Warning: This article contains MAJOR spoilers for the end of Big Little Lies Season 1. Obviously.
Big Little Lies Season 1 was one of the television events of 2017, one of the shows that people couldn’t stop talking about. Now, 2017 feels about a million miles away: a simpler time, a time already obscured by the fog of happenings. Therefore, you’d be forgiven for not remembering exactly what happened at the end of HBO’s supposedly limited series event. With Big Little Lies Season 2 just premiered, let’s recap what happened at the end of Big Little Lies Season 1.
Big Little Lies follows the lives of five mothers living in the wealthy and beautiful seaside town of Monterey, California. At the beginning of Season 1, Madeline (Reese Witherspoon), Celeste (Nicole Kidman), Jane (Shailene Woodley), Renata (Laura Dern), and Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz) all have children in the first grade at Otter Bay Elementary School.
While the show is very much about the interpersonal drama of this small, affluent community, it is also increasingly a murder mystery. As we learn in the first episode, someone dies at the Audrey-Hepburn-and-Elvis-Presley-themed Trivia Night school fundraiser. Season 1 is a series of flashbacks that slowly moves towards that night, giving us pieces of the puzzle.
We eventually learn that the death in question belongs to Perry (Alex Skarsgard), Celeste’s abusive husband and Jane’s rapist. The night of the fundraiser, Perry confronts Celeste about the apartment she has rented as groundwork to eventually leave him. When Perrybegins physically assaulting Celeste outside the party, Renata, Madeline, and Jane attempt to help her. Bonnie, who had seen Perry manhandling Celeste and followed to make sure she is OK, runs and pushes Perry to help the women fight him off. He falls down a set of steep stairs to his death.
The women decide to cover it up, calling it an accident, following Madeline’s lead. They are questioned by the police, including lead investigator Detective Adrienne Quinlan (Merrin Dungey), who seem suspicious of the events of Perry’s death, but the season ends with the women all free, their children playing together on the beach. In Season 2, Madeline, Bonnie, Celeste, Jane, and Renata are known as The Monterey Five.
Other important information? Ziggy (Iain Armitage), Jane’s son, is also the biological son of Perry, as Jane became pregnant when Perry raped her. This means Ziggy is half-brothers with Celeste’s twins Josh (Nicholas Crovetti) and Max (Cameron Crovetti). Max was the person who was actually bullying Renata’s daughter with husband Gordon (Jeffrey Nordling), Amabella (Ivy George), in Season 1, even though Ziggy was initially blamed for it as he and Jane were new to town (and far less wealthy than most of Otter Bay’s families).
Bonnie is married to Madeline’s ex-husband, Nathan (James Tupper). Madeline and Nathan have a socially-conscious and rebellious teenaged daughter, Abigail (Kathryn Newton), who got along much better with stepmom Bonnie in the first season than she did with her overbearing mother.
Bonnie and Nathan have a child together who is entering the second grade, along with Ziggy, Josh, Max, and Amabella. Madeline also has another child, the precocious Chloe (Darby Camp), from her second marriage to Ed (Adam Scott). In the first season, Madeline admits to Abigail that she has been cheating on Ed with the community theater director, Joseph (Santiago Cabrera). As of now, Ed does not know.
Season 2 begins with the introduction of new character Mary Louise (Meryl Streep), who has come to town ostensibly to help Celeste with Max and Josh, but who also seems deeply interested in uncovering the truth about the death of her son, Perry.