‘Big Little Lies’ recap: Is Nicole Kidman the Emmy favorite thanks to episode 5, ‘Once Bitten’? [POLL]

Who gave the best performance this week in the fifth episode of HBO’s “Big Little Lies”? “Once Bitten,” like all seven episodes in the limited series, was written by multi-Emmy winner David E. Kelley and directed by Jean-Marc Vallee. But who was the MVP in front of the camera? Vote below in our poll.

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In last week’s episode, the halfway mark for the limited series the drama reached a fever pitch. In “Push Comes to Shove” Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) enlisted her friend, former lawyer Celeste (Nicole Kidman), to get “Avenue Q” produced at the local community theater, taking their fight all the way to the mayor. Meanwhile, Perry (Alexander Skarsgard) tried to hold back on his anger as he worried about his wife Celeste returning to the workforce, though he ultimately resorted to violence yet again towards the episode’s end. Jane (Shailene Woodley) felt temporary relief after her confession last week that her son Ziggy (Iain Armitage) was conceived by rape, but she again faced questions about whether or not Ziggy was violent. To find out, she had to take him to see a child psychologist. And Ed (Adam Scott) reached out to Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz) for help in keeping the peace as they planned a dinner.

With only two episodes left in this limited series the tension was amplified this week by a teenager texting while driving and causing a frightful car accident. Madeline (Witherspoon) and the director of “Avenue Q,” Joseph (Santiago Cabrera), where discussing their relationship in his car when the collision occurred. While no one was seriously hurt they finally decided to let each other go.

Renata (Laura Dern) rightfully freaked out upon seeing her quiet daughter had been bitten by another student. As expected Ziggy was the prime suspect, but the school had no proof. After that Jane made an impromptu visit to the man she suspects raped her after Madeline dug him up online. Meanwhile, Perry and Celeste continued their physically abusive relationship with another physical assault that ended in sex.

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Kidman is on track to be the MVP for the entire limited series, winning our poll for week two and week four. But unlike last week when her best scenes were opposite Witherspoon this week it was with her psychologist (Robin Weigert) that she did her most powerful work. Kidman again gave a subtle performance as she struggled with the love Celeste feels with Perry, while her fear of his abuse was intercut with some intense flashbacks. The desperation was never clearer than in the coffee shop before her session where she fearfully covered her bruises. After her therapy session she ran to pick up her children and brought them to the airport. We the audience rooted for her escape only to be heartbroken as we realized she was there to pick up her husband.

Will Kidman win the Emmy? Last year the Emmys switched from a ranked ballot to a straight plurality vote, which means multiple nominees from the same program could split the vote unless one has a clear and decisive advantage over the other. For example, last year in the race for Best Movie/Limited Series Actor Courtney B. Vance was the clear choice over his “The People v. O.J. Simpson” co-star Cuba Gooding Jr. But then at the SAG Awards Vance faced another co-star, Sterling K. Brown; it’s likely their vote split helped Bryan Cranston win for “All the Way.” With episode five under her belt has Kidman firmly established herself as the choice at the Emmys if both she and Witherspoon should receive nominations, or do you think Witherspoon is the star who has most greatly excelled?

Dern and Woodley also had knockout scenes this week as they work to keep their worlds in order. Woodley may have the stronger material dealing with sexual abuse but she’s an unknown entity at the Emmys. But Dern, though her character may be unlikable and unhinged, is a five-time Emmy nominee and past Oscar nominee — she might just be due to win some hardware.

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