It's difficult watching characters making poor decisions.
But Big Little Lies Season 1 Episode 5 offered up the possibility of good decisions to come. They'll be welcome after what felt like a whopper by way of Celeste.
Life is messy, and it's easy to be the backseat driver. So let's strap in and talk about what we learned
We're going to talk about Madeline first because statistically speaking, it seems she went from one of the favorites to the bottom of the barrel when it was revealed on Big Little Lies Season 1 Episode 4 that she had cheated on Ed.
There was a little more background on that, just enough to know why she might have done it in the first place.
Committing to one person is tough. Anybody in a relationship can tell you that. In a lot of partnerships, one of the first things to go is the passion. It's not because you fall out of love with your significant other, but because the everyday visage takes away some of the sexiness you might need to be aroused.
God forbid, Celeste and Perry have found a way to keep their spark alive, and let's hope nobody finds that in the least bit attractive. Others seek to fulfill their passion outside their marriage when they're left with, "Honey, don't use the downstairs bathroom..."
I don't know if there is a secret to keeping passion in the bedroom and allowing romance to flourish no matter the length of a relationship, but some manage, and some don't. For reasons we don't understand, Madeline sought a replacement in that area with Joseph.
The guilt also got to her, and she broke it off, worrying ever since her marriage would be ruined if it ever got out. She loves Ed and wants to keep what they have. After the accident, she recalled the way he rushed to her side and embraced her, a smile on her face.
Maybe remembering how much he loves her is what she needed to jumpstart that special something inside for Ed.
It has to be better than what Celeste and Perry are facing.
Perry: Well, you're training 'em to be spoiled brats. I don't want to live in a fuckin' pig stye.
Celeste: Then do it yourself.
From the moment Perry walked into that room, it was a fight waiting to break out. I was flinching on behalf of Celeste. From the moment she said what she did, there was nothing she could do to save herself from the inevitable.
So Perry flew to Boston and Celeste went to their couples' therapy appointment.
Good God that was insufferable. Just how deep does the patience of that doctor go, anyway? She must engage in some strenuous physical activity to keep herself from reaching across the room to patients like Celeste and shaking them silly.
Doctor: Have you ever sustained bruises from something other than sex?
Celeste: I don't follow.
Nicole Kidman was proving her value in those scenes. They were so uncomfortable, and her fidgeting alone (the way she was constantly tugging at her sweater sleeves) was difficult to sit through.
Every time the doctor brought up something about Perry, Celeste would counter with something about herself, unwilling to be a victim; but the more she protested, the more victim-like she became.
And I remember it, too. When I was assaulted by my boyfriend, I wanted to believe his drink must have been spiked. I willed myself to believe it. He had been drunk so many other times that it couldn't have been just him assaulting me. No.
There is always an excuse from someone who is abused. The thought you could have let your guard down once is bad enough; to be someone like Celeste, who not only does it often but follows it with what she considers great and passionate lovemaking, would be inconceivable.
Celeste is an intelligent woman. Her inability to answer the questions truthfully put before her by the doctor didn't escape he. She knew what was happening. The process of talking yourself into and out of a situation isn't something you can explain.
The doctor wants Celeste to come up with a plan of escape. She truly believes the one time (and if Celeste remembers the one time, there were likely many more) Celeste's life was in danger will come again, and Celeste will need a safe place to go with her children.
Her children who think they're living in a safe, loving house. Oh, Celeste. Children know so much more than they let on.
I thought, for a minute, Celeste was taking the kids and leaving Perry. To greet him at the airport like a dutiful wife, perhaps in the hope it would make up for their earlier indiscretion, was a terrible turn of events.
For such a big, dangerous man, Perry sure does like to use the tears to dig into Celeste's psyche. Bringing him to tears must make her feel so powerful, the same way he feels when he hits her.
The two couldn't be more frakked up.
And we have Jane, who has every right to be frakked up, as well.
Why she felt the need to smoke pot (did she have enough cigarettes in the car for her ride to San Luis Obispo?) before greeting Saxon whoever he was is open for debate, but either it wasn't him, or Jane decided to let it go.
When she imagined him pouring the water and the champagne, it was close enough in my mind to have wanted to question him. Then again, she was high.
And really, doesn't she have enough on her plate already without digging that up at this point in Ziggy's life? The kid is in the middle of something he may not even be in the middle of.
Principal: I understand Ziggy's father is not involved in Ziggy's upbringing. Is that right?
Jane: The only thing I know about Ziggy's father is that he's keen on erotic asphyxiation and raping women.
Madeline: You did not say that.
Jane [laughs]: No, of course I didn't. But I wanted to.
Jane worries all the time what might happen if someone in that precious little town discovered the truth about Ziggy's paternal line. As if it mattered. Truthfully, it seems like Jane has spent too much time on the subject already, stifling what could otherwise be a great little life for the two of them.
She discounts her abilities as a mother and second guesses whether Ziggy is the good kid he is because of how he came into the world. It's not fair for either of them, and only one of them is the adult and can do something to change it.
Of course Renata was going to go into the principal's office acting out as she was. She's Renata. But Gordon, the man the town thinks loony, respectfully shook Jane's hand and introduced himself. I love that guy.
Renata and Gordon continue to impress as my favorite couple, as well. She can freak out, he can counter attack, but they don't get angry at each other just angry...at the world.
Their daughter came home from school with a bite on her shoulder. They already knew she was being bullied, but that's an outright assault. Sweet little Amabella doesn't want to speak of it, doesn't cry, doesn't make a fuss.
That only makes it more difficult for her parents. Her mother is prone to fits of emotion, revealing she got where she is because of her own determination to overcome a bully, and her father appears to have a keen awareness how to deal with emotional types on both sides.
He neither blows up at his wife as she's screaming at him nor gets upset with his daughter as she meekly hangs her head in shame for not speaking out. Gordon handles both ladies with the right degree of pressure warranted and defends himself to Renata to ensure she realizes the pain he feels, too.
The pendulum is swinging for the characters at just the right time. We have three more hours to savor them, and it's over. Where do you think it will all end up?
Whose body will be broken and battered at the end of the Audrey and Elvis event? The only thing I don't think they series has done well to date is make me care enough about that. With only one short blip of a scene interwoven into the hour, I'm perfectly OK waiting to find out who dies until the bitter end.
Hit the comments, guys! Share your feelings with what went down.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.