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Big Love: D.I.V.O.R.C.E.

“What’s going on with us, Bill? No one’s ever tried to kill me before!”

“You know I was a missionary for two years, Margene.  In a way, it’s where I learned sales.”

This week’s episode of Big Love was another strong entry in the final season.  At this point, which is just past half-way, I have forgiven the show for last season’s missteps.  I’m one of only a handful of people I know (or read) that enjoyed the previous season in spite of its many flaws, but I will be the first to say this final season is as good or better than anything they’ve put out so far.

Continuing with Luci’s last post on Big Love, I’m going to try to briefly summarize what’s happened in the past three episodes from each of the women’s perspectives.

Rhonda – Last we saw Rhonda she was on her way to Mexico to live with her mother, but I think we were all pretty sure we hadn’t seen the last of her.  In the interim, Rhonda has married Caralynn’s cousin and had a baby.  By the end of the episode, we see that she has become a singing stripper.  Ben, well on his way to becoming just like his dad, meets her at the strip club and they end up kissing.  More on Ben later. I was almost disappointed Rhonda wasn’t singing the episode’s title song on her pole, but I bet that would have been a bit too much.

Heather – Heather, Sarah’s BFF, has gone off to BYU for a year and returned as Mac from Veronica Mars.  She breaks Ben’s heart by telling him she met someone at school who’s away on a mission trip, but she’s going to see him again when he returns.   I cheered a little, fearful HeatherMac was going to end up with Rhonda as a sister-wife under the priesthood of human Cabbage Patch kid, Ben Henrickson.

Barb’s Mom and Cindy – Thank God Barb met her nice lesbian friend, Nancy.   I hope, for Barb’s sake, that Cindy’s husband gets a job overseas and they take Mommy with them.  Mommy and Cindy sit Barb down for a chit-chat because Mommy is worried Barb and Nancy are being lesbians together, because it’s the one thing Barb hasn’t tried to piss off her mother.  Mommy and Bill also had a talk about “scraping” these radical ideas about women holding the priesthood out of Barb’s head.

Caralynn – Guess who’s on her way to sleeping with her much older math teacher? After asking Margene to cover for her after staying out with Mr. Calculus, the two have a conversation about love and whether age plays a part.  Caralynn mentions, chillingly, that on the compound, the other girls said older men were better because “they can teach you things, and they make you feel safer.”

The Men – Rhonda’s husband kissed Alby after getting yelled at for not properly killing Bill’s partner.  Alby is bringing all the polygamist sects together to stand against Bill.  The senate has re-introduced the Impeach Bill bill.  The LDS has issued a multisyllabic proclamation which is apparently code telling church members to shun the heretic, meaning, of course, Bill.  Ben printed off marriage advice from the internet for Barb and Bill and then decided to rescue Rhonda, after telling HeatherMac Rhonda was just fine because she has a husband.  We also learn Frank has a softer side. Bill and his partner (I can never remember his name, and they don’t mention it very often) have a pretty funny oppression olympics conversation about halfway through the episode.  To paraphrase:

Partner: Life sucks

Bill: No shit.  I married a teenager, the Senate is going to fire me, my daughters think I’m a twatwaffle, my first wife has all these high-falutin ideas about equality and I think Alby would actually serve me to the compound in loose meat form if he had the chance.

Partner: Dude, that’s rough, but I don’t remember you being mostly dead two weeks ago.

Lois – Lois’ dementia was revealed to be caused by a venereal disease she picked up from Frank.  Bill had taken her in to their homes, but Lois refused to eat or leave her room until Bill promised to take her home to Frank.  She told Bill she forgave Frank, and just wanted to be at home.  Bill, unable to see the world from any perspective but Bill’s, decided to go along with her wishes.  Lois, it turns out, has not forgiven Frank.  Instead, she’s planning on killing him.  Which, in Lois and Frank world, is probably a sign of endearment.   She changes her mind about offing him after he takes her to the ocean.  (Which, huh? Isn’t Utah a good distance away from the ocean?) She tells him that she’s gone for two days at a time now, and he’s half cracked himself, so she wants him to put her out of her misery when she’s gone for three days at a time.

