“Kill Me” builds towards a conclusion with the usual mastery of tone, surreal abstractions and rock-solid acting.
This recap of Big Little Lies Season 2, Episode 5, “Kill Me”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Big Little Lies does lots of things very well, but what it does best — and what people seem to give it the least amount of credit for — is how it balances tone. Rarely can a show make you laugh, gasp, and cry so easily and so close together; it’s a quintessential example of what happens when great actors are blessed with a great script. The material is so chewy that veterans like Meryl Streep and this season’s other MVP, Laura Dern, can’t help but get stuck into it with relish. Big Little Lies Season 2, Episode 5, “Kill Me”, had the feeling of an ominous dreamscape, with images and ideas floating just outside the story’s margins, ready to be pulled in and pieced together, but it’s so deeply rooted in humanity, albeit exaggerated to soapy extremes, that for all its abstractions the show never loses the audience’s interest.
“Kill Me” is what’s uttered by Bonnie’s mother, Elizabeth, whom we learn in Big Little Lies Season 2, Episode 5 made her daughter’s childhood exceptionally difficult, damaging her relationship with her father in the process. But the eager request of death wouldn’t have seemed out of place for any of the Monterey 5 here, virtually all of whom are dealing with their own traumas and dilemmas.
In the middle of most of them is Mary Louise, a truly formidable meddling mother-in-law and one of this year’s best characters in television. In “Kill Me” she’s still campaigning for custody of Celeste’s children, although based on their sweary, generally disrespectful behavior, I’d be happy to hand them over. Then again that’d be granting the old bird an undeserved win, and we can’t have that — especially since the Liars have presumably figured out the real reason behind Mary Louise’s fervent pursuit of the twins. If it all goes to court and the women are forced to testify, they’ll also be forced to lie about Perry’s death under oath. There’s a reason that the specter of his demise keeps floating around the women in Big Little Lies Season 2, Episode 5, with all of the Liars flashing back to the night of his death.
That’s if one of the women doesn’t crack first. The likeliest culprit is Bonnie, but can we really count out anyone at this point? Renata is penniless, and Madeline is having to endure a hugging workshop in an attempt to save her marriage. The horror. Even a very well-written speech to Ed about loving him, swearing off infidelity but being unable to commit to perfection in all things doesn’t seem enough, since “Kill Me” reveals Ed is very much willing to try out infidelity for himself. It’s all going off, and like a looming storm cloud, Big Little Lies promises some real thunder to come.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.