Big Little Lies is the best show currently on television that's about power mommies sipping wine while looking at the Pacific Ocean off the lavish decks of their oceanside homes. It's also, somewhere in there beneath the affairs, flashbacks, therapy sessions, and fights over Frozen on Ice, about a murder!
And though our attention has slightly faded from the whos and whats of the whodunnit and who got it done to, it's time to refocus on the murder since it will undoubtedly be the meat of the Season 1 (and likely series) finale.
Let's run down all the possibilities — based on the spider's web of hatred that's overcome the picturesque town of Monterey — of each victim and perpetrator and grade their likelihood.
(Note: I have not read the book and I don't know what happens in the book, so this is for non-book readers.)
(Note Part II: Spoilers for the first six episodes of Big Little Lies follow. Read at your own risk!)
Victim: Renata or Madeline
Killer: Madeline or Renata
The situation: This has been the main event for most of the season, and the feud between Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) and Renata (Laura Dern) was our first sense that Monterey wasn't the harmonious community of wine guzzling luxury SUV drivers we thought it was. At the heart of the beef is Madeline butting into everyone's business and Renata always thinking she's right — and, come to think of it, vice versa — but these two Type-A personalities really went at it after Amabella (Ivy George) accused Ziggy (Iain Armitage) of choking her and Madeline decided to step into the mix by protecting her friend Jane. That escalated in Madeline hosting a field trip to see Frozen on Ice on the same day as Amabella's birthday, which is HARSH. Since, they've found any excuse to be mad at each other.
Chances it will happen: Neither Renata or Madeline seem like killers to me, but the magnitude of their dislike of each other is beyond any other pairing. However, the source of the tension — Ziggy and Amabella — was slightly defused after Jane apologized for nearly turning Renata into a cyclops and the two shared the fear of their children of victims. The kids seem to be buddies now, too. Renata and Madeline's animosity was the entry point to the seedy, wine-soaked underbelly of Monterey, but it won't be the crescendo.
The situation: As "the other woman," Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz) is frequently the recipient of Madeline's sneers. Bonnie married her ex-husband Nathan (James Tupper), who Madeline still loves despite her reassurances to her current husband Ed (Adam Scott), making Bonnie an easy target to hate. Plus, she has a killer yoga-sculpted bod that hubbies leer at and probably has mind-blowing sex with Nathan, which drives Madeline nuts.
Chances it will happen: At least Madeline thinks she hates Bonnie. Her anger toward Bonnie is a manifestation of her feeling of insecurity and failings of her marriage with Nathan; she's mad at the idea of Bonnie, she's not actually mad at Bonnie the person. And blowing chunks all over Bonnie at dinner in the last episode was probably as violent as it will get between the two.
Victim: Nathan (or Ed)
Killer: Ed (or Nathan)
The situation: Early in the season, Ed's manhood was destroyed by Madeline's obvious pining for Nathan, or at least what she and Nathan had. The conversation between Ed and Madeline never really soothed Ed like it should have, and he's spent the rest of the series feeling slightly in the shadow of Nathan. Ed managed to confront Nathan in a fiery scene in an early episode, and he noted that he never got a chance to stand up to a bully after backing down from one early in his life, and all he's doing is waiting for opportunity to prove to himself that it won't happen again. Nathan left the chat wanting to kill beat the crap out of Ed, too. Men, amirite?
Chances it will happen: Teeny tiny. Ed as the spited nerd is certainly capable of murder, but I don't see it happening, especially since he's head over heels for Madeline and killing her ex and daughter's father isn't a great way to make her happy. Same thing can be said for Nathan; there's just too much interfamily connection here and both guys are very aware of it.
The situation: Joseph (Santiago Cabrera) has been having an affair with Madeline for who knows how long and who knows how frequently, which reignited again in a recent episode. Joseph didn't appear to be willing to let this one go this time, and practically begged Madeline to run away with him. And then the car accident happened. That got Joseph's wife Tori rightfully suspicious that the two were fooling around. There's a powder keg here.
Chances it will happen: Maybe! Look, I think Ed is serious about wanting to beat the crap out of someone, and Joseph would be the perfect target. But that would mean the secret would have to get out in the finale, and Ed would have to flip his lid. Alternatively, Tori going crazy and killing Madeline — or Joseph — is another option.
Victim: Abigail (Kathryn Newton)
Killer: Her own foolish behavior
The situation: Madeline's teenage daughter comes into the season with a terrible case of TV Teenage Daughter Syndrome, being a generally ungrateful angsty mess whose sole purpose is to grate on her mother. Her biggest symptom of TVTDS came recently when she decided to auction off her virginity online to raise awareness of human trafficking. I mean, come on.
Chances it will happen: We can dream.
Victim: Perry (or Celeste)
Killer: Celeste (or Perry)
The situation: Now we're getting serious. Perry's (Alexander Skarsgard) abusive behavior certainly puts a target on his and Celeste's (Nicole Kidman) backs. He's threatened to kill her to her face, and you have to take that threat seriously. On the flip side, as Celeste begins to fight back, it's not unreasonable to think she'll take the situation into her own hands and end it on her terms.
Chances it will happen: There's no way the show ends with Perry killing Celeste, is there? My god, that would be horrible and entirely counterintuitive to the message of the show. And I don't really think Celeste has it in her to kill Perry, despite the abuse she's suffered. She just doesn't seem like that kind of person. But that doesn't mean Perry's safe...
The situation: Think about this: Jane (Shailene Woodley) has never met Perry. Think about this: Jane still hasn't found the man who raped her and impregnated her with Ziggy. There's a popular theory going around online that Perry was the man who raped Jane, and that they'll meet in the finale, likely at trivia night when the families are gathered together. That would send Jane off on a murderous rampage. I mean, if she was willing to bring a gun into a poor stranger's office and smell his shirt, then she'd be willing to bust some caps in the guy at a fundraiser.
Chances it will happen: It's a good theory... but it hits a major wall. Of all the main players in the show, Jane is the only one we've seen at the event following the murder, meaning she's not killing or getting killed. (Or the police are dumb.)
The situation: Let's take the above theory and tweak it. Perry is the one we all want to see die, and the only death who would give the series the kind of happy closure we all want.
Chances it will happen: High! Perry's abuse of Celeste comes out after people learn she moved out, and Jane confides in someone that Perry is the man who raped her. But who does the killing? Madeline? Ed? Nathan? That's what we'll find out.
Victim: A case of Napa's finest Cabernet Sauvignon
Situation: Is there any possible way these stressed-out characters will make it five minutes into the finale without chugging as many smashed grapes as they can? Nope.
Chances it will happen: One million percent.
Big Littles Lies airs its Season 1 finale on Sunday, Apr. 2 at 9/8c on HBO.