Big Little Lies Season 1 Episode 2 Review: Serious Mothering

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Quirky Madeline said she didn't like injustice on Big Little Lies Season 1 Episode 2, yet her actions weren't any better than those she was fighting.

Otter Bay Elementary School is at the root of all the evil taking place, though, and the principal and Ms. Barnes are stirring the pot whenever possible.

The parents are doing the best they can with what they're given, but if that's what passes for private school at public school prices, maybe it's time to move out of Monterey.

Since the show has been available to customers since Friday on HBO Now and HBO Go, we're posting this a little early. Spoilers ahead; enjoy!

Taken to Task - Big Little Lies

Not only is Ziggy still in they eye of the storm thanks to the debacle that took place on Big Little Lies Season 1 Episode 1 and because the Greek Chorus of Monterey has deemed him a weird kid, but the school let it go at the group lynching.

It would be difficult to solve a case involving an entire group of first graders who didn't know each other's names, but not giving Ziggy the benefit of the doubt without some due process, especially in light of the way Amabella is otherwise reacting to him is unfair.

Ziggy [whispering]: At pickup I heard one of the mothers say I was a little monster.
Jane: What? Ziggy, you're not a monster. There's nothing wrong with you! K?

What he's hearing and how he's being treated will affect him for the rest of his life. 

Even if Jane doth protest too much when it comes to her child, in such a way that lends itself to his questionable parentage suggesting she's wondering what she didn't know about his father (other than everything), it's too easy for it to be Ziggy as the culprit.

That's not to say that Amabella will not also be affected for the rest of hers, but it seems unlikely it's Ziggy who did it, so why are they both continuing to suffer?

Our very first project will be for each of you to do a family tree, where you get to talk about your wonderful family. Isn't that great?


The Otter Bay school has other issues, as well. Given the many family issues children have this day in age, would any first-grade class assign to them as their first project to put down what could be their most humiliating aspect on paper? 

That's the kind of project you wait to do until you're more aware of your students to ensure you're not causing any of them undue stress. 

Add to all of that the fact Renata sent Amabella to school with birthday invitations for everyone but Ziggy, and there is a real problem

Would a teacher (or school) allow a student to pass out invitations to all but one student in the class? From what I've understood of friends, the answer is no. You either invite all or none in that manner. 

Which brings us to Madeline and Chloe, the most popular girl in school.

Big Girl on Campus - Big Little Lies Season 1 Episode 2

Where Chloe goes, the others will go. At least if they're invited. 

So an angry Madeline invited the best of the best to attend Frozen on Ice at the same time as Amabella's party. Renata's reaction was worthy of Harper's telling her in such a cruel way.

But it also proved Madeline does stick her nose in where it doesn't belong, and injustice is only upsetting when she's on the wrong side of it. After all, she did a huge one to Amabella, and what has Amabella done to deserve it?

Both Amabella and Ziggy are victims, and the dear kids have managed to find each other at the center of it all in spite of the commotion going on around them.

Chloe and her step sister Skye, much to Bonnie's chagrin, have picked up a bit of their mothers' meddling and caused the latest brouhaha between Ziggy and Amabella when a song and dance turned into a kiss or what Otter Bay called non-consensual touching.

Chloe: How can you not want to make up on this song? Come on.
Madeline: Makeup yes, not make out, silly.
Chloe: It's what you guys do when you get mad at each other. Make up, kiss, bang. Everything's better again.
Madeline: But it's different with married people.
Chloe: Why?
Madeline: I don't know, it just is. Don't start with me. [pauses to listen to music] This is a beautiful song, honey.

That's not the only trouble brewing around Madeline. She's feeling the heat from many different directions, including her eldest daughter and her ex and his wife, Bonnie.

The three of them together are probably the biggest thorn in her side.

As Abigail grows, she gets closer to Nathan, which irks Madeline knowing how distant he was when she was little. All of the serious mothering was left to Madeline, but now Nathan has grown up, gotten a new wife and a new child and suddenly his house is the place to be.

Madeline looks like the bad guy in comparison to the cool parents with Nathan and Bonnie at the helm.

