Big Love wrapped up its season last night not just overshadowed by the Oscar telecast, but by the season itself: It didn’t have the smoothest narrative flow, did it? I thought the season started strong and wobbled (the trips to Mexico; the hijacking of Adaleen to become J.J.’s latest wife; the whole Indian casino project), but finished pretty strong.
Specifically, I thought Sissy Spacek did terrific work as lobbyist Marilyn Densham, who proved less ruthless than remorseful. And I would defend the much-criticized development of Bill’s character from pious family man to ambitious politician willing to forsake his piety and, on some level, his family. It made sense to me that Bill would want to impose himself upon the outside world — it’s a reaction to the insular, secretive, love-withholding upbringing he had. And Bill Paxton played all those notes very well.
The finale’s humdinger of a revelation — a passel of inbred children found by the authorities at J.J.’s Kansas compound — was matched by others, such as the egg-collecting and planting in what seemed like most of the show’s female characters, courtesy of J.J.’s manipulation.
One way in which you could see the machinations of Big Love at work behind the scenes was the way the season initially set up Alby as its chief villain, and then, for whatever reason (because the producers didn’t want to sully the sincerity of his same-sex romance?), had J.J. surpass Alby in villainy.
While the Margene-Ana-Goran triangle may have been the finale’s flashiest twist, I was more caught up in Barb’s despair: Displaced as the number-one wife not by another woman but by Bill’s ambition, and her realization, as she said to her husband, “I don’t think I need you anymore.”
Bill’s final victory — meet your new Utah Senator — was a small triumph of staging as well. Announcing publicly that he’s a polygamist who defends the concept of “plural marriage” was a cliffhanger that both opens up and closes in the show. Some fans have complained about the focus shifting away from the immediate family. Well, you and I both got what we wanted by the end of this hour:
The sight of the three wives in their new dresses — one red, one white, one blue — holding hands with Bill was a striking send-off. I know what you mean about the season being scattered, but I have to say, I ended up completely absorbed by everything that had occurred over the course of this too-short season.