‘Big Little Lies’ Season 2 Episode 3 Review: Renata’s Rage Is Apocalyptic In ‘The End of The World’

The most recent chapter of HBO‘s second season of Big Little Lies lived up to its name: it’s “The End of the World” as we know it – and some folks are not feeling fine. As if real life doesn’t have me stressing enough, my TV life reminds me of everything I try to desperately forget for an hour. Big Little Lies captures our social anxieties on all levels. Children and adults are freaking out over the unknown and I’m getting worked up watching them. Let’s dive into all the latest drama!

This episode is full of crashing waves as the ebb and flow of the Monterey Five fluctuates. Amabella has a justified panic attack over climate change and her parents’ financial fallout. Renata (Laura Dern) is badass. She doesn’t hold back when it comes to ripping somebody a new one – especially when her child is involved. It seems like she’s on the warpath with everyone: her husband (Jeffery Nordling), Amabella’s teacher (Mo McRae), the principal (P.J. Byrne), the doctor (Michael Laskin)…

Dern is crushing it this season and should receive loads of accolades. Although Renata comes off as abrasive, we can’t help but love her “Mama Bear” mentality. Her baby was traumatized in school again. She warned them on Day One that there would be hell to pay – so consider this Hell unleashed.

Renata is relentless in the best way. She worked hard for her life and wants to reap the benefits. Instead, it feels like all the men around her are sabotaging her efforts to protect her daughter and enjoy the life of luxury she’s created for herself. Everyone she chastises looks at her like she’s a “crazy bitch” who is just overreacting. Would Michael and Nippal’s reactions be different if Gordon was the enraged parent confronting them?

Then we have Ed (Adam Scott) is being equally brutal, but in a more understated and silent fashion. He shows no mercy for his adulterous wife, Maddie (Reese Witherspoon). She’s is in the doghouse, while he’s having a friendly chat with Bonnie (Zoe Kravtiz) over coffee. Ed has been a sweet, sensitive and understanding gentleman for as long as we have known him. And it seems that being nice has gotten him nowhere. Maddie cheated on him for no good reason, her ex-husband (James Tupper)  berates him, and he’s always left in the dark. He gets no respect, I tell ya, no respect. So I don’t blame him for wallowing and making Maddie feel uncomfortable. He’s actually managed to rattle her, which is difficult to do.

We’ve seen Maddie maintain control through most situations – she has no problem repeatedly snapping back at Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) – but now her life is slowly unraveling. Her friends feels uneasy about “The Lie,” her daughter (Kathryn Newton) refuses to attend college and stirs up latent insecurities, and now her husband publicly embarrasses her by keeping his distance – even when she delivers a rambling speech in front of all the other parents. 

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Ed has every right to be livid and act out against Maddie. He has been a doting and devoted husband and father in so many ways. Her secrets and adultery have not only belittled him, they’ve broken his heart. I’m still waiting for him to revenge bang Big Boobs McGee from the grocery, yet I’m hoping he’ll be better than that. Maybe he just grows a revenge beard instead (as Scott’s public appearances suggest). 

Maddie is hurting and Celeste comes to her defense. She shames Ed for not cutting Maddie some slack. He should have her back, despite their marital dispute. This reaction is more telling about Celeste’s behavior than Ed’s. She is addicted to her abhorrently abusive, yet satisfying sexual relationship with Perry (Alexander Skarsgård). 

She is lusting after her violent dead husband and it is uncomfortable to watch – for me, at least. Even the shrink (Robin Weigert) fears Celeste is physically harming herself because she misses the abuse.  That’s messed up – sad – but still so messed up. While Celeste fulfills her desires by living in the past, Jane (Shailene Woodley) boldly and tentatively moves forward with her life.

Jane’s budding romance with Corey (Douglas Smith) with endearing and empowering. She is hesitant to trust someone again and pulls away when he tries to kiss her. Jane fears the assault, whereas Celeste craves it. Both of their romantic lives have been warped by Perry. Luckily, Corey proves to be worthy of Jane’s affections. He’s the perfect, albeit awkward, gentleman with her. He doesn’t take offense and is okay with taking things slow. He teaches Ziggy (Iain Armitage) to surf and is happy to simply slow dance with Jane until she’s ready to take the next step. Hopefully, he won’t disappoint and continues behaving himself.

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Corey isn’t the only new person in Jane’s life. Mary Louise rudely weasels her way in. She starts off with outrageous insults – requesting a paternity test and suggesting Jane initiated the affair. Not the best way to gain entry into her grandson’s life, but Jane is able to see past the crazy. ML wants to know her new family, so Jane gives her a chance. 

As expected, quality time with Ziggy doesn’t mean ML will back-off. Instead, she approaches Det. Quinlan (Merrin Dungey) and offers her services. There is something foul afoot and these two are determined to disclose the truth. 

Fans feel uneasy, especially with all the allusions to a possible drowning. Images of crashing waves, Bonnie’s flashbacks to her mother plunging her little underwater, lonely walks along the shore…People are speculating that someone is going to drown this season. We’ll have to wait to see whether that drowning is physical or metaphorical. Either way, Big Little Lies continues keeping viewers on the edge of our seats. 

Big Little Lies season 2, episode 4 “She Knows”: Celeste accuses Mary Louise of overstepping boundaries with Jane. Renata endures a prying court hearing with Gordon. Jane opens up to Corey at Amabella’s disco-themed birthday party. Madeline continues to try to make things right with Ed.

Big Little Lies airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO. 

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