'Big Little Lies' season 2 episode 2 puts a dark twist on Father's Day but keeps things real with a conservative Mary Louise
The highlight of episode 2, 'Tell-Tale Hearts', proved to be Ian Armitage as Ziggy, and the way the little child processes how inhuman adults can be.
This article contains spoilers for season 2, episode 2: 'Tell-Tale Hearts.'
The second episode of 'Big Little Lies' arrives shortly after this year's Father's Day, and the showrunners did not hold back from putting a really dark spin on the occasion. The Monterey Five might have reunited after 'accidentally' killing off one of their own's abusive husband, but their collective look of denial and evasion doesn't mean they won't have to reap the little consequences of the big seed they sowed. With the deceased Perry Wright's (Alexander Skarsgard) mother, Mary Louise Wight (Meryl Streep) snooping around to unravel the mystery of her son's death, the secrets are coming out sooner than expected. But despite her subtly duplicitous nature, the highlight of episode 2, 'Tell-Tale Hearts', proved to be Ian Armitage as Ziggy, and the way the little child processes how inhuman adults can be.
Armitage has shown his brilliance as the exceptionally gifted, precocious science whiz-kid in 'Young Sheldon' - where he played the titular role of 'The Big Bang Theory' original character, Sheldon Cooper. As young Sheldon, Armitage had a lot of references and some really big shoes to fill owing to his adult counterpart on the original show; but as Ziggy, he has to play a young child who has just found out that his father was actually his mother's rapist, and yet he manages to suppress his need to lash out at her as any regular 10-year-old child would do. Episode 2 shows him having known about Perry being his father, for weeks now, but he chooses to keep it to himself, figuring that his mother would lie about it to him anyway. Quite the father's day treat, right?
But on a more serious note, Shailene Woodley as Jane is barely able to look her child in the eye when she goes to speak with him after finding out he already knows about his missing father. And even though the show has always used children as a means to explain crucial plot developments, this scene between Woodley and Armitage is able to prove once again just how deeply the consequences of adults' actions impact the children they are surrounded by. While Jane sheds her tears and is barely able to speak with a lump in her throat, Ziggy just sits there with his head leaning against his mother's chest as the realization of how he came to be, sets in. The fact that he still refers to his father as 'Mr. Wright' is just the final straw of the heartbreaking revelation.
In other aspects, we have our Monterey Five being just as confusing and concerning as ever. While Celeste almost crashes her car owing to sleeping pills, kicking off the dysfunction mom stereotype that newly widowed characters in TV are known to exhibit, she is redeemed as she spills to her mother-in-law what the late Perry had actually done. But worry not, she is still clouded by the memories of her late husband and ends up admitting in therapy that she still only wants him, thus rejecting the idea of going back to dating again. The abuse inflicted by Perry has run so deep in Celeste that she is incapable of seeing another person as a potential partner. She is convinced that Perry's abuse was some sort of godforsaken love and to quote Stephen Chbosky, "We accept the love we think we deserve."
Mary Louise holds her classic conservative woman stance in the episode after finding out about her late son's dirty secrets, and here the show excels by not turning her into a progressive torchbearer of feminism whose shroud of blindness is automatically lifted after knowing about the rape. Despite Celeste explicitly mentioning the word twice in their conversation, Mary Louise insists Jane must have had other partners, and Streep brings back the intimidating stance she has portrayed in the first episode, as she tells Celeste: “You were planning to leave him, the very night he died. You left that out. You learned of his infidelity just 10 seconds before he went falling down a flight of stairs to his death.” We know that she knows something is up and that only makes her scarier. That, and the deafening scream in episode 1 - something that Celeste repeats in the most recent episode 2.
In other areas, Renata (Laura Dern) finally faced off her husband who has lost all of her life's savings in some stupid stock scheme - thus sparking off a series of meme-worthy content from his wife. Dern has been simply refreshing in every character she has portrayed on the screen, but this comes as a culture shock because she is not the face of something one would find meme-worthy. But it has happened, and we are absolutely stanning her for phrases like "I will not, not be rich" and "I used to like to sit on your face, too. You think that’ll happen again?”
Meanwhile, both Reese Witherspoon's Madeline and Zoe Kravitz's Bonnie face confrontation in this episode. While Madeline's husband Ed (Adam Scott) finds out about the secret and confronts her for keeping such a big thing from him, Bonnie's mother comes to town and addresses the fact that she is, after all, a black woman, surrounded by the metaphorical sea of white people - indicating that she moved to Monterey just to be a recluse. But amidst all of this confrontation and bitter realizations, it is yet again the children on the show who manage to gain prominence because slowly, the little ones are spilling the big lies their moms have maintained so far. They were the ones who should have been shielded from all of this, yet here we are.