What Is Jane's Boyfriend Up to on Big Little Lies?
This season of Big Little Lies has proven to be as much of a roller coaster as its predecessor. Only instead of creating problems, season 2 has been about watching the Monterey Five’s lives implode around the problems they’re desperately trying to keep under wraps. Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) is dealing with Ed’s knowledge of her affair. Renata (Laura Dern) is trying to stay out of the “poor house,” after her husband’s financial mismanagement has them in bankruptcy proceedings. Zoë Kravitz’s character Bonnie is being eaten alive by guilt over pushing Perry (Alexander Skarsgård) to his death. And Celeste (Nicole Kidman) is in a complicated haze of grief over her late and abusive husband, while Jane (Shailene Woodley) is trying to navigate her own PTSD while helping her son cope with finding out about his father. She’s also maybe falling in love.
While we’ve all been seduced by the great Meryl Streep joining the cast as Perry’s bonkers mother, a second new player has come into the picture. Corey, played by Douglas Smith, is introduced halfway through the first episode as a fellow aquarium employee with Jane. He seems quirky and eager to take Jane out on a date. As the episodes progress, the two become closer and Jane begins to open up and be vulnerable again for the first time since her trauma eight years before. First she friend-zones Corey, saying she needs to “idle in neutral” for a while, but quickly it becomes clear her feelings for him are getting more serious.
At the end of episode 5, “Kill Me” (which Bonnie’s mom croaks to her from a hospital bed), Bonnie is on her usual stroll by the police station when she sees Corey walking out of it to his car. It could have been something totally normal, like paying a speeding ticket, but the blink-and-you’d-miss-it scene had fans scrambling for an explanation. Has Mary Louise and her fake teeth, and distracting necklace-fondling been a red herring this whole time, and Corey is the real threat to the Monterey Five? Remember, asking about “the five” was Corey’s first pickup line to Jane on the beach. He knew their story. But what is his role in it now?
Here are just a few possibilities for why Corey would have been walking out of the police station late at night, and what it means for this season of Big Little Lies.
THEORY: He’s an undercover cop or a police informant.
When Corey spots Jane dancing on the beach in the first episode, he tells her that maybe she shouldn’t act so crazy when they work with a lot of kids at the aquarium, and parents can get weird. “With the way people talk in this town, I don’t need to tell you. You’re one of the Monterey Five, right? You were there the night the guy fell.” When Jane is confused by the group’s new moniker and asks where he heard that, Corey responds with, “Someone at work told me.”
It’s totally possible that gossip mongers in the chit-chatty town of Monterey would’ve come up with a name like that. But it seems more likely that this would’ve come straight from the case file of the detective who’s been on their trail — and that he works with her.
Jane immediately takes the information to the other ladies saying that he made it seem like they “all had scarlet letters on their backs.” Renata, Madeline and Celeste chalk it up to town gossip, making the viewer relax about the potential threat of Corey, too. Especially when Renata basically tells them the police don’t have anything.
But by pursuing Jane, the only single woman of the group, it would be easier for Corey get closr to her as a way to gain more information. Of course, he would have had no idea that Jane is a tough case, and Corey has had to play the long game in order to gain her trust. Her traumatic past and protective-mama vibe make her more of a closed book than he may have thought.
Some Reddit users believe that he was approached by the police to be an informant when they discovered that Jane had begun working at the aquarium. This could explain his persistence, but not his somewhat indifference to learning information unless she willingly offers it. As one Reddit user redlavender pointed out, “He never ever pushes her or tries to get information. Actually, when she sat him down to talk about her rape, he even said, ‘We don’t have to talk about it.’”
If he is an informant, that suggests the cops have something on him that he’s trying to scrub from his record. What could that be?
THEORY: He’s related to Ziggy’s bully.
Some Reddit users believe that Corey could be the older brother of the boy who told Ziggy his dad was a rapist. After learning that Ziggy had been a result of rape, he could have said something to his little brother to let him know that Ziggy had been through a lot and he needed to take it easy on him. If Corey is working with the police, the little bully brother could have overheard him talking to someone about what happened to Jane. While Madeline’s daughter fessed up to spilling the beans about Ziggy having the same dad as Celeste’s twins, it doesn’t seem like she knows about the rape or shared that aspect of the story around school.
THEORY: He’s Perry’s brother.
As we learn in passing comments throughout the season, Mary Louise’s husband and Perry’s father left shortly after the “fatal accident” resulting in the death of Perry’s twin brother. Mary Louise suggests that while grieving, he left and started over with a new family. Corey could be one of his children, and thus Perry’s half-brother. His father could have kept his former life a secret until Corey was old enough to know the truth — at which point he set of for Monterey to see what his big brother was like.
This would have allowed him to hide in plain sight and see if his brother is the type of person that he would want in his life. When he learned of his passing, and the Five’s association, without wanting to seem immediately suspicious, he could have waited to befriend Jane to learn what really happened that night.
It takes a great deal for Jane to even allow Corey to hug her in episode 3. Finding out that the first person she allowed herself to be vulnerable with was using and manipulating her, and was also related to the person who violated her — well this theory would be terrible for Jane if it turns out to be true.
THEORY: He’s in cahoots with Mary Louise.
They did seem to pop up in Monterey at the same time, which may or may not have been a coincidence. With Mary Louise also working with the police to learn the truth, it would make sense that Corey would be coming out of the police station if he was able to provide more information in some way. Specifically the morsel of truth the Five left out in their testimonies after Perry's death: that Jane had been raped by Perry.
If he’s his brother, that would make more sense that Mary Louise would try to use as many allies as possible to uncover the truth. If he’s not his brother, the other theory amongst Reddit users is that he’s a private investigator that Mary Louise has hired. She very much seems like a woman who is willing to weasel her way into someone’s life in order to get what she wants, even if it’s through a private investigator.
THEORY: He's trying to help Jane.
It’s possible that he was looking into whether or not Jane reported her rape and that he’s simply just as strange as Jane tells him he is at lunch in episode two. This is the one theory that paints him as a good guy — if one with boundary issues (he says he's on the spectrum, and perhaps this is how that manifests). When he and Jane are at Amabella’s disco party and she starts to discuss that night with Perry, he says she doesn't need to talk about it.
He seems to care for her a great deal. She opened up to him about her traumatic night, and perhaps he believes it is within his power to release some of the grip it has on her. By going to the police — to see if she had reported a crime and if justice is being done; or to report it for himself — he may think he's helping to close a terrible chapter in his girlfriend's life. If he really is pure and innocent, he'd have no way of knowing her rapist is Perry — Celeste's abusive and now-dead husband who perished on the stairs at the hands of the infamous Monterey Five. Either he has a huge reveal coming to him, or Jane does.
Whatever the final two episodes of season 2 have in store, it’s certainly not what anyone saw coming.