The end of the world is inherently an odd concept. It is exceedingly easy to imagine the entire world simply evaporating into thin air because so much of it is nebulous and almost never present beyond a mere theoretical idea. It is also astoundingly difficult to imagine the entire world crumbling apart because we are suddenly confronted with the realization that we are a part of the world. Our lives, our loved ones, our favorite coffee shops where we have ill-timed dramatic confrontations, all of it is wrapped up in the same world that so often can feel like it is tethered away from us.
When Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) stands up on the school stage, what few expected was for her to indirectly touch upon that very idea. We are so often taught the happy stories and endings as children, the kind that are slowly chipped away as we grow older and realize the horrors the world wears knowingly on its sleeves. In focusing on the happy endings, some have a tendency to tear their children away from the realities most children have to endure without any shields. Sometimes, however, that tendency follows us into adulthood and we often find that we simply cannot turn away from certain avenues of pain simply because we feel that they don’t exist in the same world as we do.
Mary-Louise (Meryl Streep) is perhaps the most obvious example of that cognitive dissonance. She can only see the son she raised, the boy who was a perfect gentleman and graceful. But she simply cannot see the other world, the one in which that same graceful gentleman was a violent domestic abuser and rapist. She speaks to Jane (Shailene Woodley) through the prisms of internalized misogyny, through the eyes of a woman who would rather entertain the existence of any fantasy world rather than the real one right before her. It’s cruel on another level, to impart this selfish pain upon Jane as she is finally beginning to find herself in the world where she belongs.
Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz) is beginning to heal. Ever since the incident at the stairs, she has been stuck in the middle of two worlds. In one, she is intensely isolated and there is no one around her. In the other, she has support and people who either understand her pain or are hopefully able to do so. She begins to tether herself in the midst of two worlds, finding a bit of laughter as she struggles with how to stay tethered and move forward. Celeste (Nicole Kidman) finds herself unable to stay tethered, wondering constantly about the place she has being torn between all of the people in her life. Her worry and guilt over Perry’s (Alexander Skarsgård) death simply don’t allow her to anchor herself anywhere.
Renata (Laura Dern) had an anchor but suddenly she finds herself adrift. Her life continues to fall apart because the world she had so firmly seen around her suddenly doesn’t exist in the way that she had thought. Perhaps she had been running so far away from the world she had lived in that existing in its exact opposite simply created just as many problems as it provided solutions. You can live in as many houses with tall façades but sometimes the waves are just determined to tear them down and leave a sudden, new world in their wake.
Big Little Moments
- Ed’s quiet tear at therapy was excellent
- Renata’s jacket is EXQUISITE and someone should buy me one for Pride Month
- The dialogue this episode was a little on the nose, wasn’t it?