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'Big Love' - 'Blood Atonement' Recap

by Danny Gallagher, posted Feb 22nd 2010 1:45AM
Big Love
(S04E07) "My cope container is full. Do you hear me? It is ... FULL." - Barb to Margie and Nicolette after hearing ... well, everything

Believe me, honey, I know the feeling. My cope container is one of those extra large "Big Gulps" from 7-11 that can only be held in a car cup holder the exact circumference as an elephant's foot. And this week, even that wouldn't hold it.

It's natural for a show with 2,000 plus running plot lines to feel more overwhelming than an IRS audit, but it's starting to get a little less believable. That goes for both for the plots' plausibility and the surprise that none of the main characters has suffered the kind of complete nervous breakdown that can create the kind of police scanner activity that attracts the local "eyewitness" news crew.

This week, we were treated to everything from a long-running secret plot line with Bill heading across the border to rescue his son and parents from the clutches of a psychopathic's polygamist compound, a run-in with local crazies protesting the family casino (perhaps, as discussed in the latest podcast, another 'Biggest Loser'-esque product placement plug for 'The Crazies'?) and the usual psycho-family drama that comes with having a house with three wives. In other words, it's a Thursday plus two Fridays.

If the writers' goal was to make the viewer feel just as overwhelmed and snowed-over as everyone in the Henrickson clan, then call the press, cue the aircraft carrier and roll out the "Mission Accomplished" banner. The mix felt like a giant pile of wet laundry just dropped right on top of me, leaving me gasping for air and struggling to crawl out of it.

It starts with Bill driving to some unknown locale as he lies to Barb about what he's doing and where he's headed, only leaving us to discover he's trying to get to Mexico to rescue his parents and son. Right from the get-go, it doesn't waste time with the how or the what and just throws you right in the middle of the where. The mock trial held by Hollis Green and his "Pat-ish" wife added just the right element of creepy, but the big payoff in the end where Bill's mom slices Hollis' arm off at the shoulder giving them a full-proof opportunity to escape felt way over the top. Don't get me wrong. It was nice to see these characters find redemption and growth from Bill's mom to his Dad, who admits that Roman made him kick Bill out and made him a victim of his own cowardice. I also love a good dismemberment in my entertainment. but Ash slicing off his own hand with a chainsaw in 'Evil Dead II' felt more believable than a frail old woman cutting a man's arm off with a rusty machete in one chop.

Cut to Barb who is still reeling over the fact that Bill has fathered another baby for the Henrickson brood with a fallen wife, Ana, and keeps trying to insist on getting the entire family involved in the baby's life. Ana, of course, needs help but not all of the drama that comes with being a Henrickson. Barb simply being Barb keeps sticking her foot in the door, only to discover that the right thing to do isn't always the easiest thing to do. It was a moment of deep understanding for me. Time and time again, I've watched the crazy people of this family make one dumb decision after another, but it's not driven by stupidity or even the need to create conflict. They do it because they think it's right and it's hard to fault them for that, no matter how many times my eyes scream at the screen to just walk away from what's sure to be a firestorm.

That being said, Margie definitely earns this week's "Dumbest Mother of the Year" mug for agreeing to marry Ana's boyfriend so they can both stay in the country and be close to Bill's baby. She's already in hot water with the family for one minor indiscretion, so why would she think that agreeing to marry someone outside of her marriage would make that boo-boo go away?

The biggest roadblock was the revelation that the lobbyist Maralyn may be in cahoots with the religious crowd that has been causing problems for the casino and may have even planted an explosive device, which seems to give Barb some kind of brain collapse since Bill is off chasing banditos in Mexico without her knowledge. After an episode that featured more needless drama than a 'Star Trek' movie, it made for a nice teaser for what may be a calmer episode. That being said, they are dealing with a D.C. lobbyist. Better stock up on the Maalox (that was not a product placement ...yet).

Other observations:

- Nicolette's mother possibly being pregnant was six kinds of creepy. Sure it was fun watching Nicolette's slowing unwind as everyone around her talks about babies while she's as barren as a puddle on the moon, but lines where she orders her to "pee" and her mother proclaiming that she has "the uterus of a woman half her age" made for some real gut-churning humor.

- The second fertility doctor wants to give Nicolette hormones? Isn't that like giving Michael Scott a copy of "Milton Berle's Private Joke File"?

