Big Little Lies Recap: The End of the World

Big Little Lies, S02E03 Recap
BLL S2E3 Cover
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We about to find our groove on this one, let’s get straight into it. If you need a “Previously on Big Little Lies,” peep the season 2 episode 2 recap for a refresher ’cause it’s full speed ahead from here like Bonnie when she hit the truck stick on Celeste’s dead husband.

Celeste out here reliving that shit in her dreams ’cause Perry out here haunting everyone — Celeste, Bonnie, Jane, you, me, Kirk Franklin, I don’t fucking know, Perry’s ghost gets around. We see the birth of the Monterey 5 as Bonnie replays that night in her head before going back inside with the sullen eyes of somebody about to give up hope. Her mom and daughter are playing together inside, and Bonnie flashes back to her own childhood memory of Mama Bonnie tryna teach her to swim. Mama Bonnie’s big on strong metaphors and tough love, ’cause she tells Kid Bonnie that she has to learn to hold her breath in case anything ever happens to her so she won’t drown. When Kid Bonnie said she doesn’t want to swim…well…her ass about to be Queen Mera whether she like it or not.

Over at Monterey Psychological, we in the office of your favorite therapist, but it’s not Celeste on the patient’s couch. It’s Ed and Madeline! Madeline tryna backpedal like Ali and take back what she’s done (cheating on Ed, in case you forgot) sitting beside a sentient lump of resentment shaped like her husband. Ed at least got the high ground, the moral authority of knowing he’s not the one who did anything wrong — that is, until Dr. Reisman starts bucking psychological shots in every direction and wets Ed in the process. You think you clean in this, Ed? You think your go-with-the-flow attitude been helpful? Dr. Reisman suggests that maybe Ed’s just been checked the fuck out, and while that’s not cheating it sure as hell ain’t fidelity either. Ed has to sit with that a moment while Reisman turns on Madeline ’cause Doc ain’t done serving that Long Island iced tea. You want to know why you cheated, Madeline? Maybe it’s ’cause you’re an insecure, empty husk of a woman who never found her value without a college education and was searching for self-worth in the arms of another man. Paraphrasing, slightly.

Madeline’s shook so she’s in the car later with Celeste in an empty parking lot talking about how as a child she walked in on her dad cheating on her mom and never told anyone about it. Celeste is the supportive, hopeful friend and tells Madeline that Ed would never leave her, that everything’s gonna be alright. Just to recap: this is one accessory to murder telling another accessory to murder that while her husband just found out she took Avenue Q to Poundtown, Virginia with another man, everything’s gonna be alright. Erryting’s alrite. Madeline gets over herself for a second to ask Celeste how she’s doing in return, and Celeste confesses that she’s dead inside and that life is empty without Perry and that she needs to find joy for her children’s sake, but she been looking under the cushions and behind the sofa joy just ain’t nowhere to be found.

Speaking of finding things, Mary Louise is on a fact-finding mission after figuring out that Celeste and the gals been lying to the police. She shows up outside Jane’s job at not-SeaWorld waiting for her shift to be over, and when Jane comes out Mary Louise is like, I learned about some interesting news. Jane is looking like, “interesting” is an interesting way to describe your son sexually assaulting me but okay I’ll stop to talk. Mary Louise wants Jane to take a paternity test for her son because — I bullshit you not — she just outright says she’s tryna clear her son’s name and disprove the story of the very woman from whom she’s making the request. Mary Louise like, maybe you just don’t recall who you fucked that night. Jane ain’t Madeline though, so she matches force with force, telling Mary Louise to go fuck herself and get her rape-apologist ass the hell out her face, she knows who her baby daddy is and she ain’t paternity testing a thing. Paraphrasing, slightly.

Back at school, Black Teacher alert! My dude is on-screen so you know shit about to get uncomfortable. He tryna teach the white youth of America about climate change and telling them to tune into the Democratic Primary debate on Thursday but then they hear the sound of something tumble, and it ain’t the sound of Beto O’Rourke’s poll numbers. It’s Amabella, who passed out from stress in the classroom closet. Life hard out here for an 8-year-old. Climate change and shit? It’s skressful. Now, I’m sure Black Teacher is worried about the welfare of a student, but I’m also sure his second thought was “fuck, it just had to be this kid?” Sure enough, Renata comes through like a hurricane in the hospital berating the staff and being, well, Renata. Amabella suffered from a panic attack and Renata tryna get her transferred to the Lazarus Pit for longevity and rejuvenation. Later at the mansion, Renata hired a grown ass Little Bo Peep to play with Amabella and figure out what’s pressing her, and it turns out her teacher been stressing her out with all that climate change talk. My mans can’t catch a break. He’d probably kill a polar bear himself to keep from dealing with Renata’s ass after this. Renata can’t point all the fingers though ’cause it turns out Amabella’s stressed about her parents too, ’cause it’s obvious nothing ain’t right at home. Amabella’s spider sense is tingling and tryna warn her that her moms is an accomplice to murder, and her dad is a shady criminal on the brink of prison.

