Okay, before we get into "Kill Me," the fifth episode of this second season of Big Little Lies, can we talk about what happened right before the credits rolled? Not Bonnie spotting Corey exiting the police station — although we will address that — but rather Ed getting propositioned at the bar by the recently-chesty Tori Bachman, spurned wife of Madeline's Season 1 fling Joseph. And just when all of us in the audience got smug about being two steps ahead of the show ("Uh oh, Ed's gonna have some revenge sex!") the camera cut to Joseph, also at the bar and staring right at Ed and Tori. Guys, are they gonna have a Madeline-spiting threeway???
Alas, we're going to have to wait until next week to find out. This week, we got the most forward motion we've had all season when it comes to The Lie. With Mary Louise and Celeste set to battle it out in family court over custody of the boys, the women figure out that what's really going on is that Mary Louise and her lawyer (played by Denis O'Hare) are planning to use the custody case to get to the truth of Perry's death. Specifically by calling all four other women to the witness stand as character witnesses, asking them about Perry's fall, and then waiting in the tall grass for one of them to perjure themselves.
That's enough to cause concern for all five Monterey ladies in this worry-filled episode, but as they say on TV, that's not all. Beyond the prospect of being found guilty of murder (or at the very least manslaughter), we've got Madeline worrying about her marriage, Renata worrying about her money, Jane worrying about Ziggy worrying about growing up to be like Perry, and most especially: Bonnie worrying about her stroked-out mom. All of this concern seem to be converging as the season heads into its home stretch, so we figured we'd rank the women by just how worried they should be at the close of this week's episode:.
In order from least worried to most worried ...
6. Mary Louise (Meryl Streep).
Mary Louise is doing great, sweetie, thanks for asking! What does she have to be worried about? She's got her shark lawyer helping to turn her nuisance custody hearing into a shadow prosecution of her daughter-in-law and her friends over the death of her shitty son. (To be fair, they all actually did kill her son, but Mary Louise doesn't know that!)
In smaller, but no less impressive, victories, Mary Louise survives a tete-e-tete with Renata by simply applying firm but steady pressure to what she correctly identifies is Renata's materialism and guilt over her work life making her a less attentive mother. This woman is the Megan Rapinoe of passive aggression, and this scene truly was her Golden Boot game.
Mary Louise even managed to wiggle her way out of the long-promised and hotly anticipated ice-cream attack from Madeline that was in all those paparazzi shots.
5. Renata (Laura Dern).
It's not that Renata doesn't have anything to worry about. She and Gordon are still broke, she's about to be put on a witness stand where her choices will be to throw one of her friends under the bus for murder or perjure herself, and she just learned she's been cut from the Women in Power issue because those sluts at the magazine only want women who are on top.
But truly, it was Renata withering under Mary Louise's needle-sharp digs that has us most worried for her. Not just the psych warfare but also how empty her house seemed. The sight of Renata Klein scooting on her sad little office chair in order to face Mary Louise on her unmoored Ottoman was too much to take. This is her house, and she lives here?
4. Jane (Shailene Woodley).
Jane was just about ready to skate into sixth place on this list as the woman we're least worried about on this show. After all, despite her continued discomfort and trauma when she and Corey have try to get physical (trauma that's been beautifully rendered by Woodley this season), Jane has mostly made all the right moves parenting Ziggy past the minefield of his paternity discovery, and when you observe Ziggy versus Celeste's monsters-in-training, you really see Jane's successes in an even better light.
But then there he was, just as Bonnie was heading into the police station to maybe confess to killing Perry and sparing her friends the anguish: Corey, being escorted back to his car by detectives. What was he doing there? What has he been telling the police. Has he been their mole in the inside, spying on Jane and her friends? COREY, YOU SHIT, WE TRUSTED YOU.
3. Madeline (Reese Witherspoon).
Madeline had a lot to worry about re: her marriage already. Especially if she honestly thinks taking up couples golf is the answer. But now that Ed may be having revenge sex with Tori and/or Joseph Bachman, Madeline's in for a whole new world of drama.
2. Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz).
Bonnie's storyline this season has easily been the most frustrating. Despite some very shaky plotting when it comes to Bonnie's mother and her … um, clairboyance, Zoe Kravitz is doing some seriously phenomenal work in the role, playing Bonnie's guilt over Perry's fate and her own uneasiness with the childhood memories that her mother's return are dredging up. This week, she has some fantastic scenes with her father (Martin Donovan), accusing him of allowing … something terrible to happen to her (some kind of abuse at her mother's hands, it would seem), when he stops by her yoga class as they're all singing Chicago to help with their sleep apnea (don't ask). Given all of her mother's "drowning" premonitions, there is much to be worried about for Bonnie as we head towards the season's resolution.
1. Celeste (Nicole Kidman).
Celeste is going to lose her kids to a buck-toothed ghoul, and it's all because somebody saved her from getting choked to death by her late husband. Watching Celeste try to parent her violent, Nordic boys is stressful enough. The desperation in her voice as she tries to nudge them towards telling her version of the truth was hard to watch, as was watching Mary Louise so thoroughly mop the floor with her in court.
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.