Friends, if there's anything we, as a collective audience, learned from last week's Big Little Lies, it is that kids are the worst and they will spill all of your secrets to the exact person you've been hiding stuff from. Kids! You'd think the queen of the Monterey gossip scene would've taught both of her daughters how to keep the hot goss under wraps. Alas, Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) did not and it has landed her right onto the green velvet couch in Dr. Reisman's (Robin Weigart) office — possibly the most terrifying place in Monterey aside from the Otter Bay Auditorium.
Yes, it's true, even though Ed (Adam Scott) ended his and Madeline's blowout last week by exclaiming that they were done (still thinking about Scott's hands shaking in that scene, no big deal), there seems to be some sort of pulse left in their marriage. I mean, it's minuscule since Ed basically hates his wife with every bone in his body now, but he's...trying? Just kidding. But he is there. He may soon regret agreeing to see Dr. Reisman because they might be there thanks to Madeline cheating and keeping a whole host of other secrets from her husband, but Dr. Reisman isn't afraid to call Ed out, too. Being disengaged from your marriage, from life isn't very helpful either. Ed does not like that at all. Don't worry Ed, you're still the snarkiest bitch on this show!
Plus, Madeline gets the worst of it from the doc. Surprisingly, Dr. Reisman agrees with Abigail's (Kathryn Newton) assessment (what a world, you guys) that Madeline feels less-than because she didn't go to college. She also pushes to get some answers on why Madeline cheated, what happened to her first marriage, and her parents' marriage. It's this last thing that truly gives us some insight into Madeline's current emotional state (although her reasoning for her divorce from Nathan (James Tupper) — he's an "asshole" — was both gorgeous and true).
Later, in the Broken Rich Ladies version of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Madeline unloads on Celeste (Nicole Kidman). When she was 3 or 4 (with, truly, the best memory) she caught her father having sex with another woman. Her father told Madeline to never tell anyone about it, and she never did. Thanks to dear old dad, she's always held a deep-seated fear that marriage is a fraud. Then her first marriage confirmed that. Now in her second marriage, she's the fraud. She certainly doesn't see any hope for her and Ed to reconcile, especially since he grows meaner with each interaction they have (okay, he has a right to a certain point). She spirals. She even apologizes to Celeste for not having realized she was being abused, which of course Celeste shuts down right away because Celeste kept that hidden from everyone. Anyway, I think Madeline is broken. The ladies end one of their car talks by holding hands and it is such a small, wonderful gesture, especially for a show where things are typically so heightened. I mean, do any of Jerry Seinfeld's episodes end with hand holding? No, seriously, I'm asking because I would like to watch that episode.
Okay, so maybe I was a little harsh on "kids" (kids!) at the start of this recap, but you know who really, truly is the worst? Grandmothers. You guys, I almost spit out my drink when Jane (Shailene Woodley) was remarking to Ziggy (Iain Armitage) that "Satan can only be so many places at once" and they cut to Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) staring at the two of them in their apartment building parking lot like the creep we know her to be. Bless this show!
So what evil doings has Mary Louise been up to now? If you think expressing her belief to Celeste that there is no way Perry (Alexander Skarsgård) could've been so violent and Jane is a liar was bad, how about her saying that to Jane's face? Because that's what she does. Well, sorry, first Mary Louise arrives unannounced at Jane's place of work, introduces herself, and then asks for a paternity test while also telling Jane that she probably just doesn't remember things correctly. Jane is rightly offended and upset, but keeps her cool, stands up to Mary Louise, and walks away.
Unfortunately, Jane cannot ignore the woman forever. Especially after that aforementioned parking lot rendezvous. Now that Ziggy is partially involved, Jane begrudgingly meets Mary Louise for coffee. In which Mary Louise shows Jane pictures of her two sons as kids and remarks at how much Ziggy looks like her late son Raymond. You know, exactly the sort of thing Jane would like to be reminded of, I'm sure. She then proceeds to talk about how gentle and tender Perry was as a child. While Jane doesn't hesitate to remind her that he turned out to be neither of those things, Mary Louise presses her on how that night actually went down, because she doesn't believe he could really be a rapist and she was probably leading him on. I'm not entirely sure what happened after because I suffered a rage blackout.
