”Big Love”: The wives’ sex rules
In the immortal words of American Idol‘s Randy Jackson: ”We got a hot one tonight, people!” All week, HBO had been touting this episode, titled ”Kingdom Come,” as Big Love‘s ”most dramatic yet” (and not in a bogus Apprentice kind of way), and man, they weren’t kidding. Finally, some resolution to questions that have lingered for almost half a season, some serious action between Bill and his many business enemies, not to mention the return of those steamy sex scenes. It all came to a, ahem, head last night, and I, for one, was left very pleased.
But before we get all hot and bothered about bad girl Margene, let’s take a look back at Bill’s over-the-top, ridiculous solution to his latest UEB entanglement. Despite a penchant for corporate gift baskets and cordial phone conversation, the Greens, we all know, are scary as hell. Yet Bill’s still convinced that by keeping Weber Gaming out of their hands, he’s securing a financial safety net for his family. So he’s playing double agent, clueing the Greens in to Roman’s projects (coal mining, irrigation) and lying to Roman about their request that Bill spy on the UEB. (Hey, someone’s gotta bring home the bacon…and the bacon…and the bacon.) After the two warring fundamentalist factions duked it out (what was that white stuff on brother Selma’s face?), Bill then let loose the ATF on the Greens, who, it turns out, were murderers back in Mexico, and they chased the renegades out of state. But not all the Green loyalists ran. Two prairie-dress-wearing disciples stayed behind to — gasp — shoot Roman! I don’t know about you guys, but I didn’t see that one coming. (I’ll admit that I was fixated on the fact that Chili John’s, the restaurant where Roman met Bill for lunch and later a Green bullet, is just a couple miles down the road from my house in the glorious San Fernando Valley; look carefully and you can spot a palm tree way in the background.) If anything, I thought it might be Bill’s time, but I’ll hand it to him — he played this card beautifully. Not that Barb, Nicki, or Margene have any idea what went down, but I’m sure he’ll get around to filling them in. Now with Roman presumably hospitalized (poor Adaleen) and the Greens out of the picture, maybe Bill will have more time to spend at home with his wives and children, all of whom seem starved for his undivided attention.
You can’t blame Bill for wanting — or needing — a night off. When the sister wives unite, they certainly are a handful. But in this episode, we again saw how complex their relationships can be, both with each other and with their husband. It all started with Nicki, whose night Bill skipped when he fell asleep in the basement. This, of course, sparked a chain reaction of wounded egos. Margene was left wondering if she was just the play toy and whether she risked becoming ”too familiar.” (Looks like some of what her mom said did sink in.) Barb was bumming about seeing her time with Bill dwindle from seven days to two. And Nicki was feeling all kinds of insecure about her desirability. Stuck in the middle? Their husband, the ultimate provider in oh so many ways. But I loved Bill’s recognition of Margene as the naughty one (the scene by the window left no doubt of that) and Nicki as the somewhat timid good girl who claims to be ”the most stress-free” of the bunch (yeah, right). The juxtaposition was played perfectly.
Incidentally, as I write this, Weird Science is on, and Bill Paxton, playing a dopey, ROTC-obsessed bully, is waving a rifle around and threatening to snitch on his little brother. (He’ll soon turn into a farting, slimy, bucktoothed monster.). My, how far Paxton has come. Can anyone say role of a lifetime?
But back to the Henrickson household. Ben is at a moral crossroads, struggling for the strength to choose the right. Now, understanding that Mormon theology (LDS, FLDS or otherwise) dictates that the body is, as Bill said, a temple — one that’s meant to stay pure and holy until marriage — you can see why Bill was so furious at his son for having premarital sex. (On the other hand, Margie freely admitted to losing her virginity at 16, although back then she was a Catholic. How does that fit into Bill’s picture?) Meanwhile, Nicki, who didn’t hesitate to call Brynn a ”blond whore” and who associates physical intimacy with ”procreation, not recreation,” also came from Juniper Creek, so she and Bill are likely to have the same take on virginity. But I find it hard to believe that Bill wouldn’t have done the same when he was Ben’s age. After all, he was banished from the compound at age 14. He didn’t have to live by their rules or those of the LDS church, and seeing how horny he is now, one can only imagine what he was like in his teens. Then again, Bill does look to be a longtime advocate of ”the principle.” And if he really was able to curb that sexual appetite until his wedding day, then I give him major points for it.
Still, Ben’s predicament isn’t surprising. Though we know that Bill, Barb, and the kids were active members of an LDS ward for some time (during which Ben bonded with the bishop), the lack of a structured church community has obviously had a serious impact on Ben. Add to that his father’s chosen lifestyle, which Barb clearly is still grappling with, and you’ve got a classic identity crisis. At the same time, Bill and Barb were smart in how they handled the situation: By calling Ben to the priesthood, through which a young man is ordained to apostolic power and deemed ”worthy” (until 1978, only white males were eligible), Bill instilled that feeling of adulthood that Ben so desperately craved. And by giving Brynn the lowdown on polygamy (you could practically see the light above Brynn’s head telling her to run), Barb provided a much-needed reality check for all. As for Margene’s casual mention of a possible fourth wife? I don’t see Barb going for that, either.
And not to neglect Sarah, who barely had one line in this episode, but it was the kind of killer kid comeback I wish I could have said to my parents when they threatened me with a talking-to: ”I’m always right here, Dad.” ‘Nuff said.
Last week, I mentioned being over the whole Laundromat story. And now that they’ve finally revealed Lois and Eddie’s old-lady-embezzlement scam, I’m no more interested, honestly. Maybe it’s because I find that damn Frank to be so despicable (he called Don ”fatso” to his face!) and Eddie to be so pathetic. Were it not for the endlessly entertaining Lois, who, sadly, did see the men in her life conspire to take away her business (not even an invitation to let Frank in the ”back door” could stop it), I’d be totally tuned out. Of course, it’s not over yet. The Weber deal has yet to be finalized, and the Roman-Hollis debacle is ongoing, but with only four episodes left, time is running out on this plot.
So where does that leave us? Strangely, feeling sympathy for Roman. I know he’s supposed to be this big, bad prophet who condones marrying 16-year-olds (what did happen to Rhonda, anyway?) and runs the compound with an iron fist, but I can’t help wanting him to pull through. And Nicki, still ostracized from Juniper Creek, will inevitably want to reconnect with her family in these trying times, so we can expect some sort of Grant reunion soon. As for Bill, despite all his bad decisions, I was rooting for him, too, when that obnoxious cop derided his — and all Mormons’ — belief system. His retort was brilliant, but if only he could curse.
Was this on par with the ”Who Shot J.R.?” episode of Dallas? Not quite, but it certainly left us plenty to talk about, so discuss, my fellow Big Love lovers. How’s this all going to play out in the next month? Is Roman going to emerge stronger or weaker? And would you prefer it if the Henricksons’ sex life were left more to the imagination?