Big Love: Rock and a Hard Place
(S02E4) Imagine a giant, sticky spider web. No matter where you get stuck -- whether it's over in the upper-left-hand corner, or along the edges on the right -- you're still essentially, trapped in that same large web.
The many disparate storylines that flowed through the fresh episode of Big Love reminded me, for some reason, of a spider web, with the Henrickson family playing the role of the web. No matter what was happening, it all led back to the Henricksons and their three homes sitting in a tidy row.
Thinking of everything sticking to the Henricksons in one way or another helped me get through this very busy episode which was chock-full of stories that went all over the place.
In fact, I found the episode far too busy. I wanted to linger on a smaller number of characters' stories to understand their role in the larger picture. But viewers were taken by the collar and dragged around to watch multiple characters blackmail one another, disown them and call them liars.
For example, there was Barb, who was seriously underused in this episode. She was very passionate about the fact that would-be teen bride Rhonda Volmer should remain in the Henrickson households, that she not be handed back to the Juniper Creek cops. Barb (Why no mention of her schooling by the way?) immediately took a liking to the child advocate, April Blessing, a polygamist compound refugee herself who wanted to protect Rhonda from Roman Grant and his merry men. Why was Barb so invested in saving and literally embracing Rhonda? Was it on principal, because she despises the compound and, by extension, polygamy itself? Was it because Rhonda's an under-aged girl who's being forced into marriage with an old coot? These are questions whose answers I would've liked to have seen played out, or at least explored in more depth.
Sarah Henrickson's unfolding story is one of the more tragic ones in Big Love. Torn by her love for her parents -- who were married to only one another when Sarah was a young child -- she has grown to despise the polygamist lifestyle. She's ashamed of her family but doesn't want to tell her parents what she thinks for fear of hurting their feelings. A teenaged girl's perspective on the impact of plural marriage is intriguing, particularly given the fact that girls her own age who live in the Juniper Creek compound are being forced into marrying senior citizens. I would've liked to have seen some more time spent on her story as well.
Was there anyone in this episode, by the way, who was not blackmailing or being blackmailed, lying or failing to inform family members about a crucial piece of information? Perhaps it was by design that everyone was sucked into some kind of subterfuge, part of that Henrickson web. But it was a bit of overkill for my taste. Look at this sample list from this episode alone:
-- Bill didn't tell his family that he could potentially be arrested on charges of a criminal cover-up because Roman obtained a tape recording of Bill talking to Joey about Wanda's poisoning of Alby Grant.
-- Roman's wife Adaleen, Nicki's mother, hid that incriminating tape from her husband and later destroyed it.
-- Lois Henrickson tried to manipulate her wacky daughter-in-law into shooting the district attorney. (This led to the funniest moment of the show, when Wanda openly handed Bill a gun in the courthouse, telling him that Lois wanted the DA dead.)
-- Roman, Rhonda and Margie were blackmailing and/or threatening Nicki, for whom, for the very first time, I felt compassion.
-- Nicki kept secret from her sister-wives, particularly Barb, until the very end of the episode that her father was the one who exposed the family during the Mother of the Year contest.
-- Alby issued veiled threats to his niece Sarah after he saw her kissing a boy in the parking lot of the restaurant where she works. (Why was he following Sarah?)
-- Bill has yet to tell his family, including the super-conservative Nicki, that he's about to enter into the electronic gambling business.
It would've been cool to see gambling used as a larger metaphor. Every choice that the characters made was a gamble. Each of those decisions could blow up in the character's face, only we'll have to keep watching to see whether these choices have negative consequences for Bill, Barb & Co.
|Yes, she was crushed when her mother disowned her.||52 (70.3%)|
|No, she's irritating.||14 (18.9%)|
|I felt indifferent to her plight.||8 (10.8%)|