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S02E05: Kill Me
HBO  ·  50 minutes  ·  Original Broadcast: July 07, 2019

Directed by: Andrea Arnold  |  Written by: David E. Kelley

Official synopsis: Celeste refuses a settlement offer from Mary Louise’s lawyer for joint custody of the boys, and the case goes to trial. Renata tries to get Mary Louise to drop the case, who in turn taunts her for being bankrupt. A bully calls Ziggy a mistake and that his father is a rapist; the twins defend him and the three of them beat up the bully, leading to their suspension. Jane tries to be intimate with Corey, but the trauma causes her to break down. Celeste, Jane, Corey, and the three boys go on a kayak trip during their suspension, while Renata and Amabella make use of this opportunity to bond as mother and daughter at the pool. Ed and Madeline go to couples therapy, where Madeline promises that she will not make the same mistakes again. Later, Tori hits on Ed at a bar, with Joseph staring at them from a nearby table. At the hospital, Bonnie’s mother asks her to kill her. A distraught Bonnie once again considers turning herself in to the police, but on her way to a police station, she spots Corey leaving it.

Please note that recaps feature spoilers on the individual episode.
This recap was written by Rebecca Nicholson for The Guardian (July 08, 2019)

Well, HBO fans, Andrea Arnold has brought a Sharp Objects level of abstraction to this episode of Big Little Lies, although it appears now that the second season was always going to head in a more fragmented direction than the first. The show’s dreaminess has taken on the quality of nightmares, as indicated by the opening scenes, in which each of the liars seemed to go back to the night of Perry’s death. Nowhere was that brokenness more apparent than in the final few moments, which cut between swimming, kayaking, dinner, affairs of the past, affairs of the present, Mary Louise, a storm, and Bonnie apparently on her way to hand herself in at the police station, until she saw the suspicious Corey leaving. I am assuming he is undercover, seducing Jane to get information about what happened to Perry. If that is the case, then, well, poor Jane, having experienced abuse piled upon abuse.

There was trauma all over this episode. The difficult relationship between Bonnie and her mother was made explicit in the flashbacks to her childhood, and her confrontation with her father about his failure to protect her took things in an interesting new direction, exploring domestic violence of a different hue. The title, although literally what Bonnie’s mother asked of her, works well when it comes to Madeleine’s attempt to salvage her relationship with Ed. For all the darkness, the show still has shades of humour; the Healing Institute’s hugging workshop was too much, even for them. Kill me now, they both seemed to be saying – and who can blame them? Just when the custody battle threatened to outstay its welcome, everything came into focus. If it goes to court (which it surely will, as Celeste is unwilling to give an inch), then the women will be called to testify, and asked about Perry’s death, which will force them to lie under oath. “It’s a perjury trap,” explains Renata. For Madeleine, the answer is still sisterly solidarity. Nothing has broken it so far, although Bonnie has come close – will she be the one to crack at last? At least things feels as if they are, finally, building to an ominous conclusion. Those storm clouds haven’t rolled in for nothing.

Notes and observations
  • I had completely forgotten that Celeste was a lawyer until Renata pointed it out this episode. On the subject of when they find time to work, I defer to this tweet on the liars’ shared calendar.
  • “They said it was ultimately a smear on the whole publication if I was in this article.” No feelings were spared in the making of the magazine that cut out Renata.
  • Oh, Ed. Is having a revenge affair really going to make you feel better?
  • Mary Louise is so good at provocation and manipulation. The scene of her reeling in Renata, and tearing up any notion of a “mother-to-mother” talk, was fantastic.
  • “I was hoping this would just be about tea, but people don’t do that any more, do they?” Did Mary Louise see Alex Morgan’s goal-scoring celebration?
  • As well as beating up the school bully, the twins have learned the B-word. Seriously, just let Meryl Streep have them.
  • “You will agree to seek treatment for drug and alcohol dependency as well as anger management.” To which the appropriate answer in a legal setting is obviously: “Fuck you.”
  • Guest Cast: P.J. Byrne (Principal Warren Nippal), Becky Ann Baker (Judge Marylin Cipriani), Martin Donovan (Martin Howard), Crystal Fox (Elizabeth Howard), Ivy George (Amabella Klein), Poorna Jagannathan (Katie Richmond), Denis O’Hare (Ira Farber), Douglas Smith (Corey Brockfield), Sarah Sokolovic (Tori Bachman), Mike Bradecich (Carl Swallow), Santiago Cabrera (Joseph Bachman), Feodor Chin (Kevin), Chloe Coleman (Skye Carlson), Mykal-Michelle Harris (Young Bonnie), Will Hawkes (Esalen Husband), Khalilah Joi (Young Elizabeth), Bellina Logan (Mindy), Paul Nygro (Kevin’s Partner), Benjamin Plessala (Brian McPherson), Melinda Ratner (Esalen Wife), Travis Schuldt (Michael Something), Eliza Shin (Vice Principal Coolidge), Deb Snyder (Marsha)