Warning! Major SPOILERS ahead of Big Little Lies' season 2 finale.
Big Little Lies' season 2 finale ends the HBO series' major storylines, including the lie told by the Monterey Five after the dramatic conclusion to season 1. Although Big Little Lies was originally conceived as a one-off limited series, the success of the first season led to HBO renewing the series for a second run.
Season 2 of Big Little Lies saw the show's incredible A-list cast all return and get even better, with Meryl Streep joining Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley, and Zoë Kravitz in the buzzy HBO series. Streep played Mary Louise Wright, the mother of Alexander Skarsgård's Perry, who was killed in the season 1 finale.
The central thread of Big Little Lies season 2 has been about Mary Louise's quest for the truth, and her desire to take Celeste's children away from her, while also exploring the fallout from the murder of Perry and the Monterey Five's decision to lie about it. All of those plot threads are brought to a conclusion in the Big Little Lies season 2 finale, "I Want To Know".
What Happens In The Big Little Lies Season 2 Finale Courtroom Trial?
The majority of Big Little Lies' season 2 finale is built around the courtroom trial for custody of Celeste's children. Building on the ending of the previous episode, this time it's Mary Louise who has to take the stand while Celeste questions her about her own history. Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep going head-to-head in a courtroom is every bit as explosive as you'd expect, and brings with it some big reveals.
One of the central mysteries of Big Little Lies season 2 has been the death of Raymond, the brother of Perry who died in some kind of accident, although no specifics were provided. That changes in "I Want To Know", when Celeste presses Mary Louise on what happened to Raymond. It's revealed that he died in a car accident, but that Mary Louise was partially responsible as she was driving at the time and lost her temper, causing the crash. Mary Louise blamed Perry for distracting her and, as Celeste reveals, became violent towards Perry because of that.
Celeste, meanwhile, shows the court a video taken by her sons of Perry abusing her, bringing the trial to a stunned standstill. Ultimately, Celeste is granted full custody of Max and Josh, while Mary Louise leaves town. She had to face up to the fact that not only was her son abusive, but that she'd played a part in him becoming so, and with her relationship with Celeste broken too there was no way she could stay in Monterey. Celeste, meanwhile, still has work to do and will likely continue therapy, but this is a big step forward, which is what Big Little Lies does throughout its season 2 finale.
Big Little Lies Gives Its Characters Mostly Happy Endings
Aside from the battle between Celeste and Mary Louise, the Big Little Lies ending is also concerned with wrapping up the main plotlines for its other characters, most of which are to do with their relationships: can Madeline and Ed make it work? Is Jane able to open herself up to Corey? What will happen with Renata and Gordon? Will Bonnie kill her mother, and leave Nathan?
Big Little Lies' ending gives its central characters just about everything they could want. Madeline and Ed decide to renew their wedding vows, which isn't wiping the slate clean but is them attempting to start over with a renewed faith in their marriage. Jane, meanwhile, is encouraged to date Corey by Ziggy, and so she does, finding herself able to trust in him. They're obvious happy endings, which isn't quite the case for Renata and Bonnie, although it still gives them a semblance of peace.
For Renata, she loses it when she discovers that Gordon gets to keep his train collection and other toys while she lost everything. In a moment that's already become Big Little Lies season 2's biggest and best meme, she smashes up the train set with a baseball bat. It's a hilarious moment of catharsis for Renata, finally putting on end to their relationship and allowing her to move on. For Bonnie, she loses her mother, but not by killing her. Instead, she finds it in her to forgive her for the years of abuse, and then ends her relationship with Nathan too. It's not quite as overtly happy, but given how much Bonnie has struggled with her actions this year, her being able to find forgiveness and less herself of the guilt she feels allows her to reach a sense of peace she's been unable to have all year. She was drowning before this, but after Big Little Lies' season 2 finale she can breathe again.
The Monterey Five Decide To Reveal The Truth
For all the Big Little Lies season 2 finale seemingly gives the Monterey 5 a sense of closure and even a shot at happiness, it ends on Celeste, Madeline, Renata, Jane, and Bonnie meeting up once again and walking into the Monterey police station. Although we don't get to see what happens next, the implication is clear: they're finally going to tell the truth about what happened on trivia night.
This was hinted at in "I Want To Know"'s beginning, when Madeline tells Celeste that "the lie is the friendship." While Madeline was already friends with Celeste and Jane, it's the death of Perry that brought the five women together, and it's the lie about it that held them there. That's been fracturing all season, leaving them with little choice but to free themselves of the burden if they're to ever truly move on. Detective Quinlan was certain that one of the Monterey Five would crack eventually; instead, they going to reveal the truth together on their own terms. This further ties into the sense of closure and peace the Big Little Lies ending is looking to give the Monterey Five, albeit with some likely big consequences to follow.
What Happens Next For Big Little Lies' Monterey Five?
Big Little Lies season 2's finale is largely a happy one for the Monterey Five, but the ending of the HBO show makes things much more complicated. While the fact Celeste, Madeline, Renata, Jane, and Bonnie are all unburdening themselves of the lie (and accompanying guilt) is a good thing for their sense of inner-peace and also their friendships, it'll likely have some very serious repercussions.
Time spoke to legal experts about the case ahead of the Big Little Lies season 2 finale, and found that while Bonnie may be charged with involuntary manslaughter, there's a good chance she'd be found not guilty because she was protecting Celeste. However, all five of them could be found guilty of "aiding and abetting" the manslaughter, as well as obstruction of justice and concealment of evidence. Those final two crimes carry potential sentences of five years and one year respectively, so if found guilty then the Monterey Five might have to face time in prison, although it's possible that they'd instead be given probation and community service.
Whether or not we'll ever discover what happens to the Monterey Five is another matter. HBO hasn't renewed Big Little Lies for season 3, and there haven't been too many indications that it will happen. HBO's programming president Casey Bloys told TV Line it was "not realistic" because of the cast's schedules, sentiments that were echoed by Kidman, who said to Variety: "I think it would simply be hard to get the whole group together... But we would love to do it." Still, the same was said about Big Little Lies season 1. If HBO and the cast want to make it happen, then there's a chance we will see Big Little Lies season 3. If not, the Big Little Lies season 2's ending is a good place to leave things.