In The Series Finale, Big Little Lies Reveals All
The TL;DR is basically that girls rule, boys drool.
The finale of Big Little Lies is entitled "You Get What You Need," which worried me: if there's anything I hate hate hate, it's not getting what I want. But despite the song (Ituana's 2006 cover of the Rolling Stones classic plays during the final moments of the series), I did indeed get what I wanted from the finale of the show -- and more.
My pleasure at the finale is burnished by realizing that so many of my theories -- even the ones that I thought were bonkers -- were on the money! I'm not suggesting that I'm some sort of brilliant soothsayer, nor that the show was predictable. Instead, I think this was a cogent gem of a series, one that gave us everything we needed to put it together, but still managed to shock and surprise.
Man, this was good! I'm bummed it's over, so let's prolong things with a little discussion.
Is Joseph kidding me with this "best sex of your life" crap?
Lest we had any doubt that Joseph was a grade-A choad, he launches a nasty attack on Maddy where he says that she must be in love with him, because their affair went on for three months. He follows this by saying that the duration of the liaison must also mean that they were having the best sex of her life.
So, obviously, HAHAHA. On what planet does it mean that if you bang someone for three months you must be in love? I don't even remember the names of some guys I repeatedly hooked up with back in the day, for periods much longer than three months and in an era before texting so we actually had to call each other on land lines or show up in person to troll for a booty call. I wasn't in love with a single one of them, nor were any of them the best sex in my life. They were there. Maybe Maddy kept at it for three months because she hoped you'd eventually get it right, Joseph.
How gratified were you when Ziggy pointed to Max?
Since I've long suspected the twins of being behind Amabella's abuse, I nearly whooped in joy when Ziggy dimed out Max as the bully. And then I felt awful, because Celeste is already dealing with so much (more of that, obviously, in a second), and I knew she'd have to confront this issue, too. It made me feel bad about cracking wise regarding the twins' creepiness (I am pretty sure I've used the nickname "Damien"), because poor Celeste, right?
Celeste takes the news like a champ, though, when she so easily could have lashed out at Jane. Speaking of, I really appreciated that Jane acknowledges Ziggy could easily be lying to deflect blame from himself, or that Ziggy has violence in his DNA...and that's when you see Celeste really start to believe, because she knows that her sons do, too.
That makes Celeste's conversation with Max all the sadder, as you see the wheels in her head turning while she tries to figure out a way to keep her son from developing into Perry 2.0. Sure, she's resolved to leave her husband's home for an apartment that's already furnished better than the one I've lived in for the last twelve years, but would that be enough to end the cycle?
So, Celeste went to IKEA?
What I wouldn't have given to see that. The IKEA Celeste would shop at is also my "home" IKEA, which makes me feel even worse for her. (In fact, I was there last week and check out this Gordon doppelgänger y'all.) First Perry tosses Celeste over that chair, chokes her, and punches her in the gut. Then she has to wind her way through that windowless hellscape, pushing one of those carts that always has a single possessed wheel. And then, the assembly.
Maybe Celeste stayed with Perry for so long because she knew it would come down to this, the dark teatime of the IKEA assembly soul.
Why didn't the show let the actors sing their talent show songs?
If you're reading this, you likely already know that the soundtrack to Big Little Lies dropped, featuring Zoë Kravitz's performance of Elvis Presley's "Don't." Of course, plenty of other yahoos are participating in the talent show portion of fateful Elvis and Audrey fundraiser, too, with Ed singing "The Wonder Of You" and Nathan singing "How's The World Treating You."
But unlike Kravitz (who is, as you know, the fully-grown daughter of music icon Lenny Kravitz and actress Lisa Bonet because this show wants us all to feel very, very old), neither Adam Scott nor James Tupper sings his song. When Ed opens his mouth, the voice of award-winning vocalist Conor O'Brien (aka Villagers) comes out, and landscaper (that's what he does right?) Nathan might consider quitting his day job, since his voice is that of polymath Daniel Agee.
I wonder why the guys got ringers for their vocals? Are both that bad at singing? And if they are, maybe...don't have them sing? It's weird and dissonant to have both of these thus-far believable men suddenly unleash top-40 level facility with the mic, like when a super-hot woman plays a cop and the whole time you're thinking "just go be a model, Officer Hundredpounds!" In my opinion, that was the only misstep of the episode -- and it's hardly a crippling one; it's just...strange.
