Big Little Lies: What Do The Drowning Dreams Really Mean?

Drowning imagery and mentions flooded the most recent episode of Big Little Lies, so we're breaking down what it could mean for important characters.

Big Little Lies hasn't wasted any time leaning into the drama during its second season, teasing a potential character death. It's only episode 2 and if we're not mistaken, "Tell-Tale Hearts" seems to have implied that a major character might drown this season. If things do move in that direction, the unfortunate victim might be Bonnie, last season's heroine.

Despite not questioning the righteousness of her decision to shove abusive husband Perry (Alexander Skarsgård) off a ledge, season 2's Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz) is buckling under the pressure of keeping everything a secret. She openly blames Madeline (Reese Whitherspoon) for immediately telling the cops Perry slipped, all but forcing Bonnie to go along in the moment. Telling her husband would relieve some of the pressure, but she can't do that without risking doing serious damage to her own life and the lives of the four other women. She's become isolated and subdued, and Nathan is so distraught at the change in his wife, he calls Bonnie's parents and they surprise their daughter with an unwelcome visit. Bonnie's mother Elizabeth (Crystal Fox) immediately deduces something serious is going on and confronts Nathan about his inability to figure it out. She also confronts her daughter with recurring dreams she's been having about someone drowning, believing them to be portents.

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Bonnie doesn't share her mother's belief in the supernatural - at least not to the same degree - but she does pay it enough heed for the audience to look more closely at their relationship, which is fraught. We don't yet know all the details, but Bonnie and Elizabeth clash over Bonnie's perennial love of isolation and Elizabeth's greeting of, "What did you do now?" indicates some past misdeed on Bonnie's part she clearly hasn't shared with her husband. But how does drowning fit in? For that answer, we need to look to the original source material which underwent a curious change during its initial season 1 adaptation.

In Liane Moriarty's book, Bonnie's father is revealed to have been physically abusive like Perry, and seeing Perry act violently toward Celeste triggers the trauma of her childhood, causing her to push him to his death. It could be that whatever stands between Bonnie and Elizabeth setting them at odds is rooted in a childhood marred by abuse. But Bonnie's father didn't really seem the type (unless the narrative becomes that he's her stepfather) and since the show eliminated that part of Bonnie's backstory it's possible they could go in a different direction. Perhaps Bonnie's mother was the abusive one given her history with alcohol and all of Bonnie's boundaries are in place to act against her own mother.

But the drowning imagery didn't stop with Elizabeth's visions. Both Celeste (Nicole Kidman) and Jane (Shailene Woodley) see images of waves crashing when they flashback to visions of Perry. Also, Celeste (Nicole Kidman) explains to a disapproving Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) that Madeline once saved one of the Wright twins from drowning. That doesn't warm Mary Louise to her daughter-in-law's friend, but considering how prominent an element drowning and water became in "Tell-Tale Hearts," this particular mention makes us wonder if it won't be a child who suffers a terrible fate rather than one of the Monterey Five.

Last season used images from the show's finale set at an Audrey Hepburn-themed costume party throughout the main titles and in fits and starts when the show flashed back and forth between the night of Perry Wright's murder and the lives of the women leading up to that point. It could be that Bonnie has some kind of drowning trauma in her past, but it could be that this imagery is foreshadowing, but in a more subtle manifestation than what we saw in the first season. It's possible the show is moving toward a horrible accident that serves as some kind of mutant karma for the women who covered up Perry Wright's death, regardless of how much better the world is without him in it.

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