WARNING: Spoilers ahead for the finale of season 2 of HBO’s “Big Little Lies.” Although, according to some TV critics, it might have been the creative masterminds behind this unnecessary second helping — especially creator and writer David E. Kelley — who spoiled everything for the-then limited series that won six Emmys for its 2017 original incarnation.
For a while in early episodes, everyone seemed dazzled enough by the addition of Meryl Streep as a rodent-toothed Javert of a grieving mother-in-law who was determined to make the lives of the women of privilege known as the Monterey Five suffer for the loss of her twisted abusive son. Laura Dern‘s anger over Renata’s diminished financial status, thanks to her wreckless spouse, set off enough thespian fireworks to distract from the show’s meandering plotting.
But a bang-up conclusion was not to be. As USA Today’s Kelly Lawler wrote, “Hacky courtroom scenes, a bad Streep character and repetitive storytelling have plagued this season, and things didn’t get better on the final episode. After the gorgeous season 1 finale had left things so deliciously tangled, “I Want to Know” tied up every narrative thread neatly with a banal bow.”
The A.V. Club’s Gwen Ihat wasn’t much kinder in her assessment: “So the main conclusions this finale reaches were predictable: Celeste (Nicole Kidman) gets to keep her kids, and the Monterey Five turn themselves in at the end. ” She did relish the courtroom takedown of Streep’s judge-y Mary Louise by Celeste as she turns the tables by asking her painful questions. However, as noted by many, Zoe Kravitz‘s Bonnie, the only person of color among the core five and the one most beset by guilt from having been the one who pushed Perry down the stairs to his demise — her arc in the second go-round basically went nowhere.
Vox critic Aja Romano felt that the entire season was up-ended by the custody battle for Perry’s twin sons between Mary Louise and Celeste: “The lack of attention elsewhere meant that the drama lagged so badly in spots that it seemed to mirror the ways in which the production itself reportedly suffered behind the scenes; the season’s directionless writing was unable to be salvaged by a strong directorial hand.”
IGN’s Alicia Lutes, who seemed mostly OK with the wrap-up, also was left wanting in one vital way: “Its biggest not-so-little lie of all: that this show ever cared about Bonnie Carlson’s story at all. … The way the show tossed aside Bonnie’s incredibly compelling story to the side — after barely showing her at all on season 1 in in an alleged effort not to telegraph too hard that she was Perry’s pusher — was a failure of storytelling on a fundamental level.
What do you think? After relentless speculation on social media about what surprises would greet us on the finale, nothing much out of the ordinary happened. No drownings, no deaths, no readings of Bonnie’s confessions in her journal, no reveal that Corey (Douglas Smith) — Jane’s (Shailene Woodley) shady love interest — was Perry’s brother or stepbrother.
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