"Big Little Lies" - Review

*Spoilers ahead*
Toward the end of the season finale of Big Little Lies, Merrin Dungey's detective character was finally interrogating the series leads — the ones who survived the ill-fated fundraising gala at their fancy Monterey, Calif. elementary school, at least.

"I'm so sick of these f---in' lies," she mused.

But after seven thrilling episodes, it's hard to agree with her. Getting to know the women of the picturesque seaside town of Monterey — and becoming more and more entangled in their drama — has been a pleasure, and David E. Kelley saved the best installment for last.

Yes, we found out who died, and yes, we found out how it happened, but it was all incidental to the way the storylines of each woman intertwined and resolved themselves.

The action began with Celeste (Nicole Kidman), who was writhing on her bathroom floor in pain after being beaten (again) by her husband, Perry (Alexander Skarsgard). Later, Celeste went to her therapist, who told her it was more urgent than ever that she leave him ASAP. Celeste wanted to go after the school fundraiser that night, but as the therapist reminded her, there were children involved. But Celeste insisted that her sons never saw Perry's abuse.

As the family ate dinner together that night, Perry casually brought up that the property manager at the apartment complex had called about the smoke detectors. He knew.

Jane (Shailene Woodley), meanwhile, finally got her son, Ziggy, to confess who had been hurting his classmate Amabella — it was one of Celeste's twin sons, Max. Upon Madeline's (Reese Witherspoon) encouragement, she told Celeste what Ziggy said, and Celeste accepted the news before going home and coaxing Max into telling her the truth. Looks like the boys were exposed to Perry's violence after all.

Madeline had another heart-to-heart with her eldest daughter Abigail, who'd decided not to auction off her virginity for charity. Since Abigail was the only person who knew about her affair, Madeline confessed that she was worried her community theater co-producer was going to do something to reveal their affair at the gala that night.

Abigail wondered why her mom would do something so reckless and potentially mess up her perfect life, but Madeline wasn't quite sure. Maybe she was just rebelling against her so-called perfect life.

Renata's (Laura Dern) husband didn't want her to go to the gala. He wanted her to stay away from all the women, and had even threatened Jane to keep away from Renata earlier that day, but Renata said that it would be worse if they didn't go. And it's a good thing they did, because after Celeste fought with Perry in the car, she ran into the gala, found Renata, and told her that Max had been the one to bully Amabella.
Iain Armitage and Shailene Woodley in Big Little Lies
The drama between Madeline's ex, Nathan (James Tupper), and her current husband, Ed (Adam Scott) came to a head at the party, with Ed even throwing a drink at Nathan — but it landed on Nathan's wife, Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz), instead.

That's when everything hit the fan — Madeline ran away, upset about her affair, and Jane followed. Madeline confessed everything, and Celeste found them together as she ran away from Perry.

When Perry caught up to them, Jane realized he was her rapist — and then everyone else did. Perry then began attacking Celeste as the rest of the women tried to pry him away from her. That's when Bonnie found them, saw Perry attacking Celeste, and pushed him down the stairs to his death.

It turns out that the police had been interrogating everyone at the party because while the women insisted it was an accident, they could tell it wasn't — but no one was spilling anything.

In the end, the death was a product of these competitive, powerful women coming together to defend one of their own, which seems fitting. They might occasionally let their ambition get in the way of their relationships, but they'll always protect each other.

Big Little Lies wrapped up its first season with a beautifully self-contained, tense, exciting story that got better and better as it went along (when it wasn't leaning on its weaker greek chorus storytelling device). Most of all, it was a wonderful showcase for a group of strong female actresses playing complicated female characters.

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