Big Love: Take Me As I Am
When Barb left at the beginning of the season, Margene was crying on the phone to Barb that she didn't know if she could stay married to Nicki and Bill without Barb. Margene has come into her own now, and it's clear that she has not only embraced polygamy, but that she is starting to make up her own rules.
This is a little scary, because even though I was laughing when Nicki was talking to Bill, she has a point: The Principle has been around for 3000 years. It's not a good idea to start throwing away all of the rules right now. As much as Bill and Margene seem to want to.
Speaking of Margene, anybody could have guessed that Pam would want Margene to be a surrogate mother for her too. How is Margene going to explain it when she keeps the baby?
Bill and Nicki are really the only ones who seem to know the rules, though, having both grown up on the compound. It is also interesting that they are the most deceptive of the bunch, and that they try to play both sides and end up not being able to win. Nicki did tell Bill that Alby had come to her party and now knows about Weber Gaming-- but she didn't tell Bill about her plans to get Bill to return Weber Gaming to Alby. However, Alby still thinks she sold him out, and he will exact his revenge on her now, as part of Bill's family, when I am not sure that is entirely the choice she would have made [to stay at her house, rather than returning to the compound-- but she got waylaid by the wedding reception.]
Bill has really screwed up now, and while I don't know that anybody in his family is going to die as a result of Alby's quest for blood atonement, by playing the Greene's and the Grants against each other, when all three are such a dishonest bunch, now that the two scariest components, the Greenes and Alby, are working together, Bill is in some real danger.
It's pretty clear that Bill does want control of the compound. He is dangling the U.E.B. seat in front of Alby, but has no intention of giving it up (the role of exposition played tonight by Ben). However, when he first begins talking to Alby at the beginning of the episode, the language Bill is using makes it sound like he and Alby are both the heads of separate compounds. And to some extent that is true. And I don't know how he can be the head of the U.E.B. if he is not living at Juniper Creek. But Barb has made it clear how she feels about the compound from the very beginning of the show, in episode one: She will not move herself or the kids there.
Despite that fact, this episode actually made me doubt whether or not Barb will leave after all. She told her mother that she isn't just in her marriage for Bill anymore-- that it is also for her. It is clear that she wants the kids out, but not so clear that she wants out herself. However, this episode could be a conceit: I think the show needs to sustain that tension of will she stay or will she go now. And rattlesnakes in her bed might just be a tipping point. [Nice homage to The Godfather, by the way.] Also, it's bad enough to deal with Nicki grabbing for power, but now she has to deal with Margene as well.
I didn't entirely buy that Barb could suddenly get to the point of talking to her mother enough in one episode to end up at her wedding reception. But I will overlook it because it moved several things along. I loved the bit of dialog in which Sarah asked Ben if he remembered a trip they took when they were little-- pre-polygamy. It was clear from his face that he did remember, but he said, "No." That was such a fine bit of writing, because it showed the two disparate places that the kids have come to: Ben tweaks Barb by throwing twin girlfriends in her face, and Sarah has the best lines of the whole episode when she sweetly tells Bill that she will never ever listen to anything he tells her about relationships or life. I felt bad that Bill was crying-- and it was just so perfect that he put a fine face on it and told her to wave to Barb.
We also found out that Bill wants a polygamist life for Sarah only if she has a testimony for it-- so hopefully he won't force her into it. Not that I think she would let that happen.
As for Sarah and Scott: I don't know whether she will use him to leverage her way out of the family or not. I loved Nicki basically instructing Sarah to be a tease. Sarah is playing with fire now. I don't know whether she will hold onto her chastity as a way to reject all sexuality and polygamy too, or, like Ben, whether she will use sexuality to rebel against her parents. But her willingness to share Scott is setting her up for living The Principle, and sure, that is what has been modeled for her.
I am not even going to get into all of the complications of Barb's mother getting unsealed to their father (um, no, can't see that happening) and re-sealed to Norm. The theological aspects are just mind-boggling. If you want me to discuss it, leave a comment and I'll reply there. But that is just too much to address in one review. I can see why Cindy was so upset though: Basically, Barb's mother just became a polygamist, too.
I understood what Barb's mother meant when she raged, "Your eternal salvation is my responsibility!" That is a very big and serious deal. And I don't think that all Mormon families would cut off contact that way, but at least she was very honest about it: You can have this family, or you can have that. The choice is yours. But you cannot have both. And yes, it is going to hurt like hell. But if you think it's painful not to see me now? Think about living those consequences for eternity. She was absolutely right: This is Barb's big test. Barb has been hurting at not being able to see her mother for the entire series too. It is her constant sorrow, her biggest source of grief. And I am not at all sure that I know which way she will choose.
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