The more Madeline becomes unsettled at the prospect of Abigail growing ever so close to her former loser of a father, the more Ed decides it means Nathan was Madeline's "one." Of course, that's a ludicrous idea, but Ed and Madeline don't always have sex and he feels a little normal when compared to Nathan.

We Are OK - Big Little Lies Season 1 Episode 2

What Ed doesn't realize is Madeline likely feels a little normal when compared to Bonnie, too. She may be Ed's "one," but when you see a yoga guru who somehow snapped your couch-surfing ex into a yoga buff who takes his kids to school each day, it hurts.

It means nothing in the overall scheme of things, and thankfully they were able to discuss it.

Nothing was better, though, than the meeting of the minds when Nathan called Ed to talk behind their wives' backs.

Nathan thought he'd be able to pull Ed in and get Madeline off of his back. After all, it wasn't his fault Abigail went to Bonnie about Planned Parenthood. 

The Ex - Big Little Lies Season 1 Episode 2

Nathan, though, hasn't grown as much as it looks like he has. He's leaning heavily on Bonnie to appear to be reinvented when it's Bonnie who is propping him up and without her, he'd probably be the same guy he always was.

Bonnie has a different way of handling Nathan that works. Her style is unique to Nathan's needs. But Ed wasn't going to allow Nathan to talk about his wife or him in any way that was manipulative or threatening.

Frankly, if Bonnie had been there for that conversation, I don't think she'd have taken it, either.

When Bonnie brought up the petition again at the yoga class, I realized how interested she is in finding something in common with Madeline. Madeline is a spitfire. She's a force of nature, undoubtedly just as intimidating to Bonnie as vice versa.

The look on Bonnie's face when confronted about Planned Parenthood also betrayed her feelings about Madeline and Abigail. She's trying to fit in and do right by Madeline's daughter, not in any way usurp her role.

That would be difficult with Nathan chewing your ear off and trying to keep the relationships on all sides on an even keel. It will be interesting to see where they all fall at the very end.

Getting Warm - Big Little Lies Season 1 Episode 2

Celeste, too, brought up the question of passion to Madeline when it came to her marriage and then shared a bit of her own life with Madeline.

Outwardly, it seems the two women are very good friends, but they have much unshared between them. It would be difficult to share with anyone that you have a violent relationship with your husband, but even the aggressive sex appears to have been off the table.

Understanding Celeste is not easy, and we haven't been given much to go with at this point. 

Celeste: Sometimes I think he likes to fight because it leads to sex. Sometimes I think I like it, too.
Madeline: How often does it happen?
Celeste: A little too often.
Madeline: I have to say Celeste, that sounds a little twisted. But a little great, too.

Their sex is bad. Not badass, just bad. Celeste's enjoyment of it and her continued love for the man sends mixed signals. If she's a battered woman, she's a sexually satisfied one who encourages his appetite when she shouldn't.

Perry has a hair trigger that's set off by anything. And what may set it off today may not set it off tomorrow. 

It was disappointing that Perry removed the twins' entertainment on the way to school so he and Celeste could engage in an argument that would have the boys' full attention, but he's open to therapy.

He hits her and cowers at her feet. There's clearly a dominance/submission thing going on with the couple that one hopes will be explored in counseling.

Then there is the murder. There are a lot of suspects for the dead body. The town doesn't think much of busybody Madeline, and speak of Jane in the past tense, calling her child a monster.

The tension was ratcheted up between Nathan and Ed with Ed daring somebody to test his 6th-grade self who has waited over 30 years to satisfy his need to avenge his bullying.

One misplaced shove could take down one of the Wrights at any moment.

For a sleepy little town at odds over a play about puppets simulating sex, there sure is a lot of anger brewing.

The characters, though, remaining engagingly complex and worthy of redemption. Every one of them has qualities both good and bad. Whose story are you most interested in seeing play out? Drop me a comment!

Serious Mothering Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (22 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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Big Little Lies Season 1 Episode 2 Quotes

You know what? I'm a lady and I've never said this to anyone in my entire life, but you can go fuck yourself right on the head.


Mom? Why did we move here?