BIG LITTLE LIES Review: “Living the Dream”


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This week’s episode of didn’t really give us any new hints as to who the murderer is (or who was murdered in the first place) but it was still a solid hour that illuminated a few other not so little secrets of our volatile cast of characters.

Madeline is still reeling from her daughter Abigail’s decision to move out and live with her father Nathan (and his loathed new wife Bonnie). So when Nathan proposes to Madeline that they should have dinner with Bonnie and Ed present to discuss the transition of Abigail from one home to the other, and all the parenting that goes with that. Of course it was Bonnie’s idea. And it’s a good one, and Madeline knows it, but she can’t stomach the fact that Nathan would do something like that for Bonnie while he never would have even entertained the thought while they were married. Madeline returns home to find Ed in full Elvis garb preparing for the Elvis and Audrey Hepburn themed Trivia Night. Chloe comes downstairs, even though she’s supposed to be sleeping, and puts on “Pocket Full of Rainbows” for her dad to practice performing. Its small moments like these that make you care about these people as a family, and it adds to the emotional punch knowing that one of them could possibly be murdered and/or a murderer by the time this is all over with (probably not Chloe, I admit).

Meanwhile, in the Wright household, Celeste and Perry have not moved on much from their weird abusive relationship, despite the therapy we saw them in last week. Celeste is gearing up to meet with the mayor and help Madeline defend the choice of having Avenue Q performed at the local theater. Perry asks her if she’s going to start practicing law again, and she denies it, though a savvy viewer should know where this is really going. Of course she wants to practice again, and of course Perry isn’t going to like it. He wants her to stay at home with their boys, and he even suggests having another baby–a girl. This all leads to a moment where Perry actually grabs Celeste by the throat from behind, choking her, and he only stops when one of the boys comes in the room. Perry quickly puts his “charming dad” face on, high fiving his son, and Celeste hightails it out of there. This is getting dangerous.

And on the Jane/Ziggy front, Jane is dealing with some serious stirred up emotion since she admitted what had happened to her leading to her becoming pregnant with Ziggy to Madeline last week. It is safe to say anybody who is having repeated visions of herself running and JUST stopping herself from leaping off a tall cliff is more than a bit disturbed. We know Ziggy is curious about who his real father is. But he also recognizes that this is really putting a strain on his mother. In a sweet intimate moment, he tells her that she doesn’t have to look for his father. He doesn’t need her to. That’s good because this episode Madeline seems to have tracked down the guy. She shows a picture of him to Jane, and she confirms it does indeed look like him from what she remembered; hearing his voice would make her 100% certain. I imagine that’s the next awful thing Madeline will be meddling in in upcoming episodes.

As sweet as we’ve seen Ziggy be, there is still this lingering question of whether he is the one who assaulted, and apparently is continuing to assault, Amabella. The school teacher still believes Ziggy may be bullying people, although she hasn’t witnessed anything. She meets Jane outside school to tell her so, and Jane rightfully blows up at her. Ziggy is harmless. BUT she does slide a card to Jane; that of a child psychologist, which Jane apparently agrees to. She takes Ziggy, and once he’s been evaluated, she is relieved to hear the psychologist doesn’t believe Ziggy is violent or possesses a bully mentality whatsoever. What he DOES have are some anxiety issues–perhaps due to being bullied himself. Could it be? Is it little Amabella who is ACTUALLY bullying people?

Her mother, Renata, certainly takes no issue with doing that herself, though in a different way. Celeste, Madeline, and the play’s director Joseph are surprised to see that Renata has inserted herself into their meeting with the mayor. She argues that Avenue Q is divisive, inappropriate, and doesn’t help the community in such a trying time, suggesting something old fashioned and comforting like The Sound of Music instead. You can see Madeline’s blood boiling. However, Celeste expertly argues her way to a victory with the mayor ruling in their favor. Outside in the car, she and Madeline are riding high from the rush, though Celeste begins to cry. When Madeline asks her why, she tells her that being a mom isn’t enough for her, not even close, and it never has been. She wants to go back to working as a lawyer. I am legitimately scared for when she breaks that news to Perry. She better do it in public.

Joseph is riding high from the win, too, and actually kisses Madeline. Though she tries to make it sound innocent (“It was a reflex,” she tells Celeste later) Madeline definitely kissed him back, possibly unbuttoned his shirt. But she does the right thing, right? She puts an end to it and walks away. But later we find out the damage has already been done. She apparently carried on an affair with Joseph, having had sex multiple times. It’s unclear how long ago. He’s in love with her, and when she tells him she is happily married, he calls her on that “big little” lie. Will she give in to temptation and continue the affair? She is quite vulnerable at the moment. Poor Ed.

The episode ends abruptly with Jane coming back from a run, listening to music, and ultimately breaking down crying, as we see her envision herself not stop this time and leap off the cliff in a full sprint. Looking pretty unstable there, Jane. Enough to murder someone? Hmmm.

Overall, the episode was again another solid showing that threw plenty of more logs on the murder fire. There are already plenty of motives for why somebody in Monterey murders someone on Trivia Night. To be honest, I’m surprised that there was just one murder (that we know of).


Season 1, Episode 4 (S01E04)
Big Little Lies airs Sunday at 9PM on HBO

Read all of our reviews of Big Little Lies here.
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Paul co-created and writes for SHOWoff, a game that lets players predict what happens next on their favorite TV shows, earn points for what they get right, and see where they stack up against friends and the world (free in the iOS App store).
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1 Comment

  1. Good recap. Two minor corrections. It’s Audrey Hepburn, not Katharine (spelled with an “a.”) And in the last paragraph, “threw” not “through.”

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