This recap contains spoilers for the Big Little Lies finale, titled “You Get What You Need,” and Liane Moriarty’s novel.
Monterey will never be the same after the events of Otter Bay’s long-awaited Trivia Night, and that’s definitely a good thing.
After six episodes wondering who died, who killed them and why, the finale of HBO’s star-studded limited series answered all our questions, even as it left us wanting more.
Here’s what we learned in “You Get What You Need.” (Even if what we really need is another season with these awesome women.)
Perry Wright (Alexander Skarsgard), who finally got his comeuppance for abusing his wife, Celeste (Nicole Kidman).
Celeste wasn’t the only one scarred by Perry’s years of violence: His actions also caused their son, Max, to start bullying one of his classmates, Amabella Klein, who blamed school newcomer Ziggy Chapman for the abuse out of fear. Amabella’s false accusation then set off a chain reaction of gossip and retaliation among the mothers in the insular community, which resulted in Ziggy and his mom Jane (Shailene Woodley) being stigmatized.
After discovering that Celeste was planning to take their sons and leave him after years of violence, Perry confronted her near the steps of the school, where Celeste was trying to hide from him with Jane, Madeline (Reese Witherspoon), and Renata (Laura Dern).
When she came face to face with him, Jane realized that Perry was the man who had raped her several years before, leaving her pregnant with Ziggy. Perry then attacked Celeste, brutally hitting and kicking her as the women attempted to fight him off.
Bonnie Carlson (Zoe Kravitz) the seemingly unflappable yoga instructor arrived on the scene just in time to see Perry attacking the other women, and shoved him down the stairs as he was kicking Celeste.
We might’ve expected Jane to be the one to kill her rapist (she’s been carrying a gun around all season while trying to discover his identity), but it’s kind of a relief that she didn’t have to get his blood on her hands after all the trauma he’s already caused her ditto with Celeste, who would’ve had to live with the guilt of killing her children’s father.
While the show didn’t go into detail about Bonnie’s motives beyond simply defending the other women, Liane Moriarty’s novel reveals that Bonnie had an abusive father, and Perry’s violence stirred up memories of her own trauma.
In the book, Bonnie turned herself in for Perry’s murder, despite the other women deciding to lie to protect her. She was sentenced to 200 hours of community service, while Celeste went back to work at a family law firm, and began speaking publicly about her experiences in an abusive marriage to help encourage other women to break out of destructive relationships.
The show gave us an arguably more narratively satisfying (if less emotionally resonant) ending by allowing Bonnie, Celeste, Jane, Madeline and Renata to keep the secret together, bonding them and their kids more closely in the aftermath of Perry’s death. The detective (Merrin Dungey) investigating the case clearly suspected that they were lying, but without proof, the women got away with it and kept their freedom… at least for now.
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