Big Little Lies season 2 episode 4 review: For how long is it acceptable to stay angry?

Tensions rise at a fancy dress party, and the conflict between Celeste and Mary-Louise reaches a fever pitch

Nothing brings out the drama in Monterey like a fancy dress party. Last season’s Elvis and Audrey gala left one dead, and this week’s 70s kids party very nearly had the same death toll.

Amabella’s birthday was a great excuse to dress the show’s gorgeous cast in disco/hippie clothing, everyone looking incredibly chic with the exception of ol’ Ed, who turned up in an oversized sage suit and voluminous Afro perm. He’s still smarting over Madeleine’s adultery, and even though we’re only a couple of episodes into it Madeleine’s already had enough. Forgive or else give up, is what she wants, and I’m not sure how sustainable this period of frostiness between the couple is. If Ed’s just too hurt to show her any kind of tenderness, is she bound for recidivism? The daydreams of Madeleine fucking the teacher suggest yes.

The ongoing battle between Celeste and Mary-Louise took a particularly nasty turn this week. Celeste had finally had enough of her interfering, untrusting mother-in-law, and I almost whooped at how she slapped the glasses off Mary-Louise’s face. Meryl Streep’s character has gone into full attack mode, petitioning to take Celeste’s kids away from her. I don’t see it actually happening, so what will ultimately stop her? I don’t think Bonnie’s got another firm shove down a staircase in her, so it seems likely Mary-Louise will eventually fully realise the extent of her son’s malevolence and the trail of destruction he has left in his wake – perhaps with one of his sons showing further signs of copycat violence?

As for Jane, it’s been eked out over arguably too many episodes, but she’s finally decided to let in new guy… Corey (thank you, Wikipedia; his name still hasn’t stuck in my mind). This can’t be happily ever after though, so what next? I fear that, while Corey might not be violent, there are still sub-optimal elements to his character we’ve yet to glimpse.

Renata, meanwhile, continued to lament her descent from the super rich to just the regular rich, boohoo-ing into a quadruple-ply tissue as she handed over the keys to the Tesla. She’s refusing to forgive Gordon, in a situation that mirrors that of Madeleine and Ed. But while Madeleine is strong, Gordon looks vulnerable, and I wouldn’t be surprised if all the (justifiable) guilt-tripping from his wife ends with his suicide, in a crushing end to Renata’s storyline this season.

Renata in ‘Big Little Lies’ season 2 episode 4.

Of the Monterey Five that just leaves Bonnie, whose mother was the aforementioned party casualty, slipping into a coma caused by (I think we’re to assume) her drug addiction. But what are these weird premonitions she’s having? A drowning? Bonnie sinking into the depths of the Pacific? I know we’re in the land of horoscopes, sage burning and aura cleansing, but are we now to believe in clairvoyance? A sense of foreboding is fair enough, however, as a divide is fast emerging between the ladies – those ready to abandon their big little lie (big big lie?) and those liable to do anything to protect it.

Big Little Lies is shown on HBO in the US and simulcast in the UK on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV.