The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

Do I Sign It Grant or Hendrickson?

with 2 comments

Hey K,

I am genuinely confused. I thought this Bill-Niki wedding was “just a paper wedding” with us all knowing Niki had ulterior motives, but motives that weren’t seen as acceptable. How we got from there to the whole family – including Barb and, even, Ben – supporting a “real wedding” is kind of beyond me. Like, I really am confused. Did it seem strange to you too? Even stranger, Barb officiating! Big Love has spent all these seasons convincing us that polygamy can be some kind of normal too – that it might just be ok, even if broken…at the very least, that the notion that a monogamy somehow spells truth is questionable. But this season feels like it’s undoing all that work, to me. That Barb and Bill still have this fantastic chemistry, so much so that as she is officiating his vows to another woman, he can’t take his eyes off her (I loved Niki’s little angry look in that moment) makes me want to scream, “just go back to Barb! Ditch the others!!” But the world the show has created makes me feel like wanting to scream that undermines everything it’s all about. Maybe I’m supposed to think that the reason they have this chemistry is because of the plural marriage. I don’t know. But all the sweetness between them in that weird, creepy – yeah, I’m judging – completely disorienting ceremony is what makes the subsequent sealing so painful to watch!

It never occurred to me that they would go through with that after Barb refused to do it. I figured they’d wait. I mean, to do the sealing means saying that the other sealings weren’t real – and that effectively means they have now freezed Barb out of eternal life with them. The cruelty of that is staggering to me! It is difficult to imagine how they’ll recover.

In a strange way, though, in the midst of all this patriarchal awfulness, Bill also steps back to let his wives flourish – which really is surprising in the midst of a relationship where he is supposed to be in charge. When I imagine a domineering, patriarchal, religious husband with his wife, I don’t imagine she has the room to break every rule in the book while listening to rock music! And I don’t imagine her being allowed to step up and lead a religious ceremony. Did it seem ironic to you that the most loving look we’ve seen Bill give Barb this season was the one he gave her while she performed this pseudo-priest role? Is there something in him deep down that wants to go where she’s going? Before it’s all over, I hope we get to delve a little deeper into Bill’s desires – what it is that really makes him love the way he loves. Of everyone, perhaps it’s motives that remain least clear.

Switching gears, Bill’s battle with Alby is absolutely ludicrous – and it makes me wonder if he’s digging his heels in there because he feels he is losing control elsewhere. Even more so now, having the Margene dilemma surface properly – I just don’t know how they’ll handle it.  As soon as Heather started confessing to her Bishop I started panicking – he was so eager to perk up and hear her concerns. It was painful to watch her blind trust in him. Almost as painful as watching her blind trust in Ben – I find it morally questionable that he just hugs her and gets some hot chocolate with no expression of concern regarding what he’s done with Rhonda. For all his sweet ways, I think Ben is marching pretty quickly down his dad’s path – and it worries me for poor Heather.

What do you think the deal was with the musical choice of Les Mis for the weird double date? A revolution against the government with singing? Is it a playful allusion to the revolution Bill is launching for polygamists in the State?  Or something else?

And for all our happy talk about Frank and Lois last week – yikes, they went back to the crazy this week! And don’t get me started on Mr. Ivey and Cara Lynn…it’s so creepy but, at the same time, when it’s just the two of them, something seems to work. Does his mother know what’s going on? How is this going to explode!?!

Can’t wait to hear what you thought!
xoxo,
Natalie

—-

Dear Natalie,

I agree that it was a doozey of an episode on the fast track to god only knows what finale, but I loved it! We’ve been speculating whether or not and how Barb might actually leave the family and even though she continues to profess her faith that it will all work out and her commitment to it, last night was the iconic moment of her departure. She is claiming her own spiritual authority and identity and while she so desperately wants that to be compatible with her family structure, it is getting harder and harder to see how that will work. When she joined Bill to Nicki there was something totally fitting to me about it: she is finally giving her full blessing on the choice he made to lead them into plural marriage. But she is doing it with the growing awareness that she may no longer be able to be part of it. Maybe this is going to sound creepy, but it made me think about how they started this marriage to Nicki when Barb wasn’t sure if she would die or not. There must have been some part of her that wanted to make sure Bill would be OK if she did die. And that is what I saw in that gesture last night: she is giving him the wife he seems to think he needs, since I think she knows she can no longer be that wife.

