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Big Love: Til Death Do We Part

It’s all guns, pills and teenage girls on Big Love as we slide into the final few episodes of the season.  The tension is building, and on Sunday night, all the cracks in the ice leading up to the end of this series joined into the black hole we’ve seen the characters descend into in the current (IMHO, seriously under-appreciated) opening sequence.

Before we get into the analysis of the women’s points of view, let’s talk about how this episode was paced.  Interspersed with each shot of the Henrickson Suburban Compound were quiet, ominous moments leading to the final scene.  Secret meetings in the state house, Heather seeking counsel from her Bishop, shadowy (and still heartbreaking) Albian machinations, shots of a group of dour individuals watching Margene’s speech at her children’s rally – all of these moments are small and with minimal dialogue.  To which I say hells yes, Big Love, thank you for creating some legitimate foreshadowing without beating us over the head with it.  (e.g. The Guns in Barb, Nicki and Margene’s Handbags. We know the women have guns.  We know Lois is spiraling. We see where this is going.) This episode, aside from the gun moments, was beautifully paced.  There were no big explosions, except with Lois and Frank; all of the horrific things which happened in this episode happened quietly.

Bill’s partner, Don (I wrote it down this week!), continues to be the Greek chorus. Bill’s hubris continues to stick its fingers in his ears and shout “LA LA LA CAN’T HEAR YOU WHILE I’M GOING ALL HAMLET ON YOUR ASS.”

To the ladies.

Rhonda – Ben spent the night after kissing her in the strip club, where her singing and dancing caused both wonderment and shame in his Holy Undergarment. Rhonda is likely squatting in a house with no heat or electricity, and Ben has been bringing her blankets for several episodes now.  As horrible as spitfire Rhonda can be, this resigned Rhonda is much more painful to watch.

Adalene – Adalene, like Rhonda, is in survival mode.  Without the resources or the energy to fight, they’ve both accepted lives they never would have chosen for themselves if they weren’t desperate.  After initially refusing to come to the wedding, Bill manages to convince her at the last minute, and she walks Nicki down the aisle.

Caralynn – While I believe Caralynn would fall for a much older man, I don’t buy that she would be gaga over her teacher who is inexplicably equal parts boring and smarmy. He takes Caralynn and Nicki to see Les Miserables, which makes both of the women think he’s very cultured and refined.   There’s a moment, at the end of the wedding reception, where Margene catches Caralynn looking at her teacher in a way that clearly shows what’s going on, and the look on Margene’s face is the perfect blend of horror and recognition.  More on that later.

Heather – Heather dumped her missionary man to be with Ben (NO HEATHER NO!), after conferring with her Bishop.  The Bishop, meanwhile, manages to play Heather like a fiddle and gets her to unburden herself of a secret about the Henricksons, which she had overheard by accident.  Which Henrickson secret? The one where Margene was only sixteen when she and Bill were sealed, and likely only seventeen when she had her first kid. Heather’s dad gets a call from the Bishop, and then he calls Heather at the reception and tells her to leave, right then.  That’s almost never good.

Lois – Frank falls in the middle of one of Lois’ disconnected periods and breaks his hip.  Bill finds him a day later and takes him to the hospital, where Lois lashes out at Barb, telling her she’s glad Bill divorced her.  Barb called Frank’s other wives to tell them about the syphillis, and they all left.  Lois blames Barb for the perception that she’s known as “VD woman.”  Barb leaves in tears, and Bill and Nicki stay to help Lois and wait for Frank to get out of surgery.  Later, Barb comes back, but Lois is quickly upset again when she learns Frank will have to stay in a rehab facility and that since Lois won’t stay with Bill and his wives, she’s going to have to live somewhere where she can be cared for as well.  Lois, already confused and angry and in and out of lucidity, has had more than she can take.  She tries to force a bottle of aspirin down Frank’s throat as he sleeps, until Barb catches her and pulls her away. There’s no way I can think of this can end well for Lois, and I would imagine that her actions in the hospital mean that neither she nor Bill will have a say in where she’s staying from now on.

Margene – Margie is still clinging to her Mormon Ponzi Juice and dreams of pornstacheless Grant Show helping starving brown orphans.   Bill questions the wisdom of her decisions after digging into the background of Mormon Ponzi Juice, Inc. and learned they aren’t nearly as charitable as they appear to be to anyone except pornstacheless Grant Show.  Margene’s big moment comes later, when minutes before the police arrive to take Barb (of all people) away for questioning about allegations of statutory rape, she spots Caralynn making mushy face at Professor DullSkeeve.  Margene has been covering for Caralynn, thinking she was seeing Don’s son, Blonde Kid who Broke Bill’s Window.  All the pieces fall into place, and of course it’s Margene who finally puts two and two together, because she was Coralynn, only four or five years ago.  I think this will be the beginning of a long moment of clarity for Margene.

Nicki – Although the wedding between Nicki and Bill is the central plot point of this episode, she actually played a relatively small part in the episode.  She does look lovely during the ceremony and reception, and it’s nice to see Nicki get to have the moment (however brief) in the sun that she probably thought she’d never have.  Nicki has always been in survival mode, and I don’t think that leaves a lot of room for the pure joy we see on her face when she sees her mom and they walk down the aisle.   Nicki, Bill and Margene also share a private sealing after the ceremony, but Barb chooses not to participate.

