This is going to sound insane, but I almost think Witherspoon's performance in this series has become a tad underrated. I know, I know, I know: That's probably an overstatement. I'm talking about Instagram, Draper James queen Reese Witherspoon here. But as Kidman deservedly cleaned up trophy after trophy for wrestling with trauma as Celeste, Witherspoon faded (a little) into the background. It was enough to make audiences forget, just a little, that no one has done more for setting the tone of Big Little Lies than the erstwhile Tracy Flick.
It's Madeline Martha Mackenzie's shit-talking spirit that makes the series such a compelling watch, and Witherspoon makes her more than a collection of memes. The reason Mary Louise's comments hit so hard is because they speak to the insecurities that Witherspoon has been teasing out for an entire season now. She largely does a good job of hiding them, but they pop out in moments of stress, like when she confronts her rebellious daughter about the decision not to go to college. Madeline's desire to overcorrect for her own errors has also put her at the center of the big question going forward: Will the Monterey Five be exposed? There was no reason to lie after Perrys' death. Bonnie was about to confess, but it was Madeline's decision to concoct a story about him slipping.
Now Mary Louise, the only person who really cares about finding some sort of justice for Perry, has Madeline's number and has murder on the mind. At the end of the hour, when she finds Celeste screaming from one of her frequent nightmares, Mary Louise asks, "So who are we planning to kill?." Did Celeste give something away in her sleep? Is Mary Louise just angling for a reason to go after Madeline? It's a compelling cliffhanger no matter how you look at it, and opens up a Pandora's box of possibilities for the season. I for one can't wait until ice cream gets involved.