TV Review: Big Little Lies “What Have They Done?” S02E01 👵🏻🚔

One of America’s greatest television series is back.


From left to right: The Monterey Five—Jane (Shailene Woodley), Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz), Madeline (Reese Witherspoon), Celeste (Nicole Kidman) and Renata (Laura Dern). CREDIT: HBO

This post for Big Little Lies “What Have They Done?” contains spoilers.

It has been over two years since Big Little Lies (BLL) (2017—, created by David E. Kelley and based on the book by Liane Moriarty) premiered on HBO, a Season 2 (2019) wasn’t part of the initial deal when this series first started, but here we are now—hungry and eager to once again dive into the lives of the Monterey Five.

“What Have They Done?” (2019, directed by Andrea Arnold) starts off with a brand new school year, where the kids are now in second grade. The new addition to Season 2 includes Meryl Streep, who stars as Celeste’s (Nicole Kidman) mother-in-law Mary Louise aka Perry’s (Alexander Skarsgård) mother. In this first episode, Streep’s Mary Louise is swiftly introduced into the series and has already received positive support from audiences.

I was one of the many BLL fans who felt that a second season wasn’t entirely necessary. Instead, the decision by HBO to extend the series for another season felt like a money-making move. However, having watched the first episode to this extended limited series, I felt ecstatic to watch the Monterey Five resume their roles as Celeste, Madeline (Reese Witherspoon), Jane (Shailene Woodley), Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz) and Renata (Laura Dern).

Even though Jean-Marc Vallée who directed all seven episodes of the first season had stepped down from directing Season 2 and instead passed the baton over to Andrea Arnold—his aesthetic style, musical elements and signature jarring cuts are still very much present in this first episode. Vallée is credited as an editor and he also gets a “special thanks” shoutout at the end credits; I think he still played a part in the creative decisions behind Season 2, despite leaving the series.

Speaking of musical elements, the song choices in “What Have They Done?” are certainly familiar for fans of cult television shows and indie films, but I’ll have to keep watching this season to see if music is still really a key part of BLL because Susan Jacobs (Season 1’s music supervisor) is not credited for Season 2, thus I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a huge change in the series’ vibes moving forward.

I’m glad to see that the opening credits song remains unchanged and the ocean is still an important representation of the five women. I’m happy that what Vallée set up in Season 1 is carried on in this season. I’m excited to see how Streep’s character will play out with the rest of the cast and whether last season’s “murder” will be solved by the police.

Rating: 4/5

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