“Tell-Tale Hearts” proves that the second season premiere was no fluke; this show is just as good as it ever was, and has already justified its sophomore season.
This Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 2 recap for the episode titled “Tell-Tale Hearts” contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
I think it was about halfway through “Tell-Tale Hearts” that I stopped worrying. I don’t recall the exact interaction. One of the absurdly good cast will have been screaming or crying, I imagine, or something along those lines. Doesn’t matter, really. Either way, I stopped. I knew that the premiere episode wasn’t a fluke. I knew that Big Little Lies had found a way to organically continue a story that seemed as though it was already over.
Big Little Lies season 2, episode 2 justifies the existence of this second season by communicating, loudly and clearly, that you can’t just kill someone and cover it up. Things like that have a habit of lingering. And now with the inclusion of Meryl Streep as passive-aggression personified, it’s only a matter of time until the secrets begin to spill out — and it’s evidently difficult enough to keep one in this show as it is.
Case in point: Ziggy’s parentage is revealed thanks to some overhearing and some nattering; Madeline’s affair is revealed to Ed; and Gordon’s criminal activities are exposed, leading both him and Renata to financial ruin. “Tell-Tale Hearts” chews through revelations like Streep chews through the scenery. After watching it, the idea of a second season doesn’t just seem warranted — you can’t imagine how we ever waited so long for all this to come out.
The problem is dealing with it once it’s out. Celeste turns to therapy, but is that enough? She’s still clinging to her abusive past and the secrets she continues to keep, all while watching — in her mind, anyway — her own children turn into their father. Some sibling wrestling is one thing, but screaming expletives at a parent is quite another. But in her outburst — “No! You will not turn out like him!” — Celeste accidentally reveals a darker side to Perry that Mary Louise isn’t ready to hear. And with the knowledge that Celeste felt that way about her husband comes with the knowledge that she would stand to benefit from his absence.
Bonnie, too, is dealing with her guilt in an unhealthy way, especially given the presence of her overbearing mystic mother, Elizabeth (Crystal Fox), whose visions provide some kind of watery hint to future revelations. There’s an awful lot going on in Big Little Lies Season 2, Episode 2, yet the show takes it all in stride. Whenever drama is this effortless — and everything about “Tell-Tale Hearts” really was effortless — you know you’re dealing with a level of quality that is rare in television; quality of cast, quality of writing, quality of direction. This is a show packed with nuance, as powerful in silence as it is at full volume, in which moments of quiet grief and reflection are just as compelling as manic outbursts and unexpected plot swerves. If Big Little Lies is truly back, which it seems to be, then I’m just glad it’s back in the best way possible.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.