Big Little Lies Recap: Episode 6, ‘Burning Love’


Wait, so who gets murdered?

With only one more episode left in the series, Big Little Lies has ramped up the drama big time in  ‘Burning Love.’ Episode 6 showcases the strengths of everyone on the cast, whether it’s with Jane’s slow-burning manic, Madeline’s frustration, or Celeste’s quiet reservation. Building off of last week’s momentum, ‘Burning Love’ answers a few big questions while still leaving us guessing as to who’s actually going to be murdered.

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Last week’s cliffhanger is answered quickly when it’s revealed that Saxon Baker is nothing more than an interior designer who unfortunately gets terrorized in his office by an unhinged Jane. Although her breakdown is short, Shailene Woodley captures her character’s slow unraveling, whether it’s through speeding down the highway or learning about the petition to suspend Ziggy. Her ability to bottle up all her emotions has kept her pain and frustration at bay all season. Until now. Her showdown with Renata offers a more comical touch to the episode when an injury leads to an eye patch, but it finally gives the two feuding mothers an opportunity to empathize with the other.

In the novel, Renata takes on the role of minor antagonist, but Big Little Lies has done a fantastic job of fleshing out her character. ‘Burning Love’ shows Renata at her finest when she buries the hatchet with Jane as the two realize that both of their kids are being bullied. With only one episode left, it’s unlikely that their team-up will have a profound effect on the finale but either way it’s satisfying to see both mothers agree to help each other rather than be enemies. It’s also telling that the woman who brought forth the petition to suspend a six-year-old is someone who Renata casually writes off while she seems to have found a real bond with her former “enemy”.

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While the two of them have been able to put their differences aside, Ed and Madeline’s marriage continues to crumble. Throughout the episode Madeline has many opportunities in which to confess to her infidelity, though Ed keeps railroading her. It’s telling when he admits that a big part of marriage is just pretending, and it makes you wonder whether or not he has been aware of the affair the entire time but choosing to overlook it. It’s a sad moment for Madeline who has spent a majority of her life striving for perfection but is simultaneously unfulfilled and frustrated with her seemingly idyllic life.

It’s Nicole Kidman who steals the show again this week as Celeste, who continues to confront the true darkness of her situation. Her therapy sessions have easily become the standout scenes of the show, as she attempts to grapple with the realization that her marriage is toxic. Big Little Lies started the series with Perry’s first attack being a violent grab and each week his abuse has continued to escalate. Celeste’s therapist tries to make her understand that these relationships hardly ever get “better” but instead continue to get worse until something permanent happens. While Celeste is initially hesitant, admitting that she hasn’t even told anyone about the abuse for fear of them judging or pitying her, her therapist finally gets her to understand how dangerous this path of ignorance has become. Without a witness, documentation, or even a safe place to run to, Celeste could lose custody of the boys to Perry if she doesn’t make a plan.

After therapy, she is quickly swept off her feet by Perry’s decision to come home early to attend the opening of Madeline’s play with her. She perceives it as romantic but it comes off as an attempt to get into her good graces after their especially violent altercation in the last episode.  Their power dynamic is finally addressed, with Perry wielding it during the abuse, while she harnesses it afterwards because of his guilt. A majority of the episode is spent seeing him acting clingy and loving as an apology for the bruising. However, this love soon turns to rage when she rebuffs his advances for a “quickie” before the play and leads to her breaking his urethra. When they return from the hospital Perry remarks, “you’re lucky I didn’t kill you,” which finally slaps Celeste back to reality. She finally takes the first step into making a plan, as she sits out on the balcony of what could be her new apartment.

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The adults failing relationships take up the majority of the show but ‘Burning Love’ ends with the cute friendship between Ziggy and Chloe. As children, their relationship is one of innocent love, a time where they don’t judge one another for their faults but find happiness through just lip syncing together. It’s a stark contrast to the sort of drama the adults are dealing with, and it’s a fine way to end an episode.