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October 10, 2015

'Big Love' Season 5, Episode 9 Recap

by Dr. Ryan Vaughan, PhD (no, seriously), posted Mar 14th 2011 8:10AM
['Big Love' - 'Exorcism']

Which sounds better to you -- "Penultimate," or "Finale?" Penultimate, right? It's got "ultimate" right in it and it sparks the kind of excitement and anticipation of which a measly 'Big Love' "Finale" could only dream.

Add to that the penultimate episode title -- 'Exorcism' -- and the stakes are raised even higher for the Henrickson family.

The Cara Lynn saga continued to weave itself in and out of the story. It's amazing what a little sex will do to every relationship surrounding it, and the notion of moral relativism started to come into play more drastically. How was Cara Lynn's relationship with Ivey any different than the love that Bill and Margene were built on?

That's not simply a rhetorical question, either, as Cara Lynn said what everyone was thinking in an airing of the grievances stemming from Nicki's attempt to send her to a boarding school against her will and behind the family's back. She also mentioned that Nicki was a horrible person and mother.

At first glance, this show is all about Bill and the turmoil that seemingly emanates from his fingertips, but it's the women and the way their own personal histories impact decisions and relationships that really keeps the audience invested -- how we work through our own struggles, often at the expense of others.

Nicki's last ditch effort to control Cara Lynn was to erase any shred of self-worth she might have had as a result of her relationship with Ivey, since she couldn't find any reason to value herself through her home life. Nicki has always been an "eye for an eye" kind of old-school ass-kicking Mormon, but not with her own daughter who's teetering on the precipice of a complete identity collapse.

After murdering Verlin and coming close to killing his sister, Nicki, Alby was on the run from the police and we were brought back to some of the hardcore lock-down days of Roman Grant's rule. In earlier seasons, Alby and Nicki's father Roman's covert battles with Bill were the stuff of legends, and now Alby was following in his creepy dad's footsteps, plotting Bill's murder from underground.

Add the possibility of the very cops protecting you outside your house knocking on your door to arrest you, to the incumbent hysteria and paranoia that a threat like an Alby at large might create, and the women were left to wonder about the distinct possibility of a world without Bill.

Each wife approached this possibility from unique and fitting perspectives. Barb was pragmatic, trying to distribute Bill's responsibilities, physical and spiritual, among the wives. This naturally had Nicki on the defensive, looking for ulterior motives and making wild accusations about the priesthood and Barb's commitment. Poor Margene went straight to denial, almost reverting to a childlike sense of avoidance bordering on ignorance, which I have heard in certain circles, is bliss.

Oddly enough, the religious aspects of this show can often fly under the radar, since the radar is picking up on the insane levels of personal drama and family dynamics. Yes, there is always a religious undercurrent, but it has taken a backseat to the drama driving the car with its foot to the floor. Even Barb's wavering spirituality is more of a personal search for strength and empowerment than it is about the religion, but only Barb seems able to see it that way. Bill was still bogged down by the semantics of the church and faith that in the end, only serve to severely limit both.

With Alby running, Bill took the fractured state of the compound and moved in to begin his campaign to eradicate it and all the despair it stands for. Addressing the media, he began the very real and symbolic process of tearing down the fences and buildings Roman erected on a foundation of fear and deception. This phase was also marked by Bill stoically looking out of windows a lot.

As horrible as this might sound, I think each wife might love nothing more than to see Bill go to prison. As much as they say they need him and his leadership and affection, they would never be more free to exert what, for the entire duration of the series, they have fought for: Their own identities. With plural marriage, the concept of family completely absorbs the sense of self that is essential to true happiness and growth. Barb was only just beginning to squeeze out some of that independence, and with Bill away, Nicki and Margene would gladly follow.

The rest of this episode detailed the cat and mouse game between Alby and Bill. Alby solicited the help of his mother and her years of experience plotting schemes and murders for Roman, to execute Bill, something to which she reluctantly agreed. A late-night run in on the compound squared Bill and Barb off against Alby and Adaleen, resulting in Alby's escape, Bill's frustration, Adaleen's arrest, and Barb's arm being bitten.

With Alby assumed to be on his way to Mexico and the air sufficiently cleared at the Henrickson home, a calm settled in ... which generally means something bad is going to happen. A late working Bill was joined by all three wives, bearing subs, the kind of idyllic Rockwellian moment begging to be disrupted by evil. It ended with a shoot-out at city hall. Alby, bathed in red light, cowered at the feet of a pistol-wielding Bill, and set the stage for a finale that will make you feel something.

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

Dr. Vaughan teaches English/Media/Humor courses at Binghamton University in upstate New York, and he eats people like you for breakfast. You can also check out his blog at drvtv.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/pages/Ryan-Vaughan/21931402981

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Matt, they weren't moving into the big house. They were stealing the copper water pipes to sell.

March 14 2011 at 12:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Matt Barnes

what you didn't mention was the really tragically sweet storyline of Bill's parents being old together, taking care of each other and even finally getting what they'd wanted all those years ago by moving into the big house. after years of misery and literally trying to kill each other, they find their love again just in site of Lois' death.

March 14 2011 at 12:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nikki said all the things she feels about herself to her daughter. That poor girl, Nikki is a horrible mother. What she did to Cara Lynn was awful.

March 14 2011 at 10:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Gina's comment
pig said oink.

If I was Cara Lynn, I would have slapped the woman. >.>
Nicki is just crazy, period.

March 14 2011 at 12:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I hate that "Big Love" has been cancelled. The show was off for it seemed like forever only to come back for the final season. I think that Bill's Mom will kill his Dad in the season finale.

March 14 2011 at 9:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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