“She Knows” might have been the best episode yet of this second season, and things promise to get very interesting going forwards.
This Big Little Lies Season 2, Episode 4 recap for the episode titled “She Knows” contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
As the title of Big Little Lies Season 2, Episode 4 suggests, Mary Louise knows. Exactly what she knows remains to be seen, but it’s obviously something; just in case any previous episodes might have led you to believe that she was simply a grieving mother in denial, this one confirms that she’s much more than that. And that’s a major problem for all of the Monterey 5, but for Celeste in particular since Mary Louise is seeking custody of her children.
How can she? Well, in case it hasn’t been obvious, Mary Louise has been compiling evidence. Celeste isn’t mentally stable. She has outbursts. She takes a great many pills. Her one-night-stands amble around the house in front of her children because taking Ambien makes her forget the fling is even there. And early on in “She Knows”, she becomes violent, slapping Mary Louise across the face in response to endless snide remarks about her marriage. She even gets one in return: “What was that, foreplay?”
If nothing else comes of this second season, at least we’ll have the burns. Later on in Big Little Lies Season 2, Episode 4, Chloe explains how a door and her mother are opposites — a door is hinged. Delightful.
I don’t know if Madeline is strictly unhinged, but she’s certainly something. And so is Ed. They’re not together, even though they’re living together, and Ed won’t dance with her at Amabella’s 70s-disco-themed party, even though he’ll happily dance with Bonnie, who is seeming more and more carefree by the week. The party is a hilarious ruse concocted by Gordon and Renata to distract from the fact that they’ve had to hand over virtually all of their possessions at a bankruptcy hearing in which Laura Dern was so brilliant that I almost watched the scene through again, just for fun.
Big Little Lies is as much about pretending as it is about anything else; everyone seems to be doing it virtually all of the time. But “She Knows” making this explicit didn’t just make for a handful of great interactions — it also made a rather astute point about what it means to keep up appearances in polite upper-class society, especially when there are sinister secrets that everyone is trying to keep quiet. What happens when continuing to do that becomes more trouble than it’s worth? What happens when keeping it quiet in the first place perhaps wasn’t the best thing to do?
These are all questions that’ll need answering at some point. But there are more immediate concerns. At the party, Elizabeth has a stroke. She’s repeatedly envisioning Bonnie drowning. Will she? To believe so would also be to take Big Little Lies at its word, and are any of us willing to do that?
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.