AND SO IT ENDS, BIG LITTLE LIES THE FINALE RECAP
Its finally here, the finale of Big Little Lies (lovingly called BLL by me). She has been my remedy for post inauguration blues and my favorite escape from the Tangerine Mussolini. So, what has happened so far? To sum up episodes 1-6 in a haiku:
Jane moves to Monterey Jane makes friends and enemies Murder. Maybe Jane?
Don’t judge my ability to count syllables. Is Monterey two or three? Say it with me … Mont’rey.
Full disclosure, I did not read the book. TBH I have never even heard of the author Liane Moriarty, who is apparently a pretty big deal. So, having never opened a page of one of her books, including Big Little Lies, going into the finale, I have no idea what is going to happen, so my top FOUR theories in no particular order:
#1 Jane (Shailene Woodley) kills Celeste’s (Nicole Kidman) husband, Perry (Alexander Skarsgård), after discovering he is the man who raped her
I think this is the most obvious outcome. Either way, going into the finale, I think we can all agree Perry is the rapist.
I give this theory a Laura Dern half smile, where is the drama and surprise here?
#2 Celeste kills her husband or vice versa (could really go either way)
This also seems a little too likely. Alexander Skarsgård’s turn as Perry has kinda ruined Alexander Skarsgård for me (and yes, I always say his full name, Alexander Skarsgård). I mean he still has the body, but the abs are now tainted with the abuse of Nicole Kidman, which is really no joking matter. Fiction or not, I have read that Keith Urban had a hard time watching the series because the abuse is so brutal.
I give this theory a Laura Dern fierce cry.
#3 Jane kills Renata (Laura Dern, who is flawless, as always)
The latest theory in my list, which is based on episode six when Jane attacks Renata at school. I still am not clear on how Jane hurt Renata’s eye. It looked like a sucker punch to the stomach, but then Renata grabs her eye, and a few scenes later she is wearing a pirate eye patch. HUH? I could also see Renata’s husband, Gordon (Jeffrey Nordling) going after Jane. On the husband for a moment, he needs to stop wearing transition lens. Not a good look.
This one is hard for me to swallow, ignore the fact that these are my theories, but this is the stretchiest of my theories. I believe Ziggy is 100% innocent, and I think the reconciliation that Renata and Jane had in episode six was genuine, so although this is plausible, I think it is a stretch.
This theory is a Laura Dern stern look in the opposite direction. Because, really? Who came up with this theory anyway?
#4: Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) kills Celeste’s husband after learning A) he is abusive and B) he is the rapist
This is actually my favorite theory. There has been something bubbling under the surface of Madeline’s posture the entire series. The dramatic cuts of her staring longingly at the ocean sipping wine or hot tea, her frustration with her daughter moving out, and then her daughter deciding to auction off her virginity online (that came from left field, or some other field that we did not even know existed, was that even necessary???). Bundle this with her affair, the fact that she just spilled the beans on the affair to her daughter, and the sense that she is disgusted with her husband - there is no passion.
Back to the murder theory. I give this a Laura Dern cackling with surprise look - no one is going to expect Madeline.
I have no idea how they are going to wrap this in a single episode, and a single episode that clocks in at 60 minutes, which we had to confirm prior to starting it. But here we go. Spoilers below, all of them, all the spoilers, if you have not watched, stop now. I warned you.
And here we go. Okay, first, the principles quote that they use in the opening recap, “never had a trivia night end in blood shed.” They keep using that line over and over, so what trivia night? Is it a goddamn costume ball or trivia night??
Opening scene, you can hear the sounds of Perry’s abuse through a vent. This is going to be dark. Celeste is on the floor, clearly just punched or kicked by Perry, and Perry runs out to stop the twins from coming in. This is not going to be good. Perry calls Celeste … Sparkles? Not the best pet name.
Now Madeline is trying to get out the door, and Chloe (We need to talk about Chloe, Madeline and Ed’s music obsessed-acts-like-a-teenager daughter, that deserves an entire post to dig into. Her musical taste is better than most, and I will leave it at that) enters the scene spot on with humor and snark, “are you having your period”. What six year old asks her mother is she is having her period? I don’t have kids, so I don’t know. Really, do six year old people talk like that? Madeline sees Tori outside the house, stalking her, as she will later point out, “going all Glenn Close” on her.
And now we are at the theater, and Joseph is angry. Madeline is really having a bad day (I bet it will only get worse …) - stalked, yelled at, perhaps on her period (Chloe’s joke, not mine), and then Joseph yells as Madeline is leaving after being threatened by Joseph, “see you at the party tonight. Why is Joseph going to be at this party, will everyone be there?
Back to Celeste at the therapist's office. Celeste tells the therapist that the apartment is ready, but first they have to go to the school gala. Because, you know, #schoolgalatrivianightthing is the event of the year. She storms out.
