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October 25, 2014

Big Love: Circle the Wagons

by Jen Creer, posted Aug 7th 2007 2:09AM
Big Love wives(S02E09) Things are certainly heating up on Big Love. I don't know for certain what big finale we are gearing up for. I used to think that it was Bill taking over as head of the U.E.B. (United Effort Brotherhood). I thought last season was leading Bill toward being the prophet. But now I'm not so sure. Now, more and more, I think things are careening toward Bill losing everything. I don't think he'll lose the store (though, that would make Margie's concerns foreshadowing), but I think he is going to lose Barb. And that, in Bill's world, would be everything.

I thought Nicki was a good manipulator, but when I saw Barb working Margie and Heather's father I realized that Barb is even better. But Barb realized two things this episode: One, that her power as first wife is over. And second, she articulated that she wants her daughter to live an L.D.S. (Latter-Day Saint/Mormon) lifestyle. She wants her daughter to have a Mormon marriage-- not a polygamist marriage.

In parallel storylines, the characters are all starting to throw around the rhetoric of faith and testimony more-- to the point where it is evident that the words have no real meaning. Bill asks Joey if he has received a testimony about Kathy, and Joey at least is honest enough to say, "I'm trying to be practical, not celestial." If Barb disagrees with Bill about the gaming, she says, as a last resort, that she doesn't have faith about this for their family. Sure, gambling is distasteful to her. However, her opposition is more to the patriarchal way in which Bill approaches business and their marriage. This is about power for her, and she loses.

The jury is still out on Margie. Does she want Weber Gaming for her children? What financial security can it provide? Is that proven? Or has Margie come into her own sense of power? I think her motives were genuine, because she was angry with Bill, but she voted with him anyway. I think also that she was very aware that her vote had some power with it. Bill insisted to Don that he was going to do what he wanted anyway, regardless of his wives' vote. We won't really know how serious he was because Margene voted his way. I think Bill is full of it, and was just posturing to Don. However, it's disturbing that they have that attitude toward their marriages. It reinforces all of Barb's problems with the patriarchal aspect of the religion.

Ultimately, I think Bill's hold on Barb is slipping. She is becoming more and more discontent with her lifestyle. We continue to see her doing homework and going back to school. She is laying things into place for her children behind Bill's back. Her education is paving the way for financial independence. Benny's sexual activity was probably a big wake-up call, but that didn't spur her into action the way Lois's seeds about Sarah did. She may come down to a choice: Bill can have Benny. Benny will be all right-- the men in that religion are. But Barb will probably insist on taking the girls with her when she leaves.

Did you notice that Barb quoted Sarah almost word for word to Nicki about Roman? "I don't think he treats you the way you deserve to be treated. You deserve more." This is not the first time Sarah has told Barb that she is settling for too little. I don't think Sarah would cry if Barb left Bill. It would be Benny who was the most broken up by it. But I think Benny has come around to the polygamist lifestyle. He likes their family life and I think he identifies with Bill too strongly to separate from him. Look at the way Ben behaved in the Greg and Margie situation: Ben acted on behalf of the patriarch.

Perhaps the reason I think Barb will leave Bill is that Bill's hold on me is also slipping. During the first season, I really thought Bill was one of the good guys. Now, I am not so sure. He is just as much of a player as his mother and his father, and although he seems like a nice guy, he is dishonest and sneaky and a bit of a tyrant, all dressed up like a nice guy in a business suit. He may not have Alby's greasy, slick-backed hair or Roman's hummer, but I am not sure there is that much difference between the three men after all. Did you see how smoothly Bill got rid of Greg? Just the way the young men on the compound are driven off to leave the younger women for the older men. Bill is running his own compound at Home Plus.

Much like Ben acting for his father, Alby smoothly sailed himself into Roman's seat, with his Sorting Hat. Was that a jeweler's lupe he was holding? That was another instance of using "revelation" and faith to get what you want. Alby and Adelade cooked up Alby's prophet role, and having Alby ask right after his revelation what he said was a brilliant touch. Alby receiving revelation that he was supposed to continue in that role even after Roman's recovery will be his downfall, I predict, even if Roman dies. And I think Roman will die. I think if Bill is forced to take more of a role at the compound, this will be the act that spurs Barb to leave.

