“Big Little Lies” Recap: Prepare for Season 2 with This Refresher

What seemed like a never ending wait is now coming to an end—Big Little Lies is back on June 9th for a captivating second season. The murder mystery revolves around a handful of competitive housewives who are united by the common enemy of an abusive husband and rapist. The mini-series stars our Summer 2019 cover girl, Shailene Woodley, as single mom Jane Chapman, who befriends a collective of moms in the wealthy beach town of Monterey, California, all connected through having children in the same first grade class.

In the first season, we see Woodley’s character, Jane, and her son, Ziggy (Iain Armitage), move into town to start a better life. However, the pair is soon tormented by the very loud and outspoken Renata Klein (Laura Dern) after Ziggy is falsely accused of bullying her daughter, Amabella (Ivy George). Jane also befriends former lawyer Celeste Wright (Nicole Kidman) and Madeline Mackenzie (Reese Witherspoon), a blunt and candid mom who can’t stand her ex-husband’s new free-spirited wife and yoga instructor, Bonnie Carlson (Zoë Kravitz).

The five women are in various states of friendship and conflict throughout the first season. However, it was the pivotal moment that ended season one that brought them together as the “Monterey Five”—the death of Perry Wright (Alex Skarsgård). To prepare for season two’s premiere this weekend, let’s revisit each member of the Monterey Five, and the moments that led them to become prime suspects in Perry’s murder.


Madeline is married to her second husband, Ed Mackenzie (Adam Scott), however, she is having an affair with the theatre company director, Joseph Bachman (Santiago Cabrera). Madeline’s anxiety over her secret and the possibility of having it revealed gathers the group together at a school fundraiser.


Celeste is in an abusive marriage with her husband, Perry Wright. During her therapy sessions, Celeste decides to leave Perry for the well-being of her children, Max and Josh Wright (Cameron and Nicholas Crovetti), and for her own safety. Perry is upset with her decision and confronts Celeste and the rest of the group at the fundraiser.


Jane is a sexual assault survivor, which led to the birth of her son, Ziggy. When she sees Perry at the fundraiser, she immediately recognizes him as Saxon Banks, her abuser from college—making him Ziggy’s father.


Renata learns that it is Max, not Ziggy, that is bullying Amabella. When she learns this information, she makes an effort to apologize to Jane for her rude behaviour.


Throughout the fundraiser, Bonnie quietly noticed red flags about Perry’s behaviour towards Celeste. When Perry angrily confronts Celeste and the group, Bonnie’s defensive reaction leads her to fatally push Perry down the stairs.

The second season takes place nine months after the school fundraiser where Perry dies. Meryl Streep joins the star-studded cast as Mary Louise Wright, Celeste’s mother-in-law. While the ladies are confident that the police have given up in the search for Perry’s killer, Streep’s character is now in town, taking the job into her own hands.

Catch the second season premiere of Big Little Lies on HBO Sunday, June 9th.