First shot of Jane this episode with Ziggy. We are getting a nice little update on everyone. Ziggy is “sick”. Yep, playing sick. I know this game. “Mom, I feel sick”. It is the ole Ferris Bueller moment. Wait, he brings up Amabella (thanks IMDB, I thought this whole time it was ANNABELLA, nope, AMABELLA) and that someone is still hurting her. Well SHIT. This is unexpected, and I knew Ziggy was innocent. Oh NO, it is one of Celeste’s twins, Max.
This is clarifies the opening scene; the twins are hearing the violence.
At the coffee shop Madeline and Jane are catching up about Max, and Madeline gasps, “REALLY?” when she learns that he is the kid abusing Amabella. And now, a weird turn, Gordon shows up at the coffee shop and threatens Jane for attacking his wife. YES. Tom, the coffee shop proprietor, to the rescue. He kicks Gordon out. Welcome to a dramatic storyline Tom, where have you been? Oops, Gordon threatens Tom with “loss of customers”, bold move Gordon. And now ... Tom hits on Jane, and her reaction, “you’re straight?”. Not the best reaction, and why this storyline now? Tom is cute, so I’m cool with it.
Back to school, and again, Madeline’s ex-husband asks her about trivia night? Is this a costume gala or trivia night? Still confused, and now he says he is “rooting for her”. Is Madeline’s day getting better, or worse.
Cut to the peanut gallery (aka all the rando secondary characters), one of them comments on the party, “one dead, we definitely got off light.”
Back at the new apartment where Celeste is wearing latex gloves. This is super awkward, like she was trying to avoid her prints on the kids’ stuffed animals. I know she is cleaning, but the scene starts with her arranging the stuffed animals with latex gloves on. Then we have brutal flashback of Perry attacking Celeste.
Jane and Celeste meet at the beach to talk about Max (We need to talk about Max like We Need to Talk About Kevin). I cannot see Jane and Celeste being friends in real life. Just saying. Jane tells Celeste that Max is the kid who bit and strangled Isabella. Celeste is shocked. Cuts to Max and the kids, shows that they can hear the abuse, and apparently Max pushed Sky down the stairs. “Being bullied is human nature”, Jane says, and continues “they grow out of it” and Celeste responds, well, no “sometimes they don’t.” (Yes, We Need to talk About Max).
In all seriousness, the drama and the suspense is fascinating, but central to this story is now the question, is violence learned or is it part of who you are? Regardless of what will happen with Perry, what really will happen to Max and Ziggy, is violence part of one’s DNA?
A few scenes later, Madeline and her daughter are suddenly BFF, hanging out together gossiping about the big party, and how she might see her ex-lover / person she cheated on her husband with. This is really WTF. Two episodes back they could hardly talk, and then the last episode she was auctioning off her virginity (that deserves an entire post, was it tasteless? I am not sure). Still, don’t buy this. Good news, she is no longer auctioning off her virginity.
Now for the first Renata scene, she is pissed at Gordon, because really why did he confront Jane and Madeline like that (besides that fact that it brought Tom and Jane together, I mean, right?). Look at Gordon in his GOLD pants. Seriously. Look at him.
Things are going to get vicious tonight, Renata can sense it, and now Gordon does not want to go, and Renata is all, “if I get shot in the head tonight, half these moms are going to say, she could not bother to duck, could not get the nanny to take the bullet.” Oops, and Renata hates everyone, BUT JANE? I think we can now exclude Jane and Renata fight at the party.
Cut to Celeste in the shower, and Perry, asks for a kiss. He stares at her for too long. This is not good. Back to Jane, things are moving now, Jane looks great. LET’S GET TO THE PARTY.
Who is at the door? Tom? What? Yep, this twist is new, and I like it. Jane deserves Tom, and he rode is BIKE to pick her up. Adorable! He leaves his helmet at Jane’s house (he will need to get that later, sneaky Tom, welcome to the party!).
Finally, the party. OH WOW. The glamor! The lights! what is this? Is this what happens in Monterey? Seriously, is it? Madeline and Ed arrive, love Ed’s Elvis.
… and cut to the peanut gallery, rando women who compliments her, says, “that dress was inappropriate.” Oy, the peanut gallery is as bad as everyone else.
Back to Celeste and Perry’s house. Celeste talks to Max before leaving, “you are a good boy.” Perry comes down dancing, and seems to be in genuine good spirits. Do rich people get ready in two bathrooms? Because wouldn’t they have seen each other upstairs. Perry hands Celeste her phone, and OH SHIT. Perry knows that Tracy the property manager called. Perry knows about the apartment.
Time to go to the party, but Celeste, please, don’t get in the car! OMG. They walk slowly out. Perry is dancing. This is not good.
SHIT. SHIT. SHIT.
