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Jul 03 2019

Big Little Lies MVPs: Episode 2.4 – "She Knows"

Previously:Episode 1(Nathaniel)Episode 2(Spencer)Episode 3(Lynn)

Let's face it.This fucking lie has had quite a shelf life.

by Nathaniel R

I can't be the only person to have made this observation but occasionallyBig Little Liesis rather like a high-end version ofDesperate Housewives.There are the core group of women who maybe wouldn't be friends in real life but whose distinctive personalities make a juicy combustible mix as a cast (within the alloted tight geographically region: cul de sac in one case,beachfront in the other) Didn'tHousewivesalso have a crime or murder mystery each season to mix in with the soap opera theatrics?At any rate,it's worth mentioning because the writing onBig Little Liesthis season is...questionable.It's not a patch on the first season cumulatively,alas,but scene by scene it's still great evening entertainment in the old tradition of the "watercooler"show;it certainly gives us a lot to talk about!

In this episode,Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) makes her big move -- suing Celeste (Nicole Kidman) for custody of "her boys".That's the huge story beat that will undoubtedly take us through to the finale (episode 7) but it's more like a prologue this time around as the bulk of the episode deals with 1) Amabella's birthday party 2) Madeleine and Ed's flailing marriage,and 3) the bizarre 'are they really going there?' subplot of Bonnie's mom having a stroke while also possibly being psychic and predicting that Bonnie will drown.We suspect everyone in the writer's room ofBig Little Lieswore matching Regina George"A Little Bit Dramatic"t-shirts while they wrote "She Knows"

Top Ten MVPs ofBig Little Lies,Episode 2.4: "She Knows"

Today is Amabella's day and it will be filled with laugher and magic and pure unimitigated joy.

10Renata's Happy-Face Act / and the Disco Party
Dern's performance may have gotten broader this season,but there's a method to the madness.Renata is coming undone and since she's always performing for others rather than just being,the performance is more and more naked.She's now moved from forced 'fake it til you make it' style cheer to outright hostile reality-warping.

It's the best pizza in the world.

09Meryl and Pizza
We thankBig Little Liesfor this reprise ofone of our favourite Oscar moments.

Bonnie's angry charge towards the detective in the hospital.This scene is but a split second long but what a doozy...and there will obviously be repercussions in episode 5.

07Nicole's Ambien Face
This storyline is dumb but nobody does emptied-out befuddlement like Nicole.No one.(See alsoBirthandThe Others.) Plus we're happy that Celeste finally got some again.(Cute bartender!)

06 [TIE]Reese's Pause/Streep's Shoulder Shrug
The single most entertaining thing about Season 2 has been the intermittent reminders of Madeline and Mary Louise's hate-at-first-sight status.The battle continues.Reese's agressive head-nodding "mmmhmmm" at the doorway,forcing Mary Louise to awkwardly invite herself in,and Streep's shrug when Madeline later asks "Is that your hint for me to leave?"were both hilarious.

Is that supposed to be funny?

05Opposites."Next we're going to do synonyms".
Hinged/Unhinged.I died.Chloe (Darby Camp) is the most underrated character on the show and Madeline absolutely deserves having her as a daughter.Discuss.

04Madeline & Ed at Odds
Reese Witherspoon and Adam Scott are fleshing out this marital divide with true panache.Each of their four scenes together in this episode -- proposing marriage counselling,discussing Madeline's charged personality,talking about Ed's emotional absence,or the tetchy disco party exchange (Ed is completely correct in his assessment of that scene but he's also being a total dick which gives the scene a provocative real-life charge).Marital divides are never black and white situations but filled with thickly complex agendas,hurts,truths,and questionable motivations.

03Zoe Kravitz in general
We've been waiting for the show to give her the kind of meat to chew on that the other women have gotten and we're finally getting it.If Nicole is the MVP of Season 1,and Reese the MVP overall,then Zoe is the MVP of this particular episode.Watch they way she keeps shuffling through emotions,from scene to scene and shot to shot.Her scenes in the hospital are amazingly raw,but her fluidity in the dance scene with her mother who she's always so guarded around was a sight to behold as well.

02Renata vs.Bankruptcy Officer
LIVINGFOR THIS STARE DOWN.So much privilege and hostility.But Renata has finally met her match.The trustee is having none of her white nonsense.We thank the actor John Marshall Jones for his enormously satisfying refusal to be intimidated.He's the first character since Madeline herself that Renata isn't remotely able to bulldoze.)

Three cheers for Celeste for finally letting Mary Louise have it in fullDynastyprime time soap opera fashion.And three cheers to Meryl for absolutely killing this scene from beat one to its cruel finale.Watch the way she enters the scene with eyes comically wide with innocence (though this woman is fully aware of what she's doing) which is more than a little aggressive.It only crescendos from there with a direct provocation before the slap.

"What do we call that?...foreplay?"Meryl lets us know that Mary Louise knows she's cut Celeste to the bone with a hugely inappropriate giggle as she walks out of camera range.The giggle is ostensibly directed at her grandsons as she slips the fun grandmother face back on with the ease of a consummate manipulator,but it's also salt thrown backwards into a fresh wound.

I'd argue that "She Knows"was the weakest of Season 2's episodes thus far and this is largely why -- it had no where to go but down from this excellent scene at the beginning of the episode.

