Suffice it to say, Meryl has done it again. She's managed to surprise me. I pictured the character of Mary Louise Wright as someone a little bit "off," and I think I'm right in that respect. But Meryl figures out a way to undermine our suspicions and expectations of who we think a character is going to be in the first few scenes. There's an unsettling quirkiness about Mary Louise as she settles in Monterey to get to the bottom of how her son died. At the same time, she's the most put-together and in control of anyone in the town. There are enough glints, however, of her own (obviously mistaken) perception of her son, and how that opinion will shape her need for answers.
Basically, the first episode showcases how Bonnie is struggling with the fact that she's killed Perry by pushing him down the stairs to save Celeste. Celeste is having nightmares, and OMG all I could think about seeing Nicole Kidman with Meryl was how fucking awkward it would be to have to be hugged by the mother of your abusive dead husband, especially when that woman happens to be a little cuckoo (see scream scene). Madeline is maddeningly able to just seemingly move on fret about forcing her daughter to go to college, while Renata is not-so-politely instructing a
I like how the directing seems to be consistent with the style of the first season. It would have been strange to feel like it was a completely different mood. Andrea Arnold has done a great job of maintaining that feel, as well as fashion a sort of melancholy tone for what's supposed to be an angsty return to the first day of school for the Monterey Five--contrasting that with the necessity for the moms to put on a show of normalcy.
As it stands Sunday night, the second season is at a whopping 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and 82 on Metacritic. Both of those scores are higher than the very well-received first season, but could possibly go down a smidge as more reviews come in.
Two years ago I binge-watched the entire first season in one day on the advice of my friend Scooter. I'm mad I have to wait seven days to see episode two and six more tortuous weeks for the whole story. But it'll be fun taking in the slow burn of all the fun twists and turns that the show and Mary Louise have in store as season unfolds.