WARNING: contains some minor spoilers for Big Little Lies series 2 episode 6. Still catching up? Read Steve’s review of episode 5 here.
This week, HBO president Casey Bloys all but confirmed that Big Little Lies won’t be returning for a third series. Not because of poor reviews or ratings or anything like that. If anything, the show seems to have fallen victim to its own success. With a cast that includes the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern and Meryl Streep, it’s next to impossible to align everyone’s schedules, making a third outing almost impossible.
‘The reality is that they are some of the busiest actresses working in Hollywood,’ says Bloys. ‘Look, if they all came to me and said, “We worked out all of our schedules!” – then sure. But I just don’t think it’s realistic.’
So if you’re a fan of this beautifully crafted David E Kelley show (and you should be), you’d best make peace with the fact that the story of the Monterey Five is coming to an end next week. Unless you can somehow work out the highly complicated logistics and calendars of a bunch of big Hollywood stars, that is.
Nope. We didn’t think so.
So, then. Episode 6 – ‘The Bad Mother’ – is very likely to be the penultimate hour in the Big Little Lies universe. And it set up quite the final instalment…
The ‘will they/won’t they get away with Perry’s death?’ story-line continues to play out here, but as with the series so far, it works more as a crutch to hold up the rest of the events we see. Big Little Lies hasn’t abandoned the ‘crime’ of the Monterey Five, but nor has it got too bogged down in it, either. The nature of Perry’s timely demise is raised here, but only alongside what has become the major plot point of the series: Celeste vs. Mary-Louise.
The custody battle between Nicole Kidman’s doting but emotionally vulnerable mother and her shrewish Machiavellian mother-in-law hits the courthouse this week, with explosive results.
One of the fantastic things about this show is that, over the two series, it’s been a true ensemble piece. A real team effort. Every now and again though, someone really stands out and shines. Meryl Streep and Laura Dern have stolen lots of moments in this season. This week’s episode, however, only has one owner… Nicole Kidman.
As she’s cross-examined by Mary-Louise’s expert counsel (American Horror Story’s excellent Denis O’Hare), she sits, she squirms and she stutters. Asked a brutal series of extremely personal questions, she’s put through a veritable ordeal on the stand, all to determine her capacity as a mother. And you can feel every accusation, every slight and every word. Kidman is showboating here. At a Harlem Globetrotters level.
The ‘Bad Mother’ of the title mostly describes Meryl Streep’s characters assessment of Celeste – but it also refers to Bonnie’s mum. Still close to death after her severe stroke, her pleas for euthanasia dismissed, her mothering skills are taken to task when Bonnie decides to finally release her pent-up resentment, ranting at her bed-bound mother in a scene that’s pure cathartic emotion.
Other story-lines get some attention here too, of course – though most seem a little trivial compared to the custody battle and the potential for the truth to out about Perry in court. Madeline and Ed appear to be close to a reconciliation. And – very nearly stealing the show again – Laura Dern’s Renata discovers that husband Gordon used to indulge in a little ‘stress management’ with the family’s beloved young nanny. Cue a sweary car rant spat at Gordo that could’ve come straight from a Tarantino script.
Back to the superbly tense and engaging courtroom action and we’re set up perfectly for next week’s final episode of Big Little Lies. Having survived her grilling in court, Celeste convinces the judge to allow her to quiz her children’s grandmother to test her ability as a guardian for the twins…
We can think of no better way for this brilliant series to reach a climax than by putting two of the world’s finest actresses in the ring together. It’s Nicole Kidman vs. Meryl Streep and it’s going to be a knockout.
What did you think of Big Little Lies series 2 episode 6? Let us know in the comments below!