“Big Little Lies” is a new murder-mystery from HBO. The mini-series takes place in the ultra-rich town of Monterey, California, where gossip and familial competition reign supreme. Through flashback, we try to piece together the murder of somebody at a posh fundraiser. This series is a must watch because we do not know who the murderer, or the victim is. It is a wholly original narrative that is shot at a kinetic pace.
Sunday night’s episode of Big Little Lies, entitled “Once Bitten,” marks the halfway point of the first season, and continues to ratchet up the show’s emotional and investigative drama.
The unspoken pain within the main trio of women is beginning to bubble to the surface as sex, drugs and guns are in full effect this episode. The episode revolves around a new revelation that Renata Klein’s (Laura Dern) daughter has been bitten by someone in her class, and Ziggy is the immediate scapegoat. Renata flies off the handle and is unable to see the culprit as anyone besides the new, fatherless student. It is starting to look like the search for Anabella’s bully is being equated with the murder investigation, as each is based on unfounded info and town gossip. My guess for the culprit of the bite is the Wright kids (Nichole Kidman’s kids). They have been too perfect so far, and the violent tendencies of their father must have an effect on them.
The three main characters, Madeline, Celeste and Jane, spent most of the episode dealing with their troubled pasts.
With the added stress of Ziggy’s school trouble, Jane (Shailene Woodley) takes a solo, weed-infused trip to confront her former attacker. The meeting did not go as planned, but let me digress to talk about the stash of Js Jane keeps in her car. How much time does she spend pre-rolling Js? That tin can was not smell proof, how does she keep the smell from her 1st grade son? Lots of questions, no answers. Jane’s psyche seems to be deteriorating as the season progresses, as the trauma of her rape is clearly affecting her mental capacities.
Madeline, fresh off of the Mayor green-lighting her risqué stage production, tries to deal with the repercussions of her affair with the play’s director, Joseph Bachman. She is troubled emotionally and sexually, as her husband cannot match the personal connection she has with Joseph or the sexual exploits of Celeste.
Celeste dominated last night’s show. Her attempts to suppress the anxiety caused by her abusing husband are beginning to wear off, and this dynamic culminates in the episode’s best scene, between Celeste and her shrink. The tension in this scene is as palpable as the calm of the psychiatrist, contrasted with the clearly shook expression on Celeste’s face. She is dying to scream about her husband’s violent behavior, but she keeps it in, and Kidman plays this very well. Her victim blaming, and fear of losing her family, are all on display, and I am pitying her character more and more.
The scene with the shrink reveals that Perry Wright (Calvin Klein model and vampire-in-training Alexander Skarsgård), after cleaning up the room full of toys, dumped the bin of toys on Celeste’s head and followed it up with some good old fashion angry fight-sex. This speaks to the strongest quality of “Big Little Lies,” which is its control of information. The toy scene takes on a much darker, abusive light after we learn the information in the shrink’s office. We are also given the information rapidly and then it’s gone, almost like Celeste is blocking out the memory. Control of information, and its dissemination is key to the brilliant conceit of the show: a murder mysterywhere we do not know the murderer or the victim. This choice has kept me guessing at every turn, as every character could be in danger or a murderer. I’ve never heard of a murder mystery told this way, and “Big Little Lies” is all the better because of it.
“Big Little Lies” airs on Sunday nights at 9 p.m.
Victim- Madeline Mackenzie
Murderer- Ed Mackenzie
Bully- The Wright Twins
Teddy Craven is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.