It makes complete sense that “enigma” is how Perry (Alexander Skarsgård) first described Celeste (Nicole Kidman) to his mother. The moniker fits Celeste like a perfect designer glove, tailored it seems down to the very essence of who she is. The funny thing about being described as an enigma – and the not so funny – is that for many people being an enigma is a necessity. It becomes a shield to wield, a curtain to hide behind, and sometimes you become so steeped in it that being someone else just doesn’t make any sense. You just sort of become that enigma and often at any sort of sign that you should break out of it and into who you truly are, you shudder and sometimes crash.
This excellent hour of television that ranks as one of the year’s best is formed in some ways by those enigmas breaking and the people inhabiting them crashing. Celeste does so quite literally at the beginning of the episode, Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) does so via her daughter, and Renata (Laura Dern) does so through what would seem to be no fault of her own. Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz) crashes in deeper and it is unclear if her coming together is going to last long at all. Jane (Shailene Woodley) tries to navigate a potential new relationship before she suddenly has to come face to face with certain realities that she had to face at one given moment or another.
This hour of Big Little Lies was dominated by those enigmas breaking and secrets flooding out at what seemed to be a rapid yet organic pace. It makes sense that the reality of Ziggy’s (Iain Armitage) parentage would be out before any of the adults had an opportunity to approach the revelation in their own time. In some ways, it reflects how life works, where we simply try to handle so many things that certain little threads just end up slipping through our hands and we chase after them, hoping to grab the knots.
When we chase these threads, we’re chasing them in multiple forms. We’re chasing them as ourselves, who we imagine ourselves to be, and those enigmas that we have formed out of ourselves. It’s what makes this season of Big Little Lies so thrilling. We’re watching these characters, who perhaps had expected to find some sense of a solace – albeit a troubled one – fall into the realization that that is just not going to happen for them. Sometimes they need someone like Elizabeth (Crystal Fox), who comes back into her daughter Bonnie’s life with the truths that these characters need to hear.
Elizabeth, outside of noting Nathan’s lack of emotional awareness and the whiteness of Monterey (nice bit of meta commentary there), notes to Bonnie that she has a tendency to build walls all around herself. Bonnie does so but so does everyone on this series. What we’re seeing now is what happens when those walls form a crack and everyone rushes to fix it but ignores the foundation that is set to crumble and let the Monterey waves wash all over them.
Big Little Moments
- Acting MVP of the Week: Nicole Kidman
- Renata is So White Part 1: “You can’t just assault somebody in the middle of a public place!”
- “Dad never makes you laugh.”
- Renata is So White Part 2: “I will not not be rich!” I love this line reading from Laura Dern.
- “I don’t know where you’ve gone, but you’re not here.”
- “No. You will not be like him!”
- “Getting in each other’s business, that’s what a family does.”
- When Ziggy asked Jane if she had been assaulted, a part of my heart broke
- “I also like to sit on your face – do you think that’ll happen again?!”
- Seeing Celeste and Jane make a makeshift family was genuinely touching
- The end credits song from the first season was a brilliant touch