Madeline is getting wasted at the party, she is double fisting because Ed is not drinking, or because she has had a terrible day of being yelled at and made fun of by her youngest daughter.
Cut to peanut gallery, “we are currently reviewing our alcohol procedures in relation to school events.” Oops, Madeline!
Now Celeste and Perry arrive at the fundraiser, but he does not stop the car, he speeds off. They park on the edge of a cliff or ravine. Perry is making a case to stay together. He locks her in. Crap, get out Celeste!
Meanwhile at the party, Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz) is performing and she sounds amazing. Drunk Madeline sums it up nicely, “I am sure the room is full of erections.” Ed responds, “yeah.” Ha, touché. Tom and Jane show up, and guess what? Madeline wants another drink! Now so does Ed to calm the nerves because it is almost his turn to perform. A double, nope, now triple vodka.
Celeste is still trapped in the car, and TAP TAP TAP, its Renata, Renata to the rescue. Brilliant. Bravo! Celeste gets out, and starts running. It’s time for Ed to sing, and he is also incredible (this can’t be Adam Scott’s real voice, can it?). What kind of la la land is this, where everyone can sing. And seriously, when is the trivia happening, am I missing something?
Ed is singing to Madeline. Bonnie is muy impressed, but Madeline can’t take it. She makes eyes at the Joseph, then runs. Joseph appears to be running after her, but wait, no, she is on the Terrace and Jane chases her. Madeline spills all - the affair, not telling Ed about it. Madeline is wasted.
Cut to peanut gallery, “Madeline was out of her mind hammered.” Thanks peanut gallery for letting us know the obvious.
Celeste arrives, and she starts looking for Jane and Madeline, but finds Renata. They are talking … and Perry can see them. Music is so good, slow suspenseful beats. The whole party atmosphere is really spot on right now. Ed is looking for Madeline. But, wait, quick stop for Ed and Nathan to get into a fight. Dumb boys.
And the peanut gallery, “I personally saw Ed throw a drink on Bonnie.” Oh come on.
Nathan’s turn to sing, and he also sounds phenomenal. Bonnie is watching, but also sees Celeste and Perry fighting. Renata finds Jane and Madeline on the terrace to apologize.
Celeste is running … to the Terrace! Bonnie watches. Back at the bar, Perry and Gordon are together, and Gordon who turns out is a dick, says to Perry, go ahead and get a drink, “we paid for it, help yourself.”
And now we have Celeste on the terrace. Count that, Jane, Madeline, Renata and Celeste are all on the terrace. The scene of the crime. There are too many people out here. Perry arrives, asking for Celeste to come back with him. Celeste refuses.
OH MY GOD, Jane recognizes Perry as the rapist, Back to the beach sequence (which we don’t have time to analyze, but Jane definitely has been living in two worlds, reality and now, I imagine to deal with the trauma of being raped), Jane pulls out the gun in the dream like sequence on the beach, sees Perry in the dream, makes the recognition, and then drops the gun. Back to reality, Madeline sees the recognition in Jane’s face, Madeline motions to Celeste, Celeste gets it. It is Perry. Perry is the one who raped Jane. And then Perry realizes he knows Jane?
Then, black screen, and SIRENS. WTF happened,
Celeste is beat up. Where is everyone else? Who died? Cops show up, and Perry is dead.
We see Madeline talking in an interview room, but we do not have audio. Then Renata. Still silence. AND Jane. So everyone survived except Perry. Then Bonnie. To recap, the cops interviewed Madeline, Renata, Jane, Celeste and Bonnie.
Cops don’t believe whatever story is being told. What happened? Why lie? Man cop, let it go. Woman cop, apparently she can’t.
Funeral looks depressing, but Celeste is free. She is free from the monster. Jane is also free, free from the fear. Cops still watching.
Kids are now playing on the beach, and all the women are together.
Back to the terrace, Perry is hitting all of them, and he is going after Celeste. They are all trying to protect her. Bonnie runs down; she has been watching from above, and pushes Perry off of Celeste. Bonnie. BONNIE. Wow. This is it. They overcame their superficial bullshit, and destroyed the monster. I had it wrong, but also right. The monster was one in the same, it was Perry for both Jane and Celeste, but what actually happened to the monster was wrong.
I can’t believe it is over. I am craving more. It fits into this place in my life where Revenge once was, god bless the first season of Revenge, but BLL has more heart.
In the end, like the Stones have told us, “You can't always get what you want / But if you try sometimes well you just might find / You get what you need.” Perry’s violence brought these women together, to quote my friend Melissa, who endured the entire series with me via text and in person, “Bitches get it done.”
Final image, far off view looking at the women together, happily, with their children on the beach. The borders tighten to a binocular view, and we hear the repetitive click of the cop’s lighter. Is that a sign of more to come? I hope not.