The Ending Of Big Little Lies Explained

Correction 3/21/22: A previous version of this article stated that "Big Little Lies" featured Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" The song was actually performed by Willie Nelson and Paula Nelson, not Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Can you believe Big Little Lies Season 2 is actually over? Although we weren't even sure that Big Little Lies would return after its initial run in 2017, the Hollywood gods delivered a seven-episode second season. Liane Moriarty, the author of the book on which the first season is based, even penned a novella as the basis for Season 2

Despite already having an all-star cast from the get-go — including Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Zoë Kravitz, and Shailene Woodley — a second season brought in Meryl Streep as the villain we all loved to hate: Mary Louise. 

With the conclusion of Season 2 — and thus the absence of the Monterey Five — our Sunday nights are bound to get a little more dull. Sigh. But who says we can't hold on a little bit longer? In a lot of ways, Big Little Lies' finale wrapped up this season in a neat little bow, but it wouldn't be Big Little Lies if it didn't also manage to end in a cliffhanger, right? Here's what you may have missed during the finale and what that ambiguous ending of Big Little Lies really meant. 

Note: This article contains spoilers.

The showdown during the ending of Big Little Lies Season 2

As teased in the penultimate episode of Season 2, we finally got to see the showdown between Celeste and her mother-in-law, Mary Louise. With both women battling for custody of Perry and Celeste's twin boys, the kid gloves were officially off. As a lawyer, Celeste took the opportunity to question Mary Louise herself. This was, of course, a risky move — and one that made Celeste's legal representative squirm. Would this grieving mom be able to face her late husband's mother and keep her composure? After all, this is the woman who wants to remove the children from her home and who denies Perry's abusive behavior. 

In the end, Celeste kept her cool while also delivering some hard truths. In the court room, she even plays a video of Perry physically abusing her — which was apparently filmed by one of the boys. Faced with video evidence, Mary Louise had to acknowledge that her son wasn't the person she'd believed him to be.

Where was Perry in Big Little Lies Season 2?

Going into the season finale, you may have been expecting a particular scene — one that never came. In an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live ahead of the second season's final episode, Shailene Woodley, who plays the role of Jane, divulged a seemingly major spoiler. "In the beginning of the next episode ... it's a little bit of a cliffhanger, all of the women go to visit Perry's grave and his body's missing," Woodley told host Jimmy Kimmel. Uh, what? The actress said the showrunners gave her the all-clear to share the tidbit while on the show.

The audience lets out an "ooh" as we're all left wondering what that could possibly mean. Would the police be exhuming his body? Is he not really dead? As we were left pondering all the potential ways this could fit into the Big Little Lies finale, it turns out Woodley was trolling us. There was no gravesite visit and no missing body. Woodley threw us off the trail, and, well, hats off to her. She almost got us.

The ending of Big Little Lies revealed the truth about Raymond

Prior to the season finale, a fan theory started to pick up steam. A Reddit user theorized that Corey and Perry were actually brothers. "Having mentioned the 'deceased' brother [Raymond] many times (subtly) throughout the season, and it's clearly playing a role in the season finale, it is very likely that this aspect of Perry's life will be used as the final plot twist," the Redditor wrote. This did end up playing a role in the finale, but — thankfully for Jane — not in this way.

We do mostly find out what happened to Raymond. In a flashback, we see a younger Mary Louise exiting her car just after an accident. In the scene, Perry's younger brother sits motionless in his car seat. We hear Mary Louise berate 5-year-old Perry, saying, "Look what you made me do!" Although we don't have complete clarity on the event, it appears Mary Louise lost her temper while driving and subsequently crashed. According to what Celeste said during court, Mary Louise not only immediately pinned the blame on Perry, but she also "emotionally battered" him throughout his childhood and even physically abused him at times.

What happened with Detective Adrienne Quinlan's investigation in Big Little Lies?

Viewers were introduced to Detective Adrienne Quinlan, in the very beginning of Season 1 when she responds to the scene of Perry's death. In the first season's finale, Quinlan can be seen looking on at the Monterey Five through binoculars. In Season 2, it quickly becomes apparent that, although the investigation into Perry's "accident" isn't exactly open, she's not going anywhere.

In Episode 6, she even calls Corey in for questioning. "She knows your history with this guy, she knows he raped you, she knows he's Ziggy's dad, and she clearly doesn't think he slipped," Corey later repeats the detective's words to Jane (via Bustle). She also left Corey with a foreboding message. "She said with five witnesses the odds are in her favor," Corey tells Jane. "One of you will finally crack. The first one who does gets a break, the other four are f*****." Gulp.

