything getting under her skin right now, from the Halloween party to Amabella’s party. Ed looks exhaustedly as his wife who’s always going 100 miles per hour and asks why she never goes 100 for him. She always charges towards everybody else’s problems, but when it comes them she ain’t charge toward shit. Madeline tries to respond but you know Ed, he’s already turned in confusion and halfway out the door. Later, Madeline asks if Ed would be willing to go to a couples workshop together in Big Sur, and Ed sits closed off and contemplative, not giving an answer. Saving him from the awkwardness, their spunky daughter comes in and asks for advice on a poster she made for school. The poster is meant to show opposites, and it has a picture of a door and another picture she drew of Madeline. When Madeline says that she doesn’t understand, the daughter explains that the door is hinged. Excuse my corpse as I write this from beyond the grave, I am deceased, and Ed laughs for the first time.
Speaking of unhinged, the next morning Celeste and Mary Louise meet for coffee outside. Celeste sheepishly asks who should start and Mary Louise goes ahead, saying plainly that she’s worried about the twins, and Celeste, but mostly the twins, because she thinks Celeste is unhinged. Later we see Mary Louise talking with a lawyer, and your Spider-sense starts tingling just before you connect the dots of what Mary Louise is going for. The lawyer gives Mary Louise a list of family lawyers and tells her to call each one of them. When Mary Louise asks why, he explains: if she calls them first, it would be considered a conflict of interest for them to represent Celeste in family court. Mary Louise is going for custody of Celeste’s boys.
Meanwhile, Renata and her husband are taking the long walk of shame down the hallway to their bankruptcy hearing. The metal detector goes off on Renata as a reminder that this is a place where she holds no power, but Renata is still like, let’s make this quick ’cause I got an expensive party to throw for my daughter. Her lawyer is like, fuck man, do you really not realize how powerless you are right now? This is a fucking bankruptcy hearing and you about to meet the judge who don’t give a gluten-free fuck about who you think you are. Renata don’t know, but she learns that shit quick when she meets Stanley from The Office, Judge I-Don’t-Give-A-Fuck-About-Rich-White-People. Judge IDGAF has them name off their assets of shit they gotta give up and that list is fucking long. Condo in Aspen, four-bedroom vacation home in Palm Beach, 58-foot Red Sea yacht, 20 million dollar home, all weighed against their 33 million dollars in liability. Judge noticed her facelift charges too, and then tells Renata’s husband to put his Rolex on the table, he running that shit. Oh, and your wedding ring, Renata… run that shit, too. I said run it. Renata put that shit down with the trembly bottom-lip of somebody who ain’t been talked to like that in 20 years.
She gotta party that shitty feeling away, so we find ourselves next at Amabella’s disco party hosted in that 20 million dollar home they about to lose. Everybody’s dressed up and having fun — Bonnie brings her mom, Jane brings Corey — but Bonnie, Madeline, and Celeste are having a hard time having fun with all the shit going on. Bonnie asks Celeste how much Mary Louise knows, because Bonnie noticed the strange look Mary Louise had given her when they’d met earlier. Celeste tells her not to worry, that Mary Louise is more focused on Celeste herself than anyone else, and then Celeste is like, yeah, I get your fear though because we followed Madeline’s dumb ass plan to lie to the cops. Madeline gets mad ’cause this moment just reiterates her newfound understanding that everyone talks behind her back and thinks she’s a dick. [Narrator voice: she is, indeed, a dick]
Renata and her husband stand in the midst of the party as Renata takes off her emotional mask just long enough to say how she married a fucking asshole who ruined her life. She goes back into hostess mode quick though and smiles as she begins talking to her guests again. Meanwhile, Bonnie is dancing with her mom, and her mom plays up the Magical Negro card and starts talking about Bonnie’s energy and the energy in the room. Jane is dancing with Corey, but has a moment of flashback to the night she was assaulted by Perry. Madeline asks Ed to dance and he says no. Nathan sees Ed and Madeline fighting and tries to empathize, and Ed tells him to fuck off, which turns into them pushing and Renata breaking them up. Ed ends up dancing and having fun with Bonnie, with Madeline and Nathan — their respective wife and husband looking on — looking on, and with all the characters in the same place as the same time there’s so much going on at this party, man.
