‘Big Little Lies’ Season 2 Finale Recap: Unfinished Business

Season 2 Finale: ‘I Want to Know’

Celeste has receipts.

In the court battle we’ve all been chewing our nails waiting for, Celeste wastes no time in showing that her sickness is, in fact, not the one the judge should be worrying about.

To ensure she keeps her kids, Celeste’s mission is twofold: Reveal that Mary Louise raised a monster, and that Mary Louise is one herself. Celeste manages both. She does the first by showing some footage that is disturbing not only for its content, but for how it came to be.

Buried somewhere in Celeste’s collection of sweet videos of Perry playing the idyllic father is one taken by Max and Josh unbeknown to their parents. It captures one of Perry’s savage beatings of Celeste behind what they must have thought was a closed door. It leaves no question: Perry was a brutal abuser. Celeste knew it, her kids were exposed to it, Jane has her scars from it, and now the whole courtroom sees it. But Mary Louise had no idea. Or so she says.

But how surprised could Mary Louise possibly be when, as Celeste argues, she was an abuser as well?

Celeste makes that case by finally giving us the answer to how Perry’s brother, Raymond, died: It was a car accident in which Mary Louise, having lost her temper, became distracted at the wheel. But she blamed Perry for the whole thing, telling him it was his fault for distracting her. As Perry told it to Celeste, he then endured years of mental and physical abuse by his mother that were rooted in that accident.

Mary Louise says it’s lies. She denies hurting Perry. Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t. In the end, it doesn’t matter. It’s enough. Or maybe it was totally superfluous. We don’t know how Judge Cipriani was originally going to rule. Regardless, Mary Louise does not get her do-over. The judge doesn’t want to traumatize Max and Josh any further by taking them away from their mother, and she awards Celeste full custody.

So Celeste is free — both of Perry and of Mary Louise. She triumphs while Mary Louise heads back to the Northern California hole she crawled out of. Madeline is riding high as well, renewing her vows to Ed and resolidifying a blissful beachfront life with her family. And things are looking up for Jane, who decides to give Corey another shot and winds up rediscovering sexual pleasure.

But the greatest rebirth may be Renata’s, who goes straight Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” on Gordon’s train sets when she finds out he gets to keep his man-child toys, even though she lost everything to his fraudulence. In this exhilarating scene that I can only hope is her Emmy clip, she gives feminists a new battle cry, screaming, “Maybe you should’ve shown a woman a little respect!”

And oh yeah, Bonnie didn’t drown. (Why, oh why, then, did we spend so much time on the relentless foreshadowing?) Not only did she not perish, she rose up. She made peace with her mother, she let go of the husband she has never loved, and she finally exorcised “The Lie.” The very end of the episode shows Bonnie walking into the police station accompanied by the rest of the Monterey Five in order, we assume, to confess to pushing Perry. Madeline, Celeste, Jane and Renata drop everything to be by her side in a grand display of solidarity and sisterhood.

Which in this context, admittedly is pretty funny. They’ve spent an entire season re-committing to never, ever breaking the pact, but a quick text from Bonnie saying she is trying to get this off her chest, and all the other women are like, “K!” and show up no questions asked.

And what does this really mean for the Monterey Five? Just because they confess doesn’t mean they’re off the hook. Could Bonnie go to jail? If not for the killing, then at least for the cover-up? Could they all? Will Corey feel lied to and break it off with Jane? What will Ed do when he finds out he still can’t trust Madeline? Could this confession put Celeste’s parental fitness back into question? A lot seems up in the air here. Why do they all look so calm?

While the ending provides a certain finality to the lying, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s realistic. But hey, plenty about this season has been unrealistic. Since it started (heck, before it started) some viewers questioned whether this second season should even exist. Could we have left the Monterey Five well enough alone after they muddied up Perry’s death and ran off to frolic together on the beach with no consequences? Maybe. Have we had to suspend our disbelief about everything from Celeste’s accent to Madeline and Ed’s chemistry? Yeah. Were the courtroom shenanigans kind of fantastical? Totally. Were there some questionable wig choices? Sure.

But did we have fun? From where I sit, I say, wholeheartedly, unabashedly, yes. And for a show that is the TV equivalent of a summer beach read, that’s more than enough for me.

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