That might just turn out to be the whole crux of the finale for me. To get what Bill professes to want and believe, he might lose the one thing (Barb) he really, truly, down to his toes loves. And the same for Barb. As she realizes more and more just how impossible it will be to belong to a church (and a family, since family kind of is church) that does not know how to accept who she really is, she is giving it up, slowly but surely. It is so bittersweet and painful to watch. But that is part of what plural marriage has always been about: the ideal of loving multiple people, the striving to put aside individual desire for the family good, up against the insane cultural pressure for exclusive romance and individual desire. No one we’ve seen has been immune to it. All the backbiting and hypocrisy on the compound, the various jealousies of the Henrickson wives – the tension has always been between the easy individualism of monogramy and the harder moral path of polygamy. Strangely, in giving the family what they need, Barb is enacting the vows of plural marriage more than anyone, even as she is extracting herself from them. Or am I just crazy?

I was right there with you as Nicki’s “new dress” turned into a full blown wedding. We all know this is what Nicki wants more than anything. I was a little surprised when Barb started going along with it, but the more I realized that it was (subconsciously or more) her ritual gesture of goodbye, it all made sense to me. I guess that is what confuses me most. How much does Barb know that she will have to leave if things keep going the way they are? Or if not physically leave, basically find herself outside the marriage even if she lives in the houses? I was shocked by the resealing – what the hell? But I was more amazed at how kind of un-shocked Barb seemed to be. Her artful dodge so as not to be seen seemed to indicate to me that she isn’t going to make a big deal about it. She wants the family to succeed and if they need a sealing to do so, she will let them have it. Even though it is just one more sign that she is not going to be in on the deal herself. But maybe this is too flippant and it is going to come back to haunt them all.

Speaking of haunting, what was up with the gun falling out of Barb’s purse when she went to get Nicki her credit card? If that wasn’t a bad omen I don’t know what was. Why else remind us all that Bill bought his wives guns if something terrible isn’t going to happen with one of them soon? If Barb doesn’t leave the family I am starting to worry that will be because she or Bill are dead.

I kind of can’t believe things are going to get as bad for the Henricksons as they seem to be about to get – statutory rape, a store foreclosing… But then again, this show does not shy away from melodrama, so I am prepared for just about anything in the next three episodes. If I had to make a prediction I’d say that at the end of it all, Nicki will get her wish and have Bill all to herself, though I am not entirely sure all that will transpire to make it so. Either that or Bill will die.

Ben and Heather don’t stand a chance. Perhaps she’ll “save” him from polygamy for a while, but the Principle will come calling and Heather will be Barb all over again. They even have the same hair.

So much more to say – Cara Lyn and Mr. Ivey… creeping me out more every day. Cara Lyn is preternaturally mature for her age, but he should know better. Maybe that is going to be the big moral of the story for the finale – sex with 16 year old girls and almost 40 year old men is creepy, no matter how fun, spunky, or mature the girl is. And if we learn anything else about polygamy from Big Love that will be it.

I can’t believe there are so few episodes left…. but I am loving this show as much as I ever have!

Kathryn

Written by themothchase

February 28, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Posted in Big Love

2 Responses

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  1. I am just through with Bill. I am also a bit disgusted with Barbara. They say behind every good man is a good woman, but sometimes the woman has to just say NO! Bill has gotten so full of himself that he is just as crazy as Alby, but not as flamboyantly violent. He betrayed the Indians at the casino because he didn’t want to be implicated in illegal drug activity, but he has turned his wife into a criminal. He couldn’t understand how Jerry and his son felt about their niece and drug dealing relatives but he expects Barb to kowtow to every stupid “testimony” he has which has led to the destruction of a beautiful marriage. I hope before the season ends that Barb finds love with a good man and discovers that she does not need Bill or anyone else to get to Heaven.

    Katherine Williams

    March 1, 2011 at 9:17 am

  2. I agree that everything leads to Barb leaving (or trying to leave). She looks like she’s trying to clean up the house before she goes, but I’m not sure that’s possible. I wonder if Nicki and Bill will end up back at Juniper Creek. Maybe Bill will be the new prophet…

    nina

    March 1, 2011 at 3:42 pm


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