Barb – Barb continues to rebel against Bill’s ideas as she discovers her own path.  She becomes ordained as a minister over the internet so she can perform Bill and Nicki’s ceremony.  She wants to do it to feel more a part of the union between them, and also makes the valid point that Bill and Nicki can marry quietly, without tipping off all the people who are trying to bring them down.  Of course, Bill totally balks at this.  God didn’t tell him the Internet church was real, or that Barb could even have these crazy notions in her head about ladyPriesthood, because God only tells Bill things Bill wants to hear.  Margene suggests that the four of them become resealed in order to preserve everyone’s commitment to staying together.   Nicki balks at first because she doesn’t want to lose any of her thunder, but comes around.  Barb balks, because she’s mad Bill thinks their own sealing is worthless since with was done by the LDS, and Barb isn’t comfortable getting married in The Church of Bill.   And all of this leads around to the final moments, where Barb answers the door to two police officers who want to take her to the station for questioning.  She leaves, quietly, without telling anyone where she is going.

Also – Alby seduces Rhonda’s husband and buys one of the Home Plus buildings to double Bill’s rent.

So we leave this episode with Lois having tried to murder Frank, Margene aware of Coralynn and DullSkeeve, and Barb being taken away in a police car.   I can’t help but think the next three episodes, the very last of the series, will be ones I don’t want to miss.

Sorry for the delay this week!  I promise to have next week up earlier, I swear.  Now discuss! What do you think will happen in the last episodes?  Do you think the Henrickson Suburban Compound will disband? Will any of the women stay with Bill?  How is Nicki going to react to the news of Caralynn and DullSkeeve?

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.

17 replies on “Big Love: Til Death Do We Part”

Excellent recap! I was so excited for this! I totally missed the part about Marge talking about wanting to run away in the first year at the rally but that is some damning evidence against Bill (YES!).

There were a couple of things I noticed as well that were very subtle but telling:
1) Did you see the look on Professor DullSkeeve’s mom when Professor DullSkeeve takes Caralynn’s coat at the theater? I think he’s done this before..
2) The whole time during Nicki and Bill’s wedding, specifically the vows, Bill does not stop staring at Barb. Awkward.
3) Don at the wedding looking disgusted and tense. Bill’s wingman is not very pleased with Bill these days. Punch him Don!

So, I’ve never really been able to get behind Nicki- I want to, because she has had it so rough – but she is so selfish and manipulative (I know, I know, she is a survivor) that as much as I want to like her, I just can’t. I like her infinitely much more than Bill and would love nothing better than to see her kick him to the curb but that will never happen. So good for Nicki and all but as for the wedding? meh.

Ok, I cannot believe that Bill, Nicki and Marge had the nerve to get sealed again without Barb and not even tell her. Why don’t they just fucking divorce her, it’s that big of a statement against her and her place in their marriage. On the plus side, Barb you are free. You are SO FREE BARB PLEASE RUN AWAY RUN AWAY BARB RUUUUN!

Again, fantastic recap, I would continue to bitch but you did it all for me! Thanks Selena!

I have to say that while watching this episode I was not sympathetic to Nicki getting her moment in the sun. I loved how wicked Nicki was in the first couple of seasons, but I think now her character’s selfishness and the way she manipulates others just wears on me. I was so glad to see Barb stick to her guns and refuse the resealing (although my heart broke for her a little when she came across Bill, Margene, and Nicki in their secret ceremony during the reception. I am excited for the truth about Margene’s underage marriage to come to light in the public eye because I felt that Bill did not get nearly as much flack for it from the wives as he should have.

I think I’ve always seen Nicki’s actions as understandable, even if they aren’t acceptable. I can’t imagine she got a lot of anything she needed from her parents, or her creepy basement genetic experimenting first husband. As relatively normal as the Henrickson home is next to the compound, it’s still not really an environment conducive to becoming your own person, either.

I have watched this show faithfully in part because I hope the show ends with at least one of the wives leaving Bill. The one thing that makes me crazy, though, is the Margene storyline because I think they have just glossed over the part where, viewed in hindsight, Bill clearly fell in lust with a teenage (and later, it was discovered, underage) girl and tried to pretty it up/dignify it by “sanctifying” it. Yes, they are addressing the legal ramifications, but in terms of the marital impact, it seems like there hasn’t been a really strong reaction. Nikki and Barb really should be a LOT more upset about this because it makes their faith into a joke.

Someone pointed out last week in our comments or the A/V Club recap I read after I finish mine that Don and Bill had a scene where Don was pointing out that Bill was so obsessed with Margene when he was courting her, he didn’t care how old she was. (Ugh, bill.) I expected more of a stink from Nicki than Barb. Barb I could see burying it but I agree, Nicki should be railing. I’d also guess getting hauled in a black and white through the streets of Sandy might help Barb shake her resolve at pretending everything is okay.

Something tells me Rhonda is not going to keep quiet about the Holy lack of Undergarments incident.

My bet would be on Nicki to stay, but neither of the others. I’m not sure Margene is going to tell anyone about Caralynn just yet, but of course it’ll come out somehow…

I can see a whole scene around all the cats that are on their way out of the bag.

I still have hope for Nicki, too. She has been fighting pretty hard for changes for women in the compound, I wonder if that won’t make her look at her life with Bill with more clarity, as well.

Yay for so many comments! I’m always afraid my recaps are boring people to tears.

I hadn’t thought of him as Jeffs, but that’s an excellent point. Alby has been the petulant villain throughout this show, but I still can’t help but feel for him and his multitude of demons. It’s heartbreaking because we got to see that tiny glimpse of the man he could have been last season, and we know that part of him is never coming back.
I love a good villain, and I think Matt Ross has been pretty brilliant throughout the series. Even when they give him terrible storylines.

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