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Big Little Lies Hopes to End Season 2 on a High Note

ALSO: Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted, Fear the Walking Dead, The Loudest Voice, and more
  • Nicole Kidman's Celeste takes on Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) in the Big Little Lies season finale. (HBO)
    Nicole Kidman's Celeste takes on Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) in the Big Little Lies season finale. (HBO)

    Based on a book that had an ending and no follow-ups, the first season of Big Little Lies left things tantalizingly open-ended — did these women really get away with the events of Perry's demise, become closer friends, and regularly play with their children on the beach during sweater weather? The looming glare (and binoculared snooping) of Merrin Dungey's police investigator character suggested maybe not, but it was up to the viewer to decide whether to follow that what-if. It was a beautiful, if slightly teasing ending, but it was most definitely an ending.

    Or was it? I'm not sure when was that we decided all TV shows needed to end with locked-door finality in order to feel satisfying. Perhaps it was the one-two punch of The Sopranos, which ended ambigiously, and Six Feet Under, which ended beautifully and perfectly for what that show was, leaping forward in time to show the deaths of every major character. The Sopranos finale was controversial to say the least, while the SFU finale was praised, and I wonder if a lesson was internalized that in order to end a long-running and beloved show, you have to arrive at everybody's death to do it. Thus Breaking Bad lingered on Walt until his last breath and Lost followed its characters into the afterlife.

    And for any show that somehow managed to leave characters alive? It seems all of those shows are being brought back again. In the case of Big Little Lies, coming back for a second season was as much a no-brainer (the show was SO popular, and the ending left a clear path for continuation) as it was infuriating, leaving many with the sense that nothing good  on TV these days can end while it's good.

    As it happened, Big Little Lies Season 2 began with alot of promise — that Streep scream! — but six episodes in, it's begun to feel like just another messily-written drama performed by capable actors doing their best so that we can all pick it apart to death on Twitter while it airs. Not only that, but now we learn there was a behind-the-scenes power-struggle that had series creators David E. Kelley and Jean-Marc Valée taking ownership away from acclaimed director Andrea Arnold. You either die a hero or you live long enough to become a villain, so say the comic-book movies, and it seems to applies to popular TV shows, too.

    SEASON FINALE: The season finale of Big Little lies points to one major dramatic flashpoint: Celeste (Nicole Kidman) will interrogate Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) on the witness stand, in an act so legally dubious, it had better be damned good drama. Other lingering questions: what's Bonnie going to do? What's Bonnie's mom going do? And will Renata find a way to pivot off of Gordon's failings and ultimately be rich again? 9:00 PM ET on HBO

    SERIES PREMIERE: Everybody's favorite quick-to-anger TV chef Gordon Ramsay is back, only this time he's not hollering about under-cooked chicken -- he's traveling the globe, seeking out the food cultures from different areas of the world. Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted has already faced a backlash over similarities to the television work of the late Anthony Bourdain, but Ramsay has dismissed his critics, saying he thinks his old mate Bourdain would be "happy and impressed" with his new show. 10:00 PM ET on Nat Geo

    SEASON FINALE: The traditional mid-season finale for an AMC series can often have the same kind of dreadful impact that full-season finales can have, so when Fear the Walking Dead sees Morgan, Grace, and Alicia working against the clock to buy time for Dwight and Dorie, it's not wrong to  start fearing for all of them. 9:00 PM ET on AMC

    NEW EPISODE: On tonight's new episode of The Loudest Voice, the monstrous Roger Ailes (Russell Crowe) goes into battle against the Obama White House, while Emory Cohen (Brooklyn; Netflix's The O.A.) enters the picture as Ailes newspaper protegée Joe Lindsley. 10:00 PM ET on Showtime


    • The $100,000 Pyramid presents a pair of TV co-stars to help some civilians win what is sneakily one of television's most lucrative prizes: This Is Us stars Susan Kelechi Watson and newly minted Emmy nominee Chris Sullivan face off in one matchup, while former Sopranos cast members Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Steven Schirripa face off in the next one. 10:00 PM ET on SYFY
    • Euphoria presents its next episode … appropriately enough titled "The Next Episode," where it's Halloween for the collective parents' nightmare scenario that are the Euphoria teens. 10:00 PM ET on HBO
    • What Just Happened??! With Fred Savage continues to poke a stick at after-show culture. In this episode, The Flare got pre-empted for breaking news, so host Fred Savage is forced to vamp. 9:30 PM ET on FOX

    Joe Reid is the senior writer 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, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: Big Little Lies, HBO