While Season 1 of Big Little Lies weaved the show's major plot concerns (Jane's mystery rapist; Celeste and Perry's problem marriage; whatever flash-forward event happened that everybody in town got interviewed by the cops about) into the fabric of a town that was teeming with social resentments, gossip, and the kind of contempt that only familiarity-via-school-fundraisers can breed. Season 2, perhaps by necessity, has been plottier and less organically situated in these backbiting environs. That kind of plot creep is what leads to an episode like this one, which takes place either in a courtroom or a hospital room, with both locations showing a mother on life support, more or less.
Meanwhile, Bonnie, as racked with guilt as ever, is nearly disassociating from time and place with all the hallucinations and daydreams she's having. Her mom is still stroked out in the hospital, begging for death, and all Bonnie can do is imagine herself confessing in court to having killed Perry. She hasn't done so, yet, but with Celeste's trial stretching into next week, who knows where she'll shake out.
One thing is for sure: there is enough simmering rage in this episode to result in more than a few murders. For the first time since season one, the stakes seem raised high enough that anyone could snap at any time and just … kill a man. Or someone else, I suppose.
And so this week, we're ranking the characters based on which ones seem like they could kill someone … now. In order from least likely to most likely ...
6. Madeline (Reese Witherspoon).
Madeline doesn't have much to drive her to murder this week; not unless you count her little blow-up at Bonnie during the gang's latest let-get-on-the-same-page session. Madeline might feel her urge rising if she knew what a hard play Tori Bachman (Sarah Sokolovic) was putting on Ed (Adam Scott), even though the Tori/Ed innuendo weirdly feels as close as the show has been getting to those Season 1 townie vibes.
5. Celeste (Nicole Kidman).
Celeste may have plenty of people she would want to kill — starting with her erstwhile mother-in-law, Mary Louise, and continuing with that viper of an attorney of hers. But she can't afford to blow up in anger at anyone, what with the fate of her boys in the balance. Then again, maybe next season can have the twins being raised by Jane while Celeste and Mary Louise continue to wage nonstop psychological warfare on each other in family court.
4. Mary Louise (Meryl Streep).
Mary Louise needs to mind her Ps and Qs as well, given that judge Becky Ann Baker seems disinclined to entertain her b.s. Still, there was a point when Jane was trying to beat down Mary Louise's door where it seemed like a justifiable homicide might be in the cards.
3. Jane (Shailene Woodley).
After a season of keeping things on a way more even keel that everyone else, this was the week that Jane flipped her lid, and the only reason that no one noticed is that Celeste's court proceeding — and what that means for The Lie — is hanging over everyone's heads. Hell, nobody else has the bandwidth to notice that Bonnie is having daylight fantasies about confessing to the crime and then smothering her mother, much less what Jane is up to. What Jane is up to is fuming that Corey talked to the cops, and she's especially banging down Mary Louise's door, trying to get inside, not even sure herself what she'd have done had she broken in.
2. Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz).
Bonnie is a MESS, y'all, especially after entertaining a good half-dozen fantasies of standing up in court, confessing to having killed Perry, and saving Celeste from losing her boys. But that's not the only secret she's keeping: the other is that her mother was a terrible and abusive presence in her life from an early age. Bonnie finally gets up the courage to tell her mother how furious she is with her, and at the end, she places the blame for killing Perry squarely on the woman she thought she was pushing: her mom. (She also admits she married Nathan even though she doesn't really love him, oops.) Bonnie is definitely on edge enough to kill again, but we're hoping she can pull herself back.
1. Renata (Laura Dern).
After finding out DURING their bankruptcy hearing that Gordon was shtupping the nanny — via the single most clumsy request for payment for blowjobs rendered that I'd ever heard — Renata is not only justified in killing Gordon, she's LIKELY to do so.
Your turn: What were your takaways from this week's episode? Weigh in at our forums.
Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, The Herald Sun, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.