Shock ending for Big Little Lies
SPOILER ALERT: this contains details of the Big Little Lies season 2 finale.
It was the mother of all TV blockbuster finales, with one explosive secret revealed after another.
But the shock ending of season two of Big Little Lies - with the Monterey Five walking themselves into the local police station to likely confess - has left fans already calling for a third season to this explosive murder mystery.
The stunning finale delivered one plot punch after punch, as each one of the six leading ladies - led by Australia's own Nicole Kidman - grappled with their marriages, mothering and that "corrosive" secret they've all been keeping.
Kidman's performance will go down as the best of her brilliant career, taking no less than Meryl Streep down in a brutal courtroom clash as her character, Celeste Wright fought to keep custody of her two young sons.
The grieving widow and single mother proved beyond doubt she was also a formidable lawyer, stepping up to cross-examine Streep, as her menacing mother-in-law Mary-Louise, who seized on Celeste's vulnerability in a bid to take guardianship over her grandsons.
Using her own dead son Perry's memories against his mother, Celeste turns the tables on Mary-Louise and, through a series of flashbacks, revealed Streep's character had blamed her then five-year-old son for distracting her and causing the car accident which killed his younger brother, Raymond.
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The trauma of growing up with that guilt, as well as the emotional abuse and physical violence Mary-Louise inflicted on Perry, confirmed he was as much a victim of abuse as he was the perpetrator of the same with his battered wife.
When Mary-Louise tries to accuse Celeste of lying about her dead son's violence against her, Celeste plays her trump card: a video she discovers on the morning of the trial, taken by one of her boys, which captures Perry attacking their mother.
The guttural gasp from Streep hits the viewer like one of Perry's body blows did Celeste - a visceral exclamation mark and the moment the trial turned in Kidman's favour.
Kidman delivers one final zinger to Streep's Mary Louise, who arrives on Celeste's doorstep after the courtroom clash continuing to blame her for assassinating her son's character.
A steely Celeste summons up all her spine and says, with brutal brevity: "you lost your boys, you don't get to take mine."
Meanwhile, Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz) is still in a fog over her stroke-prone mother Elizabeth (Crystal Fox), who deteriorates in hospital, suffers another cerebral haemmorage and, by episode's end, dies.
It's the full stop on her own abusive relationship with her mum, and triggers Bonnie to finally admit to her husband, Nathan (James Tupper), that she's been keeping a big secret.
No, not the one she's been keeping with her four girlfriends over Perry's death; but a new shock altogether - that she doesn't love him and probably never did.
Madeleine (Reese Witherspoon) also faces up to her marital woes, as husband Ed (Adam Scott) takes out his frustration over her affair on a punching bag.
When she confronts him over his daily boxing sessions, and asks if it's her he's imagining when he punches on, he sits her down and surprises her by resolving that they renew their wedding vows and start their marriage anew.
"For better or worse," she exclaims, to which he replies, "no, you at your worst is out."
With daisies in her hair and her two daughters by her side, the couple remarry on the beach in front of their home - a new start Madeleine never thought possible.
But while one marriage is beginning, Renata's marriage comes to an explosive end.
Still boiling with rage over her husband Gordon's financial dishonesty and the bankruptcy that has destroyed all her dreams, Dern's Renata comes home to an empty house, but for a room full of his (Jeffrey Nordling) toys.
He has sold the collectibles for $440,000 but gets to keep them as part of the deal.
That he gets to keep his room full of treasures, while she faces the ignominy of losing her house and everything she's worked for - not to mention the fact he slept with their nanny - it's the last straw for Renata, who grabs one of his baseball bats from its precious place on the wall and takes to his train set and other valuables; hitting him too for good measure, before she walks out on him and the marriage.
It's a better ending for Jane (Shailene Woodley) who can now count on Celeste to keep her son, Zach, safe from the custody clutches of Streep's Mary-Louise.
After the court's decision, Celeste is happy to co-parent with Jane, bringing the boys together at her house; while Jane is free to let her guard down and finally move on with her young boyfriend, Corey.
That just leaves one big lie left to resolve, and as cleansing rain falls over the coastal community and Mary-Louise leaves town, one by one, the Monterey Five responds to a group text summoning them to the Carmel Police Station.
In a stunning final scene that could be fleshed out for season three, or, if it is the end, leave the audience to assume the women will face the consequences of their actions that fateful night Perry fell, they walk into the station, taking safety in their numbers again.
But as Kidman teased exclusively to News Corp Australia readers yesterday, producers have "ideas" to keep the Lies going.
While season two was given life after fans demanded it, season three could come down to making the schedules of the mega-famous women involved in this remarkable series.
"I think we would love to do a season three because there are certainly ideas but you've got to remember this started with Liane [Moriarty, the author of the book adapted for the TV series]. I know she's been incredibly supportive and happy with it, so that's good."
She added her caveat: "we would not do it without all of the same people involved … including the kids."
Bring it on.
Big Little Lies airs 8.30pm, Monday July 22 on Fox Showcase and streams on Foxtel Now.