Warning! Spoilers for Big Little Lies below.
The story so far: Life seems to have become more difficult for the “Monterrey Five”. Celeste is dealing with her loss and her mother in law. Bonnie is having trouble coping with her part in it. Madeline’s always tenuous relationship with her husband has become more difficult. Renata is in danger of losing her life as she knows it completely. Meanwhile, Jane is considering reentering the dating world.
The last episode of Big Little Lies was surprising in how inconsistent it was. The acting remained strong – it has too impressive of a cast to falter. The story just did not resonate. Renata came off as impersonal and petty while the rest of the episode was a series of poorly paced twists. Still, last season had a weak episode and the show is heading in an interesting direction.
‘the end of the world’ is a much better episode. For starters, the pacing is much better. The hectic storytelling of episode two is gone. Instead, the episode moves at a much slower pace. This has the dual effect of letting viewers enjoy the story while also making sure the maximum impact is given each scene. The episode comes off as less melodramatic and much more meaningful.
Shailene Woodley’s Jane may have benefited the most from the strong story. Even though she was the catalyst that brought the five women together last season, she was always treated as something of a background character. The first two episodes of this season were no different. She is very important to the story and yet it seemed like the story could have continued just fine without her.
Episode three not only rectifies this, it also makes Corey (Douglas Smith) who was incredibly annoying, actually seem like a decent guy. BLL succeeds by actually putting the viewer in Jane’s traumatized shoes. The show had always seemed content to leave Jane as the girl Perry raped and now she is getting over it. ‘the end of the world’ is a concerted effort to look at the world through her eyes. This leads to a touching ending.
Laura Dern stands out yet again. Whereas the previous episode she was incredibly funny with ill timed jokes, here she is hilarious without seeming oblivious. Renata has been portrayed as a powerful women from her introduction and last episode did a lot to deflate her. It is good to see the writing back on track. It allows Renata to be the take no prisoners character she excels at. She may still be going through issues in her personal life, but she is going to make sure her opinion is heard.
Celeste’s storyline continues to be the most interesting one on the show. Previous episodes have already hinted that the relationship with Perry has damaged her in a variety of ways. Themes of betrayal and love keep coming up with Celeste and watching how she tries to live her new life has been very engaging. Each episode of season two has also seen her become even more adamant in her feelings about her deceased husband.
Initially, it seemed like Perry’s mother Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) would be a constant thorn in Celeste’s side. She certainly has made some things a little more difficult and she definitely has not helped the healing process but the third episode shows the two may have more in common that they realize. It is interesting to see how important it is for both of them to remember Perry a certain way. This is also the first episode that the viewer can empathize with Mary Louise. Obviously, she is a grieving mother, but here we see just how willing she is to overlook things for the love her son.
Big Little Lies followed up last week’s lackluster episode with a very solid one. The storytelling was more focused allowing for the always great acting to really stand out. Putting more emphasis on Jane was also a great idea. She is a very important character who sometimes gets forgotten in the more melodramatic moments of the show. When it is hitting on all cylinders, BLL is one of the best shows on television.