Tonight we bid farewell to one of television’s first (and until recently, only) polygamous families, as HBO’s Big Love ends its fifth and final season. It’s going to be tough to say goodbye to the Henrickson clan which, despite their questionable lifestyle, managed to be one of the most functional — and moving, surprising, and entertaining — families on TV.
It’s hard to see how Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) and his wives will get a happy ending — when last we left them, each was in crisis: Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and Bill are at a standoff over her belief that women can hold the priesthood and her decision to leave Bill’s church; Nicki (Chloë Sevigny) is devastated that her misguided attempt to end Cara Lynn’s relationship with her teacher has instead destroyed her daughter’s self-esteem; and Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin) is heartbroken after choosing her family over her career selling Goji juice. As for Bill? He’s about to face charges on statutory rape, seeing as Marge neglected to tell him she was only 16 when they got sealed.
I’ve given a lot of thought — arguably way too much thought — about how I want Big Love to end. Click through for my wish list for Bill and the sister wives, as well as clips of some of Barb, Nicki, and Margene’s best moments.
Ok, here’s what I’d like to see happen with each of the Henricksons.
Bill: Look, there’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just say it — Bill should go to jail. Not because he’s a bad guy — and it’s a testament to Paxton’s consistently amazing performance over the past five seasons that Bill doesn’t come across as a bad guy. (Where is this man’s Emmy?) No, Bill should go to jail because that’s most likely what would happen in real life — and for all of its unevenness (let us not discuss season four), Big Love has almost always managed to view this unusual family through a real-world lens. Plus, if Bill goes away, it makes it easier for his wives to discover who they are without him, and that’s something each of them desperately needs to do.
Barb: It’s time for her paper divorce from Bill to become a real one. She hasn’t been happy in a long time, her kids are grown (except maybe Teeny… but she’s vanished), and she clearly feels a strong spiritual calling to become a religious teacher or leader of some kind — which she’ll never be able to do if she stays as Bill’s first wife, once-removed.
Margene: Goji may have been a pyramid scheme, but its value was real – thanks to her success selling the juice, as well as the attention and admiration bestowed on her by Goji’s charismatic CEO (oh, Grant Show, when will you get your own series?), Margene was this-close to accepting once and for all that she’s more than a babymaker. Unfortunately, pressure from Bill and her sister wives drove her to leave sales behind, and now she’s clinging to the hope that she’ll get pregnant one last time before Bill takes a trip to the big house. My hope: Margene’s baby plan will fail, and she’ll use Bill’s incarceration as an excuse to give herself a major life do-over, and strike out on her own (with her passel of kids, of course) to build a QVC empire.
Nicki: Sure, Nicolette is selfish, manipulative, and brusque to the point of rude, but she’s also fiercely loyal to Bill, and I actually think the only thing that would make her happy is staying by his side — at least in spirit — as his legal wife. And with the other wives and children moving on, the chaos would be quieted in the Henrickson home, and perhaps poor Cara Lynn (Cassi Thomson) will finally be able to adjust to the world outside Juniper Creek.
So, Big Love fans, how do you want to see it all end? And to prepare yourself for tonight’s sure-to-be shocking send-off, check out some of Barb, Nicki, and Margene’s best moments.
Newly-elected senator Bill reveals his family’s secret:
Barb is excommunicated:
Margene’s Christmas dinner bombshell:
The best of Nicki (she has too many good moments to pick just one):