The aftershock of events at the school fundraising event in season one continues to reverberate throughout the privilege of Monterey. (SPOILER ALERT for season one)
The Monterey five (as they have now become) band together in the aftermath of Perry (Alexander Skarsgård) falling to his death. We know, in order to protect Celeste (Nicole Kidman) from a severe beating, Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz) pushed Perry, resulting in him falling down the concrete steps. But a too quick ‘white lie’ from Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) to protect them all that he slipped and fell has repercussions.
Season two explores the psychological fallout from Perry’s death, the cover up to the police of full details – and Jane (Shailene Woodley) dealing with having identified, to her horror, the identity of her rapist and the father of son Ziggy (Iain Armitage).
Interspersed with the more ‘mundane’ narratives of Madeline dealing with Ed (Adam Scott) knowing about her affair with theatre director Joseph (Santiago Cabrera) and Renata Klein (Laura Dern) forced into bankruptcy by her profligate investor of a husband (Jeffrey Nordling), season two’s focus is Celeste, struggling without Perry, reliant on prescription drugs to get through the day/night. So much so mother-in-law Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) travels up from San Francisco to help look after her grandchildren. But Mary Louise is one unpleasant and mighty suspicious woman, refusing to believe any official accounts on the death of her saintly son.
It gets nasty and Mary Louise smells a rat. And not just in the luxurious home of Celeste. With so many truths out (except that elephant in the room of the white lie), each of the women are forced to deal with their demons, either together or alone. Like a caged animal, Dern stalks her huge, now empty, home awaiting its sale, the stunning view meaningless. Woodley looks to her son fearful he will turn out like his dad. And Celeste must now battle drug dependency and a crusading mother-in-law or face losing her children.
Big Little Lies (Season 2) expertly picks up where the first seven episodes left off. It may not have that sense of dread of the mood swings of Skarsgård (although there’s a few flashbacks to remind us) and, in some ways, initially at least, it’s hard to imagine the need for a follow up to the excellent first season. The fear there is an unneccesary fill-in melodrama cashing in on its success. But, fear not. Full of self contradictions, there’s plenty to the second set of seven episodes and that sense of sisterhood between the five. Once more, dialogue shines, Streep and, this time around, the more prominent Zoe Kravitz add a new depth to the storylines – and that cast simply excel.