Detective Quinlan's increasing interest in the circumstances surrounding Perry's death may have had you thinking she'd bring down the Monterey Five during the season finale. But, despite all the buildup, the detective was notably absent during Big Little Lies' ending.

Future legal repercussions for Big Little Lies' Monterey Five

Although Detective Quinlan didn't arrest the Monterey Five in the finale, her warning to Jane via Corey still stands: "The first one who does gets a break, the other four are f*****." But is that how it works?

Dov Fox, a criminal law professor at the University of San Diego, revealed to Time that California recognizes the "defense of others" law. This law stipulates that taking another person's life can be justified if that person's own life, or someone else's life, is in danger. "To succeed, Bonnie would have to prove three things: that (1) she had a reasonable belief that (2) the amount of force she used was necessary to protect the other person from (3) imminent threat of serious injury," the expert explained.

Although Bonnie's actions may have very well been justified, the other ladies' actions weren't. "Technically, the other female characters present at the scene who later lied for Bonnie might be liable for aiding and abetting the involuntary manslaughter as accomplices," attorney Melissa Dagodag explained. To "conceal, or attempt to conceal, evidence of accidental death" is a crime in and of itself. Big little lies, amirite?

No one wins at the end of Big Little Lies

Seeing Mary Louise finally get her ass handed to her — and in court nonetheless — was riveting. When the judge ruled in Celeste's favor and we found out the twins would be staying with their mother, it certainly felt like a win. And although it may have been hard to feel sorry for Mary Louise, it was still apparent that she loved her grandchildren. After the court's decision, Celeste encouraged her sons to give their grandmother a hug, and our hearts collectively shattered. As Celeste's therapist, Dr. Reisman, stated in the fourth episode of the season, no one truly wins these sorts of cases.

It's hard to know what will happen to Mary Louise. At the end of the episode, we see her driving out of town. It's possible that she will still try to be involved in her grandchildren's lives, albeit from a distance. Maybe Celeste will allow her to visit the boys from time to time, but, after what went down, it's hard to picture a happy family dynamic there. She may also continue to pursue a relationship with her other grandson, Ziggy, but would Jane allow it? It seems unlikely.

Bonnie's journey in Big Little Lies Season 2

"There was so much more to tell with the characters, especially with Bonnie," creator David E. Kelley told The Hollywood Reporter ahead of Big Little Lies Season 2. "We only hinted about who Bonnie was. We had not mined where she came from and what led to the big push at the end of year one." The second season delved into Bonnie's past — and what exactly led up to her pushing Perry.

Through real-time interactions and flashbacks between Bonnie and her parents — an abusive mother and a willfully ignorant father — viewers get insight into what makes Bonnie, well, Bonnie. After her mother suffers a debilitating stroke, Bonnie reads aloud a letter she wrote to her. In doing so, she confesses to her mom what happened at Trivia Night. "I resent you for killing a man," she tells her (via The Atlantic). "I killed Celeste's husband. He didn't slip. I pushed him. I snapped — and when I lunged at him, I was pushing you. And that push was a long time coming." Bonnie does eventually find peace with her mother, but only shortly before she passes.

What's next for Big Little Lies' Bonnie?

Bonnie's letter in Episode 6 features the bombshell that she pushed and killed Perry — but that was, of course, something we all already knew. What we didn't know, however, was how she felt about her husband, Nathan. Their relationship was particularly tense throughout the second season, but Bonnie was keeping a pretty big secret so we can understand her distance. But we learned that wasn't all there was to it. Bonnie reveals to her mother (via The Atlantic), "I resent you for making me feel so f***ing worthless that I settled for a man that I don't..."  Bonnie doesn't finish her sentence, but, after her mom passes away in Big Little Lies' finale, she tells Nathan the truth: She's not in love with him, and she doesn't think she ever was. 

Throughout much of Season 2, it seemed like the lie about Perry's death was eating Bonnie alive. However, it's likely that it was more a culmination of many, well, big little lies. Although we don't know what the future holds for Bonnie, the truth may just set her free.

What happened to the rest of Big Little Lies' Monterey Five?

The end of the Big Little Lies Season 2 finale gives us our final insight into the lives of our favorite women. With Mary Louise out of the picture, Celeste can finally move on. Did you notice her delete a video of Perry from her tablet? We can't help but think better things are ahead.

Things are looking up for Jane, too. She and Corey are taking their relationship to the next level — go Jane! Although Renata doesn't appear to be getting quite the same happy ending, she does finally get retribution against her cheating, lying husband, Gordon (ick, Gordon), by taking a baseball bat to his toys, including a six-figure train set, and even Gordon himself. A very Renata ending, to be fair.

