Viewers still don't know the identity of the victim or the killer on HBO's miniseries Big Little Lies, but the plot thickened and the stakes became even higher for Madeline, Celeste, and Jane in the March 5 episode. Madeline was devastated by Abigail's decision to move in with her dad and Bonnie, Perry's violent outbursts intensified, and Jane somberly resigned herself to the fact that she'll never simply "get over" her rape. All these events play out against the backdrop of the beautiful and seemingly perfect community of Monterey, but even the perfect ocean views enjoyed by its residents have begun to look dangerous and foreboding. These visuals and the selection of music on Big Little Lies in Episode 3 are a major reason the show strikes its unique tone, which is by turns hopeful, angry, and heartbreaking.
The Big Little Lies soundtrack is important in every episode and the songs chosen may even provide clues about what each character is concealing about her past and present. (Then, of course, there's the occasional Avenue Q tune as Madeline desperately attempts to save her pet project.) Viewers won't know the full depth of all these secrets and lies until the finale, but the song selection in Episode 3 may offer some clues and insight.
"Cold Little Heart," Michael Kiwanuka
Big Little Lies' opening song "Cold Little Heart" is actually over 10 minutes long in its entirety — so naturally the show uses a very abbreviated version. The song's refrains contain the lines “Bleeding, I’m bleeding,” and Kiwanuka sings that: “Maybe this time I can be strong, but since I know who I am, I’m probably wrong.” Snappy dialogue may ensue seconds after the opening credits, but it's significant that a decidedly sad tune is what sets the tone for every single episode.
"Dreams," Fleetwood Mac
After Renata refuses to invite Ziggy to Amabella's birthday party, Madeline retaliates by planning a trip to Disney for the kids on the very same day. As the friends laugh and chat on the bus ride, Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" plays in the background. The scene takes place right after Celeste threatens to leave Perry due to his violent behavior — so the lyrics about "wanting freedom" and "remembering what you had and what you lost" may indicate that she'll make good on her promise.
"My Tiger My Heart," The Boy Least Likely To
Meanwhile at Amabella's party, the song of the day is "My Tiger My Heart." The tune is about the inevitability of growing up, whether we want to or not — and it concludes with the lines "I know someday we'll be happy again." Will anyone in Monterey get their happy ending? That seems like a definite "no."
"September Song," Agnes Obel
Obel's piano melancholy melody is featured in each episode, typically at the end as viewers see each protagonist by herself — sans her facade. It plays as Madeline drives home, visibly heartbroken that her oldest daughter has chosen to not live with her.
"Harvest Moon," Neil Young
In a classic example of an abuser exhibiting Jekyll and Hyde behavior, Perry showers Celeste with flattery and asks her to dance with him to Neil Young's classic "Harvest Moon." She obliges, and they dance to Young's song about a lasting love affair. The peaceful song undoubtedly conveys sentiments that Celeste desperately wants to be true about her marriage — but both the truth and her bruises are becoming harder and harder to conceal.
There are plenty of twists and turns left on Big Little Lies, and viewers can look forward to jaw-dropping moments and shocking reveals. There is one thing we can count on, though — the music in every episode will add even more depth and intensity to each scene.