Over with Jane, it’s date night with Obvious Love Interest! He’s being all quirky and maybe cute depending on what you’re into — one thing’s for sure he’s weird as fuck and definitely a waitress’ worst nightmare. My dude damn near asked the fish’s birth name and exact stream he was born from. Walking back from the restaurant Jane tells Corey — his given name — that she has a son, Ziggy. Corey takes it like a pro and says he’d love to meet him, but then should’a quit while he was ahead because he goes to kiss Jane and she hits the double-tap back button and makes distance with the quickness. No close attacks here, no sir. She tells Corey she needs to take it slow and he’s a little shook, but he’ll be aight.

Meanwhile, Mary Louise at the police station stirring shit up! She talking to the detective — the one person who’s always been suspicious of the Monterey 5’s story — and about to spill all the beans, grow a beanstalk, climb that shit, and make it rain indictments on all these muhfuckas tryna sully her son’s name. Celeste is none the wiser though ’cause she’s at therapy still tryna convince Dr. Reisman that she should hold onto the good memories of her late husband. Dr. Reisman is like, nah honey, he deserved to die, and I hope he burns in hell. Dr. Reisman dropped Jadakiss lyrics on Perry’s name, like “they don’t miss you, they just remember you.” Celeste misses her abuser and perhaps the abuse itself, as Dr. Reisman notices the bruises on Celeste’s wrists. She asks her straight out if Celeste self-inflicts her wounds, but Celeste denies it. Later that night, Celeste and Mary Louise are together at home, and Mary Louise is watching family videos of Perry with the twins. Celeste joins them and the four of them sit together on the floor, reminiscing of the better times with a horrible man. A picture probably fell from Dr. Reisman’s wall at that exact moment ’cause Celeste is doing the exact opposite of her advice.

The next day with Ziggy, Jane is walking to the car and Ziggy pauses. What’s he looking at? Mary Louise, who’s stalking in broad daylight yet again, straight lurking with no shame. Mary Louise sees Ziggy and got the look on her face, like yeah, she sees her own son and recognizes a grandchild when she sees it. She’s fucking touched. Jane drops Ziggy off and spends time with Mary Louise indulging her and looking at old family pictures, those of Perry and his siblings who look just like Ziggy. Mary Louise ain’t got a filter, so she jumps straight into the requests and saying all the wrong things. She wants to be in Ziggy’s life? Okay cool, Jane can think on that. But then she keeps talking about how sweet and wonderful Perry is, and how Perry is just as sweet and gentle and tender as Ziggy. Jane is like, that ain’t been my experience, and then Mary Louise goes full rape-apologist 101 and asks whether Jane initiated the encounter, if Perry might have misread her signals since he was accustomed to his relationship with Celeste, and all this other bullshit that Jane put a stop to right away. Jane cleared that shit up in no uncertain terms. Jane 2, Mary Louise 0. Mary Louise is desperate to feel better about her son though, so she begs Jane to tell her if she saw good in Perry before their encounter turned violent. Jesus. I done seent some shit like “what the fuck,” but never seeing a survivor asked whether she saw good in her rapist.

On the other side of town, Bonnie and Ed are having coffee together, and Bonnie looks… happy? She’s laughing and shit, like Ed is charming the guilt right out of her. Madeline rolls up and asks what they’re doing, trying to play it chill but she knows she ain’t seen Ed charm nobody like that since ’97. She basically asks Ed, like, what the fuck, how long are you gonna punish me? Ed put his shades on like, as long as I fucking want, basically. Being nice ain’t really work out for me so I’ma mix it up a bit and see what happens. Piss off both Bonnie and Nathan at the same time? Two birds, one cold-ass sniper. Back in the car with Celeste, Madeline goes crying about how trash her life is — her husband hates her and even her best friend was going through hell and couldn’t confide in her.

