‘Big Little Lies’ preview: It’s Nicole vs. Meryl in a kaboom of a finale — my theory of what sets it off

The centerpiece of the penultimate episode of HBO’s second season of “Big Little Lies,” titled “The Bad Mother,” transformed into a high-class but nonetheless rather soap-opera-y courtroom grilling of Nicole Kidman’s Celeste at the behest of her needling, vindictive mother-in-law Mary Louise (Meryl Streep) who wants guardianship of her twin grandsons.

As Celeste uncomfortably answered questions about her many “sins” — her violent sexual relationship with Perry (Alexander Skarsgard), her fuzzy-headed over-reliance on Ambien, her recent anonymous sexual encounters with strangers apparently captured in photos by a private eye hired by Mary Louise — Kidman went deep to pull out an emotionally draining portrait a woman who is being unfairly judged after being victimized in a horrible marriage.

Celeste also seems to have hired a very ineffectual lawyer who barely made a dent with her objections as Mary Louise’s hired gun of an attorney (the terrific character actor Denis
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