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Recap: Big Love, Episode 5.09, “Exorcism”

We’ve only got one episode left after this one, which I’ve just now decided to live blog next Sunday night.  Come watch with me! We’ll get a little boozy and dish about everything that’s happened up until the finale in the hour or so before, then we’ll watch the very last adventure of the Henrickson clan together.

On an unrelated note, I am SO watching Game of Thrones.

Previously, on Big Love, the shit hit the fan.   Tonight, almost all the guns in everyone’s handbags went off and we learned that the Henricksons, like all tragic heroes, are as much the victims of their own hubris as any larger than life fella created by a dead, clever Greek or that Shakespeare dude.

Let’s start, as we do, with the menfolk.   Ben is torn between two ladies, so like his dad he wants to keep them both.  Alby is still out to do a little murder, DullSkeeve still wants to run away with Cara Lynn but fortunately for all of us, keeps his predator pudding face out of most of the episode.  Bill is trying to come up with a plan to care for his family while he’s away at Smokey Lonesome, and worried his ladies are going to have their spiritual and car maintenance needs met elsewhere.   Frank whisks Lois away from the home where she’s staying and takes her back to Juniper Creek.  Verden is still dead.

As for the ladies of Big Love

Heather/Rhonda – Heather and Ben share milkshakes on the porch and declare their love for each other, then Ben prepares to spill the beans about his tryst with Rhonda.  Rhonda beats him to it, and she’s back in her old form, spewing barbs and leaving a path of charred earth in her wake.  Not two minutes after Rhonda calls Heather “lesbo” he suggests to Heather that he wants to be with both of them, because the ability to interpret even the most obvious nuance is nowhere on the Henrickson Y chromosome.  Heather runs, and hopefully she’s going to pull a Forrest Gump and not stop running until a few decades from now when she finally gets her Jenny.  Run, Heather, run!

Adalene/Lois – The Elder women of Big Love were both very sad to watch during this episode.  My feelings on Adalene’s inherent badassery are well-known, but she’s never been able to take those skills beyond her own basic survival.  Adalene, after the hint of freedom she saw when she was trying to escape the compound life earlier in the season, is back to helping Alby, who we can only assume she thinks is her best chance at survival.  Alby asks Adelene to kill Bill for him, and gives her a a shiny and remarkably large pearl handled pistol to do it with.  Adalene, like all the ladies of Big Love do when they receive guns as gifts from loved ones, sticks it in her purse.  Lois, meanwhile, is further away than ever.  Frank comes to visit her in the home and breaks her out, taking her to Juniper Creek, where he has his sights set on finally being a Prophet.  Lois has other plans, and she wants Frank to kill her.  The two of them are missing at the end of the episode.

Finn’s Mom from Glee – Hey! Carol runs a rigid Mormon boarding school that looks to be scary as shit!  And Nicki wants to send Cara Lynn there! She comes to fetch Cara Lynn with two very scary henchwomen who appear to have trained under Selma Green.

Selma Green! My favorite Big Love character ever!  Auntie Selma, now a widow of her beloved Hollis, who fell under Lois’ sword in Mexico last season (if that makes no sense to you, it’s probably for the better), is going to help Alby escape.

Cara Lynn – Dear god, Nicki is awful to her this episode.  Horribly, horribly awful.  While I recognize Nicki’s behavior probably comes from seeing her own worst flaws reflected in her daughter, and how Cara Lynn is sliding down a path Nicki thought she had prevented, but holy shit.   Nicki calls Cara Lynn a liar and a manipulator, and stops just short of calling her a whore.  (Nicki must be a TWOP poster.) When Cara Lynn appeals to Bill, after her 38-year-old, pudding-faced cat is out of the bag, on the grounds that he and Margene were in love (not to mention with a much wider age gap), Bill explodes and rages against being compared to “that predator.”   Oh, Bill, you are so, so human.  Cara Lynn does not go to Finn’s Mom’s School for Wayward Mormon Girls, but she does end up setting all her math books on fire in the Hibachi.  I think at this point Cara Lynn would be pretty justified in burning down a lot more than her math books, as the women in her family tend to do, but I still think there’s hope for her.   All my hopes for redemption on this show rest on Cara Lynn, Heather, Sarah and Original Teeny.