Margene – Two episodes back, when Bill was buying his wives matching handguns for Christmas, Margene revealed that she was only 16 when they were married.  She’s also selling Mormon Ponzi Juice for Grant Show, who should have kept the 70s pornstache from Swing Town for this role, too.  She’s become the “cheerful face of polygamy” and is spearheading a polygamist children’s rally in downtown Sandy.   It’s nice to see Margene have a mission again; I like that she always takes action eventually, even if it’s not the brightest action.  Margene doesn’t sit back and accept anything, which (along with Sarah and Teeny the 1st) has always set her apart from the other women on this show.

Nicki – Nicki and Bill must be legally married for them to officially adopt Caralynn, so the family decided Bill and Barb would divorce so Bill and Nicki could be married.  This goes about as well as you’d expect.  I think, on some level, Nicki is partially doing this to help Caralynn, but I think her primary motivation is her own security.   And even as horrible as Nicki can be, I don’t blame her for or question why she’s fighting this hard.

Barb – Big Love is and has always been Barb’s story.  She’s the true protagonist of the show, in my opinion, and I think in this final season we’re really seeing her for who she really is, much like she’s finally starting to see herself.  I think, in a way, she also represents the audience’s point of view.  In the early seasons, it was easy to be sympathetic or even like Bill, but as Barb has seen his layers peeled away, so have we.   Barb is fighting for the right to hold the priesthood.  She wants the same direct connection with Heavenly Father and the same power to guide, comfort and help others through her faith as Bill has.  Which I heard as “Damnit, asshole, I’m tired of you getting to make all the decisions because you are clearly terrible at it.”  Bill, all for radical religious movements that give him a bunch of power, thinks Barb’s ideas are ridiculous because they’re not written down in the Official White Dude’s Guide to Mormonism.  After trying to make her point to everyone who is trying to “scrape these crazy ideas from her head,” including Bill, Mommy, Cindy and Nicki, Barb decides she can’t be a part of Bill’s Mormon Pioneers.   Run, Barb, run.  Take Margene and Caralynn with you and don’t look back.  Sarah will totally let you crash with her until you get on your feet.

I have dreams of this season ending with Bill and Cabbage Patch sitting alone in those three houses, eating hot dogs over the sink and spraying their dirty clothes with Lysol.  I don’t know if I’ll get all that, but it’s looking like the show is going to make sure at least some of Bill’s actions catch up with him.

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

9 replies on “Big Love: D.I.V.O.R.C.E.”

This season is definitely better than the last, but to be honest, I just miss the original opening. I know ‘God Only Knows’ was too lighthearted for the current tone, but it just put me in the right head space to watch all this cray-cray. Perhaps when they end it with Cabbage Patch and Bill alone in the houses they’ll play ‘God Only Knows’ for the final moments.

However, if I was Caralynn and Christian Campbell was MY teacher, I’d totally be all over him.

Yes! I am loving this season so much, mostly because Barb is finally taking a stand against Bill’s horribly sexist family dynamics. Oh how I hate hate hate Bill.

Also, I know this was a couple of episodes ago, but do you remember Bill’s sidekick talking about how Bill was apparently dead set on marrying Margene (even though he finds out later she was 16) and how he never questioned her age because he was so obsessed with her? God that creeped me out.

Yessssssss, I am LOVING this season. It really appears that they are attempting to end this series on a high note, rather than let it fizzle away into oblivion. I never thought about Barb sharing a POV with the viewer, but it makes complete sense. I was so proud of her when she said she could no longer go to Bill’s church.

I think after Middlemarch Madness is over, we should have a “kickass women of the small screen” bracket. Barb would totally get my vote.

I think a small screen bracket would be really hard to narrow down, but that’s a good idea! We’ll totally put it on the whiteboard. I love me some Barb, but I would also want Lois, Adalene, Ana and even mean old Nicki on there too. Say what you want, you can’t deny that Nicki is pretty badass at whatever she chooses to do, for good or evil. And that’s just this one show, I could fill a whole bracket from BL, West Wing, The Good Wife and early ER. Bones! Buffy! Zoes Washburn and Bartlett! Murphy Brown! Maude! Julia Sugarbaker! Okay, I’m getting more on board by the minute…

Did you notice the time shifting at a weird pace Sunday night? Was all that action on the same day in Big Love world? That’s what originally triggered my Barb theory, the episode seemed to be filmed with a very distorted sense of time.

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