Should Big Little Lies's Celeste Just Run Away?
And should she take those creepy twins with her? Let's explore this and more questions about 'Once Bitten'!
As illustrated by the opening...dream? Fantasy? Random crazy thing imagined while driving?, in which Renata pushes Maddy and a couple puppets into the sea, this is the week everyone starts to go over the cliff, building up a great head of steam just in time for the fatal Elvis and Audrey event. And if you didn't get that the protagonists are starting to go a little nuts, the blaring soundtrack will fill you in. (Not to turn into my mother, but that's not music, that's noise.)
While I'm dying to know what happens in the final episode, I'm also eager to put it off -- first, because I'm enjoying this show so much that I don't want it to end, and also because I've grown to love so many of these people (yes, even Renata, and I'll get to that in a minute) that I don't want any of them to die! Okay, I wouldn't be that upset if Nathan died. Or Perry. Yeah, we should talk about Perry.
Should Celeste just run away?
Just in case you had any doubts that Perry and Celeste's relationship is one that could kill her (hey, I read the internet; there are an awful lot of Perry apologists out there!), this week we see his worst attack on her yet. That's not to say he hasn't beaten her this badly before, of course, as we've certainly seen plenty of mystery bruises on Celeste throughout the show, but it's the most brutal assault we've witnessed. I'm hopeful that it shuts up those online excuse-makers, as well as convinces Celeste that she, for real, needs to gtfo.
It's painful to watch: just a day after their entire family shared a delightful dinnertime romp, the black cloud seems to have returned over Perry's head, as he hassles Celeste about the Legos left on the floor by the boys. Accusing Celeste of "turning them into spoiled brats," he starts picking the toys up, then dumps them on Celeste, who in turn throws one back at him. This enrages Perry so much that, as we see in flashbacks as Celeste sits on the counselor's couch, he holds her down and repeatedly strikes her, nearly suffocates her on a pillow, then collapses crying as Celeste comforts him.
Oh, christ, this is so fucked up and sad, as is Perry's tearful reaction when Celeste and the boys surprise him at the airport. (Have you noticed that Perry cries way more than Celeste?) Yes, Perry is a broken, damaged man who is loved by his wife and kids, but that doesn't mean he isn't capable of killing her. It's sheer luck Perry didn't kill Celeste on the couch, and, as the shrink has suggested, it's just a matter of time before the twins bear the brunt of his anger.
My one comfort in this upsetting situation is that Celeste has such a strong friendship with Maddy, and is building one with Jane. Both of those women, I am certain, would take Celeste's side in any battle unequivocally. Between that and the fact that she has the financial and professional ability to care for herself and her kids on her own (sadly, all too rare for most victims of domestic violence) mean that the only thing keeping Celeste from leaving Perry is Celeste.
Could Maddy be any more over Joseph's bullshit?
Watching Maddy deal with Joseph this week, it was like that moment when the optometrist clicks the right lenses into place before my eyes. I suddenly realized that all her petty fights and complaints and drama aren't because she's bitchy, it's because she's bored. We've all been there, right? It's when we have nothing going on that the slightest offense becomes a major battle. That also explains why she leapt to defend Jane at the get-go, right? I'm not saying that Maddy doesn't have a warm and open heart, as I believe she does, but in the beginning, Jane obviously represented a new campaign for her to take up, not a flesh and blood friendship.
It's boredom that drove her into Joseph's arms, boredom and that same effort to feel something that keeps Maddy going in her feuds with Renata, Nathan, and probably even that hapless parking guy. I'm sure Maddy felt normal human affection for Joseph, but this was not the romance of the century, as you can tell by Maddy's irritation when he appears at the coffee shop demanding her attention.
There's a nice gender reversal to this scene -- so frequently in pop culture, it's the "crazy" woman who's put too much import into a fling (think: Fatal Attraction) so it's nice to see a woman attempting a pleasant yet annoyed brushoff. Her almost-pitying visit to Joseph's hospital room, in which she admits that she owes him "some clarity" is, perhaps, the most mature thing we've seen from her so far. Oh, man, Maddy, I hope you find what you're looking for! You're so amazing and cool, and your talents are wasted with that dumb theatre. I am sure whatever you want to do, Ed will support you! Speaking of....