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Reader Comments (24)

Your assessment is perfect.It's very entertaining.I can't stand Mary Louise but I also love her weird and casual crossing of boundaries.It's interesting Streep hasn't talked at all about her.

July 3,2019 | Unregistered CommenterJono

Development of Zoe Kravitz character has been painfully weak.Weakest link so far,I think.Hope it improves.Streep is definitely MVP of series.I so enjoy her character.Shailene Woodley is vastly underappreciated as an actor.Overall,series plays as high end soap opera.But I do look forward to watching every week.Maybe it's the mass of acting talent.I love to watch these women.

July 4,2019 | Unregistered Commenterbrandz

Reese also good on this one!

July 4,2019 | Unregistered CommenterFaye

John Cameron Mitchell
Doesn't like Madonna...
La la la la la...

July 4,2019 | Unregistered CommenterLady Gaga

Love arrogant Renata being taken down by her husband's actions (that have nothing to do with her!).Ziggy as Ziggy Stardust was a cute touch.

July 4,2019 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Mason

Off Topic.Nathaniel,in case of Best International Film Predictions,France will accept the special screenings.Watch out for Ladj Ly's "Les Misérables".

July 4,2019 | Unregistered Commenterleon

Playing the villain/bitch sure can be fun for certain actresses.What I like about Streep's performances are all the little touches that tell us how determined she is behind that small mousy exterior.Not since Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge have I seen such a vicious character hide behind a deliberately bland facade.
Poor Celeste,how do you get rid of Mary Louise?(other than kill her too...?) I mean I want to push her down the stairs and I don't even live with her.

The script may not be as good as last year but I love watching Kidman,Dern,Witherspoon,Woodley,Kravitz,and Streep make this high class soap opera so much fun to watch.
That Disco party alone was total fan service.

July 4,2019 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

The cute bartender is Mira Sorvino's husband!

July 4,2019 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

Weakest episode of the series.

Dern and Kravitz are terrible on this show.

July 4,2019 | Unregistered Commenterbrad

They're just doing it for the gifs,right?

July 4,2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I have to take issue with the statement that Big Little Lies is like Desperate Housewives.There is so much more to Big Little Lies.It does not shy away from truth,from people having feelings,and it does not have that pervasive "oh well,everything's really all right"mood that Housewives had.It doesn't go for cheap laughs either.Some very deep acting from most of the 5 women in Lies.No one was raped on Desperate Housewives,no one acted out because of Ambien,no one has a mother who has visions.I could go on and on.Just my humble opinion,btw.

July 4,2019 | Unregistered Commenterrrrich7

The series analyses are fun.I agree this was the weakest of the series so far.

Over the 4 weeks,I rate the actresses thus:

1) Streep

2) Witherspoon

3) Woodley

4) Dern.( although she his tending to overact at times )



July 4,2019 | Unregistered Commenterrdf


"Not since Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge have I seen such a vicious character hide behind a deliberately bland facade."

Watch Olivia Colman in "Fleabag."Absolute evil behind the sunniest exterior.

July 4,2019 | Unregistered CommenterIan

I so wish for Witherspoon to get her Emmy.She is the mvp for me so far

July 4,2019 | Unregistered CommenterFr

Overall - Witherspoon
This episode - Kravitz (Personally,I feel like she was cast more for her looks than her acting.Every time I see her I'm like damn she's gorgeous but there's no personality to her character.)

P.S.There's another person on this site posting with my author handle to impersonate me saying stuff like a hate white people.

July 4,2019 | Unregistered Commenterbeyaccount

I'm disappointed y'all aren't seeing what i'm seeing in Kravitz.I think she's doing fine work this season with the still somewhat confusingly written character.

July 4,2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I keep waiting for the second season to justify existing,but so far,I've been disappointed.Though,I agree with Nat that Kravitz is doing stellar work.

July 4,2019 | Unregistered CommenterBen

Count me in as another big fan of Kravitz this season.

July 4,2019 | Unregistered CommenterSquasher88

A better comparison for Big Little Lies season two is American Horror Story: Coven.Major film actress doing TV for the purpose of being bitchy to each other for us gays and women who like to see women do gay shit -- gay shit in this context is being bitchy to each other.

July 5,2019 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

@3rtful: ROFL

July 5,2019 | Unregistered Commenterrrrich7

Without Meryl (Mary Louise) Streep,this show would be wanting.Kravitz is the weakest link,while Dern tends to over-act.Yet the others excel.

July 5,2019 | Unregistered CommenterJoanna

About Zoe: i think she is fine.She was sort of an also-ran in Season 1.Now that the story is continuing,her role as the one who pushed him down the stairs is eating at her.She doesn't seem to get as much screen time as anyone else,and has no big scenes,so you have to watch closely to see how mysterious she is making Bonnie.I think her part will grow as the season continues.

July 5,2019 | Unregistered Commenterrrrich7

I give HBO credit.No one knows storyline from here on out.I live for Ambien eyes and demented giggle.

July 6,2019 | Unregistered CommenterJane

Definitely not as good as season 1,but I still wouldn't miss an

I *love* Zoe,and was really hoping she'd get more to do since they really gypped her in season 1,but...what they've given her character feels a bit half-baked.I think she's doing a great job with what's she's been given.Bonnie is a very mysterious character,and she plays into that well.

July 6,2019 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

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