There is still so much we don’t know. In Season 2 of Big Little Lies, the secrets surrounding Monterey have piled up at a rapid pace, leaving us in a world of uncertainty heading into the season finale. With that in mind, we asked Ringer staffers what their biggest (littlest) lingering question is ahead of the final episode.
What happened to Perry’s brother?
Andrew Gruttadaro: All season long, there’s been an odd vagueness in the allusions to Raymond Wright, Perry’s brother who died at the age of 5. Mary Louise seems to know what happened, but won’t go any further than calling it a tragedy while clutching the cross that hangs around her neck; Celeste seems to know, too, and seems to also know why Mary Louise is being so withholding on the subject. Was there an accident? Did Perry—already too far gone as a child—kill his brother? Or did Mary Louise cause something to happen?
This question will surely be at the heart of Celeste’s cross-examination of Mary Louise in the season finale, during the climax of what has so far been the most absurd TV trial since Charlie Kelly started practicing bird law. If Celeste’s still-active bar license is worth anything, she’ll crack Mary Louise, and we’ll either learn that Perry’s mother knew all along that he was a danger to society—or that she was the one who made him that way.
Why does Detective Quinlan have it out for the Monterey Five?
Kate Halliwell: Does she not have better things to do? I began this season wondering what in the world is up with Monterey’s lurkiest detective, and that question remains unanswered leading into the finale. As sketchy and paranoid as Celeste, Bonnie, and the rest of them have become, Quinlan’s obsession with putting them in jail remains baffling to me. What about Perry Wright’s death—by most accounts, a just end for a garbage human—demands the heavy hand of the law? Quinlan even went so far as to scheme with Mary Louise to get Celeste and the others on the stand in a custody hearing, just to trap them in their lie. Why does she care so much? And most importantly, I swear to shit: If I don’t get more info about why she keeps clicking that goddamn lighter, I will LOSE IT.
Why is Ed still sticking around Monterey?
Claire McNear: Before this season began, I wrote about the plight of poor Ed Mackenzie (Adam Scott), who, by dint of his thoughtfulness, kindness, and general upstandingness, was (and is) perhaps Monterey’s lone positive adult role model—and one who’s been consistently treated badly by his wife, Madeline, even (perhaps especially) as he dotes on her and Chloe, their daughter. Things haven’t gotten better for our guy since then: He learned at last about Madeline’s affair with Joseph when he overheard her and Abigail, Madeline’s teenage daughter from her first marriage, casually discussing it. Since then, he’s made a good-faith (OK—mostly) effort to rebuild trust with Madeline, even joining her for a hugging seminar at a couples retreat. Last week’s episode saw him finally warm back up to her when he walked in on her dancing to their wedding song—but he doesn’t know that she’s still keeping another secret from him: the truth of what really happened to Perry Wright.
Ed, do yourself a favor and get the hell out of Dodge. There’s not much keeping him there apart from Chloe and his crumbling marriage: He has no friends in Monterey that we know of; he works remotely; he actively dislikes the fussy Otter Bay upper crust; he is perhaps one more spandex-clad run-in away from an actual duel with Nathan. Once he learns that Madeline has betrayed his trust yet again, as he likely will in the Season 2 finale, he should flee. Divorce is no fun, but San Jose seems like it might be a much healthier place to live.
Where is Celeste even supposed to be from?
Alison Herman: Back in Season 1, Nicole Kidman’s accent work was the subject of lighthearted jokes, helping alleviate the darkness of her character’s story line. In Season 2, however, questions about Celeste’s voice and her intended origins have become a pressing concern. Before, it was safe to assume Kidman was simply lapsing into her natural Australian cadence while shooting stressful scenes depicting Celeste’s abuse and her belated acknowledgement of it. But Celeste’s wobbly intonations have grown only more inconsistent with time, begging the question: Is she actually supposed to be Australian? What other explanation is there for all those dropped Rs, besides all the Ambien? I imagine this is one of many revelations that could be packed into the courtroom confrontation between her and Mary Louise. For instance: “Before I met your son, shortly after leaving my native Australia 15 years ago …” Or: “When I was a child, when my father’s flourishing diplomatic career brought him to Melbourne for a five-year period, hence my slight accent …” Or maybe just: “Back in Australia, the law says …” David E. Kelley is a master of the procedural, of which clumsy exposition is a foundational building block. Who better to give the people what they need?!
Can Ed and Nathan work out their differences?
Miles Surrey: Despite the fact Madeline once infamously boasted that she tends to keep her personal grudges like “little pets,” the pettiest feud on this series—and one which has been elevated to an incredible degree this season—is between her husband Ed and her ex-husband Nathan. These are two guys who fundamentally can’t vibe with one another on a molecular level, and every scene in the second season between them has followed a familiar, tragicomic pattern. Nathan makes a half-assed attempt to patch things up; Ed says something snarky, which immediately makes Nathan irate; Nathan, who has the temperament of a child, calls Ed some variation of a twerp while vaguely threatening to fight him; Ed shrugs it off and moves on with his day.
It’s the last part—Ed’s DGAF attitude—that keeps making Nathan lose his mind. Ed deduces (accurately) that Nathan can’t handle them not getting along; he’s obsessed with finding a way for him and Ed to be simpatico. Their struggle is far from the most important dangling thread heading into the finale—presumably most viewers are concerned with Celeste’s custody battle and whether someone is going to ask Meryl Streep if she wants to catch these hands. But I’d be lying to myself if I said I didn’t want some closure on the ballad of Ed and Nathan, even if the show’s version of “closure” is just one more scene where Nathan storms off while calling Ed a “snide fuck.” That’s what I call fan service.
What actually happened on trivia night?
Amelia Wedemeyer: As we’ve mentioned on Big Little Live, there’s something fishy about those flashbacks to the night of Perry’s death. Given the show’s use of false flashbacks and imagined scenarios, I’m not sure we’re seeing what truly happened, and I want the Season 2 finale to give us definitive clarity about the events leading up to Perry’s death, who pushed him (yeah, maybe Bonnie didn’t—I don’t know!), and why the Monterey Five agreed to say that he tripped. I mean, if he was physically attacking his wife, why wouldn’t they just tell the truth and say that it was a defensive act to protect Celeste? Also, if I recall correctly, the flashbacks to the night of Perry’s death seem to ever-so-slightly vary in terms of who said what, according to whose perspective we’re seeing. Like I said, the changes are minuscule, but they matter. And I’d like to know why.
Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.