Review: Big Love - The Greater Good
by Danny Gallagher, posted Jan 18th 2010 2:31AM
(S04E02) "It's clear that Bill has a calling, I'm sure of it. Just maybe the wires got a little crossed. Maybe you're meant to be the next prophet of Juniper Creek." - Nicolette on the revelations that he should run for the State Senate
Just when I thought I had a handle on everything surrounding the swirling complex vortex that is Big Love, Bill decides the best way to protect his already complicated family from slipping even further out of each other's grasp is to run for public office. Politics, it truly is nature's weed whacker. It aims to clean up messes, even if it destroys everything surrounding it in the process.
Now that Roman is dead and almost buried, talk of a new prophet is rising. In the red corner stands Alby, a frail, shadowy, smarmy little man with plenty to hide and expectations to live up to that everyone knows he can't possibly meet. And in the blue corner stands Bill, a rock of a man with just as much to hide but an ambition and willingness to stand and protect his beliefs, even in the face of unfathomable scrutiny and ridicule. Who does it sound like would come out on top in this sparring match?
The whole episode feels like a mix of seeming predictable moments and setups to interesting surprises, starting with Alby's torrid love for Dale. It isn't public knowledge yet in the hotbed of grapevine gossip that is Juniper Creek, but it feels like the easy way to prevent him from gaining too much power or the chip they can call in that they don't know they have. It also feels like a great way of keeping Bill in check. Basically, it feels like everything has been sewn up before it has a chance to be pulled tight.
Of course, the most interesting decision is Bill's fervent decision to chase the office that could keep him and his family from being split apart and to go public with their relationship and beliefs once they win. It's a gutsy move but it's also something they have to keep secret until Bill wins the big office. How many times have they had that goal on their to-do list? It's bound to come out or at least become some kind of twisted leverage in someone's twisted scheme of twistedness.
It is a bold choice for a show about family, togetherness and the secrets that bind them. Pursuit of a political life can ensure their family's well-being or completely destroy it and the path to achieve such a goal is always interesting to watch and it will be interesting to see where things go from here.
Meanwhile as the family attempts to heal the binds that were almost broken, new ones start to develop like the small ember that burns between Sarah and her family as she wants to get married but not inside the church. The subplot allows the show to delve into the religious angle as the story starts to delve into other areas such as politics and commerce and it gives Jeanne Tripplehorn a moment to shine as she learns about her daughter's strays farther and farther from the faith. She clearly felt like a woman struggling to give her daughter the independence she craves without completely letting her go.
Chloe Sevigny (I swear, I will never learn how to spell her name without having to look at it at least three times) also twinkled as she struggles with the emotions surrounding her father's death and how it affects her faith and belief in his prophecy. Some might think she laid it on a thick, but her character is one of very devout faith, more than perhaps any other character on the show and her belief that Bill should step into Roman's now empty shoes drove into a hotter than usual fit of jealousy and anger that almost boiled over the pot. Good thing her mother, played by Mary Kay Place, was there once again to put a lid on it.
- The "JJ" angle is shaping into something that could become very damaging. I'm not up yet on the entire history of all the characters, but his slow and most evil demeanor just screams from some kind of bombshell in the future that, given the show's history, may or may not involve an actual bomb.
- Does anyone else get this feeling of swirling confusion and an utter sense of loss after every episode? This isn't a crack at the quality or production but it's hard for my tired brain to get a tight grasp on everything that's going on in one sitting. That being said, it could also be the DayQuil talking. Lesson learned: never watch Big Love on a heavy duty, over the counter cold medicine.