Don't you love how Rhonda keeps popping up, sucking on her fifteen minutes? Subtleties like her showing up on a talk show, being mentioned in news reports about Roman's shooting, and also simple things like having Barb chew ice all the time humanize these characters and show some fine-tuning in both writing and direction that you don't see on every show. The suspense is crackling, and every little detail creates layers and nuance that make it impossible, despite the trainwreck that is surely coming (Nicki stealing money from the U.E.B.), to turn away.

Do you like Bill?
Yes, I think he's a good guy.42 (12.1%)
No, I think he's like Roman129 (37.1%)
Sometimes. I think Bill is just a little misguided.177 (50.9%)

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D. Heekin

Alby is not looking through a jeweler's loupe, he's looking through a peepstone. Joseph Smith was partial to peepstones and got in a bit of legal trouble by claiming to be able to help people find buried treasure and gold by divining information, i.e. looking through a peepstone into a hat, he would be shown locations.

He also translated the golden tablets with the help of two sacred lenses, and came up with the Book of Mormon.

Alby is looking through a peepstone, and the word of God is being revealed to him and only him, in the hat.

August 13 2007 at 7:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jack

re #10, Gordy- Hard to see how the other wives are moving into Nikki's word. Barb slowly empowering herself and moving toward chucking the whole business because she can't reconcile Henricksons with her new found sense of self. Margene on the other hand, is growing through being a part of Hendricksons. But Nikki seems pretty much the same envious, jealous, secretive passive-aggressive she was at the beginning. This year the secret is stealing money to feed a budding gambling addiction, last year it was building up unpayable credit card debt to feed a shopping addiction. How are Barb and Margene moving into this world?

August 08 2007 at 5:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gordy

One last thing: How irritating was Barb's constantly morphing ice cream cone at the end of the episode? The scoop size kept flucuating up and down.

Continuity errors like that bug the hell out of me.

August 08 2007 at 1:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gordy

Jack, I think the reason we aren't seeing change in Nicki is because everyone else is slowly moving into her world. She doesn't have to change...and Barb is fighting not to change, but changing nonetheless.

August 08 2007 at 9:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jack

Hard to say how much better BL is this year compared to the first season! The characters are far more nuanced and the plot threads so comlicated that, as many have said, its difficult to imagine what will happen.

How much patriarchy can be tolerated in the early 21st centruy even within a polygamous Morman family. The answer: not much. The polygamous Hendricksons have chosen to live in Sandy so that they can have a mostly worldly existence where outwardly they are no different than anyone else except that, unlike their Mormon neighbors, they give only lip service to the faith while many of those same neighbors probably have much stricter fathers and husbands than Bill. Margene, with no knowlege of mormonism became wife number three because doing so gave her a ready-made family complete with the father and sisters (and even a brother, Ben) she never had while growing up. She might be the one most vulnerable to a bullying patriarch but Bill never treats her this way and within this polygamous family, Margene has thrived and grown. Barbra married Bill dispite his polygamous background with the expectation that their marriage would be normal and it was for 15 years or so. Even after agrreing to add another wife and then a third, Barbara never saw Bill as the all-powerful patriach in the manner of Roman, Frank or the Green brothers nor did Bill. Bill's recent assertiveness stems from his big-time ambitions. I can't imagine Roman, Frank or the Green Brothers ever seeking out their wives' consent about a business decision but Bill feels he must and fails to get it. Some patriarch.

I think Nikki is the character most difficult to figure. She is high anxiety in part because unlike Barb and Margene who are basically open personalities who confront their feelings, she allows no outlet and instead acts out passive-agressively. She gets into trouble for these failings all the time. During year one I disliked her intensely. This year I like her much more but can't figure her out. Unlike the other two, I do not seem much change in her.

August 07 2007 at 6:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dave

Does anyone know the artist and song that was played when Nikki was stealing all the cash? That song rocked. I think it was Slayer, but I could use some help.

