Big Love Finale: Teetering On The Brink


Ironically, it took the finale for Big Love to moderate the wild, over-extended pace of this season. On deck: Results of the still-implausible election, the truth about J.J.’s “fertility miracles,” and all three wives seriously questioning their marriage(s).

This episode set up several situations of mutually assured destruction: Bill and Marilyn, blackmailing each other; Alby, beset with a sort of denial-driven lunacy, threatening Bill with one phone call and Bill threatening the same; Tommy and Jerry Flute facing off with the Henricksons over enabling meth and polygamy revelations. Bill’s decision to (spoiler alert) make good on his promise to go public preempts and defuses all of these threats, even as it brings the family into entirely unknown territory.

We get a glimpse of the early brainwashing that takes place on FLDS compounds, with J.J. telling his young son stories about the end of days. (How come after the rapture you still have to pay for left-behind property? Guess “pro-looting” isn’t among J.J.’s sins.)

It’s interrupted by Bill, who is beginning to get an inkling of what exactly J.J. has been up to. He just doesn’t know yet how Nicki’s ensnared in it too — nor just how warped J.J.’s plan to build a master incestuous race on the compound is, because it’s so well-hidden without actual marriages. Later, via a convincing Larry King Live clip, we learn that the Walker “eugenics” plan, achieved via incest, dates back to the 1960s, further implicating those creepy parents of his.

When J.J. says that he and Bill aren’t so different because they both want what’s best for their families, the show clearly wants us to compare the morality of Bill’s empire-building with J.J.’s.

Disappointingly, there was no Barb-Tommy affair last night, and with Bill forcing them out of the casino, it’s unclear if there ever will be. Unless, of course, Barb goes entirely rogue. It’s another moment where we realize that for all of Bill’s talk about doing the right thing, self-preservation wins above all.

In the meantime, Margene offering her egg to Nicki was a neat counterpart to the more twisted fertility machinations on the compound. As Tracie has pointed out, Mormon women believe in IVF but not donor eggs. But does it count as a donor egg if they’re all considered the baby’s mothers in a polygamous relationship? In any case, Nicki is alienating both of her sister wives more than ever.

How much room is there in that big house on the hill? Margene, increasingly ostracized within her Henrickson marriage, is finding more acceptance with Ana and Goran. This wasn’t supposed to be a polygamous marriage, but Ana seems more open to sharing Goran than she did Bill — or the raising of her baby, for that matter. Then again, she and Margene have always had a bond, and she never clicked with the other wives. I wondered how far the writers were going to push this obvious threesome dynamic — apparently as far as Goran feeling up Margene’s bra strap.

However crooked of a lobbyist she is, Marilyn Densham appears to have been sent to say to Bill exactly what the rest of us are thinking. Such as: Is he simply justifying his own power-grabs and wandering eye with religious talk, however much he might believe his own malarkey? And is he a complete and total asshole? (Yes and yes, if you ask me.)

In perhaps the first genuinely suspenseful interlude of the season, Bill has to track down J.J.’s shady clinic in time to save Nicki. (And yes, this is him swooping into save the day again, although Wanda conveniently getting her voice back to tell him about the robbing and incestuous inseminating of her eggs certainly helped).

But the Grant women, even heavily sedated, refuse to be cowed, even after surely the most disturbing revelation on the show to date. Not content with implanting Nicki with Wanda’s eggs (that would be her sister-in-law via Bill and Joey, by the way, in addition to being J.J.’s probably-already-inbred sister), J.J. has been stealing their daughter’s eggs by pretending to be giving Cara Lynn a “tonsillectomy.” It would amount to Cara Lynn having a baby with her father, but with her mother as a vessel. If Bill hadn’t come in time, I wonder whether they might have made an exception and given Nicki the morning after pill or an abortion.

Even though Bill gets exactly what he wanted — he wins his election, re-asserts control over the casino, will have Ana and his baby in his life, and stands with all of his wives as a polygamist — the ladies in red, white, and blue are by no means satisfied. Barb has told Bill she no longer needs him and is beginning to agree with Marilyn’s assessment that polygamy is just an excuse for fucking around. Nicki no longer wants to share. And Margene’s growing independence combined with Ana’s apparent openness to sharing her husband further undermines the stability of the Henrickson’s arrangement. All three are wondering what their worth and value is, questioning Bill’s leadership — and whether, as Barb put it, they’re “worth more than just our ability to conceive.”

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