Outside the party, Jane is sitting outside and has moment with Corey where she tells him for the first time about her sexual assault and how she got pregnant with Ziggy. Corey holds her hand, and the two share a moment. Tender moments don’t last long in Monterey though, so the next scene is Renata graciously saying goodbye to everyone, and as Bonnie’s mom shakes her hand she has a vision and drops to the ground, right then and there, from a fucking stroke. I hate how they’re doing her character, the literal Magical Negro who has visions of a past she never experienced, but alas, here we are.
Later that night, at a bar, Jane is with Celeste and telling her about her own haunting vision that interrupted her dancing with Corey. She had recalled the night of her sexual assault. Jane asks if Perry ever raped Celeste, and Celeste says no. Jane leaves to visit Bonnie’s mom in the hospital and Celeste stays behind for another beer, and as the bartender’s eyes linger on her you feel good for a split second, like getting dee’d down by a man other than Perry might be good for her, but then you get the Spider-sense tingling again telling you that Celeste is about to get into some shit that ain’t gonna work out well for her in the end.
At the hospital, Bonnie’s staring at her mom and continuing the flashbacks she’s been having all episode, all the shit that’s happened to her from her childhood to the murder to her mom’s stroke that very night. Her dad comes in and asks if Bonnie had said something to upset her mother, and Bonnie snaps that she didn’t cause her mom’s fucking stroke. She looks at the point of breaking, so she tells her dad she’s going to leave him alone with her for a while and she walks out, only to walk right into the detective who had been investigating them. Bonnie loses her shit, like what the fuck, we doing this shit right here? But it turns out the detective is there for another case. She sees that Bonnie is losing it though. Bonnie’s been bent and her ass is an ounce of pressure short from breaking.
Meanwhile, Mary Louise is with the twins eating pizza and having fun, playing their favorite game of lionizing Perry into the perfect son and father. Mary Louise tells the twins to always keep their father in theirs hearts. She going for that custody and is winning those boys over one scene at a time. When Mary Louise brings the twins home the next morning, Celeste looks in rough shape and drinking a coffee. The kids are all excited, telling Celeste how they had pizza and stretched the cheese like dad used to do and had the best night with their grandma. Mary Louise checks to see if Celeste is running a fever, but then she sees that Celeste’s roughness is of the hangover variety because who walks out but the shirtless bartender, oblivious as fuck, wandering through the living room in the most awkward moment of half a dozen so far this season. Shirtless bartender introduces himself — his name is Joe — on his way out the door. Celeste was so high on drugs the night before that she ain’t even know he was there and doesn’t remember a thing. Celeste is like… fuck.
Later, Celeste and Madeline are talking about what happened and Mary Louise barges in and basically tells Madeline to kick rocks. Madeline indeed kicks rocks, and Mary Louise puts her cards on the table. Celeste is a mess, needs time to heal, and Mary Louise wants to give her that time by taking care of the boys for a while. Celeste loses it and tells her to get the fuck out, that she’s not giving away her kids, so then Mary Louise feels she has no choice: she gives Celeste the papers petitioning for custody of the boys and tells Celeste she’ll see her in court, because she’s going to do what’s best for the boys and going to give Celeste time off whether she fucking wants it or not. Celeste is shook and damn near crumbles to the ground. Jane ain’t shook though, she’s mad hell and comes knocking on Mary Louise’s door later that day asking if Mary Louise plans on coming for Ziggy too, since Mary Louise seem to be out here collecting grandchildren like Pokémon. Jane comes in hot and heavy, but that shit ain’t go as planned when it comes to defending Celeste. Mary Louise hits Jane with all of Celeste’s reckless behavior, and Jane does her best to defend her friend, but damn, you gotta admit that evidence is mounting. And when Mary Louise asks if she’d want Ziggy riding shotgun in Celeste’s ambien-powered car?
Madeline is catching Renata up on the story over coffee when the detective shows up just to throw them off guard with some unsolicited politeness. Celeste is catching Dr. Reisman up in therapy and that’s just as scary, because Celeste is talking about Mary Louise is tryna take her kids and Dr. Reisman ain’t making her feel better, just making everything sound bleak as hell when she tells Celeste that nobody is gonna win in this situation. Celeste is determined to fucking win though, so that’s exactly what she tells Dr. Reisman as she storms out of her therapy session. We end the episode with Bonnie sitting at her mom’s bedside, as her mom has visions of all sorts of death, but not Perry. She sees Bonnie in the ocean… facedown, floating. Shit, man. It’s dark and hell is hot for the Monterey 5.