Just as Jane is trying to move forward and go on a very nice date with a very nice guy, she has to relive one of the worst nights of her life. Corey (Douglas Smith) is strange but honestly, these two are adorable. When his attempt to kiss Jane results in her recoil, he is more than happy to take it slow. He starts giving Ziggy surf lessons. He honestly cares about fish more than anything I've ever cared about in my entire life. They share a very intense hug-slash-slow dance that I'm currently obsessed with. Let Jane have something nice, you know?
Just because Mary Louise is terrorizing Jane, don't think she's not still paying attention to Celeste "I'm dead inside" Wright. Armed with her newly fueled suspicions about what happened to her son, Mary Louise pays a visit to Detective Quinlan (Merrin Dungey) who can't comment on if she thinks Perry didn't just slip, but, like, comments on it, you know what I mean? Eventually, Celeste finds her mother-in-law rooting around in her medicine cabinet. She wants to know why Celeste keeping Vicodin in the house. When Celeste informs her that sometimes she needed it for the pain Perry inflicted on her, Mary Louise won't hear it. It must be confusing for Celeste, who is trying to convince her mother-in-law that Perry was a monster (that old video of Perry happily playing "monster" with Max and Josh was A Choice), while also dealing with the fact that she's still in love with him. Her therapist likens her to a vet who wants to return to war and I'm very scared for Celeste!
Do you know who else is scared? All the second graders at Otter Bay, apparently. And it's not because all of their parents are having emotional breakdowns, although it's probably partially that. Rather, it's thanks to Mr. Perkins' (Mo McRae) lesson plan that informs them about the terrors of climate change as told through his interpretation of Charlotte's Web. A wildly different interpretation from mine but whatever gets the kids talking about sustainability is fine by me. It does unsurprisingly turn out to be a rather heavy topic for such young kids and our fragile Amabella has an anxiety attack right there in the classroom.
Renata (Laura Dern) gave us so many gifts last week, but her screaming at Mr. Perkins and Principal Nippal (P.J. Byrne) about how when she gets her money back she's going to rise up and will buy every kid in the school a polar bear just to show them up is truly inspired. Though it's not the only treasure she bestows on us in "The End of the World." There is, of course, her run-in with Mary Louise while venting to Madeline at Madeline's office about how the principal is a, let me make sure I get this new expletive correct, a "pussf---," and well, you can imagine how Mary Louise takes to that. I have now watched this interaction three times and Renata walking away asking, "What the f--- is that?" never gets old. There's also the fact that she and Gordon (Jeffrey Nordling) — who, by the way, is the latest husband to mention that his wife has been closed off for the past year — hire a child therapist (Kerri Kenney) who dresses like Little Bo Peep in order to get Amabella to chat with her. It feels very Renata. Dr. Peep is the one who discovers that it is climate change that's truly worrying Amabella (although her parents' current situation hasn't gone unnoticed either).
Thanks to Renata's rage, Principal Nippal calls an Otter Bay assembly. Although he's referred to the second-grade mothers as "Shakespearean" he still opens up the podium to the parents. This should most definitely be a disaster! Which it is! Just not in the way one might have guessed. It's Madeline who is called up there first and it quickly becomes obvious that her speech about not filling kids heads with fairy tales and happy endings because happy endings don't exist has very little to do with teaching second graders about climate change and everything to do with Ed (we even see that when she looks out at the crowd, she only sees Ed standing in the back of the room). She cries! On stage! In front of the entire Otter Bay community! Someone is even taping it with their phone from the crowd! So, yes, Madeline is broken.
And yet still, she is not the member of the Monterey Five I'm most worried about. BONNIE (Zoë Kravitz) YOU GUYS. Throughout the episode, we've seen a little of Bonnie: actually laughing while having coffee with Ed, chatting with Jane about Corey and opening yourself up to another person. But we've also seen some troubling moments of Bonnie looking forlorn on the beach, having flashbacks of her mother teaching her to hold her breath underwater, and then her walking out into the ocean until she's completely taken over by waves. What are these scenes? Her fantasy? A flashforward? Were her mother's visions about someone drowning maybe more literal than we initially thought? Regardless, I'm worried.