Back at Otter Bay, Hurricane Renata about to come through on the principal and teacher for stressing her daughter into a panic attack over climate change. She reading them like the morning paper: the whole curriculum, the teachers, the books, everything. The principal stands up to her though and says there’s a school assembly later that evening to hear from all the parents ’cause Renata ain’t the only parent who matters. Renata reads that shit for what it is, like y’all think ’cause I’m broke now that I can’t recover in this bih? Y’all think you can treat me like some basic broke ass parent who put body lotion on their face, oh no no no, y’all gon’ see who Renata Klein is. This is her Cersei Walk of Shame moment and she promises to come back with the wildfire on these sparrows. Renata goes to vent to Madeline at her job at the real estate agency and they bump into none other than Mary Louise, who seems to be everywhere. Mary Louise is like, oh, you were there when Perry died? Hmm. Duly noted. And dassit.

Back on the beach, Jane is watching as Corey is in the water splashing with Ziggy and teaching him how to surf. Corey must’ve recovered from that failed kiss incident ’cause he went from getting frozen like Sub-Zero to splashing on the beach with ol’ girl’s son like he’s ready to slide into the father role. Bonnie asks Jane how they’re doing and Jane tells her about the failed kiss, and Bonnie says she should tell him about her past. She scoffs at her own advice though and says she’s a hypocrite because nobody knows who she really is. *[whispers softly]* A murderer.

Renata stops at the Klein mansion to tell her husband 3 things: 1) Amabella’s unhappy so they’re gonna throw money at the problem by giving her a party, 2) there’s a school assembly she wants to burn to the ground, and 3) he gotta sell all his shit because fuck him. Turns out he’s got the same intuition as their daughter though because he’s like, something’s up, I can feel it. He knows she’s hiding some shit and that he’s not the only problem. He’s not the only thing Amabella is picking up on. Renata tries to brush it off and storms out to go to the school assembly, but she gotta feel the walls closing in on her just a little.

At Otter Bay, the whole school is together to discuss student anxiety and whether the school should teach climate change. The Monterey 5 is sitting together in the middle of the auditorium, straight mobbin’. It gets unruly ’cause all the parents are upset and the principal finally snaps and yells for them all to shut up. Madeline is like, seriously?, and dude invites her up to the stage right there on the spot because if she can run the assembly better than she should just do it. Madeline ain’t got no choice at that point ’cause she’s put on the spot, so she comes onstage to talk. Ed’s standing in the back of the auditorium though so Madeline is shook. She starts by talking about climate change and students, but that veers left in a hurry till she’s talking in a thin metaphor about how shitty her life is and how everything is a lie. Rest of the Monterey gal gang is cringing in the audience wishing they could abort mission right there, but it’s too late ’cause Madeline is having a full-on breakdown and sobbing onstage and trying to connect with Ed who’s still standing in the back straight chillin’, no help, no emotional support, like he watched a car accident and just kept driving. Celeste tries chastising him afterward for not hopping in to help and he’s calm like a bomb when he thanks her for the advice and suggests maybe they have coffee sometime so she can catch him up on all her greatest spousal tips. Damn, yo. On the ranking of the coldest killers in Monterey, post-infidelity Ed coming for that #1 spot.

Madeline’s out on the beach moping afterward, and Abby shows up and sits next to her. Abby says she heard about her mom’s speech and offers a little loving-daughter support, promising that Ed will come back. Pfft, we’ll see.

Finally, Celeste gets home from the assembly herself to walk in on Mary Louise snooping through the pills in her drawers. Mary Louise tries to play it off for like half a second but just barely because subtlety ain’t never been her strong suit. Mary Louise starts talking about the pills and how strong opioids are, and Celeste is like, yeah, I sorta need those for times like when your son would kick me. That’s another L for Mary Louise as she keeps falling down the power rankings ever since she learned the truth about her son.

Finally, Jane and Corey are saying their goodnights and end with a hug as awkward and charming as Corey’s personality is meant to be. It’s a romantic moment, but we cut to Celeste who’s trying to have a romantic moment of her own as she lays in bed, addicted to her late husband, watching old videos of Perry. An ending montage reminds us of all the conflicted relationships happening in Monterey, from Bonnie to her mom, to Madeline and Ed, to Celeste and Perry as she lays in bed and masturbates to his memory. Fuck, man. Shit as messy as it’s ever been.

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  • Jordan Calhoun is a writer and pop culture savant in New York City. He holds a B.A. in Sociology and Criminal Justice, B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Japanese, and an M.P.A. in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy. He might solve a mystery, or rewrite history. Find him on Twitter @jordanmcalhoun

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