August 07 2007 at 12:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Amelia

I meant to say Great Review! My typing is really off today!

August 07 2007 at 12:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Amelia

The episodes this season are becoming more and more complex, I wish that I knew what was going to happen next! I was super shocked at how well Barb tried manipulate margie and heather's dad. I think that she is probably going to leave, or this could just be what they want us to think.
I think that Margie is, hopefully, beginning to see that she has her own voice. Nikki, Barb, and Bill seem to think that Margie doesn't have a mind of her own and she has to be manipulated to think a certain way. It seemed like in the end she came up with her own conclusion and went with it.
I also think that Bill and Frank are alot more alike that Bill would like to acknowledge. Bill went ahead witht he weber gaming before tell his wives, Frank has severeal buisnesses without telling lois. Also, Frank demanded money from Lois, We saw Bill demand Barb's check last season. Although these are not exactly the same, it lets us see that bill is not much different that the folks at the compound. He must not have always been like this, because Barb's dicontentment has only recently started.
Margene should have slapped Ben, he is becoming SO creepy...I would like to know where his storyline is going to go.
I see were Nikki gets her manipulative behavior, Adeleen and Alby really set the Prophet thing quickly and quitely...it was brilliant! Also, has anyone noticed that when things get bad for Nikki, her bad vices come out? Last season she was so lonely and spend 60,000$, this season she has stolen money and went straight to gamble with it at bingo.
Get review Jen!

August 07 2007 at 12:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
iamhoff

I loved the ep, but man was there a lot going on! With each ep, from her "need to get away" to her putting her foot down on the idea of a 4th wife to her trying to find a way to get Sarah away from the principle and into a normal LDS marriage, Barb is really showing her dissatisfaction with the polygamist lifestyle. She could leave, but I don't know how well a divorce would fit into her ideals. Tough call.

I do think that Bill is trying to set himself up to become the next Roman. Like Jen said, he's already created his own compound at Home Plus, and having conferred the Priesthood onto Ben, he's setting Ben up to become Albie. And yes, Gordy, his Yukon Denail costs about as much as an H2 Hummer, so that comparison also holds. I do think his overall motives are for the best, but I think he gets caught up in the moment sometimes and doesn't use his best judgement.

I was kind of surprised that Nikki went to the compound and stole all that money, but I was NOT surprised at all to find her at the casino playing bingo. "Just roll me Katherine." That's a high-roller talking. As soon as they went into the casino for the first time, I told my GF that it was going to be bad for Nikki. We know she has a compulsive/addictive personality from her past shopping debts, so I don't think she'd necessarily go to Bill with the money.

I'm not sure how much credit to give to Margene...on one hand we know that she's reasonably intelligent and able to manipulate. On the other hand, she sure does play up the youthful naivete. I think she understands the basic idea behind Weber Gaming and the security it could provide for the family. But I don't know if her vote was just that or her way of using her newly recognized power. I don't think that she's trying to push Barb out of the family (she wanted a 4th wife, she didn't want to NOT be married to Barb), but she knows where her bread is buttered and I think if it came down to a choice between Barb and Bill, she'd pick Bill.

One final thing that didn't really click with me until watching this week's ep. The women who shot Roman were obviously tied to the Greenes (were they the same ones who torched the boat?). Now I'm not certain of the timeline, but it seemed as though he was shot AFTER the attorney told Bill that ATF had chased them into Arizona. If that's the case, could there be other Greene "members" still in the area who potentially know where Bill lives and works and could pose a threat? On that note, what is the backstory about the Greenes? I can't find much beyond mention in the episode guides.

Can't wait for next week.

August 07 2007 at 12:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kurifurisan

I am becoming increasingly disturbed by Benny this season. He is definitely getting darker in his character but does anyone else see the parallels with Albert (Alby or Albie sp?) from the first season. His sense of twisted faith and problems dealing with his burgeoning sexuality. It's scary to see him even act like a watchdog for his father at Home Plus much like Alby at Juniper Creek. The levels and layers in this show are fantastic.

August 07 2007 at 11:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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