'Big Little Lies' season 2 episode 4 calls out Mary Louise's intrusive nature with a slap, starts a discourse on boundaries and offense
This article contains spoilers on season 2, episode 4.
Until the last week, with three episodes in, season 2 of Big Little Lies was all about showing how every little lie has some big consequences. And while the Monterey Five were being closely watched by the brilliant, but sinister Mary Louise Wright (Meryl Streep) in relation to her son Perry's (Alexander Skarsgard) death, the fourth episode is all about allowing us an insight into her mind. How it works, and how far ahead it has planned - or what is her true agenda behind moving to Monterey is. We get to know all about that in the episode titled 'She Knows.'
Episode 4 of Big Little Lies season 2 kicks off with Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) throwing this massive pumpkin carving party with the Monterey Five - herself, Celeste (Nicole Kidman), Jane (Shailene Woodley), Renata (Laura Dern) and Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz) - and their kids, of course. But it's not just fun and games for the usually fierce Madeline, who is doing whatever she can to distract herself from the crumbling mess that her marriage has turned into, ever since her husband Ed (Adam Scott) found out about her affair. From parties, her coping mechanisms have escalated to attempting to smoke a cigarette, but nothing seems to be working for her, thanks to an incessantly rambling Renata, and a suspicious Mary Louise.
Renata, as we last saw her, is still pissed about her daughter Amabella's panic attack, but shifting focus, this time she is concentrating on the little girl's upcoming birthday party. But while she can't keep from complaining about how the party had to be postponed, thanks to bankruptcy court with her husband, Gordon, Renata also seems passively defensive of the idiot man who blew away all of her life's earnings in a stupid stock scheme. For all the strategizing and scheming that Renata has done to get where she is, this comes not only as a shock but as a major middle finger to her own words from the past, where she snapped at Gordon saying "I will not not be rich."
But at the end of the day, the show is all about how far the mothers will go to lie and protect their kids, so maybe Renata is just being a good mom and trying to 'work it out' with the good for nothing father of her baby, who has developed anxiety from being worried sick about her mom. On the plus side, this episode also gave us more meme-worthy Renata content as mid-ramble, she says: “Tell me to stop talking, please,” Renata says. “Just, all the time.”
Back to the second of Madeline's woes - Mary Louise - who is turning out to be a major pain in everyone's butt, but this time, she finally lets us in on her intentions. 'Big Little Lies' is a show about mothers and their love for their children, and Mary Louise is a screaming, sassing, no-nonsense conservative mother scorned. Of course, she didn't buy the Monterey Five's lies about Perry's death, which she subtly slid into the detective in the previous episode saying "You don't believe my son just fell, do you?" But for all the niceness she has faked in front of the women she holds responsible for her beloved, but abusive son's death, she is getting back at each one of them by laying down her true motives behind shifting to Monterey.
Mary Louise invites herself over to Madeline's party and shows up with a cake. Within the first few minutes itself, she manages to say things like “I see two handsome grandsons. Somehow I thought for sure there’d be three," - that too, in front of Celeste and Perry's children, Max and Josh, and in the presence of Jane's son Ziggy, who was born after Perry raped Jane. The truth about Ziggy's father has been out in the open for a while now, but it is what Mary Louise chooses to do with the truth that the fourth episode is about. After pulling her usual stunts, and also telling Jane that she is moving to an apartment in her building to "help" with Ziggy, the episode reaches its peak when Nicole Kidman slaps Meryl Streep for crossing "boundaries". Yep, you read that right. That just happened, very much in character, but it still did.
Moving on, Mary Louise plays her cards just right and decides to go seek a lawyer's advice in what becomes one of the most crucial points of the episode. Mary Louise expresses her concern over Celeste's dazed state ever since Perry died, and portraying her as an incapable mom, she wants to take custody of her grandchildren. Talk about a classic d**k move! In just two episodes, not only has Mary Louise victim-blamed a rape survivor, shamed them for being promiscuous, but she also wants to take away from a grieving widow her only two children all because these women are out to paint her son in a light she doesn't approve of. Mary Louise has been everything that's wrong with the prevalent rape culture, and more. And Streep plays the part so well, no matter how much you hate the character, you're always curious about her next move.
In other aspects of the episode, mothers and daughters are in a constant war with each other. While Madeline's daughter Chloe subtly implies her mother is unhinged, Bonnie's mother Elizabeth tries to warn her about how she doesn’t like the energy at the party. It ends with Elizabeth getting traumatizing visions of the water and Bonnie, which lands her in the hospital. Along the lines of the aptly given title of the episode, 'She Knows,' mothers always know, don't they? So does Celeste, when an undressed man is seen leaving her bedroom in front of Mary Louise. Yes, that also happened. But Celeste is not giving up her parental rights. “I’ll win,” she says. “I’ll f***ing win.” Honestly, we are rooting for her. As much as we love Streep's Mary Louise, it will be a kicker to watch the devil get taken down.
'Big Little Lies' airs on Sundays, at 9 pm, only on HBO.