Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 6 Review: The Bad Mother

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Like many other titles this season, "The Bad Mother" could be talking about several different characters.

Mary Louise's attorney attempted to paint Celeste in that role with the help of Detective Quinlan, but when all was said and done, Celeste regained some of her confidence and finally struck a blow at her mother-in-law.

With only one episode left in the series, it doesn't seem possible to get a resolution to all of the stories, so the focus seems to be narrowing to the final fight between the two women in Perry's life.

It's Time - Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 6

As always, you can get a full recap of Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 6 by clicking that link. 

Big Little Lies Review: What Have They Done?

There is a lot still left to accomplish on Big Little Lies Season 2, and the stories are starting to smooth out a bit with the most looming question being the detective's belief that Perry was taken from this mortal coil by way of murder.

Bonnie: Jesus Christ. A meteor could hit and you would say stay calm.
Madeline: Oh, fuck off, Bonnie.
Bonnie: You fuck off.
Madeline: You know what? I'm tired of taking care of you and your fucking feelings. I know your mom had a stroke, but let's not forget: You're the one who pushed him!

Of course, it's not that easy, is it? We know what drove Bonnie to act on behalf of Celeste. She was damaged beyond repair by her bad mother, and after a lifetime of struggles that included marrying a man she didn't love, Bonnie took action.

Bonnie Starts to Crack Further - Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 6

As much as I applaud Bonnie for connecting with herself and learning something from the terrible events that have unfolded around her during the last year, it's impossible not to want to bop her on the head for keeping a diary with such explosive information.

She has not directly had Det. Quinlan interfering in her life, so that could be why she's not thinking about the possibility of that woman getting her hands on it. 

Big Little Lies Review: Tell-Tale Hearts

It could also be that since she can't get herself into the police station to tell her truth that she hopes a more passive method will do the job for her. 

Det. Quinlan is lurking everywhere, and we're only now getting the full extent of her investigation into the Monterey Five.

Dishing it to Madeline - Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 6

Renata understands the depths to which Quinlan will go, and that's why she laid into Madeline for wanting to share what happened with Ed.

You know, the other day when you talked about hating yourself, it was interesting. It gave me hope for the first time in a long time. The air felt clear. Right now, it seems like the window is fogging up like you're hiding again.

Ed

Bonnie thought maybe what they'd covered was getting to Madeline. I don't think she has any regret that Perry is dead, but she does have deep issues with keeping things from Ed at a time she wants to save her marriage and fully love Ed.

She's aching with regrettable actions that tore apart her family and Ed's heart. She knows what must be done to fix it, but doing it has consequences that would create a different rift.

The last thing she wants is for Ed to become an accomplice in a potential murder investigation or to force him to be the one who sends her away to prison because she's shared with him something that Quinlan could use against the entire Monterey Five.

Eyeing Mary Louise - Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 6

Jane already knows what that feels like, and she shared nothing about their experience with Corey.

But Corey was still dragged into the situation because Quinlan is grasping for something to prove Jane and her friends are murderous. 

Corey: She asked me about us and you, and she asked me whether you talked to me about Perry Wright's death.
Jane: What'd you tell her?
Corey: I told her the truth, that you didn't tell me anything. But Jane, she knows your history with this guy. She knows he raped you. She knows he's Ziggy's dad, and she clearly doesn't think he slipped. She said with five witnesses, the odds are in her favor. One of you will finally crack. The first one who does gets a break. The other four are fucked.

Jane sees not only their coverup about what happened to Perry pulling her into dangerous waters, but she also sees Mary Louise's desire to expose that about which she understands so little.

Corey isn't walking away, but neither is Mary Louise. Jane desperately wants Corey in her life. We've witnessed how she's changed with a positive influence in her life. But with Mary Louise in the picture, she's always going to be waiting for her to try to take away Ziggy.

She's Struggling - Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 6

There were several instances during "The Bad Mother" when Mary Louise almost seemed compassionate. 

One of them was when Jane was standing at her door pleading for her to stop attacking Celeste. If anyone understands pain, it's Jane.

Big Little Lies Review: The End of the World

She knows Celeste is self-destructing with all of her bad behavior. She also understands that people do strange things to deal with their pain.

Jane closed up to love and devoted her life to motherhood. But even if that's not the same avenue Celeste is taking to deal with her pile of Perry issues, Jane knows Celeste is a good mother.

But instead of understanding what Jane was trying to get across to Mary Louise, Ziggy's grandmother turned the tables of Jane's good intentions and spewed vitriol at her. Will she unravel at some point, Mary Louise wondered. Did she buy a gun to kill Perry? 

Are You Struggling Jane? - Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 6

The look on her face as she moved from moment to moment proved to me that Mary Louise is at the heart of Perry's view of women.

Could it be that just as Bonnie was influenced by her mother to ultimately fight back against Perry that Perry was fighting 

There was almost a minute of compassion on Mary Louise's face in the courtroom as Celeste laid bare her soul as a result of Farber's questioning.

Mary Louise in Court - Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 6

You can tell there isn't a lot of crime in Monterey based on the vicious way Det. Quinlan is begging for the Monterey Five to slip up so she can pursue a full-fledged murder investigation against them.

