There’s so much to unpack with this week’s episode of Big Little Lies (Sundays, 9 p.m. ET, Crave) that it’s hard to know where to start. The trial. Bonnie’s confession. Madeline’s guilt. Renata’s nanny. We need some “stress relief” and a moment with this giant wad of tissues in our mouths to process it all.
The episode, which also happened to be the second last in the season (What? Already?!) had so much good stuff in it that the hour flew by and we barely noticed, reminding us that when this show is good it’s really freaking good. But what really drew us in was the high-stakes custody hearing, in which Celeste (Nicole Kidman) was forced to take the stand and answer for her varied sexual encounters with many, many good-looking men. (Seriously, her “rap sheet” could have been a J.Crew catalogue.)
As Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) looked on and nodded her head in mock concern, it became clear that Celeste was being slut-shamed for trying to work out her feelings over her husband’s death through sex, and she was also being potentially set up as his killer. What we loved most about the entire exchange was that the trial called into question so many factors about what makes a good or bad mother (hence the episode’s title, “The Bad Mother”), and it highlighted—in an extreme way to be sure—that mothers aren’t allowed to have personal lives. Or work lives. Or any lives outside of their children. “Mother like you don’t work, and work like you aren’t a mother.” Isn’t that the challenge most modern moms face with these days?
For her part, Celeste held her composure remarkably well, especially when it became clear that she’d been followed by a private investigator. We didn’t even know as an audience how many men she’d slept with at that point, which made the trial itself that much more impactful. Still, the only time we wondered about her “fitness” as a mom came when the lawyer asked about strange men in the bed and Celeste’s kids being unable to wake her. It’s clear that the pills she’s been taking are the real problem here, not the sex itself.
Celeste knows it, too. The entire line of questioning was a wake-up call for her, because obviously she loves her boys and doesn’t want to lose them. So when her useless lawyer basically did nothing and the judge was about to hand down her findings, Celeste stood up instead and did the most obvious thing: called Mary Louise to the stand.
The ultimate face-off
It seems a bit ridiculous that a custody hearing would go through all of that hoopla to question the mom but not the person who wants actual custody of the kids in the first place, but courts work in truly baffling ways sometimes. Regardless, the show set up the ultimate face-off for next week’s finale, in which Celeste gets to question Mary Louise herself. We’ll just be anxiously wringing our hands over in the corner here in anticipation for that little showdown. We can’t wait to hear about how Mary Louise raised Perry (Alexander Skarsgård), why her husband left her, and also what happened to her other little boy who died. We have a feeling Celeste knows more than she’s letting on, and we can’t wait for her to put Mary Louise through the ringer.
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In the meantime, we have a few other stray observations from the episode:
- Renata telling her husband to shut the f— up for the rest of his life is officially the most meme-able moment of the entire season.
- Does anyone else think Madeline will crack and tell Ed about what really happened that night?
- Now that Bonnie has confessed to her mother, are the cops next? The detective definitely suspects something from her, what between Bonnie’s facial expressions during Celeste’s trial and also her previous freak-out at the hospital.
- Is anyone else not buying Corey’s story about being called in for questioning by the cops? Why wouldn’t he give Jane a heads up first? Of all the characters this season, he’s the freaking hardest to read.
- How are we already at the end of the season? Here’s hoping a third helping is just around the corner