Margene – Margene has quit the Goji racket, since Grant Show called her family a cult last week.  She still wants to help disadvantaged children around the world, and she is scared to death about who will be changing her oil if Bill is locked up.   By changing her oil, Margene means The Sex.  She wants the family to run, to go help some of the poor people Margene sees on her laptop and TV.  Margene has a moment with Pam that is painful to watch.  Pam has thrown everything she has into Goji, and she and Carl have separated, so she’s understandably upset that Margene is just quitting.  Margene gives her a speech about all they’ve learned with all sorts of sunshine and unicorn piss, and Pam tells her that she and Carl are in such terrible financial shape she thinks Carl is trying to kill himself.   Margene, not making the wisest decisions, wants to get pregnant to increase her chances of being able to visit Bill in prison, since only Nicki will be allowed official ‘wife of prisoner’ privileges.   Oh, Margie.

Nicki – I’ve been a Nicki fan – well, not so much fan as willing to believe she made sense – since the beginning, but her horrid behavior in the past two episodes has me straining to have any empathy or sympathy for her at all.   She has a few moments where I could feel a flash of something for her, but then she’d go right back to being horrid.   She’s frightened of being alone, which I suppose is motivating this latest round of Evil Nicki, and Cara Lynn unleashes on her in front of the rest of the family, more or less mirroring the horrible things Nicki had said to her earlier.  Later, in the climax, when Bill is pointing a gun at an unarmed and injured Alby, we see how alike Nicki and her brother are when she tells Bill (albeit under her breath so he can’t hear her) to just shoot Alby already.

Barb – Barb has joined another church, one that recognizes women can be priesthood holders as well as men.  She’s trying to fill in the void she anticipates will be left when Bill goes away, as well as meet her own spiritual needs.  When Nicki tells on her to Bill, he rushes home from work to try and set her straight.   To Bill, this is the worst possible betrayal, because like we’ve established, Bill and Heavenly Father have an arrangement wherein the latter only tells the former what he wants to hear.  Life is much easier when one can write off everything disagreeable anyone else says as blasphemy.

Bill and Barb are searching for Lois and Frank, and stumble across Alby and Adalene at a convenience store.  In a rather oddly staged scene, Bill is trying to pay for gas when he sees framed pictures of Alby and Roman on the wall.  (Is this a dream?) Alby stumbles out of the back with a crate of bottled water, followed by Adalene.  There’s an awkward moment, then Alby runs.  Bill chases after him and Adalene pulls a gun on Barb.  Bill has Alby cornered in the back lot of the store, but rushes inside when he hears a gun go off.  Adalene bit Barb (of course Adalene is a biter), then Barb wrestled the gun away from her and it went off.  We don’t see this, but I bet it was kind of awesome.

Later, Bill is at the office and all three wives bring him a sandwich, just like the old days.  Margene ducks out to find the ladies room, and we see Bill’s ally sitting at his desk, then looking up and smiling before the scene cuts to black and a gun goes off.   Bill runs out to see what’s happening, and finds Alby running through the halls of the statehouse.  Alby raises his gun to Bill and Bill shoots him in the shoulder.  Bill continues to point his gun at Alby, but finally shows mercy.  The episode ends with the family surrounding him as he kneels on the hallway floor.

So with an hour left to wrap everything up, Cara Lynn still thinks she’s going to be with DullSkeeve, Nicki is still horrible, Margene wants to get preggers and  go to an underdeveloped country, Barb wants to trust the inner voice she’s shut down for twenty years and Alby would probably like a painkiller and a good lawyer.

Join me on Sunday night for the liveblog finale!

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.

22 replies on “Recap: Big Love, Episode 5.09, “Exorcism””

The framed pictures are at the Juniper Creek store, which was pretty nice, actually. Nicki’s destruction of her daughter’s self-esteem was way too real for me — it gave me flashbacks. Great acting by Chloe Sevigny.

