Need a quick catch up? Be sure to check out our recap of last week’s episode
This recap contains spoilers
All good things must come to an end. In the case of HBO’s Big Little Lies, a great show (unfortunately) is drawing its curtains.
We’ve been speculating for weeks about HBO’s hit screen adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s best-selling drama Big Little Lies. The murder, the bullying, the rape, the gossip – what’s the truth behind it all? I was both excited and sad for the show to come to an end but the finale did not disappoint. I’d even say it was well worth the wait!
While these characters live in a picturesque bubble by the sea, in a split second everything comes crashing down as we see Jane and Perry come face to face for the first time, learning that Perry is, in fact, the rapist who revisits Jane in her nightmares. Which ultimately means Perry is Ziggy’s father. However, the biggest reveal of the series finale is when we learn the person who’s been murdered is Perry.
Finally, we see Celeste, Jane, Renata, Madeline, and Bonnie going through police interrogations. Are they lying? Was it an accident? Who is at fault? A flashback shows us Bonnie pushed Perry down a flight of concrete stairs, and the rest of the ladies band together not only to defend her but cover for her crime as well.
We know what happened, and we’ve watched the people of Monterey speculate and gossip about the truth. The residents of this glitzy coastal town are vicious, and everyone has a motive. Joseph threatens Madeline concerning their affair, Ed and Nathan continue to scuffle with one another, and Gordon is kicked out of the local coffee shop for harassing Madeline and Jane in an effort to defend his wife.
With so many subplots at work in the finale — both coming to a close and leaving gaps in the story: Does Abigail scrap the virginity project? Does Ed or Joseph’s wife ever suspect the affair between their spouses? And lastly, does this mean Ed and Nathan’s petty fights finally come to an end? — it wasn’t entirely difficult keeping a close eye on these things during the one evening when everything comes into a clear focus: trivia night.
So much is revealed, in short, minute snippets: Renata’s softer side, Bonnie’s impressive pipes, Perry in his untamed state as he battles with Celeste while everyone else drinks the night and their cares away.
Earlier in the episode, as Celeste moves through her new beachfront apartment unpacking and settling in, we see painful flashbacks of Perry’s violence that morning. We’ve been watching Celeste prepare for the big break away from her husband, but it’s not until the school bully is revealed when I truly believed she’d take the final leap.
As it turns out, one of Celeste and Perry’s own children were named the culprit: Max. It’s in that moment that things become clear as day, as the consequences of Max and Josh’s exposure to the abuse of their parents finally sets in. And now they’re acting on it. Rather than punish or scold her son, Celeste comforts him, ultimately breaking the cycle of violence that surrounded her family for so long. A much-needed break in this tumultuous family circle, if you ask me.
Unfortunately, not even this stops Perry from having another explosive bout with Celeste, as he calmly informs her that he’s been made aware of her contact with the property manager of her apartment. Hearing this made a heavy pit in my stomach; it hasn’t been easy for Celeste to take the necessary steps of devising a Plan B for herself and her kids and with Perry’s awareness of her covert operations only makes her fate (their fate) more unpredictable.
Then things quickly come to a head during a trivia night performance by Ed, as he sings to the crowd, the guilt Madeline feels about her affair with Joseph is too much to bear. She sets off running away, with a confused Jane at her heels. Though it isn’t long before both Renata and Celeste join in on the hubbub of the group: Renata’s reconciling with Jane over the bully blaming, and Celeste in an effort to escape her husband — who, unbeknownst to Celeste is on the prowl.The last to join the group is Bonnie, who quietly creeps behind to check on Celeste after she sees Perry grab at her. And for the first time, in what seems like the entire series, Bonnie’s forethought kicks in and she understands there’s something deeper at the root of Perry’s aggressions.
The last to join the group is Bonnie, who quietly creeps behind to check on Celeste after she sees Perry grab at her. And for the first time, in what seems like the entire series, Bonnie’s intuition kicks in as she understands there is something deeper in what she witnesses, something darker to Perry’s public aggressions.
Next thing you know, the scenes come in a wave of horrific flashes: Women try their best to protect Celeste as Perry lunges at her and the rest of the women, Bonnie joins the group at the last second to give Perry one last shove, sending him down a flight of concrete stairs, leading to his demise. Perry’s funeral scene is shown for a brief while, followed by a bright beachy scene of the women enjoying a day with their kids in the surf.
Up until recently, I thought Big Little Lies was about a murder, but on second glance — after the series draws to its end — I understand now that it’s been about women this entire time. Beneath the mommy wars, the sleek mansions, and SUVs, the CEOs and housewife wars, there is compassion there. At the root of it: there is friendship.
For the final time, the scene fades to black after a shot of the ocean fills the screen. At the end of it all, the watcher discerns the waves as more than just a backdrop, it is a character in and of itself. There is something inevitable and inviting and final about its reappearance after every episode: a new beginning, perhaps.
In the end, Renata, Bonnie, Celeste, Jane, and Madeline all take a break from playing with the kiddos to look out into the depths of their backyard. It’s then that it occurs to me that much like the women of Monterey, the outside of the ocean is beautiful and serene, while beneath the surface it’s riddled with chaos and mystery.