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Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 4: ‘she knows’

An engaging and erratic episode.

Warning! Spoilers for Big Little Lies below.

The story so far: Jane is starting to move forward with her life and Mary Louise is there to help. Ed and Madeline are trying to figure out why their marriage and their relationship to each other has gone wrong. Celeste is dealing with the memory of Perry. Renata continues to fight for her financial life and the kids worry about the end of the world.

Big Little Lies is at its best when the story is tight. The previous episode was a focused narrative that was very engaging. Episode four is another strong story and interesting storylines are starting to develop.

It seemed like Mary Louise and Celeste were starting to form a common bond. There were some bumps along the way, but they had apparently come to an understanding. The two had lost someone they loved and were trying to connect their memories with despicable actions.

Episode four gives further insight into the actions of Mary Louise. To some it is validation of her sinister motivations. For others it will be a concerned grandmother looking after the safety of her grandchildren. The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle but either way it is an interesting development. BLL has also foreshadowed since Mary Louise was introduced this was the direction the story was going in.

The writing involving Celeste and her mother in law continues to be great. While it has been clear that Mary Louise would make some sort of power play for the twins, it was not as obvious how their mother would factor in. Taking season two (and really, the events of the first season), it makes complete sense why the story has gone in this direction. This long term writing has made the story involving Celeste, Mary Louise, and the twins the most intriguing this season.

One idea that should have been left in the writing room is the idea of bringing mysticism into the show. The uneven second episode introduced the idea of premonitions. It was quickly dismissed then and completely ignored in episode three. Unfortunately, some viewers fears were realized. Communicating with the other world makes a return and it does so in the most hokey and silly ways possible. Closing eyes while resting hands on head? Check. Touching someone’s hand leading to vision? Check. Vision induced collapse complete with drool? Check. The episode even ends with a vision so it looks like there will be more to come.

There is always plenty going on in the world of BLL and as viewers have seen, it can sometimes be difficult to adequately deal with all the ongoing stories. Episode four does so beautifully, giving proper time and attention to the main plots. It also does a great job of “trimming the fat” sometimes associated with the show. For example, Dr. Reisman is only given one short scene while Abigail is not seen at all.

This ends up giving more time to Renata and Gordon’s story. When the story was first introduced, Renata came off very poorly. She was seen as materialistic and petty. The past two episodes have done a better job of explaining the fear that is associated with what is happening. It is good to see Renata being placed in a position of power despite circumstances clearly showing that is not the case. (The explanation as to why she is staying with her husband is very halfhearted, however.)

Jane and Corey’s relationship continues to be explored. Much like the last episode, BLL allows the viewer to see the world through Jane’s eyes. As Corey and Jane get closer, viewers are more comfortable with him. Still, there is some hesitation. What does he really want? An interesting sub plot that may be developing is what Celeste thinks about everything. Her world has been torn apart while Jane’s seems to be on the uptick.

Big Little Lies is walking a very thin line. At times, the writing is strong. This leads to powerful scenes and engaging storylines. Then there are the moments when the show begins to go past melodrama and become a soap opera. (The possible direction Madeline and Nathan are headed in is not a good one.) Overall, BLL is an interesting watch. If only it would stop with the awful covers of great songs.

Big Little Lies S2 E4: 'she knows'
Is it good?
There is no middle ground in this HBO show. It is either really good or overly dramatic. Powerful scenes mixed with mysticism from one scene to the next.
Jane's and Renata's stories have been interesting to watch
Focused storytelling makes moments more impactful
Some moments feel out of place in the show
7
Good
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