Oh, my little Monterey babies. If this recap feels like it has arrived later than usual, apologies but I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror yelling "I will not not be rich" at my reflection for several hours as the iconic line has become my mantra. Seriously, bless Renata Klein (Laura Dern), the MVP of this finale episode and all of Season 2, let's be real. While "I Want to Know" ended with the emotional translation of the shrug lady emoji, Renata Klein goes out taking a baseball bat to all of Gordon's (Jeffrey Nordling) precious toys and his gut while screaming "Maybe you should've shown a woman a little respect!" and wearing the perfect power red jumpsuit. I pledge allegiance to Renata and the United States of This Is My House and I Live Here.
Though I'd be remiss if I said Renata kicking Gordon to the curb was the only thing that brought me joy in this episode. There was also the pilot episode of the sister series to Renata Klein Walks Through Metal Detectors, Renata Klein Places an Order at Starbucks. A true delight! And though it may be hard to believe, there are some joyous non-Renata moments, too: Jane (Shailene Woodley) reconciles with Corey (Douglas Smith) in part thanks to Ziggy's (Iain Armitage) advice, which I guess was supposed to be sweet but I'm honestly concerned that kid is watching too many romantic comedies. Still, Jane is finally able to have sex with this caring guy that she likes and I am here for that. Jane deserves to be happy!
And as much as I thought Tori New Boobs (Sarah Sokolovic) really made a case for her and Ed (Adam Scott) hooking up, Ed does not see it that way. Instead, he takes up boxing because sure why not and decides what he really wants is a fresh start with the woman he loves. He wants to renew his and Madeline's (Reese Witherspoon) vows. They have a lovely intimate ceremony and, um, hello, both of them are so good looking, especially standing there bathed in Monterey sunlight, if they were ever interested in some sort of committed throuple situation, I volunteer as tribute. So anyway, that's a really nice moment and also I wish Tori New Boobs all the best. May more than just her masturbation diary be full, you know what I mean?
Of course, this is Big Little Lies and there is a cap on joy. Which brings us to what it seems the entirety of Season 2 has been leading to: Celeste (Nicole Kidman) questioning Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) about her fitness as a parent while under oath. It goes pretty much how we all expected. Celeste is able to force Mary Louise to admit that Celeste being violent with the boys was a one-time thing before really going for the jugular — she starts asking Mary Louise about her own temper. Thanks to some flashbacks and flashbacks within flashbacks, we see Perry (Alexander Skarsgård) telling Celeste about his brother's death. He died in a car accident that occurred when Mary Louise lost her temper at her two sons in the back seat and got distracted. We see her pull a 5-year-old Perry aside and scream at him that this is all his fault.
Back in court, Celeste presses upon this point: that after the accident, instead of getting Perry help to deal with the trauma, Mary Louise emotionally and sometimes physically abused him. Mary Louise is adamant that she raised a good man, that Celeste is making up stories about him, that Jane simply misunderstood her interaction with her son. So, Celeste has to go to the video. Apparently, tucked away in Max (Nicholas Crovetti) and Josh's (Cameron Crovetti) video memory book of their father is a video they took of Perry beating Celeste. A video Celeste makes Mary Louise face in court — so she can finally see what a monster her son was. It's as excruciating as it sounds! It rocks the rest of the Monterey Five, who are witnessing the full extent of what their friend was going through.
It certainly rocks Mary Louise, who then decides it is a super cool idea to show up at Celeste's house later that night to tell her that she's a liar and that she'd never be able to handle losing her boys. "You lost your boys, you don't get to take mine," Celeste spits back at her mother-in-law as she slams the front door in her face. Honestly, there is some top-notch through-the-door-crack acting from both Streep and Kidman here. That's why they're the professionals, people!
Celeste follows up that uplifting rendezvous by inviting Madeline over for a coffee and a chat in which Madeline admits that Celeste was right about their lie having a shelf life — she feels guilty for starting the lie and that it is "eroding" all of them. Celeste responds with a reassuring note about how the friendship between the Monterey Five is the real lie. You guys, I know not everyone can be the "fun friend" but Celeste is a serious downer.
We head back to court for the final decision. It seems like a no-brainer that the judge won't give Mary Louise custody of the twins, since 1) that woman seems wholly unfit to take those boys away from their mother and 2) Celeste has worn her best pink suit into the courtroom and that takes some real ovaries to do with Elle Woods sitting right behind you. Just as the judge is about to make her ruling, Mary Louise has to stand up and make a final plea about how Celeste needs to get help now and this is for the welfare of the boys. And then Celeste stands up and gives her own speech that pretty much amounts to "you're worse than me!" which doesn't seem like a great argument, but at that point the judge is basically like "I'm too old for this sh--." Could the woman give a ruling without an Academy Award winner interrupting her? She knows Max and Josh have a long road of recovery ahead of them and she doesn't want to make it any harder — they're staying with their mother. A victory! Celeste has the boys go and give Mary Louise a hug and yet still, not one person hurls ice cream at that woman's back.
And with that, Mary Louise...just drives back to San Francisco? In court, she openly admits that she had no idea what her son was truly like, which is a big step for this woman, but that's pretty much it. She doesn't even insult Madeline's height one last time. I mean, good riddance but couldn't we have had some sort of blaze of glory situation? This type of ending makes me want to send a Mary Louise grief scream out into the abyss.
As Celeste is feeling an enormous amount of relief, finally putting this behind her (she even deletes her videos of Perry, her therapist will be so proud!), Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz) is over at the hospital searching for her own relief. Elizabeth suffers a second stroke and eventually dies. It finally pushes Bonnie to do what she's needed to do all along: tell the truth. First, she breaks it to Nathan (James Tupper) that she doesn't love him and never has. Harsh but true! Still, she has an even bigger truth to tell. We watch her text Madeline and then say goodbye to her sleeping daughter, to Nathan, and to her father before she drives herself over to her favorite hangout, the police station. Bonnie is turning herself in.
But she's not going to do it alone. Madeline, Celeste, Jane, and Renata all show up outside of the building. Every one of these women is on the brink of a true fresh start, but all of them know that a new beginning isn't possible until they free themselves of this lie. No words are exchanged, or needed — they are doing this together.
And with that, we close the book on the Monterey Five. I feel like we could've used one more episode, even if only to give Detective Quinlan (Merrin Dungey) to opportunity to say "I told you so" and then take a well-deserved vacation in which she will not have to creepily squint at anyone the entire time. What a world.
Previously on Big Little Lies...
Season 2, Episode 1 Recap: "What Have They Done?" | Season 2, Episode 2 Recap: "Tell-Tale Hearts" | Season 2, Episode 3 Recap: "The End of the World" | Season 2, Episode 4 Recap: "She Knows" | Season 2, Episode 5 Recap: "Kill Me" | Season 2, Episode 6 Recap: "The Bad Mother"