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October 7, 2015

'Big Love' Season 5, Episode 7 Recap

by Dr. Ryan Vaughan, PhD (no, seriously), posted Feb 28th 2011 6:00AM
'Big Love' S05/E07['Big Love' - 'Til Death Do Us Part']

It's Barb Henrickson's world, and we're all just living in it. 'Big Love' has always called into question our modern-day conceptions of womanhood and femininity, and it's only now starting to really make a statement through Barb and her quest to carve out an identity within a structure that looks to squelch such desires at every turn.

It's not just Barb, however, as both Nicki and Margene are unknowingly or subconsciously working through similar issues of female empowerment and ceiling shattering ascent from their "place" to positions of power within the same rigid and generally oppressive system. So, why aren't they devising a united front with which to achieve their lofty, if not tragically conflicted ends? In their quest to dismantle time-enforced gender stereotypes, are they perpetuating others? Whether they are or not, the goals are admirable, but the means of getting there are decidedly less than, and Bill either has to embrace change or end up losing everything.

So, Barb really wasn't kidding about the whole "not down with Bill's church" thing. When the entire family was at church, Barb was left home alone cutting coupons, and the tension was beyond measure once everyone returned home

The fallout from Margene's rally was mixed. Nicki viewed it as a self-aggrandizing and shameless promotion of Gogi, Bill was proud yet more than a little suspect, and Margene, as usual, thought she did the right thing. With their wedding approaching, Nicki had taken her already overwhelming powers of meddling and passive-aggressive manipulation to astronomical new heights. She knew just what to say to at once build sympathy and arouse guilt, and she honed those skills throughout the the episode.

It was in Barb's best interest to remain calm and open to everything in order to avoid becoming the bitter old dissenter, and she did so as genuinely as she could in the face of Nicki's self-righteous clamoring over the wedding and Margene's earnest, "aw shucks" optimism. The end result was Nicki taking advantage of Barb at every turn, and transforming a family celebration into a personal validation.

If I'm not mistaken, Cara Lynn was shacking up with Mr. Ivey, which is inappropriate to say the least, but who can blame a girl for seeking stability outside of the tumultuous world she has known her whole life. I don't know how the sex part helps with the stability part, but it seemed to be working for Cara Lynn.

Nicki continued to assume that Ivey had a crush on her, so when she accompanied Cara Lynn, Mr. Ivey and his mother to a show, everything started to take on a sort of 'Three's Company,' romantic misunderstanding vibe, especially when Nicki invited him to her wedding.

News from the compound was not looking good and Nicki felt the dark clouds accumulating when she was unable to contact her mother, recently re-acquired by Alby. Alby was beginning to put the pieces in place to deliver a final death-blow to Bill and everything he represents. He began cutting off the compound from the outside world by eliminating cell phones and televisions, but more than that, he bought the lease on Home Plus, making himself Bill's landlord.

The implications of this maneuver were far reaching, and Bill was finally forced to take Alby seriously, or at least acknowledge him as a tremendous douche. Through all the evil-doings and back-alley retaliations between the Grants and the Henricksons, you never really felt like Bill was at a disadvantage, but this put Alby in a distinct position of power, and Don thought it was time to cash out.

That doesn't sound like Bill though, does it? Bill's biggest strength and his biggest weakness (besides polygamy) is his unwavering hubris. It's what keeps him in the fight and keeps him from listening to reason too: With Don, with Barb, and with his colleagues at the Senate. Instead of taking Don's advice, he was ready to square off with Alby until only one of them was left standing.

Frank and Lois are becoming like a sitcom. The two of them eating KFC and watching TV before Frank fell down and broke his hip and Lois left him lying there for two, could have easily been a 'Married... With Children' script. Their relationship is so warped by years of abuse and neglect that they don't know how to manage. Their deterioration right in front of us made it easy to understand how it almost ended with a murder/suicide, broken-up by Barb ... although Peg and Al Bundy would never have resorted to that.

