On ''Big Love,'' Nicki and Bill visit Juniper Creek with different agendas; back at home, Barb and Margene get into it over Ben

”Big Love”: The plural-family reunion

From the get-go, this was the episode of unlikely pairings: Ben and Margene, Bill and Roman, Barb and Rhonda, Alby and… who knows. But man, was it action-packed! And filled with plenty of great zingers (mostly courtesy of Adeleen) and even some answers. Where do we start?

Let’s kick off this TV Watch with the most potentially disastrous development: Rhonda running away from the compound. The sneaky little devil hid in the back of Bill’s SUV, and God only knows what she overheard on the ride home. What’s up with Rhonda, anyway? One minute she’s telling Roman she’s ready to be his wife (gotta love that snide ”he’s marrying down” remark from Nicki’s sister); the next she needs to be nudged to go sit near him. And then this little disappearing act? Well, at least we learned what the alternative to marrying the prophet would be: ”selling pine nuts by the side of the road in Mexico.” And why Mexico? Today there remains a faction of FLDS families living south of the border, and construction is well under way for a temple and refuge in Eldorado, Texas, some 150 miles away from the state line. There, as in some other fundamentalist communities, girls become marriage material at a frighteningly young age, which makes Rhonda’s situation indeed based in reality.

Something else from this episode that’s very current and real? Polygamists allied with gay rights advocates. We got a hint of it in the letter Roman was penning to the state Republican caucus, arguing against a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as only between a man and a woman. Roman, of course, reasons that if same-sex unions are deemed okay, then that opens the door to recognizing plural marriage. Talk about some unlikely bed partners.

And while we’re on the subject, I believe this was the first time we’ve seen that Alby has a couple wives of his own, so maybe he isn’t. Then again, LDS doctrine dictates that any homosexual feelings remain just that — never to be acted upon. And with Nicki constantly teasing him about being girly, maybe she knows something we don’t.

Actually, I’m starting to think Nicki may be the wisest of them all. The girl likes to gossip, there’s no doubt, but she has great insight (like her conversation with Margene about Barb wanting to go ”shopping”) and always seems to pick up key bits of information. Even Alby’s tip about the state police, however misguided, ended up in her ear and saved the family’s ass…for now.

And while life back at the Henrickson home may seem a little brighter (looks like they finally have grass, thanks to Margene), drama is never far behind. Joey’s brother is in jail, Barb is still freaking about her disapproving sister and Margene’s ”inappropriate” relationship with Ben (though props to Margie for standing up to the ”boss lady”), and now Rhonda.

But back to Ben for a moment, who spent a good 70 percent of his airtime shirtless. Since he’s discovered sex, Ben’s struggle with faith seems to be intensifying. Is going straight edge (no tobacco, alcohol, drugs, or sex) the answer? Or will he buy into Barb’s sister’s plan? Maybe a man-to-man convo with his dad wouldn’t hurt.

Sadly, Bill is far too busy sabotaging the UEB council vote or stealing business ideas to take notice. But on this episode, Bill’s well-mannered willingness to go back to the compound for a rare reunion made him much more endearing. Adding to that sentiment: the sweet scene by the laundry line, where Nicki once again questioned love’s role in a marriage and Bill seduced her with a song…for Jesus.

But by far the most entertaining character on this episode was the wise-cracking, Alby-slapping Adeleen. Whether hauling what looked like a 50-pound bag of potatoes, sawing some helpless animal in half, complaining about needing 20 pounds of sugar for the morning, or explaining her family line (”I became my own step-grandma when my father married Roman’s daughter”), Adeleen was absolutely priceless in every scene.

Still, the line of the night has to go to the Prophet (delivered oh-so-well by Mr. Harry Dean Stanton): ”By going against my holy authority, you threaten your own legacy, your wives, your property, and your eternal salvation,” he declared to Alby. ”Capitulate now.” Since Alby did not do as he was told, you have to imagine the consequences will be swift and harsh. Any predictions?

Episode Recaps

Big Love
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