On ''Big Love,'' while Rhonda remains in hiding, Bill pursues a waitress; meanwhile Nicki struggles with Catholicism

”Big Love”: Taking a gamble

First, a complaint: What happened to all the sex scenes? I don’t mean to be crass (or maybe I do), but we haven’t seen Bill get it on since the late-night laundry-line rendezvous with Nicki back at the compound, which was tame at best. This season’s a far cry from the first, where we were virtual voyeurs when it came to the daily wife rotation. (Remember the time Margene walked in on Bill and Nicki doing it in her house?) Has Bill stopped taking his Viagra entirely?

But this does bring to mind a nice little complication that we saw develop this episode: the lovely Ana, a Serbian-born waitress whose ass has not only hypnotized Bill but prompted him to remove his wedding band. Is there a wife number 4 in store for us? Will Bill cheat on Barb, Margene, and Nicki? One of the basic tenets of plural marriage is that it, in essence, discourages adultery. Rather than cheat, you marry, so everything is out in the open.

Still, I have a nagging suspicion that Bill is the kind of guy who would hook up with someone before revealing his situation to his partner(s). One of the HBO ”In the Beginning” shorts, which shows Bill introducing Margene to Nicki as ”the babysitter,” sheds a little light on this subject. From their brief conversation, we learn that Margene worked at Home Plus, Bill took a liking to her, they had some conversation about how retail wasn’t for her, Bill admitted he practiced plural marriage, and he suggested that Margene help with Nicki’s kids four days a week. Nicki, ever the straight talker, then asks Bill to take a walk so she can grill Margene on her intentions, convinced that Margene’s trying to worm her way into the family, which Margene denies. So did Margene and Bill already have relations prior to this meeting? From their knowing glances, you’d think yes, though it’s not entirely clear. But this new interest in Ana (which Margene is clued into) should tell us a little more about how Bill follows the principle. He doesn’t yet have a testimony for her, as Don Embry asked while practically drooling, but if and when he does, things should get interesting.

On to other budding relationships: Joey has taken to leaning on Barb again. Poor guy — his wife’s been institutionalized by his mother, his brother wants nothing to do with him, his mother is pressuring him to marry another woman (with Wanda’s blessing, but certainly not his), and now Barb is pushing him to leave the compound behind. It wouldn’t be the first time Joey gave the real world a go, but as we’ve heard time and time again, the alcoholic in him seems to reemerge whenever he tries to disengage from the only life he’s ever known. Then again, Joey seems to abhor the principle, telling Barb he thinks that any man who lives it is ”selfish” (which Barb did not exactly contradict), so it’s hard to say where he’ll end up. All we know is there’s a widow named Kathy in his kitchen who’s ready to assume the second-wife position on a moment’s notice.

On that tip, we’re no closer to a resolution to the Rhonda problem. The conniving little troll seems to have found a sympathizer in Heather, Sarah’s LDS friend, after annoying everyone else in her work crew. Sadly, Sarah is woefully ill equipped to handle Rhonda’s situation on her own, as she told Ben. She can’t even curse at the girl for claiming Scott tried to rape her. The whole thing is complicating her already crazy life, so Sarah has to distance herself from it. But what will Heather do with the ”Taliban princess”? Get her in on the Tabernacle Choir so Rhonda can pursue her dream of a singing career? Can Rhonda be normalized, or is it a case of once an outcast, always an outcast?

Which brings us back around to Nicki, who must be feeling awfully lonely these days. Father-daughter interaction was nonexistent on this episode, outside of the phone call Nicki made to Roman (what, the UEB can’t afford caller ID?), but the alienation from her parents is definitely gnawing at her. Perhaps so much so that she’s taking it out on Wayne’s Catholic school. So what’s Nicki’s beef with the religion? Well, the simplest answer may be that Mormonism denounces all other religions as false. But Catholicism, it seems, has drawn exceptional ire over the years, being labeled as ”abominable,” ”depraved,” or, as Nicki called it, ”a gutter religion” for its veneration of saints and its ornate church structures. I think Margene said it best when she told Nicki, ”I wouldn’t throw stones if I were you.” And in the end, Nicki did see the light, as it were. Perhaps having a public life with Bill and their kids is worth the sacrifice. Still, I can’t believe she slapped Margene! So much for how well these sister wives get along.

Bill’s got his work cut out for him, as usual. And it doesn’t help that his ”revenge fantasy,” as Uncle Eddie called it, keeps dragging on. Gambling can certainly mean big bucks to a smart investor, but does Bill have the business acumen to spot a sure thing? Or will this backfire the way his attempt to infiltrate the UEB did? Then who will he drag down with him? Obviously, Eddie’s not as liquid as he made himself out to be, and Bill is likely up to his eyeballs in debt. This latest venture could seriously jeopardize the Henricksons’ livelihood.

On a separate note, I have to applaud the music supervisor for this particular episode. ELO’s ”Telephone Line” as Margene pulled into the pie-shop parking lot, Todd Rundgren as Muzak at the mental institution, and Iron Maiden’s ”Killers” album on vinyl — all in one show? Brilliant.

So what do you think? Where is all this going?

Episode Recaps

Big Love
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