What lies ahead for Big Little Lies

Season two of Big Little Lies starts on Monday 10 June, and we’re counting the minutes! Here’s why:

The Big Little Lies mini-series that turned out to be a first season covered the full plot of the Liane Moriarty novel the show is based on, so the unexpected season two is a blank slate. No one knows what could be lurking in the idyllic town of Monterey for the five women whose secrets and not-so-little lies became so entangled last time round.

The good news is that showrunner David E Kelly will be in the writer’s seat again, and the plot is based on a story by original author Liane Moriarty, so we’re in good hands. Also, the full phenomenal cast is back (even if only for flashback scenes in one case), and there’s at least one new addition to the line-up that’s set to tip this already formidable show straight into the heavyweight class.

Did they get away with it?

That, of course, is the million-dollar question – literally. Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman are said to be commanding paycheques around the $1mil mark for season two.

So … in the end, the beautiful princess in the tiara saved all her friends at the ball. The big bad wolf was dead, and all the little children went to the beach and played happily ever after in the sunshine … Oh, wait. Sorry, wrong genre.

Yes, big bad Perry (Alexander Skarsgård) has indeed met his rather gruesome end, but the happily-ever-after is a long way off for our heroes. There are those big little lies remember? And this is Monterey. People don’t stop talking. Things don’t just go away. There are going to be consequences.

Watch this short trailer, and you’ll see what we mean.

Uncomfortable questions

The first of those consequences is of course the biggest news of season two: Meryl Streep!

It’s her first TV role since Angels in America, and the entire cast is said to have been a little star-struck to have her on set. But what a coup!

The undisputed Oscar queen comes in as Perry’s mother, Mary Louise Wright – complete with dowdy wig and fake teeth – who arrives full of concern for her grandsons, and full of questions about her son’s death. Alexander Skarsgård said in an interview with Variety: “The way she comes into the dynamic of the group, asking some hard questions … it creates a lot of tension, there’s great drama in that. I’m excited to see it.”

Poor Celeste (Nicole Kidman). She only just got rid of the son. (Oops, did we say that out loud?)

… and more questions

The other obvious consequence of killing someone – even if they totally deserved it (oops, we said that out loud too) – was all over season one from the start: the investigation. Towards the end of the season one finale’s final montage, we caught glimpses of the women having quiet moments of hushed conversation, presumably getting their story straight before the cops arrived. But Detective Quinlan (Merrin Dungey) doesn’t believe their carefully-rehearsed matching accounts for a second. She knows it wasn’t an accident.

The only thing she hadn’t figured out by the end was why they would lie. It certainly looks like the wife did it, but all five women were saying Perry tripped and fell backwards down the stairs (skewering himself in the process – shame). Detective Gibson (Tim True) summarised the way it looked from the cops’ point of view: “So … self-defence case then? She fought back, he tripped – involuntary manslaughter. Twelve months’ community service, good behaviour … she’s out in six, maybe three … Why bother to lie?”

It seems nothing definitive has turned up one way or another by the start of season two, but the investigation isn’t quite closed just yet, and worryingly, there’s a shot in the trailer of a guilt-ridden Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz) loitering not-so-nonchalantly outside the police station …

Where we pick up

Months have passed since Perry died, months since that idyllic day on the beach where the children ran free and the five women seemed so strong together. At Otter Bay Elementary School, it’s the first day of grade two. Renata (Laura Dern) is already micro-managing the new teacher, and Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) is already making friends – not.

Madeline, not making friends.

“I might or might not have thrown an ice cream cone at Meryl Streep in a scene,” Reese said on Good Morning America. “And I think it’s one of the top moments of my entire career. And I hit her. I nailed it! She turned around and she was like, ‘Yeah, you got me!”

Perry’s mother is making herself at home in Monterey, and Celeste, still traumatised by … well, her entire marriage really, including its end, is having nightmares – within earshot of her suspicious mother-in-law, who knows enough to know when there’s something she doesn’t know … and ought to know … and plans to find out.

Despite the pic, you just know it’s not going to be one of those loving, supporting-one-another-through-the-grief mother/daughter-in-law relationships. Mumsy’s going to want to know what happened that night, and “he slipped” is not going to cut it with her.

Meanwhile, Jane (Shailene Woodley) has landed a great new job, but she seems to be keeping her distance from the others, and there’s still the matter of what to tell Ziggy (Iain Armitage) – and everyone who’s always asking – about his father … and, for that matter, his half-brothers … and the mysterious cheques she never cashes … all those little lies and secrets.

And then there’s Bonnie. Bonnie with the voice, Bonnie the serene, Bonnie the yoga instructor. Bonnie who pushed Perry down the stairs to his death. Bonnie … isn’t doing so well. The burden of guilt lies heavily on those lovely shoulders, and being labelled one of “the Monterey five” is not helping. Neither is her background, which is soon to be revealed and may make us see her act of bravery, as an act of desperation ...

In the face of the stresses to come, will the sisterhood hold, or is someone, somewhere, going to crack?

They have seven episodes to spin us a new tale, and as Bonnie says: “It’s gonna get us. It’s gonna get us all.”

Bingewatch from the beginning on Showmax >>

Big Little Lies S2 starts Monday 10 June on M-Net (101) at 21:00