7:00pm PT by Jean Bentley
'Big Little Lies': Monterey Five Risk Exposure as Walls Close In
[This story contains spoilers from the fifth episode of Big Little Lies season two, "Kill Me."]
The second season of Big Little Lies has followed the women of the Monterey Five as they attempt to return to their normal lives while keeping their major secret — that Perry Wright's death wasn't caused by a fall down the stairs, but rather a push. But the fifth episode made it clear that the secret likely won't stay under wraps for much longer.
As Bonnie Carlson (Zoe Kravitz) sat in the hospital with her mother, she flashed back to the abuse she suffered during her childhood at the hands of her mom — the abuse that ultimately led to her pushing Perry (Alexander Skarsgard) down the stairs. Later, she confronted her father about not doing enough to protect her at the time, but he told her he thought he was protecting her by trying to diffuse her mother's rage. Meanwhile, a sweet gift from Bonnie's husband, Nathan Carlson (James Tupper), seemed to begin to repair the rift between the two.
Though Bonnie's mom (Crystal Fox) wasn't entirely conscious, at the end of the episode she was finally able to express one thought to her daughter: "kill me," she whispered while laying in her hospital bed. Being unable to move or speak was taking a toll on her, and she didn't want to experience that kind of pain any longer.
Meanwhile, Celeste Wright (Nicole Kidman) had her first court appointment in her custody battle with her mother-in-law Mary Louise Wright (Meryl Streep), where she began to comprehend the true difficulty of her situation. Later, she asked Renata Klein (Laura Dern) for advice about how to handle the case, and Renata told her the easiest solution was to get Mary Louise to drop her complaint. Renata offered to step in and convince Mary Louise to do so but — as anyone could have predicted — Mary Louise outwitted Renata and refused.
Mary Louise's lawyer (Denis O'Hare) offered joint custody to Celeste, but the mother of two declined. Her lawyer said that the offer was reasonable but Celeste refused to accept any compromise that would take her twin boys away from her.
Renata, at the same time, was learning she wasn't being featured in a San Francisco magazine's women in power issue after all (owing to her family's bankruptcy), and, needless to say, she didn't handle it well. She took her daughter, Amabella, out of school for a fun day of hooky, and explained that it was simply because she wanted to spend time with her, not because they were losing their house. "Everything isn’t about money. Well, it is, but it isn’t," she said.
At school, a bully targeted Jane Chapman's (Shailene Woodley) son Ziggy (Iain Armitage), but Celeste's twins came to the rescue of their half-brother — and they were all suspended (bully included) for the incident. This caused Ziggy to ask Jane if he would turn out to be a bad person like his father, whom he was told was a rapist, and the mother and son had a heart-to-heart to assure Ziggy he was good inside.
Later, Jane and her new boyfriend, Corey Brockfield (Douglas Smith), reached a new level of intimacy — but Jane's trauma over being raped prevented her from going any further. He comforted her as she cried in his arms.
Madeline Mackenzie (Reese Witherspoon) and husband Ed (Adam Scott) attempted to repair their relationship with a couples' retreat that didn't necessarily work — and at the end of the episode, he sat in a bar and flirted with the wife of the man Madeline had her affair with. Later, she and her oldest daughter, Abigail (Kathryn Newton), ran into Mary Louise while eating ice cream. It seemed like their confrontation would lead to the ice cream-throwing incident captured by paparazzi last year, but alas only words were exchanged between the women. (Witherspoon confirmed the moment was cut on social media.)
When Celeste, who is a lawyer, realized that she will be put under oath when her custody battle goes to court, she also realized that she and the fellow Monterey Five as her witnesses could all be facing perjury if they are cornered into questions about Perry's death and give conflicting answers while on the stand. The five women met up for an emergency discussion about their situation — and the fact that Det. Quinlan (Merrin Dungey) was still suspicious of their story from the night of Perry's death — and vowed again to stay strong.
"We have to stick together. That's the only way we've gotten this far," Madeline said. "If we stick together we're going to be fine."
But the message didn't seem to stick with Bonnie, whose guilt over the incident has been eating at her for months. At the end of the episode, she found herself again in front of the police station — where she happened to see Jane's boyfriend, Corey, quickly walking out. What was he doing inside?
That will be a question he'll certainly have to answer shortly, as his motivation will become clearer in episode six.
"What are the motivations — are they purely altruistic or is there something else going on? Things like that get called into question because when you have been through a trauma like Jane has, you always question peoples’ motives," Smith told The Hollywood Reporter about Corey's intentions at the Big Little Lies season two premiere ahead of the season.
The actor said he prepared for his role by researching how to be a "companion to someone who has been a victim of sexual assault," as well as speaking with aquarium professionals.
"There’s a lot of really courageous people that have documented their own stories and put up journals," he told THR of preparing for the Corey and Jane relationship. "I watched a lot of documentaries but I really found a particular online journal where a partner or somebody who has been raped was talking about things that they’ve learned to do and not to. Sometimes you feel like you’re being supportive and you’re just triggering."
Corey knew who Jane was when they first met, but she's since confided in him a great deal, telling him about what happened between her and Perry.
"I think he’s a really unique character. I like playing him," Smith said. "I felt good at the end of the day playing him."
Big Little Lies airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.