When Big Little Lies Season 1 ended back in 2017, fans noticed one significant change from the book to the show. Where the book ends with a dive into Bonnie's backstory, explaining her actions that night pushing Perry off the balcony, the show skipped that entirely. (It also made Perry's fall down the stairs not solely Bonnie's fault, as much as the straw that broke the camel's back.) The premiere of Season 2 explained the change, as Bonnie's family has been altered and the most recent Episode 4 ended on a cliffhanger with Bonnie's mother. So what happened to Bonnie's mom on Big Little Lies? Warning: Spoilers for Big Little Lies Season 2 follow.
In the novel, Bonnie's mother is a victim, as is Bonnie, both beaten by a father who was, like Perry, emotionally and physically abusive. But when Elizabeth Howard arrives in Monterey at the beginning of Season 2, she's seemingly isn't a victim of anything, least of all spousal abuse. In fact, a pivotal dinner scene with both Elizabeth and Bonnie's father Martin, suggests that the dynamics of Bonnie's parents are nothing like the novel.
Elizabeth, it is suggested, was an alcoholic when Bonnie was growing up. Bonnie's flashbacks to her mother don't outright show abuse, but they are just creepy enough to make you wonder. Elizabeth also carries some beliefs from her own upbringing that she's pushing on Bonnie, including crystals and natural magic. It's also clear any trust Bonnie had in those things is long gone, and she wishes her mother would go too.
In Episode 4, fans discover Elizabeth hasn't gone anywhere, despite Bonnie asking her to leave. Instead, she is bound and determined to stay near her daughter, who she is now convinced is in terrible danger. And despite her senses telling her that the Klein's house is full of bad vibes, she's also going to enjoy these white people and their high-end party, when it features a guest appearance by 1970s Disco legends The Trammps right up in the living room.
But on the way out of the door when the party breaks up, something goes terribly wrong, and Elizabeth drops like a stone, frothing at the mouth with a seizure.
At the hospital, Bonnie learns her mother had a stroke and will be put into surgery as soon as possible. She already feels horrible and guilty for pushing her mother away earlier in the evening. So when Martin arrives and suggests something Bonnie said set this off, she flies out of the room.
Bonnie's guilt is so bad that when she sees Detective Adrienne Quinlan in the hospital lobby, there on totally unrelated business, she freaks out, believing for a second she's being investigated for her mother's collapse. Quinlan's eyebrows arch high at the explosion. If there were anything to set her back off on the chase, this would be it.
However, Bonnie may have more to worry about, if only she knew what her mother sees in her post-surgery haze. It's an image of the ocean, and Bonnie drowning in it. Is it a premonition, perhaps another murder, with Bonnie as the victim? Or could it be a possible suicide attempt to come? Bonnie has been looking out at the ocean a whole lot this season...