How much does Ed know?
I've been saying all along that Ed has hidden depths, and between his ass-kicking conversation with Nathan and the careful way he asks Maddy why she was in Joseph's car, I have to think he knows a lot more than he's letting on.
Ed's interesting, right? One minute he's Al Bundy, warning Maddy from the downstairs bathroom, and the next he's giving her a look that says "I know exactly what you were doing in that guy's car, you liar."
But, really, what would it accomplish if Ed demanded the truth from Maddy? A fight, a confession, tearful recriminations, a scar on their marriage forever? My husband hates when I say this, but, you guys, confession is for the weak. The only purpose admissions of past infidelity serve is to make the guilty feel better, but it frequently makes everyone else feel worse. Now, I don't think Maddy is weak, nor do I think she's itching to tell Ed the truth -- but Ed is smart enough to force that confession out of her, if he so desired. I think Ed is wise enough to know that that would only lead to more suffering, and this is something best left alone, as Joseph doesn't pose a threat to anything but good taste and actual, quality theatre.
Is Gregory actually a good dad?
Amabella's dad is pretty tough to take, with his scruff, his sandals, and his terrible dancing. But when Renata flew off the rails when she discovered that dreadful bite on Amabella's back, I was so impressed with him! As a beyond-agitated Renata starts some speech about never letting bullies win, Gregory remains calm, quietly telling Amabella that the bully should be named because he or she might be harming others: "You wouldn't want innocent people getting hurt, you're too kind for that."
I love that Gregory says that (even as I pounced on that remark as foreshadowed support of my harebrained theory that Perry is "Saxon," and that concern for others is what will finally impel Celeste to leave him...or worse), since the last thing a child that's been bullied needs is to be subjected to is screaming. The quiet care Gregory takes with Amabella in this scene made me realize that this guy might be all right after all.
That said, I completely understand why Renata is reacting like she is. That bite is horrifying-looking:
And its location proves that Amabella hasn't been making up these stories. Placing myself in Renata's well-coiffed, powerful position, her ranting seems an appropriate response -- this is a woman who buys and sells companies before breakfast (which, as a woman in Silicon Valley, means she has been through it), and she can't protect her child from this caveman-level attack? I'd be ranting too, just not in a thousand-dollar sweater. I don't know that I'd be blaming Ziggy, or yelling at Jane the way Renata does in the principal's office -- another moment during which Gregory subtly shines -- but I know I'd be ripping the teacher, the principal, and maybe even the school board a new one for not supervising students well enough to prevent near-cannibal behavior.
Has Jane really lost it?
I think it's only now -- maybe, since she told Maddy how Ziggy came to be? -- that Maddy is mentally processing her sexual assault. But as opposed to going to a therapist like even the in-denial Celeste is, she's taking long runs set to Martha Wainright and making midday visits to the gun range (alongside smirking gun nut BECAUSE OF COURSE HE IS Nathan, which does ANYONE besides Perry have a job in this town? Seriously).
I'm not sure why Jane decided to go see the suspect Maddy googled on her own, since if it were me I'd want witnesses willing to testify on my behalf should things get funky. But Jane is not me, so she puts her trusty gun in her purse (a crime in the state of California) and heads to the interior designer's office to...what, demand child support?
As if driving with an illegally concealed weapon isn't enough, Jane opts to smoke a joint in the car, ensuring that she'll arrive at the appointment with that fresh from the hotbox smell. Yes, we have legalized recreational marijuana in CA, but you still can't smoke and drive, just in case you were wondering. Maybe Jane's so high that she doesn't realize, when she meets the suspected Saxon, that this guy is clearly 1000 percent gay?
It's unclear what happens next -- she tries to smell him, maybe? Drops her purse with the gun visible for all to see? It seems like a combination of good sense and gaydar eventually makes it through the mary jane haze and stops her before she does something really awful. Thank god for small favors, I guess.