Big Little Lies episode 3 – Living The Reality by Cate Murray
Welcome back to the coastal town of the rich and damaged, we left the Housewives of Monterey in a state of tension at the end of last week. Most of it involved our dear protagonist Madeline. Madeline was on the outs with almost everyone… from the school principal to her teenage daughter from Ed to Nathan (Madeline’s husband and ex-husband). The only people she is not swearing at or about is her is bestie Celeste and her new school mum in crime Jane. But Madeline’s enemy number one is Renata. Madeline has declared “war” on Renata after she deliberately didn’t invite Ziggy to her daughter Amabella’s fifth birthday party and this is where episode three starts… Amabella’s pending birthday extravaganza with six of the kids a no-show thanks to the Madeline boycott. “I’m going to kill her”. To be fair, I think Renata not inviting the boy who choked her daughter only a few days prior, to the said daughter’s birthday party is valid. Imagine the look on that poor little girl’s face when he walks in. And yes of course she should not have made a big deal in front of everyone about them all being invited except for him, that was poor form, but I think as a mum, you just can’t. Poor Amabella, she must want to take it all back… she has become even more of a victim and Renata the mother bear, angry… very very angry.
It sounds trivial, that there is too much drama over children, playground antics that should stay in the schoolyard. But we all know; either as a child or as a parent that these things have a way of escalating. That said… not to the level that Perry takes it (Celeste’s husband, the hot one from True Blood). He clearly takes everything way too seriously… He twists a social engagement decision about whether to attend the kindergarten party over Disney on Ice as her conscious move to manipulate him out of her life with their twins. He is beyond highly strung and the violence has gone from being fore play, to domestic abuse. Note to Celeste, in a marriage, if your husband’s hands are around your throat and you have to say “take your hands off me” it is time to do more than threaten to leave. Your bags should be packed. It is not ok.
Straight out of the harsh reality of the not so perfect marriage of Celeste and Perry we get what I can only describe as my favourite scene from the series so far, the phone conversation between a grovelling Renata and pius (bordering on Bitchy) Madeline. Renata has come to the realisation that maybe she acted in haste and the party (Amabella) will suffer with the six kids missing from it. So she makes the humbling phone call to mend bridges, offer olive branches and those sorts of clichés. Madeline is not having a bar of it, not even an all-expenses paid Disneyland adventure will quash her indignation. Madeline pushes Renata to her absolute limit with her passive aggressive sugary come backs and a phone may have ended up in the pool.
Amabella’s birthday was, as expected an over the top party-palooza complete with a “lolly bag” to put all lolly bags to shame. To be clear, there was no squashed up milk bottle and red frogs covered in freckle dust. The Disney on Ice trip by comparison also had bells and whistles but ends with the class mascot (Harry the Hippo) missing in action. This of course was the responsibility of Ziggy, so another black mark against this little man in the eyes of the judgemental mums.
Madeline gets called into school again, but this time it is for her teenage daughter. Abigail … wants to live with her father; she feels too much pressure to be perfect by Madeline, by the environment, but even the town and its population of over achievers. I keep telling the surface level story in my recap. But it is below the surface that is really intriguing. The birthday party, the children, the stupid hippo causing problems… that is just the icing on a complicated cake. There is so much going on. Everyone is flawed… no amount of money or privilege, love, good looks or even sex can protect you from imperfection and it is being felt from the children all the way through to the adults.
Speaking of imperfection, Celeste and Perry have agreed to try marriage counselling, but it is counselling Perry-style. He is so careful with his words and there is no mention of the abuse or even violence of any time. He is so scarily controlled it is really intimidating and, for me damn right unattractive. I hear Celeste revealing herself to the counsellor and I think “Shut Up” he is not going to like this. Do I think he can change, do I think that their marriage has a happy future? Watch this space… it takes more than a counselling session and a slow dance to change my mind about him.
Finally we get to learn more about Jane… why she’s sad and distant and we come little closer to understanding more about these flash backs she is having. It all comes up after a temper tantrum from Ziggy about not knowing who his father is and Jane’s reluctance to tell her where he came from. Madeline happens to be there and ends up being the first person Jane has ever shared her story with. Jane was raped and that’s how she fell pregnant with Ziggy. Jane’s rape is a shock to me and shocking to watch the violence; I felt Madeline’s tears as she cried for her friend. What a sad story and what a heartbreaking start to life for her son and for her as a mother. Jane is a victim trying to rebuild her life but cannot forget her past and where her son came from. Telling Madeline has not released all her demons though. There is more to her layers… more to her flashbacks….. She is afraid, afraid from what happened five year ago or something else?
The whole episode has been about layers… how we never really know a person’s life and no one’s life is perfect. When you shine a magnifying glass on the imperfection, expose the anger, see the pressure and feel the drama you can see no one, no one is living the dream. But somehow in this coastal town, all of this culminates in a murder. These women, their growing friendships, their marriages, their rivalries, their hatred… how or why does it end in blood?