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April 23, 2014

Big Love: Reunion

by Jen Creer, posted Jun 26th 2007 1:27AM
rhonda(S02E03) I was reading Meredith's post from last week's episode, along with the comments. Boy y'all must have really loved this episode! Lots of time spent on the compound this week, with Nikki and Bill there for a big family reunion. I was thinking about this because even though the compound parts of the plot line are also not my favorite, it's not because the compound creeps me out. I just prefer the dynamics of the three households. There isn't anything particularly familiar about the compound to me either, though I love the scenery they show of Utah. That is the scenery of my childhood memories.

There was one thing that definitely struck me about the comments as something that divides someone who used to be a Latter-Day Saint who is watching from those who don't have any background in this religions. It was the comments about how self-delusional Bill is for saying that he just wants to live a normal life. What struck me as funny is that there wasn't anything funny to me about him saying that. It's amazing how normal I consider all of this-- probably because even though polygamy is no longer a principle of the Mormon Church-- plural marriage is an eternal principle.

This means that while polygamy isn't practiced here on earth, it is not out of the question in the afterlife. When you grow up with something (as I did, as Bill has, as we all have), of course it is normal to you. I think the point of what i am trying to say is something I think the show does very effectively: Bill doesn't know he isn't normal. He really doesn't. He lived normally with Barb for many years, but he grew up with polygamy. This IS normal.

That being said, I don't condone polygamy, and I feel as squeamish about it as many people have expressed that they do. The scene with Roman and Rhonda in which he assured her that angels would sing for them absolutely creeped me out-- but somehow, the scene in which Adaleen describes the family's genealogy to a younger family member creeped me out just as much. It's not just polygamy she is gleefully describing: It's so much intermarriage that the ability to marry someone you are not related to is non-existent. It's incest.

Another scene that really creeped me out is when Bill lay Nikki down with the laundry and sang, "Jesus Wants You for a Sunbeam." I grew up with that song-- it's for three-year-olds. It's not a pre-coitus song. And do you think Nikki knows that Alby is gay? How can she tell him she'll leave being a girl to him and then tell him to get back to his wives? (The theological answer to this is: Homosexuality is a sin only in so far as you are practicing. It would have been totally acceptable to know that maybe he had certain femme tendencies and yet accept the fact that he was married to a woman, or in this case, women.)

On the other hand, I didn't find Barb's conversation with Margie to be out of line at all. Margie says she knows there is only a five year age difference between her and Ben, and she knows she is attractive-- but she is really kidding herself if she thinks Ben considers her to be a mother figure. The conversation Ben has with his friend getting tattooed speaks to that-- how Margie is always running around half-dressed. Their relationship IS inappropriate. I think Margie is completely as innocent as she seems-- but she needs to be told that their relationship is dangerous because Ben is an adolescent boy and Margene is NOT his mother.

By the way, I have no idea why that boy was engraving sXe on is back. I have never heard of an organization of teenage boys getting tattooed and pledging to live a clean life. That is either new, unique to Utah, or fictional. But the fact that Ben is having sex is a big, big, big deal. Chastity is very important to regular Mormons, so I can only imagine how important it is to the fundamentalists (and we get big clues in the conversation between Rhonda and her manipulative mother).

I like Brian Kerwin (Bill's young uncle), though aren't their lives and storylines complicated enough without introducing more subplots and more characters?

I sincerely felt sorry for Nikki when Alby told her about how Roman betrayed Barb and their entire family. Nikki isn't so one-note evil this season. The is growing more compassionate, and it's very interesting that at the same time she is wondering how families can stay together with "only love" holding them together (and not the principle), I think she is starting to love her family more and more deeply. I think that is what truly frightens her. Adaleen cries "Shame" and she and Roman both lecture Bill and Nikki about family-- when family is exactly what Nikki is cleaving to. When she was only concerned with the principle, she didn't have so much to lose.

One additional note about theology: When Ben and Sarah are talking about his sex life, it was accurate when Sarah said the line about how it's better to be dead than to give up your chastity (I've definitely heard that kind of rhetoric before, but I can't say that ANYBODY would condemn a woman for being raped). However, it was not accurate for Ben to ask if Sarah thought he was going to hell. There is no hell in Mormon theology. There are three kingdoms of heaven, and the lowest would be sort of equivalent to a traditional idea of hell. But nobody how had been raised Mormon as these two kids were would use that kind of phrasing about going to hell, unless they were joking, re: "Oh, we are so going to hell for this."

