Big Little Lies: “Once Bitten”


Big Little Lies has been a tour-de-force on a weekly basis, and with only two episodes left, the plot continues to thicken. It must be stated: it is not helping that many of the clues are left to ambiguity, but as I’ve said in my previous review for the series, I have high hopes for the big reveal as I haven’t read the novel. (However, I undoubtedly intend to after the series is complete.)

For the murder-mystery and social statement the series has established itself to be, it’s been a bit of a problematic nuisance that Big Little Lies is riddled with red herrings. However, I have my theory which I’m quite sure will come into fruition soon. (I’ll get to that later.) Each character has their own form of psychosis (arguably) and seeing the pieces of the puzzle come together is both beautiful and excruciatingly teasing. The opening of this episode, along with its flashbacks and artistic dream-like sequences, present more about each character and are riddled with clues. This is what makes Big Little Lies such an unprecedented experience.


“Someone is biting our daughter!”


If you don’t feel bad for Jane this far into the story, you’re a sociopath. Moving to Monterey set off Occam’s Razor in her life—everything that can go wrong has gone wrong. The move has only stressed her new life with Ziggy because of Amabella, Renata’s daughter. Renata, of course, is quick to point the blame at Ziggy after Amabella is bitten and the entire ordeal turns into a catastrophe during a school meeting. There is something much deeper at play here. It has become, in my opinion, exceedingly obvious that Ziggy is not the culprit here. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out to be Renata’s husband. It creates a sense of ominous tension hearing him say things to Amabella such as, “You wouldn’t want innocent people getting hurt. You’re too kind for that.” Of course, it is possible she’s being bullied at school. Amabella is a tormented child, and at one point we see her sitting with other children poking a dead squirrel. Her obvious trauma and sociopathic behavior mixed with her mother’s psychosis is a dangerous mixture, and that’s putting it mildly. Is anyone suspicious Amabella is a psychotic little girl who kills someone due to being raised by psychotic parents? I wouldn’t hold it against Big Little Lies.


“I’m not going to expose myself to unnecessary radiation just to keep your premiums down.”


Madeline is seemingly continuing to create drama in her life with the incessant Joseph, who has proclaimed his love for her. While fighting in his car about their relationship, or lack thereof, they’re involved in a car crash due to a truck veering off the road and colliding with them. Joseph ends up much more banged up than Madeline, and the incident ties to snarky interviews theorizing “exactly why Joseph Bachman and Madeline Mackenzie were in that car together… I’m sure it had something to do with ‘artistic expression’.” It seems as though Madeline has become bored of her life, creating drama to seemingly feel alive. The talent show is a clear indication of her attempt to save her deteriorating marriage. Her family is tearing at the seams, so one could rationalize her erratic behavior.




“I don’t want to live in a fucking pigsty.”


This is one of the most compelling scenes of the episode and seems to also exist as an attempt to normalize their violent behavior. Celeste, of course, does not find this normal and seeks a quick and easy solution. Sadly, that’s not how therapy works. She eventually attacks the therapist for “demonizing” Perry despite the fact that her entire visit was essentially a cry for help. Celeste acknowledges the toxicity of their relationship but refuses to dig deep into what it means for herself and the future of their relationship. (Pceleste-1024x569erry is a whole, psychopathically different story.) Celeste continues to attempt normalizing their relationship by saying, “I’m madly in love with him. He adores me. He treats me like a goddess.” Does he, Celeste? Those horrific flashbacks make it pretty apparent you’ve been afraid of Perry killing you before. As expected, the session ends with Celeste in tears, admitting Perry and herself will hit each other again, leaving Celeste with no closure or anywhere nearer to a solution.


Friendships are the masterpieces of nature.”


As aforementioned, Jane’s life in Monterey has clearly not gone well, and it is impossible not to sympathize with her. During one of her frequent jogs, Jane gets the dreaded “we have a problem” call from Ziggy’s school. The school principal assures Jane that he does not believe Ziggy is responsible for biting Amabella before Renata and her husband barge in during the meeting. Renata sneers at Jane, telling her she needs to make her son stop abusing her daughter and “get him under control.” While Renata is handling the situation as best she can, it’s hard to empathize with her after seeing the way she’s come to treat Jane. Renata is entirely blinded by motherjane-1024x570ly rage and is failing to see the bigger picture, whatever that may be. We have two more episodes to find out.

Jane doesn’t handle the situation well, taking off after the meeting and smoking a joint while en route to visit her possible rapist. The venture ends with her eventually discovering it is not him, throwing her into a blind rage with artistic cutaway sequences in which every female protagonist is shown in her vehicle, similar to the episode’s frenetic start. (Nicole Kidman is crying, of course.) This is where my theory comes into play: Perry may be Jane’s rapist. All clues point to him so far (in my opinion). While this is pure speculation, I wouldn’t mind seeing Celeste and Jane off Perry for raping Jane. Every episode of Big Little Lies is crafted expertly, and there is a heavy artistic factor in “Once Bitten.” It is filled with loud and vibrant jolts of energy through its score and cinematography, standing out vastly from its previous episodes. It is becoming a uniquely cynical yet intelligent statement on social norms and a metaphorical expression of how these social norms impact sinister behavior.

Here’s a preview for next week’s penultimate episode, “Burning Love,” followed by a look inside “Once Bitten.”

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