'Big Little Lies' Ending: Who died at trivia night?

'Big Little Lies' Ending: Who died at trivia night?
Source: HBO
Source: HBO
review
A recurring feature for Mic staff to explore a particular theme in depth.

For a show that used music so effectively throughout its run, Big Little Lies ended mostly in silence.

As Celeste Wright remembers the abuse her husband Perry inflicted on her in their bathroom, she recollects without sound. As Jane Chapman realizes that Perry was her rapist, she communicates wordlessly with Celeste and Madeline Mackenzie — her friends, but practically her sisters by now — what she's realized. And when the five women of Big Little Lies are interviewing at the police station, we see their lips move, but don't hear what they have to say.

Finally, as we see the truth of how Perry Wright died, the sound of the action only comes through faintly. The drama of the moment is only finally punctured as we see Bonnie Carlson push Perry off the stairs.

Nicole Kidman
Source: HBO

This was the answer to the mystery: Bonnie shoved Perry after watching him attack Celeste, Madeline, Jane and Renata Klein as the latter three tried to defend their friend. It wasn't a murder, but an involuntary manslaughter — albeit one that probably saved Celeste's life.

Ultimately, the answer as to who killed Perry didn't matter much; this was something these women chose to do together, as they all lied to the police to protect Bonnie. But it was thrilling to watch it happen, with director Jean-Marc Vallée expertly setting up the actual scene. The use of rapidly cutting camera angles and impressive fight choreography really sold the chaos of the scene. As much as the murder wasn't the point of Big Little Lies, the execution of the reveal was really beautifully done.

The ending of Vallée and writer David E. Kelley's finale, however, chooses not to center on a confession, or any individual ever-after morals that Liane Moriarty's original book does. The book's final line, delivered by Celeste — "This could happen to anyone," referring to the abuse — is totally missing. Instead, the show's final moments focus on watching these five women interacting during a day on the beach, bonded by their shared secret.

Laura Dern and Jeffrey Nordling
Source: HBO

There's much to dissect in the finale, from the fun (Renata's hat for the trivia night) to the puzzling (where was the trivia at trivia night?). But when recalling the finale in the future — a captivating send-off to what has truly been a magnificent series, one of HBO's greatest of all time — it will be the image of the five women on the beach that sticks in the mind.

These women have been at odds with each other in different configurations throughout the season, unsure of what was really happening in each other's lives. But the second the truths come to light — the truth of Perry's abuse, and that he was Jane's rapist — the women band together. Big Little Lies was tremendously complex, but this finale underlines that it's the bonds between these women, and the way they support each other in crisis, that matter most.

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