In the words of Maddy, "Tom and Jane?"
I think it was Maddy who told Jane that Tom was gay, so you'd think she'd be more surprised when he showed up with Jane. Unless Maddy just thought he was her walker? I don't think every happy ending needs to have a pairing off, but I am still happy to see this possible relationship; the more people Jane has in her life, the better.
And Tom's cool! I liked how he blows Gordon off -- and, sorry Gordon, you might have a lot of friends who you think you can steer away from Tom's coffee place, but addiction to caffeine runs far deeper than any acquaintances you have, you dumb beardo. And don't think I didn't hear you being rude to the bartender at the party, Gordon! Even that fucking monster Perry was polite to the bartender. Renata is too good for you.
Come on, you're with me on Renata now, right?
I saw the mean stuff you guys were saying about Renata last week, even after I suggested that she was starting to be likable. Well, I hope you all feel bad about that now, because she's pretty fucking fantastic in the finale, isn't she? After Celeste tells her that Max was to blame for the attacks on Amabella, Renata seeks Jane out to apologize -- and to express contrition for what a doofus Gordon is. And she participates in the fatal, final (one hopes) act of violence, then helps cover it up when she just as easily could have dumped all the blame on the other women. She shows that when the chips are down, she's a full-on member of Team Lady. Renata is a-okay in my book, and I urge you to make her so in yours.
How floored were you when you saw what happened in the final confrontation?
So much of the work the show put into accustoming us to its non-linear storytelling really paid off tonight, as the suspense -- and ultimate twist -- was sustained until the end of the episode.
We've known all along that someone was going to be killed at the party, so that tension was already there, but when Perry intercepts Celeste's message from the manager of her new apartment, I was pretty much doing this.
I did not want Celeste to get into the car with Perry to go to the party (how 1% is it that when they both know she's trying to flee his violence, they still attend a gala?), and nearly dove under the bed when he drives past the red carpet, so sure I was that Perry was going to attack Celeste again. And maybe he would have -- clearly, he is losing it with his talk of "demons" inside him, but Celeste lawyers him brilliantly, and flees from the vehicle and into the fundraiser.
When I saw Bonnie look away from Nathan's performance and toward Perry as he roughly grabs Celeste, I flashed back to her interaction with Ed at the yoga studio. "We've all got baggage, Ed," she said wearily, and suddenly I realized what kind of baggage Bonnie might have. Watching the complicated emotions behind Kravitz's eyes as Bonnie follows Perry, who himself is pursuing Celeste, I started to suspect that Bonnie's life has not always been asanas and succulents. It's a remarkable moment of performance from the actress, done with grace and restraint.
And yet, even then I did not expect the events we see in flashback, as all the women of the show play on the beach days after the fatality. Did you?
I was stunned, yet completely satisfied. When Perry appears alongside Renata, Celeste, Jane, and Maddy, it's like a flower opening. Renata, Jane, and Maddy comprehend the situation between Perry and Celeste and leap to defend her; then when Jane realizes (dusts knuckles in self-satisfaction at my awesome predictive abilities) that Perry was her sexual assailant, you see Maddy then Celeste catch that wave. And, thank you David E. Kelley, no one was burdened with intellectually-offensive expository dialogue; it's all in the acting. It was show, don't tell to the ultimate degree, and should be taught in schools, it was that good. And then...
Bonnie bursting out of the dark to shove Perry down the stairs -- this is how good this show is: they even set us up with the caution tape! -- might seem a little deus ex machina, but having sat with it, I think it's really the only way things could end. Renata's too brittle and Maddy's too tenderhearted to live with a crime like that, and I didn't want Jane or Celeste to have to kill the father of their sons. So Bonnie, with her baggage and her excellently actualized meditative practice, seems the best possible person for the world-enhancing job of removing Perry from this mortal coil.
And the end: it's just the women (and the kids, but they don't count), basking in the sunlight on the NorCal coast. Seemingly impossible fissures between them bridged by their shared crime, as one last woman, Detective Adrienne Quinlan, watches from a distance. But there are no men at this beach party, and that's fine. Because it's not, and never really was, about them.