Madeline, on the other hand, was able to salvage her marriage. She and Ed decided to renew their vows in a private ceremony on the beach. Although he says they're not putting "a tidy ribbon" on their past, which involves Madeline's affair, that is very much how the Big Little Lies finale appeared to wrap up.

Big Little Lies' calm before the storm

Just as everything appears to be going well for the Monterey Five and the finale seems to be heading into the credits, Willie Nelson and daughter Paula Nelson's cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" begins to play. This is more than just a song about the weather though. The Big Little Lies soundtrack is full of Easter eggs. From the theme song to what Renata listens to in her car, the show has integrated music in creative ways. "The way we started it was we had different playlists for each character, with thoughts of where they might be in their lives," music supervisor Simon Astall told Elle. "As footage rolls into the editing room, editors have a selection to choose from. In some cases, early choices stick around for the long haul."

In the Season 2 finale, the song appears to have foreshadowed the ending of Big Little Lies. "Someone told me long ago. There's a calm before the storm," the song plays. "I know it's been comin' for some time. When it's over, so they say, it'll rain a sunny day." The song continues to play as we see all five women enter the police station.

The Monterey marriages in Big Little Lies Season 2

Renata and Gordon's marriage seems quite finished by the finale, but that's not the case for Ed and Madeline. The Ringer dubbed Ed "perhaps Monterey's lone positive adult role model," adding that he's also been "consistently treated badly by his wife, Madeline, even (perhaps especially) as he dotes on her and Chloe, their daughter." The article continued, speculating ahead of the Big Little Lies season finale, "Once he learns that Madeline has betrayed his trust yet again, as he likely will in the Season 2 finale, he should flee." Instead, Ed and Madeline renew their vows — which was Ed's own idea.

Still, the vow renewal happened before Madeline heads to the police station. We don't get to see how Ed handles the news of his wife being involved in Perry's murder — or if he even knows. However, we do get to see another husband's reaction: Nathan's. Despite recently being told that his wife does not, and has likely never, loved him, he offers to go with Bonnie or at least drive her to the station. No, we're not crying — you're crying.

Coming clean during the ending of Big Little Lies

In the final moments of the Big Little Lies finale, we see Bonnie send a text message to her partners in crime. Unfortunately, we never do get to see just what Bonnie wrote. We only know that she sent the message and that all of the women showed up at the police station with her. Earlier in the season, the women were adamant about maintaining their lie. But, by the Season 2 ending of Big Little Lies, it's feasible that they were all ready to come clean.

In a conversation between Madeline and Celeste earlier in the final episode, Madeline tells Celeste, "I've been thinking a lot about something you said a while back — about the lie. And that it was ... that it had a shelf life. I think you're right." After Renata destroys her husband's room o' toys, she tells him, "I'm done. No more bulls***, no more lies." She may very well have been talking about his lies, but she may be feeling pretty sick of lying, too. Although we don't know what will happen once the ladies enter the police station, we at least know they're presenting a united front.

Big Little Lies Season 2: The end of a timely series

As writer Alyssa Rosenberg detailed in an article for The Washington Post, Season 2 of Big Little Lies is "the perfect show for the post #MeToo era," as it has opened "crucial conversations" about abuse. Well into the season finale, viewers watch as Mary Louise refuses to see her son as he was, in the way both Celeste and Jane had. "That denial, and Mary Louise's ability to reshape the world around her central belief in her son's goodness, is what makes the character a remarkable and timely villain," wrote Rosenberg.

After showing a video of Perry abusing her, Celeste tells her mother-in-law, "Mary Louise, look at me. This was your son." By pointing to Perry's own abuse suffered at the hands of his mother, Celeste revealed how abuse can be cyclical — but that it doesn't have to be. Celeste later talks of her children as being "good boys" and how she will help to raise them to become "good men." Big Little Lies is nothing if not timely.

Will there be a Big Little Lies Season 3?

Considering the way the ending of Big Little Lies played out, fans were immediately jonesing for a third season. "I think we would love to do a season three because there is certainly ideas," Nicole Kidman revealed in an interview with News Corp Australia (via People). "But we would not do it without all of the same people involved ... even the kids." But fans shouldn't get their hopes up. At least not yet.

"I love this group of people — I would do anything with them," Casey Bloys, HBO's president, told TVLine. "But the reality is, they are some of the busiest actresses working in Hollywood." He's not completely ruling out a third season though. If everyone's schedules aligned in a way that it would work, he said he'd be game. However, he added, "I just think it's not realistic." Bloys continued, saying, "Season 2 was a chance for everyone involved to end [the franchise] in a way that feels satisfying." Guess we'll just have to wait and see if Big Little Lies Season 3 is in our future.