TV Review: “Big Little Lies Recap: Season 2 – What Have They Done?” (2019) ★★★★

© 2019 – HBO

Sometimes we do want to know what happens next to the characters we admire after the series or movie ends. The closing, no matter how logical it was with its final conclusion, will always raise our curiosity. It was two years ago when I first watched “Big Little Lies”, one of the most outstanding shows on TV that knew well how to capture family abuse, inner struggle, friendship, and life itself. With the premiere of season 2, and judging by its first episode, we can tell it feels really good that it’s back, but not for its characters who will have to go through unbearable pain which they must pretend they have cured themselves from.

The first episode titled “What have they done” directed by Andrea Arnold takes us back to the always sunny Monterey where Celeste (Nicole Kidman), Madeline (Reese Witherspoon), Jane (Shailene Woodley), Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz), and Renata (Laura Dern) come to know they are being labeled as the ‘Monterey Five’. However, while the three women seem to find a way to move on, it is Bonnie and Celeste who are still living a nightmare. Bonnie struggles with the guilt that will eventually take her to the nearest police station where she’ll think whether to enter or not while Celeste exists in her own world in which she tries to decide who Perry Wright (Alexander Skarsgård) was for her – a loving husband or a heartless monster.

The biggest surprise, which maybe should not be at all, is the appearance of Mary Louise Wright (Meryl Streep), who offers her hand to Celeste to cope with her loss while she handles all the cooking. But that is who Mary Louise is at home, while outside of it she is a woman who is eager to find the answer to what happened to her beloved son, Perry. She even attempts asking Madeline, but as you can imagine, no secret big or small can pass through Madeline. Jane refuses to cash the check sent by Celeste but is happy to hear that. Celeste, in fact, sympathizes with Jane and feels bad for her being raped by her deceased husband, Perry.

As there’s a lot happening in just the first episode, it’s fair to say there are four most exciting and beautifully acted scenes – three go to Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep – the two bed scenes when Celeste wakes up after the nightmare and Meryl Streep’s screaming scene, when after not liking the fact that Celeste tried to calm her down, she, same as Perry, responds with that cold-blooded look – what Celeste, did you find my grief that loud? The fourth scene is between Meryl Streep and Reese Witherspoon that deserves to be rewatched multiple times because it slowly reveals who Mary Louise is, and what we are getting into going forward.

Overall, season two of “Big Little Lies” is quite intelligent and slow-burning, as you may expect. It, however, has the same style as season one, using flashbacks, showing us what Celeste or Madeline had to say to the police after the incident and what may happen afterward. As we already know, the case has been closed but because of the detective that keeps rewatching the tapes, we begin realizing it actually may not be. And now that Mary Louise Wright wants to find out the truth, we can predict it will become significantly difficult for the Monterey Five to keep their secret shut. But with what we have seen so far, and what Liane Moriarty’s show is all about – it’s about the big and little lies.

As for Meryl Streep’s Mary Louise, judging her from the first episode, her character may go either of two ways – either she’ll become the one who is responsible for raising an abusive son or she might be the one who will hold the key to the truth where one can hope to learn all the events that led to that dreadful night. If that happens, and Mary Louise realizes who Perry was, she might choose to remain quiet by entering the greatest league of big little lies and let Celeste recover from the past to have a happy future. But will that happen or not, we have six more weeks to go to find out!

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