How Much Free Time Does Big Little Lies's Ed Have On His Hands?
And how much time is the show going to spend on this stupid dinner? Eve Batey has questions!
Maybe I'm just in a sour mood this week, maybe previous episodes have set the bar really high, or maybe I just don't think Avenue Q is all that great (which: perhaps that's the point?) -- but doesn't this week's episode of Big Little Lies seem to spin its wheels? The only new dirt we get is the revelation that Celeste is a total badass at the job Perry insisted she quit, and that Maddy used to hook up with Joseph, who is essentially a bargain basement version of the despicable Danny character on The Mindy Project (talk about controlling, huh? But I digress).
Otherwise, we were mainly told things we already knew: Perry abuses Celeste! Abby is sullen! Jane hates Ziggy's dad! Ed is kind of a dork! You will never, ever have abs like Zoë Kravitz! These are details that I assume will all play into the show's endgame, but for someone who sometimes feels actual physical pain at the urgent desire to know how this all ends up, I found myself muttering "come onnnn" a lot more than is considered polite. On the plus side, this also gives us a lot more room to speculate! Who's with me?
Is the aggression between Maddy and Nathan somehow new?
If the couple had split up fifteen years ago and was just now forced to see one another as parents of kids in the same first grade class, that's one thing. But, presumably, Maddy and Nathan have been co-parenting Abby all this time, or at least since Nathan got his shit together and hooked up with Bonnie, something that clearly happened over six years ago based on the sheer existence of Skye.
So that means we have two options here: either the daily battle between Nathan and Maddy has been at this level for years and years, or something happened to put things into high gear. But I don't think the latter possibility is viable, since this show revels in showing the roots to every conflict, as well as having the Greek chorus of interrogees explain it to us. So why is Maddy's hate for Nathan still a source of surprise for Ed; and why, if things have been contentious for years, is this little dinner party between the two couples suddenly necessary?
A little dinner party, mind you, that we haven't even gotten to yet, even though we get two -- yes, two -- meetings to discuss the upcoming event. One between Nathan and Maddy, and a second between an oddly skeevy Ed and the surprisingly over it Bonnie, all to discuss the need to get along at the dinner where they are to decide...how to get along? My god, people, in the time you've taken to discuss this dumb dinner you could have had it twice.
Could Perry be any more transparent?
Oh, Perry, and your endless variations on "why didn't we discuss this?" This time, it's Celeste's decision to spend a paltry amount of time helping Maddy ensure that Monterey is not denied the cultural enrichment of a thirteen-year-old, slightly racy puppet show. When he sees that Celeste went out and bought an outfit for the meeting (at which point I start to speculate that Perry burned everything of Celeste's that wasn't a negligee or yoga pants during a previous spat), he announces that he's "concerned" about her stress level should she lift a finger to work (ha ha because having your husband beat you isn't stressful AT ALL) then says he wants to have another child -- "a daughter."
Setting aside for the moment the horrifying idea that that a little girl ever be exposed to this man, what follows is what we'd consider a romantic scene were this any other couple: Perry makes a sexual overture, retreats, and is pounced upon by Celeste.
It's a ballsy move -- scenes like this one and last week's Neil Young-infused closer. You walk a really scary line when you allow your abuser to show tenderness and affection for his victim, and risk suggesting some pretty loaded things regarding the victim's consent. But in many cases, that's how relationships like these are -- how they must be, to keep the victim from building up the necessary escape velocity.
Watching Celeste kill it in the meeting with the mayor, and again in her solo meeting with the shrink, I believe that those two facets of her life are what's going to combine to save her. The counselor, who Celeste cannot lawyer, will open her eyes to see that Perry's love is too colored by control and violence to be sustainable. And her love for her job (a love so strong it brought her to tears in a way her husband's blows have not) is what will, I pray, get her out the door.
How much free time does Ed have on his hands?
Can we please get a throwaway line like how "ever since Ed sold his app for a zillion dollars he's been playing at web design" or something like that? All we know is that he's there on the standing desk (of course it's a standing desk) in the kitchen working on some website about drones every once in a while, but he also has oodles of time for midday bike rides to menace Nathan, midday visits to Bonnie's weird sweaty Pilates (or something?) class, and to go to the costume shop and karaoke machine rental place to get this sweet setup.
Okay, okay, Maddy and Ed do seem like people who'd have their own karaoke machine, so maybe that's not completely fair. But I stand by the rest of it. And what about that weird throwaway conversation about Ed dressing up like a vampire? Is this an inside joke alluding to Eric Northman?
(Side note: I recently went to a bachelorette party where all the women claimed they did costumey things with their spouses. Am I the odd one out, here? Maybe Maddy and Ed's dress-up thing is the norm, and I'm the weirdo.)
You know what, though? I almost don't care about how silly the whole Elvis surprise is, because the interplay between Ed and music-curation savant Chloë is so adorable I can't stand it. "We're gonna stay up all night!" "And not go to school tomorrow!" Every kid has a few incandescent memories of their parents being suddenly and unexpectedly "silly" that they they carry with them forever, and this short scene perfectly captured that experience.
Are we supposed to be surprised that Maddy and Joseph had a fling?
What initially drove Maddy into the arms of Joseph, Room & Board's version of the classic tortured theatrical genius type? Boredom, I'd guess, and a desire for something "more" in a life that she admits is not fulfilled solely by motherhood. It's an all-too-common suburban tale, made notable in this case by the former (or not?) couple's working relationship -- if you can call it that -- at the theatre.
It's interesting to me that Maddy chose to tell Celeste about their most recent embrace, up to and including that she responded in kind. Why did she offer that much honesty, but stop before getting to the part where they had a more substantial liaison a year ago? Did you notice that, at the end of that semi-confessional conversation, made all the more creepy by Perry's "affectionate" grasp on his wife, that Celeste muttered to Maddy "so what really happened?" No fool, that one.
How irresponsibly speculative is Otter Bay's first grade teacher?
We keep hearing that Monterey's public schools are so peerless, but I'd love to get some verification of that. So far, we've seen the kids' teacher 1) do a group j'accuse over the alleged strangling; 2) do a totally stagey and weird explanation of Harry the Hippo; 3) lead the kids in song; and 4) meet Jane for drinks to present some insanely vague yet incendiary implication that Ziggy is a monster.
Seriously, WTF, teacher? She says she "sensed some tension" between Ziggy and Amabella, and that he "appeared to know exactly what she was upset about." Well, it's pretty cool that Otter Bay has a psychic teacher, I guess, but, just, what? Amabella, a kid who already has total resting pout face, always seems bummed! And she didn't even dime Ziggy out, but still, the teacher is dead set on him as a suspect in an as-yet unreported crime.
Was the teacher's bizarre a behavior all a device to get Jane to the child psychologist, so she could quell her (and our) fears that Ziggy was a secret monster? And, are our fears quelled? After all, Saxon (if that is his real name) was seemingly a "most accomplished liar," to paraphrase Ziggy's shrink as she claimed that he was a good kid. Could he have passed that deceptive trait on to his son, or are we to believe that the therapist's word is final, and we can all relax on Ziggy's behalf?