[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 5, "Kill Me."]
If Big Little Lies has taught us anything, other than how to rock a fancy dress party, it’s that trust is easily broken. It seems like every time a character opens up and lets someone into their life, that person turns around and abuses that trust. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a spouse or parent or a lover, in Monterey, it's always the ones you love who hurt you the most.
Take Celeste (Nicole Kidman), for example; she was already betrayed and beaten by her husband. The man who swore to love and protect her, the man she adored more than anything in the world. And now her mother-in-law is trying to ruin her life too. Celeste welcomed Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) into her home, let her play with the boys, and tolerated her callous words, well, apart from that time she slapped her. And what did she get in return? The vindictive grandmother lawyered up and is now trying to take Max (Nicholas Crovetti) and Josh (Cameron Crovetti) away from her.
Mary Louise puts on her usual performance in front of the judge, playing the concerned guardian who is just looking out for the well being of the boys. "Celeste is not a bad mother... I just think she's unwell," she says. Celeste is ready to snap, but her lawyer, Katie (Poorna Jagannathan), advises her to keep quiet and not rise to the bait. It's advice Celeste does her best to follow, but eventually, she reaches a breaking point when Mary Louise’s lawyer (Denis O'Hare) offers a deal of joint custody. “You’re not getting my f**king kids,” Celeste yells.
The custody battle at least has one positive. It brings Max and Josh closer to their mom, because they don't want to live with grandma. There's a heartbreaking moment when the boys tell Celeste that they’ll protect her. It’s the first time we’ve really seen the boys show this kind of affection for their mother. There were always more loving with their father, and since Perry’s death, they’ve been somewhat cold and even abusive towards their mom. Earlier in the episode, Josh calls Celeste a “bitch” when she tells him that violence is never the answer (after Max, Josh, and Ziggy are suspended for beating up a school bully who called their dad a rapist). But when they realize that their mother could be taken away from them, they finally show their love and appreciation.
We also learn a little more about Bonnie’s (Zoe Kravitz) past in this episode. It seems the relationship with her mother isn’t just tense because of differing opinions, but due to prolonged childhood abuse. Elizabeth (Crystal Fox) had anger problems and would take it out on Bonnie as a child. Again, it's abuse at the hands of the person who you are supposed to trust and rely on the most. Bonnie scolds her father (Martin Donovon) for not protecting her, though he argues he did what he could to make her mother's rage go away, for her sake and his own. It makes sense now why Bonnie ran away to Monterey to start a new life.
Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) is still trying to make it up to Ed (Adam Scott) after her own breach of trust. She tells him to keep an open mind as they visit a “healing institute,” which is basically a room full of sad couples awkwardly hugging. Safe to say, it doesn’t work, for either of them. “That was awful, I’m so sorry,” Madeline laughs. The car journey home becomes a sort of healing process in itself. Ed tells Madeline that from their very first date he felt like he was being interviewed. That after her lust-filled relationship with Nathan (James Tupper) fell apart, she was looking for a stable, father figure, and he checked all the boxes. Ed says he made his peace with that, but he never expected her to cheat on him.
“Now I have to decide to walk out with dignity or stay with a woman I simply cannot trust,” he says. Madeline confesses that she doesn’t even know if she can trust herself. That maybe she has low self-esteem or “just f**king hates herself” and is a self-saboteur. And Madeline knows she will probably screw up again, but she promises that her next mistake won’t be infidelity. “All my future mistakes will be brand new ones,” she says, which is kind of reassuring, I guess?
The most significant breach of trust of the episode, however, is revealed in the cliffhanger. Jane (Shailene Woodley) has grown close to Corey (Douglas Smith) over the past few weeks. She’s opened up to him about her sexual assault and has even allowed him to bond to her son. It all seems to be going well; even if she still isn’t ready to be sexual yet. Most importantly, Ziggy (Iain Armitage) likes Corey, and that in itself is a big win.
The three of them are becoming a little family unit, and despite all the recent trauma and heartache, it's all smiles as they spend their day of suspension kayaking with Celeste, Max, and Josh. There is a sense of hope. Until the end of the episode, when Bonnie notices Corey leaving the police station!
Does this mean Corey is a police informant? Is his getting close to Jane all a ruse to get details about Perry’s death? I suppose that’s what we’re meant to believe right now, and if so, that is going to be another deep cut to Jane. It’s even more worrying because Celeste’s custody case is means the Monterey Five will be called in as character witnesses, and once on the stand, they can be questioned about what happened to Perry.
“We just need to stick to the story. If we all stick together, we’ll be fine,” Madeline tells the girls. But in a series where trust is broken all the time, what is the likelihood that all five women stick to their word?
-Renata (Laura Dern) is dropped from the Women In Power magazine story which sends her even further down the path of rage. She also meets her match in Mary-Louise, who sees right through Renata's attempt to get her to drop the custody case. "Such a big house and no furniture," Mary-Louise comments. She really knows how to hit someone in the sore spot.
-The awkward hugging at the healing retreat might not have worked, but Chloe's (Darby Camp) hug was exactly what Ed needed. What he doesn't need is to be hooking up with Tori (Sarah Sokolovic), who approaches him at the bar while her husband Joseph (Santiago Cabrera) watches from a dark corner? It was hard to tell if this was actually happening or it was some sort of fantasy sequence.
-Elizabeth wakes up from her coma and tells Bonnie to kill her.
Big Little Lies, Sundays, 9/8c, HBO