- The saddest part about this episode? We never found out what kind of pie Cara made. For God's sake! Was it a key lime? Was it a coconut cream? Was it a meringue? It's going to have me turning in my sleep for weeks.

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Ugh..Cannot believe theres only 2 episodes left! It will be interesting what Wanda meant when talking to JJ. The peeing on the stick to her mom was hilarious!

February 26 2010 at 5:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's a Fleet Foxes song. Can't remember which one though.

February 23 2010 at 9:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mimi reickman

What was the music played during the closing credits on "Blood Atonement"? Why doesn't HBO give music credits?

February 23 2010 at 8:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mimi reickman's comment

Fleet foxes- Your protector

March 01 2010 at 2:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was doing one of those things were you put on a show and are in bed and close your eyes but still listen to the show and hope to drift off into sleep. Well i had to wake myself up to just comprehend what the heck was going on. It was like some psycho soap opera how much stuff happened. I mean, you'd think the show was cancelled and they had to wrap everything up as fast as possible the way the rushed through it all. They easily could have made this a 2-parter with a little more meat, then just skimming through it so fast.

February 22 2010 at 8:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can't even fathom what the writers were thinking when they wrote the episode, but the episode was made and was shown on television-on HBO no less. It was freakishly weird all around with a few good spots that were so awkward in an otherwise bizarre episode. I would have to agree with Richard Corliss when he said Big Love has jumped the shark.

Review of the episode on my blog:

February 22 2010 at 6:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This episode was an obvious homage to 24. I've picked up other references to 24 they've weaved into the narrative before, but last night was the most blatant.

-Bill and Joey storming the compound in Mexico? That's soooo Day 3.

-The scene with Selma shooting the bird broker was a carbon copy of Dina Araz's "off screen" demise in Day 4.

-Hollis Greene losing his arm? See Day 6-Dmitri Gredenko.

-The phony bomb at the casino? And the demand for the Evangelical leader to denounce violence? Perpetual 24 motifs.

February 22 2010 at 2:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to C C's comment

Goran (Steve Bacic) is a russian killed in Season 8.1 of 24. He was Axe'd

February 25 2010 at 2:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I used to like this show, last night I reached my limit.
I have three letters for the writers this year.

February 22 2010 at 12:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Kel's comment

FYI: it's "foolproof", not "full-proof". There is no such word.

February 22 2010 at 1:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Margene said to Ana that if she married Ana's boyfriend, Margene could protect herself. She is desperately trying to seperate herself and her business from the "family" and not go down when they announce (if they do) their polygamy. I don't think she wants to move to the new house either because by marrying this guy they have to live together and I think she wants to keep her house. As far as Wanda and JJ are concerned, JJ want to be the next prophet and is setting himself up for this by marrying the "old" prophet's main wife. What better way to insure his stand than be getting her pregnant. She is too old to get pregnant the old fasioned way. I think it is Wanda's egg that is being used and JJ's son impregnated her. Niki's mother said she didn't remember and was sort of out of it. I think he drugged her so she woildn't remember anything.

February 22 2010 at 10:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i wanna know what was up with Wanda and JJ. i love the Wanda character.

also, Nikki brought it up briefly, but it is believed that Margie had alterior motives in marrying Ana's boyfriend. so, when Bill announces they are in fact polygamists, on paper Margie would technically not be his wife. she has been distancing herself for a minute now and the marriage works in her favor, as far as her business is concerned.

February 22 2010 at 10:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sarah's comment

The only problem with Margene's plan is that Ana's boyfriend seemed a little too... I think Margene is in some big trouble with her plan. She will have to stay married to the guy for a while. What happens with the divorce? Is she getting a pre-nup? This guy seems like the type to try to get money during the divorce. I do agree that Margene is trying to protect herself and good for her.

Nikki should run far away from that "doctor". Something is not right there.

February 22 2010 at 3:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was most curious about what Wanda meant when she was talking to JJ. What did he do? It has to have something to do with Nikki's mother's pregnancy. Is JJ and his creepy son impregnating them without their knowledge? Alien sperm perhaps? (Joking?!) Wanda seemed very upset, she said to JJ that he promised to never do it again. Do what again?

February 22 2010 at 9:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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