Once Bitten is the fifth episode of the first season of Big Little Lies


Madeline is thrown by a change in her play's director; Conclusions are shared about Ziggy and Amabella; Dr. Reisman presses Celeste about her marriage.[1]

Plot Summary

The episode opens with Madeline pulling over onto the side of the road after having seen someone hanging out by the cliffs. She gets off and looks around and suddenly falls off after being scared by Renata. She wakes up. It cuts to a montage of the moms taking their kids to school. Nathan Carlson is seen shooting at the shooting range. He notices that someone has better aim than him and goes to investigate. It turns out to be Jane. Jane and Madeline meet up for coffee afterward. They talk about how Jane is going down to San Luis Obispo to find the man that raped her and fathered Ziggy. Madeline is worried that because Jane has a gun that means she's going to go down there and kill him. Jane says its just a good stress reliever. Madeline says that guns had always been a sore subject between Nathan and her. But that recently she wouldn't mind having one as there are a lot of people she'd like to shoot at the moment.

Renata is getting Amabella ready for school when she notices that she's been bitten on her shoulder. Renata and her husband interrogate Amabella and try to find out who hurt her. Renata tells her that she can't let a bully win--ever. Gordon says that Amabella needs to tell them because whoever is hurting her could be hurting other children. Madeline heads to the playhouse and learns that the Mayor gave the okay for the play to go on. Celeste is about to leave when Perry shows up. He canceled his tennis game so they could have sex. You can see more bruises on Celeste's arms, legs, and back as they have sex on the kitchen counter. They're interrupted by Madeline, who calls Celeste to talk. Celeste texts back that she'll call her back because they are having sex but Madeline doesn't believe her.

Renata and Gordon talk about sending Amabella to private school. Gordon is upset that nobody knows whats going on and that Amabella won't tell them anything. Renata says that she's more angry than he is as he storms off. Madeline and Ed try to be spontaneous and have sex on the kitchen counter. They are almost caught by Chloe. They try to play it off but she knows that they were doing something that she shouldn't know about. Ed recommends they go to the laundry room to finish. As Madeline passes the open laptop, she notices that someone posted something on Abby's facebook page about a boy.

Madeline calls Nathan Carlson to see if he's heard anything about this. He says no and Madeline becomes upset. She tells him that because Abigail lives with him now that he has to take more responsibility and monitor her actions. Nathan hangs up on her. Ed asks Madeline why she's been so distracted all week. Madeline says that she's worried about Jane and her meeting her son's baby daddy. Ed says that they shouldn't go because he could be dangerous. He says that it's a bad idea but Madeline says that she's not going to let Jane go alone.

Jane is running when she gets a call from the school about Ziggy--again. Jane starts running again and as she runs Celeste and Madeline join her. They end up back at the cafe to have lunch together. They discuss the bite on Amabella and how Jane has to meet with the principle. As they're discussing their San Luis Obispo plans, Joseph shows up and asks to speak with Madeline. He says they need to talk and that they need to take a drive or else he's going to make a scene. They talk about them cheating and he suggests that they leave their spouses. She says no and asks him to drive her back. As they are driving, they get into a car accident. Madeline walks away without a scratch but Joseph is badly injured. Ed, Abigail, and even Nathan Carlson show up at the hospital. Jane isn't able to go because she had to pick up Ziggy. Ziggy sees a picture of the man who may be his Dad and asks who that is. Jane says its an interior decorator and that they may redo their living room. Ziggy asks whats wrong with how everything is.

Celeste and Perry are having dinner with the twins.The twins says that they don't want to be teenagers and that they'll skip that. Perry says that they're going to love being teenagers because they get to do bad things like speak in a low voice or burp out loud. He then begins to chase the boys around the house and they grab nurf guns. Celeste is amused by their antics and laughs when they start firing at her as well. Perry says he will protect her, then uses her a shield and encourages the boys to shoot at will.

Madeline is sitting at her vanity when Ed asks why she had been in the car with Joseph. She makes up an excuse about how they were going to drive together to the theater when the accident happened. He seems to buy it and leaves just as Chloe and Abigail show up to ask how their mom is doing. Amabella is having a dream about a dead squirrel surrounded by three children with a stick. Jane has a bad dream about Ziggy and wakes up to loud dreaming. She grabs her gun and almost shoots Ziggy but stops herself when she realizes its just him laying in bed next to her.

Celeste is folding laundry when Perry walks in holding an overnight bag. He tells her that she should've told the kids to pick up their toys. She says she didn't want to deal with it last night. Perry responds that he doesn't want to live in a pigsty and Celeste quips that he should pick it up then. Surprisingly, he grabs the bin and begins to pick the legos up off the floor. It flashes to Celeste having coffee at the cafe with a new bruise on her elbow.

Jane meets with the principle. He tells her that Amabella's mom is convinced that Ziggy is responsible for the bite mark. The principle and the teacher think otherwise. They ask if there is anything in Ziggy's past they should know about. Jane says that his father was into rape and sexual torture. Or at least she thinks about saying that. She says as much to Madeline as they eat lunch together. She then goes to tell her that Renata and Gordon showed up early for their meeting and barge in on Jane and the principle. Renata says that all she wants is for Ziggy to stop hurting Amabella. They decide to hire a teacher's aid specifically to watch whenever Ziggy and Amabella interact.

Celeste is sitting in her car putting coverup over her bruises. Madeline calls her while on her way to the hospital but she ignores the call. Madeline says that they have to stop Jane from going on the trip. She thought she wanted closure but now she thinks she wants revenge. Madeline and Joseph finally have a chat about their affair. Joseph says that Madeline should bow out of the play and she agrees. Their conversation is cut short when Joseph's wife Tori stops by. Jane is shown grabbing her purse with the gun in it as she leaves her house. It's assumed that she's heading to San Luis Obispo.

Celeste visits the therapist alone since Perry is away on business. She asks if its a good sign that Perry was the one that first recommended going to therapy. The therapist keeps asking her why she wanted to come in today. Celeste keeps flashing back to the incident. She believes that they turn each other on with their rage. The therapist asks if she has any bruises and Celeste admits that she does. She tries to write it off as she hits him too. Celeste begins to become uncomfortable and says that the therapist is being unethical for talking about this. The therapist says that she believes that Celeste is in danger because Perry hurts her. Celeste denies it and says that she's not a victim because she fights back. The therapist asks why they made an appointment in the first place. Celeste says because she wants them both to stop being violent. The therapist asks if she feels like she's in any danger. Celeste gets mad and says no. She says that she doesn't leave him because she loves him and the kids. She says all marriages are complicated. She admits that there are times when she's afraid that she might die. She also admits that she's thought of leaving him many times. She says that she doesn't leave because he's been there for her during all the hard times like when she miscarried four times. The therapist says their time is up and that they should come up with a plan for the next time he hits her.

Jane calls Madelne on her way to San Luis Obispo and asks if she can pick up Ziggy. Madeline says sure. Jane loads her gun and gets out of the car once she gets to San Luis Obispo. He takes her into his office where she keeps flashing back to the night of her rape, comparing his form and mannerisms to that of her rapist. Jane thinks its him until she smells him and then she realizes that it isn't. She runs out, and drives home screaming in disappointment.

The episode ends with the moms picking up the kids. Madeline and her family have dinner, Celeste takes the boys to meet their dad at the airport, and Jane gets pulled over by a cop for speeding.


  1. IMDB