ByAllanah Faherty, writer at
Senior staff writer | Twitter: @allanahfaherty | Email: [email protected]
Allanah Faherty

After months of waiting, this week finally saw the premiere of HBO's latest mini series, Big Little Lies. Stacked to the absolute brim with talent and based on source material chock full of intrigue, Big Little Lies seemed destined to be a hit, and so far the first episode checked all the boxes.

Throughout Episode 1 viewers were introduced to the matriarchs of several families living in Monterey, California. Though the mother's seemingly have perfect lives, behind closed doors it's another story altogether, and throughout the episode we learn that their lives seemed to have devolved to the point of a brutal murder.

But far from revealing who the murder victim or suspects were, instead cleverly weaved scenes of press conferences and police interviews throughout the picture-perfect episode, allowing audiences to reach their own conclusions. And given that it appears as though we won't really get any answers until much later in the season, it seems like we have to do our own detective work. Take a look below to see all the little tidbits we learned about the women and the murder from Episode 1 of Big Little Lies:

The Murder

[Credit: HBO]
[Credit: HBO]

The very first scene of the episode opens with a woman breathing deeply at a school fundraiser where a murder has taken place. The viewer watches from the woman's point of view, and as she looks around wildly we hear a police officer tell her "Stop moving, please. Stop moving."

As police approach the event we learn that the victim was either murdered or discovered in front of many witnesses, and that the body is on the back terrace. However, the scene was compromised due to so many people being at the event.

During a press conference it's revealed that the victim suffered a broken pelvis and a fracture at the base of the skull. Later the same press conference says that police are investigating all angles and that no one has been ruled out.

Principal Nippal reveals that the fundraising event where the murder took place was a trivia night and concedes that "it was a mistake to let people compete, but that is not what got someone killed."

X-ray of the murder victim [Credit: HBO]
X-ray of the murder victim [Credit: HBO]

Another press conference confirms the cause of death for the victim as a "a 4x3 stellate, full-thickness scalp laceration" on the top of the skull. Investigators also revealed "a full-thickness scalp contusion and associated gall and subgaleal hemorrhages, and a putrefied and liquefied brain." All of which would have amounted to a lot of blood. Police say that although they have no suspects in the homicide, they do believe they have spoken "to the person or persons involved."

Madeline Martha Mackenzie

[Credit: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/courtesy of HBO]
[Credit: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/courtesy of HBO]

During the police interviews one of the parents notes that "at the root of it was Madeline Mackenzie," before someone else muses that if she hadn't fallen while returning to her car, and therefore met Jane, no one would have been killed.

Principal Nippal notes during his interview that "what Madeline had was a nose for everybody else's business." And later on someone else says that "things never blow over once Madeline gets involved, they blow up."

Interviewed parents of fellow first graders both confess that they were worried about what would happen with both Chloe (Madeline's daughter) and Skye (Bonnie's daughter) in the same class together, and how it might affect the classroom dynamic given Madeline's attitude towards Bonnie.

Madeline was mostly a stay at home mom, though worked part time in the theatre. One person interviewed claimed "That play was kind of like a lifeline for Madeline," and that it "tethered her to a purpose." While someone else notes that Madeline grew up dreaming of being an actress (Betty Gable), though ended up a homemaker (Betty Crocker).

In her interview, Harper says that it was "Team Renata versus Team Madeline."

See also:

Celeste Wright

[Credit: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/courtesy of HBO]
[Credit: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/courtesy of HBO]

Interviewees note the age gap between Celeste and Perry, and theorize that she must be "gifted" in the bedroom department to get a younger man.

When Jackie and Thea are interviewed about Celeste, they both conclude that people over 40 should not "be gushy" and overly affectionate with their partners like Celeste and Perry.

Celeste is described as both "elegant" and "volcanic" in interviews, with someone concluding "something had to be wrong."

Jane Chapman

[Credit: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/courtesy of HBO]
[Credit: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/courtesy of HBO]

People seems not to know very much about Jane, though one man says "nobody knows nothing about anybody. You can write that down, Detective, and underline it."

After Ziggy was accused of choking Amabella, Jackie notes "not that there's a right little girl to strangle, but he picked the wrong little girl to strangle." While someone else says that following Ziggy being accused, "the battle lines were drawn right there."

Harper said that "Jane just didn't fit here. Kind of like a dirty old Prius parked outside of Barneys."


Madeline's ex-husband Nathan was described as "a little bit of a dick," albeit "a likeable one," by some people, while someone else claimed they never liked him, though they liked his wife, Bonnie.

Other things of note:

Detective Quinlan on the cliff [Credit: HBO]
Detective Quinlan on the cliff [Credit: HBO]
  • After Madeline offers to help Jane get some freelance bookkeeping work with the theater company, she says that the people of Monterey "pound people with nice," to which Celeste strangely adds "to death."
  • We see Detective Adrienne Quinlan investigating an area on a cliff.
  • Jane repeatedly sees or remembers a woman with dark hair in a blue dress.
  • Jane sleeps with a gun under her pillow.
  • A series of quick shots at the episode's conclusion shows a mystery blonde woman with a large diamond ring having sex with someone in various locations including a dressing room (possibly Madeline at the theater?) and a car, while what looks like police lights flash around.
[Credit: HBO]
[Credit: HBO]

Big Little Lies returns to HBO with Episode 2 on Sunday, February 27.


What did you think of Big Little Lies Episode 1?


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