In a classic "minor side-plot figures largely into major plot" move, Heather sought the counsel of her LDS bishop to help with her feelings for Ben and the complications that arose from such a union. She stood up for the Henricksons, so much so that she revealed information that would eventually lead to Barb being carted away in a squad car. Heather also made her decision to be with Ben.

The wives did not react well to the Alby news, but Bill had plans to confront the UEB about Alby's abuses. Nicki suggested burning Home Plus to the ground for the insurance and to leave Alby with ashes, but cooler, less psychotic heads prevailed. Anyway, Bill had bigger things on his mind, and they had to do with keeping his family together. He thought a re-sealing of he and the sister-wives would be just what the crazy Mormon doctor ordered. This, as with all things polygamy, elicited three disparate reactions. Nicki was outraged and offended that everyone wanted to ruin "her day." Margene, in all her wide-eyed idealism, was all for it, and Barb didn't want anything to do with it, at least until her priesthood status was dignified.

Barb's attempt to appease everyone? Allow her to officiate Bill and Nicki's wedding. This would be a baby step toward priesthood, and provide the kind of privacy the family could use to keep from being made an example of. Naturally, Nicki bitched and moaned to Bill about it, but placated Barb, most likely for use at a later date.

Bill angrily presented his case to the UEB, and turned it into a pissing match with Alby. He appealed to the board to withdraw its offer to buy the Home Plus building on the grounds that it was a personal vendetta, forgetting that for everyone on the UEB, personal vendettas are better than sex with a different wife every night of the week. They shared a decidedly different take on Safety Net and Bill's supposed philanthropy.

Unhappy with Gogi Blast's presence at the rally, Bill grilled Margene about the company and her boss, Michael Saint, Bill sounding rational and Margene spewing the company line. Was it a pyramid scam, waste of time or a humanitarian cause more about charity than the bottom line? The conversation was enough to make Margene ask Saint that very question.

No doubt Michael Saint had heard this line of questioning before, and his response to Bill's skepticism via Margene indicated as much. He reassured her that she was one of the few connected to the helping more than the money, and that would garner her the respect of everyone, including her husband.

With the meeting not going his way, Bill was flailing and started throwing hay-makers back at Alby. By the same token, with the meeting going decidedly Alby's way, he had his swagger on and began messing with Bill to draw him out of his corner and use more boxing metaphors. You could almost see Bill saying "I didn't want to have to do this, but you forced me to" when he dropped the gay-bomb on Alby, intimating that Bill would break this news to his followers if he didn't back off.

Cut to Verlin creeping up on Alby as only a hired sex slave can, and Alby paying him to strip and stand in the corner, remarking, "You like this, don't you." No, Alby. I do not enjoy this at all.

With the wedding only a day away, the topic of Re-Seal Fest 2011 came up again, and this time it was three on one, with Barb on the outside not wanting to look in. Barb had come too far to cave in on her convictions now, and she refused to agree to something so fundamentally against her beliefs. You go, girl!

The show ended with an epic wedding scene that attempted to encapsulate the entire season thus far. Barb officiated; Nicki's mother showed up; Nicki, Bill and Margene re-sealed themselves behind Barb's back; Lois left Frank to die; Don was having more of his doubts; and Heather's cop-father blew the whistle on Bill and Margene's marriage after talking with the bishop. It doesn't get any more 'Three's Company' than that. It all ended with Barb being carted away for questioning, and the viewer being left questioning.

'Big Love' airs Sundays, 9PM ET on HBO.

Dr. Vaughan teaches English/Media/Humor courses at Binghamton University in upstate New York, and you can find him anywhere with a menu. You can also check out his blog at drvtv.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/pages/Ryan-Vaughan/21931402981

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How proud we are for the recognition and yes we ordain ministers to serve as wedding officiants.

Universal Life Church

March 01 2011 at 2:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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