'Big Little Lies' season 2 sees Madeline breakdown revealing the character's broken pursuit for happy endings
This article contains spoilers for season 2, episode 3.
'Big Little Lies' season two might have focused on the latest addition to the leading ladies — Meryl Streep's beyond perfect and overly suspicious Mary Louise — taking down the Monterey Five one by one. But the second run of the HBO drama has also gifted us with individual characters losing their cool one after the other on each episode. The most recent one being Madeline Mackenzie's (Reese Witherspoon) epic public breakdown that not only had us cheering for the sassy character, but was also a really sad insight to the brokenness she hides under the tough exterior.
In the last two years that viewers have been acquainted with the show, Madeline has always been the snarky, fierce blonde with her nose in everybody else's business. But don't let the character's loud mouth deceive you from seeing where she comes from. Apart from being overzealous, Madeline is also deeply caring and protective of her friends. And just like it was revealed in the most recently aired third episode, the reason behind the tough exterior where she doesn't let people in to see the vulnerability within comes from the childhood incident of catching her father sleeping with another woman and then being asked to keep that as a secret for life.
But in the very same episode where Madeline decides to spill the secret to Celeste (Nicole Kidman), she also spills more than she had intended to at a school assembly, where she was supposed to address the impending dangers of global warming. Madeline sheds the wall she had so carefully built around her innermost emotions just to put up the fierce persona that roots for her friends and takes down anybody who tries to harm them. As this protective nature transcends to their children, the recent developments in her personal life combined unleashes the storm that had been building up for a while now. And every bit of it was beautiful, yet tragic to witness.
In episode three, during a press conference with her daughter's school, Madeline gets called to speak on the stage after she very loudly contributes to an ongoing argument between the principal and the parents. But her dam breaks only when Principal Nippal asks for her to just share how she's feeling, and off she goes shedding all the burdensome woes she has been riddled with.
"Part of the problem is that we lie to our kids. We fill their heads full of Santa Claus and stories with happy endings when most of us know that most endings to most stories f**king suck. Right? Let's just get real. There aren’t a lot of happy endings for a lot of people, you know? Be it climate change, be it guns in schools. And our kids are afraid—they’re afraid to go to school. They’re afraid they’re gonna get shot. We don’t prepare them. We fill their heads full of happy endings and happy stories and lies. And we tell them things like 'you're fine, you're gonna be fine' and we tell ourselves — we tell ourselves we're gonna be fine. But we're not."
With that one paragraph, she addresses everything and nothing in general. She also makes a reference to everyone's favourite song from their childhood, 'The Rainbow Connection' and uses the lyrics to explain "We have to tell the children that life is an illusion and things don’t work out sometimes and you can’t tell them part of the truth, you have to tell them the whole truth." As Madeline beats around the bush, it's not hard to deduce that she is addressing her currently ongoing conflict with her husband, Ed (Adam Scott) ever since he found out about her affair.
The illusion she talks about and the lies she refers to is cumulative of the big and little lies that the Monterey Five have been telling their kids and those close to them about the "accidental" death of Perry Wright (Alexander Skarsgard). Through one impassionate, yet abstract, no context whatsoever speech, Madeline also addresses the flaws in her character, which has to do mostly with the beautiful lies she and the others tell to their loved ones to shield them from the monstrous reality of things.
Perhaps it is also a hint at how the events of this season might pan out, because Madeline talks about the harmful consequences of the seemingly harmless lies we surround ourselves with, and going by the recent developments, the Monterey Five's lies are pretty much resurfacing to bite them in the ass.
But at the end of the day, this speech was an insight to Madeline's character more than the entire show has been so far. Through her speech, Madeline implies her wishes of living a beautiful life where she just wants to be away from the troubles she so expertly hides — a world where she can be truly happy. But Madeline also knows the repercussions of her actions and there's a brutal realism in her tone which shows just how aware she is of the mess they have all surrounded themselves in, all for the pursuit of a happy ending.
'Big Little Lies' season 2 airs on Sundays at 9 pm, only on HBO.