It's also curious that she's a black woman gunning for five well-to-do white women. To her, Bonnie is probably as white as the others with her background and privilege. Little does she know.

It's shocking to realize what detectives can do in the process of investigation.

She has had Celeste followed for a year. She pulled in Corey. She's probably to blame for Gordon's downfall (even if he did a damned good job of getting his head under water himself).

And Quinlan's interference has also been at the core of Mary Louise's custody battle against Celeste.

We're Not Family - Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 6

Celeste has been making a lot of questionable choices since Perry's death, but she made a lot of bad decisions while married to Perry, too.

Whether Celeste was damaged before she met Perry or as a result of his perverse love for his wife we'll probably never know. But raising children with a man who can't distinguish between love and hate had to mangle what sense she had going into the marriage.

Det. Quinlan pushed Mary Louise's hand by showing her interrogation videos. With the way Mary Louise feels about Celeste's friends, I wonder if she's been privy to all of their discussions with Quinlan.

Big Little Lies Review: She Knows

We already know from Celeste's attorney that Farber is in Quinlan's pocket, and that was evidenced by his introduction of Perry's fall right into the custody case.

As soon as he opened the door to Celeste's sexual proclivities and her craving for violence, you knew he was going to pivot to the violent incidents we've witnessed from Celeste this season in reaction to the twins' fight and when attempting to smack the smug off of Mary Louise's face.

Attorney Talk - Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 6

But when Farber introduced the video of Perry's fall with the idea that he would have fallen about a foot closer to the bottom of the first level of stairs instead of getting impaled on the landing, all that popped into my head was, well, Perry was an overachiever.

It's hard to understand why the judge would allow that into evidence, but with everything a detective can do and with the number of times people use civil cases to get justice for what they consider unfair justice, it's not surprising.

The custody case was looking ridiculously unfair, and it's a bit disappointing that it was only due to dramatic effect that Celeste even thought of turning the tables on Mary Louise.

How did David. E. Kelley think it was OK for the entirety of the custody battle to focus on Celeste without her, as an attorney, suggesting earlier in the proceedings that if her parenting is under suspicion, the same should be for Mary Louise?

It made for a great end to the episode, but to the story writing it made little sense, especially since whatever Celeste is going to introduce is coming by way of an unexpected witness we've never heard about.

Where Did You Go? - Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 6

So where does all of this leave us?

Madeline might have to find a way to tell Ed that something is seriously wrong with her without admitting to what she's done. 

If she can assure him she loves him and wants to come clean with him but also doesn't want to do anything that could lead to him getting into trouble, then maybe she can save her marriage.

Big Little Lies Review: Kill Me

What really needs to happen, though, is for the Monterey Five to form a united front and confront their issue head-on.

Bonnie has been leaning toward admitting what happened for a while. They need to band together and go to the station with an attorney and by setting their own rules -- that they have a statement to make that they will not make alone.

Why can't they all sit in a room together and share the truth of what happened and the reasoning behind their decision to cover it up? That way NONE of them would crack as Quinlan expects. 

Celeste Breaks - Big Little Lies

It's not the truth that will hurt them, it's the possibility that their stories won't match and Quinlan will manipulate the truth.

I have no idea what the previews will show as I reviewed from a screener, but I hope we get to learn about Perry's history before Celeste.

By putting on the stand someone with information about Mary Louise's terrible parenting, maybe we'll find out what she did to create such an ugly streak in her son.

Not only would also fan out to Jane so that she didn't have to worry over Mary Louise potentially going after Ziggy's custody, but it should offer insight into Celeste and why she stayed with Perry.

We need satisfaction for Madeline and Ed, and now that we know the extent of Bonnie's damage from childhood, she needs to resolve her situation with Nathan.

In other words, there needs to be a shred of happiness to the ending of Big Little Lies Season 2 so that there isn't endless speculation about the series getting revived again.

That will only happen if the stories are resolved as much as they can be in one episode. Hope for the future, or slivers of it anyway, would go a long way to make that happen.

I miss the deeper dives into the characters and their motivations that were at the heart of Big Little Lies Season 1

This season was determined to mine the aftereffects of Perry's death by way of a murder mystery when it would have been just as compelling to skip that element and go deeper into the personal side of dealing with the death of a husband, friend, and abuser.

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Oh well. It is what it is. How do you hope the season will play out?

Did anything from this episode surprise you?

Who is the bad mother of "The Bad Mother"?

Hit the comments!

The Bad Mother Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (29 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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Big Little Lies Season 2 Episode 6 Quotes

Bonnie: Jesus Christ. A meteor could hit and you would say stay calm.
Madeline: Oh, fuck off, Bonnie.
Bonnie: You fuck off.
Madeline: You know what? I'm tired of taking care of you and your fucking feelings. I know your mom had a stroke, but let's not forget: You're the one who pushed him!

Corey: She asked me about us and you, and she asked me whether you talked to me about Perry Wright's death.
Jane: What'd you tell her?
Corey: I told her the truth, that you didn't tell me anything. But Jane, she knows your history with this guy. She knows he raped you. She knows he's Ziggy's dad, and she clearly doesn't think he slipped. She said with five witnesses, the odds are in her favor. One of you will finally crack. The first one who does gets a break. The other four are fucked.