I’m so glad the Heather/Ben relationship is over. Poor Heather — it will hurt in the short term, but not in the long one. I’m surprised that Barb didn’t try to scare her off the same way she did with Ben’s last serious girlfriend — by taking her aside and telling her the realities of plural marriage. However, I imagine that Barb is pretty busy these days.

I am now thinking that none of the wives will end up leaving Bill. If this is the case, I’ll begin my first and only foray into fanfic and write this thing the way it should have ended.

That’s what I thought too. Nicki was telling Cara Lynn all the things she believes about herself but can’t face. She doesn’t think she’s a worthy person, much less mother, and can’t see beyond her self-hatred. Cara Lynn was supposed to do all the things Nicki was finally starting to accept as being part of normal, non-compound life. Nicki has so completely projected herself into her daughter that when Cara Lynn makes a mistake, Nicki can’t separate it from her own transgressions.

The worst part was that Cara Lynn internalized Nicki’s words (and why wouldn’t she? Who wouldn’t if they heard their mother say those things?) and it took her public self-flagellation for Nicki to snap out of it and realize what she has done. Nicki’s realization that it was she – not anyone on the compound – who had “put the shame” into Cara Lynn was completely heartbreaking.

I think part of Nicki’s issue is that while she’s rejected part of the life of the compound (marrying too young, the Prophet, no education for girls), she still very much clings to its other values (the Principle, virginity until marriage) and she can’t reconcile this with her modern life.

Wasn’t the confrontation in the bedroom between Cara Lynn and Nicki horrible? The only reason I was able to have any sympathy for Nicki in that moment was because Nicki was clearly talking about herself: manipulator, on the pill, not worthy of love. I seriously think Nicki is on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Also, I think you captured perfectly the absurdity of Ben’s conversation with Heather. What was he thinking? Does he honestly think Heather has any interest in becoming a polygamist? Especially with horrible Rhonda? Get a grip, Ben.

That’s what really pisses me off about the priestholder thing – Ben, a 17 yr old douchebag, has more authority than BARB?! How could Bill really believe that Barb is less worthy than BEN. She gave birth to that boy and raised him. She helped CREATE Ben but somehow she’s not his equal? (Really, his better.)

Can anyone clue me in as to what JJ’s reproductive experiment was and what he was doing to Adalene? What happened to Adalene’s pregnancy? What did his weird science have to do with Nicki and Cara Lynn? I pretty much missed that whole storyline and can’t seem to find a good recap on it anywhere! It is driving me craaazy.

Sure thing, but you’d better sit down and get a cold drink first.

Okay, JJ’s family, (The Walkers?) are an even more off-the-grid sect of the polygamy practicing Mormons than the Juniper Creek crowd. They believe in keeping their family line pure, so they actively practice incest. JJ’s experiments came from this, so he was attempting to impregnate Nicki with an embryo created from Cara Lynn’s egg and his sperm.

I’ll give you a moment to recover.

I’m assuming Adalene was also impregnated with some sort of WalkerSpawn, as well, but if the show told us any other details I don’t remember them.

As for Adalene’s pregnancy, that hit me too, right after I’d hit submit on this post. I don’t think she looked pregnant when she was having a shoot out/girl fight with Barb. Maybe the show just let it go? That really may be the best thing for that particular plot.

Alby told her she was unclean for being pregnant, and so in an earlier episode this season we saw her flushing all her meds (which she needed to maintain the pregnancy, due to her age) down the toilet. I assumed she then miscarried, which was her intention.

Ah, thank you so much! I knew it was an incest = purity thing, but that is far creepier than I had originally imagined (not least because JJ would have had to extract Cara Lynn’s eggs somehow. Why does she love her father so much? I wish we knew more about their relationship, like we could have flashbacks of her or Nicki’s memories with him).

And I was thinking the same about the shootout scene but, as QoB points out, she most likely miscarried after tossing out her pills.

Thanks for the update! I’m not in the US and so my viewing options are limited :)

I don’t think they told her exactly what he was doing. Did they? I could be wrong because I don’t remember Adalene flushing the meds either so I may have missed something.

Also, I think Adalene’s baby might be JJ’s and Wanda’s (JJ’s sister and Bill’s sister-in-law) because she said she had let him take her eggs.

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