Amidst all the secrets and lies on HBO’s hit series, there stands Ed Mackenzie (Adam Scott), Madeline’s (Reese Witherspoon) stalwart, loyal husband, always willing to go to the mat for his wife, daughter, and step-daughter.
But at the end of this season’s second episode, one of those sneaky little lies reared its head and Ed was dealt a blow almost as bad as the one that sent Perry (Alexander Skarsgård) spiraling down the stairs. At long last, he knows that Madeline was unfaithful to him after overhearing Abigail (Kathryn Newton) talking to her about it. After at first attempting to play it off and pretend he misheard, Madeline finally owned up to it, proclaiming her love for Ed in a desperate last-ditch effort to excuse her mistakes. But after discovering Madeline was keeping the secret of Ziggy’s (Iain Armitage) parentage from him earlier in the episode, Ed has had enough of secrets and tells his wife, “I think we’re done.”
Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz) is still grappling with killing Perry, and Nathan (James Tupper) calls in her mother for back-up in trying to get to the bottom of her withdrawn behavior. Renata (Laura Dern) is dealing with a new mess of her husband Gordon’s (Jeffrey Nordling) making — his arrest for securities fraud and her possible significant decline in net worth. “I will not not be rich,” she shrieks to him in the frontrunner for best line of the season.
To pull apart this tangled web the ladies have weaved, we called up our favorite Monterey bae, Adam Scott spoke with EW about the future of Ed and Madeleine’s relationship, how much of a threat Mary Louise poses to their well-being, and if we might see him in another crazy costume this season. So let’s crank up the Fleetwood Mac, put away the Ambien, shave off our beards, and dive into episode 2 of the second season of Big Little Lies.
Ed tells Madeline, “I think we’re done.” On a scale of 1-10, how worried should we be about their marriage?
ADAM SCOTT: As worried as you can be. Between seasons, Ed has been forging a bit of his own identity. Because at the end of season 1, he was starting to get some signals that might be the smart thing to do. I don’t think any of this was 100 percent on a conscious level because Ed has, by and large, built his identity around this relationship. He judges himself on how well and how able he is to take care of Madeline emotionally and be there for her and be a safety net for her emotionally. Since the end of season 1, I feel like he’s been bracing himself a little bit. [He’s changed] the clothes he wears and his haircut, just sniffing around for an identity outside of this relationship, which is primarily what he sees as his duty and calling. When there’s a betrayal that is this unequivocal, for someone like Ed, there’s nothing worse. This is as bad as it could be for the prism with which Ed sees the world through, which is this relationship. I don’t think there could be a bigger betrayal.
Ed overhears the truth, but do you think there was any part of him that remotely suspected it? If he hadn’t overheard it now, would something have pushed it to a breaking point?
You know when you get a lottery ticket and you do a scratch off, and you get two out of the three things that it takes to win the jackpot and you still have one or two spaces to scratch off, and you don’t want to do it because you know the answer is going to be no? You want to live with the possibility that the answer is yes for a few minutes. I don’t want to know; I just want to live with the idea that I just won $25. Yes, there have been some signs that Ed just doesn’t want to scratch off the rest of the ticket and really know. I guess you could call it denial or just survival. But there have been a few signs. Most notably, the hints that surfaced at the party that ended season 1 would’ve been maybe investigated a little further and talked about, but then there’s this huge tragic event that rocked the community and upturned everyone’s lives. They all went into emergency mode and the slate was wiped clean a little bit, so this hasn’t really come up again. But there was information or at least a hint of information. He more than likely just didn’t want to investigate further.
You said this is the worst possible betrayal. We know Madeline has worse secrets, and he doesn’t like secrets. If he reacted this way now, is there something worse down the line? What reaction might he have to the bigger secret he still potentially has to discover?
What secret are you referring to? I have no idea what you might mean [Laughs]. Ed is all in on his marriage. In a way, it’s his life’s work. He loves Madeline so much. He met Madeline and thought, “I’m going to empty my pockets and put everything out on the table in front of you. This is me. I’m yours, take it, take it all.” He’s finding out that it’s not 100 percent mutual. Disillusionment is a fair word to use along with betrayal. Anyone would feel betrayal here, but, for Ed, it’s particularly world-crumbling. He needs to grapple with and figure out who he is outside of this relationship and how he fits into the world. It’s that sort of re-assessment for someone like this.
Big Little Lies airs Sunday nights at 9PM ET.