I'm not overlooking Rhonda-- there just isn't much to say about her big escape so far except, "Well done!"

p.s. The excellent closing song was sung by Neko Case. Meredith has the next two weeks, so see you in July!

Do you think Margie's relationship with Ben is inappropriate?
Yes102 (57.3%)
No76 (42.7%)

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Asherbean

Does anyone know the name of the actress who plays Rhonda's mother? Can't find anythhing on imdb, etc. She looks so familar...

July 05 2007 at 1:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mel

touche' gordy!

June 27 2007 at 1:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mel

Ms. Creer,

I thought this week's review was disappointing. It sounded like a stream of consciousness of your opinions and judgments, not a good analysis of this week’s episode or the plot development.
S/E is very current, growing movement among many young Americans. I don’t understand the reference to rape and its place in your blog? Ditto for you “theological answer”

June 27 2007 at 1:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bhags

I think it's pretty clear that Nikki knows that Alby is gay. The comment about him being Roman's favorite daughter has been mentioned, but what about when she tells Alby to, "Go back to your wives and pretend".

I'm excited about how this episode ended. Not only is Bill going to irk Roman off by going behind his back on the poker games, but now he has his 'fiance'.

Another twist that is coming is that when Ben does break up with his girlfriend, there is going to be teenage angst. Now that she knows about Ben's family this is going to lead to more problems.

On a side note, I appreciate the insights about the Mormon concept of hell, but understand why people don't want too much personal info on the reviewer.

June 27 2007 at 10:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Amelia

Ryan,
I could not agree more with your comment! I had thought margene to be around 24/25...Because they have never really said what here age is...There is also a blog on hbo.com that is 'margene's blog' She seems to have been interested in bill for sometime. I think that some of these were 'dated' around 2004, the way they read, she was living alone and out of high school at that point. So, unless I missed something seems like to writers just kind of dropped the ball on that one.

June 27 2007 at 10:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ryan

I really do like this show. The compound does creep me out but I don't really have any problems with the Henricksons...until I got to thinking. Hopefully someone can find a fault in my logic here:

Margene has two children with bill. The youngest is a baby but not an infant, it has therefor been anywhere from 2 to 4 years since she first got pregnant (she had her last baby not long before the start of season 1). She also apparently dated Bill for a little while before they got married. Let's say dating, getting married, and then getting pregnant took anywhere from 1 to 2 years. We also now know that she is 5 years older than Ben who was turning 16 during this ep. That makes her 20 or 21.

Put that all together and Margene was 18 at the OLDEST and 14 at the youngest when her an Bill started dating.

That makes Bill (being in his late 40's or early 50's) at BEST a dirty old man and at worst a pedophile just like Roman. I hope I'm wrong because I'd like to go back to thinking of the "fam" as at least semi-normal and as good people.

June 26 2007 at 10:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Borat

This show is definitely getting better...great acting throughout the show which gives a realistic feel to it. I also love Nicki's mom...

"I'm my own grand-mother". Hahahaha!

Btw I love the commentary on the religion because most of us here are uninformed when it comes to the LDS church and it helps gain an insight. I myself come from a Muslim background and Islam allows polygamy (limited to 3 or 4 wives...can't remember). Nobody I know practices it though...also I don't have a problem with whatever consenting adults do. I like the reviews...keep it up.

I have to say it did disappoint me when Bill decided to invest in the gambling machines...what's next, investing in strip clubs?

June 26 2007 at 9:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Josh Feinauer

KenMo-

Not really sure where you are seeing this anger from me.... I said
"Not really sure why the mormon church needs to talked about in this review. That being said I really enjoyed this eps. "

Not a lot of anger there and no need for me to simmer down :) I do agree with one point about him singing Jesus wants me as a sunbeam. That was just borderline creepy to me.

June 26 2007 at 8:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Keli

Kristen, I noticed that too! Rhonda definitely had a look on her face when she hugged Barb that looked like she was there for more than just getting away from Roman. Maybe she wants to steal more than just an ipod this time?

As for the reviewer's commentary on her morman background... it's nice to have the explanations about different things, but I definitely don't need or want to have that much insight into your own personal views and opinions of the religion.

June 26 2007 at 3:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kelly

Once again I think it is important that you (and I) as non members understand that LDS does not support poligamy. And that Jens knowledge of the church helps us to understand this as she does her reviews. From what I understand Jen is not an active member so there is really no need for religious debates. She is not "pushing" her views on us, she is simply reviewing a show that all of you are chosing to watch. No one is forcing you to read her review and to read the information that she is including regarding the church.
And in case you didnt know I am not a Mormon.

June 26 2007 at 12:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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