If you’ve been staring at the ocean wondering when we’d finally learn a little bit more about Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz) and how she came to find herself in Monterey, then Sunday night’s episode of Big Little Lies (Sundays, 9 p.m.ET, Crave) was probably your jam. Or at the very least it was a promising installment that set up lots more Bonnie in the weeks to come.
We’d say it’s about time, but realistically how are you supposed to service five major actresses (six now with the addition of Meryl Streep), across seven episodes? It’s one of those embarrassment-of-riches types of situations. Plus, the first season revolved so heavily around Liane Moriarty’s book that we had to spend most of our time with Madeleine (Reese Witherspoon), Celeste (Nicole Kidman) and Jane (Shailene Woodley) as the story unravelled, with hints of Bonnie and Renata (Laura Dern) for good measure. That didn’t make us want to know Bonnie and her unique hippy vibes any less, of course.
Fast forward to season two and Bonnie is far from the relaxed yogi we met in 2017. She’s grappling with some serious internal demons right now as a result of Perry’s (Alexander Skarsgåd) death, and she’s turned into something of a sullen teenager as a result. Everyone’s noticed, from a pushy Madeline, to Bonnie’s husband Nathan (James Tupper) and even her daughter, Skye (Chloe Coleman). There’s basically no one that Bonnie feels like she can open up to, and it’s making her a withdrawn, far-from-centred version of herself.
So how does the husband of a person like that try to help his wife? By calling her mother, naturally. Enter Elizabeth (Crystal Fox), the potential voodoo-practicing, former alcoholic mum who also had a part in Bonnie’s abuse as a child. You know, that same abuse that caused Bonnie to push Perry in the season one finale. She arrived in all her glory to call out Nathan for being a shoddy husband and to tell her daughter that living among white people has isolated her even further from her true self.
At least now we know why Bonnie did so much yoga—how else do you deal with a pushy mother like that? For us, Elizabeth’s addition came at just the right time though. She served as a window into Bonnie’s childhood and gave us a better understanding of why she is the way she is. And although it looked like maybe she was going to tentatively emerge from her shell by the end of the episode when she snuggled up to Nathan, we think there’s plenty of opportunity to go further. Here’s hoping Elizabeth doesn’t actually leave, especially now that another one of the show’s meddling mothers has made it her mission to mess with the Monterey Five.
The other interloping mom is Mary Louise, of course. Last week gave us a Streep primer of what she could do with the character, but this week was a full execution of those talents. As Celeste and Jane’s kids learned about their brotherhood, Celeste also opened up to Mary Louise about the rape and abuse that Perry doled out. Mary Louise’s innate reaction of shock and denial that her son could do such things is in keeping with almost any parent in that situation, but it was still infuriating to hear her repeat, “But you didn’t go to the police.” Kudos to the writers for continuing to explore the dynamics of Perry and Celeste’s thorny relationship even after his death, and not glossing over it as a lesser show may have done. As Celeste said, it’s much more complicated than that.
Meanwhile, Celeste, Jane and Bonnie’s lives weren’t the only ones blown up in episode two. Ed (Adam Scott) learned about Madeleine’s transgressions with the theatre director last season and basically called off their marriage, while Gordon (Jeffrey Nordling) was arrested for a slew of money-related charges and Renata found herself in a situation where she “wouldn’t be rich.”
And let it be said that the cast is firing on all cylinders here, dialing up the soapier aspects when needed and going for genuine emotion when the plot calls for it. Their character are all so much fun to dive into that it’s almost sad to think about how there are only five episodes left. Then again, that’s five more episodes of scenes like the ones between Bonnie and her mom, or Celeste and Mary Louise. We should be so lucky.