Well, that got dark really quick, didn't it? What had been an oddly buoyant season of Big Love took a serious turn toward the sinister last night, as Bill became that which he most hates.
I suppose I should have seen it coming. I'd long found the Ben and Margene's awkward, completely unsexy romance one of the most compelling things on the show, to the point where I didn't really think about where the whole thing would lead. Well, it led somewhere serious and sad. Kid's jeepin' on his dad, in a strict Mormon household, after all. This show is very tricky about lulling you into liking this family, finding its quirks endearing rather than terrifying, but as last night showed us, it's important to remember that these (fake) folks are extreme religious zealots, people who would judge the hell out me and you (maybe especially me) and are capable of doing great misdeeds in the name of piety. This was brought into sharp relief last night at the very end of the episode when Bill, himself a Lost Boy, essentially told Ben to get the hell out of the house.
That Bill would ever cast out his own son for the same reason that he was expelled from Juniper Creek — for being competition in the pursuit of womenfolk — is just a whole big reminder about the sins of the father and the painful struggle against the repeating of the past and all that sad stuff. Did I think Bill capable of it? I guess I didn't. But it also wasn't all that surprising to see him, under great stress and anxiety and disappointment, lapse back into behavior innately familiar to him. Where will Ben go? Oh, probably to Sarah's. She seems to be taking in lost souls these days. I certainly don't think that Ben's exile will be as thorough and long-lived as Bill's, but it's still a pretty big fucking deal when you consider the history and the importance of male presences (Ben's a priesthood holder, right?) in this seriously messed up household.
So that, for me at least, was the truly big thing of the episode. But what else? Well, Sarah has dug herself into a strange and perilous hole of cross-cultural politics that has me believing that she and the unbearably sexy Scott might be taking off with that baby. Will that be Sarah's grand exit? Methinks yes. This will of course muddy things with Barb and the casino, particularly with Tommy. The prospect of a sex-tension between them seems to be dwindling, though it was interesting to see him show up on her turf last night. Something is definitely brewing there, though maybe it's just a difference-bridging respectful friendship. But who knows!
Nikki didn't have much to do this episode other than being horrified by JJ's latest bride. Who might she be? Well, Nikki's mom. Yes, creepster Alby willingly sealed his own moms to the sickly JJ, an idea proposed by JJ for, it would seem, the simple reason that it would piss Nikki off. Technically he now has some sway over her as her new father, but he knows she really won't pay any credence to that. Mostly, he can just continue to make her life miserable and difficult, with the collateral damage of poor Mary Kay Place (so, so excellent, always) going even crazier.
Speaking of crazy, there were some more theatrical hijinx with Lois and Frank, in which we found the source of Lois's black market parrots. Naturally they're smuggled across the Mexican border by some strangely geared-up gringos, and naturally things didn't go exactly as planned. The not-dead twin (the otherworldly Mirielle Enos) let the birds go while the bickering Frank & Lois snored in the backseat. And then, oddly, Lois made a lucid and sensible appearance at Bill's big stump speech, amid a flurry of other insanity.
The terrible liberal news media got wind of possible polygamy going down at Home Plus, and a weary Don was asked to fall on the sword and out himself as the multi-marrier on the payroll. Hey, his life is pretty much ruined anyway, so might as well! I'm wondering if Don will ever get out from under Bill's thumb and like... self-actualize! It'd be great and creepy to see ol' flat-top wreak some havoc or enact some vengeance, because Bill treats him mostly like a sad little prop and I think Don's worth a bit more than that. Too bad his lesbian wives don't agree.
What else! Oh, Alby broke into his boyfriend's house to give him a present and then just sat in a chair waiting for said boyfriend to come home. Then he found some documents that made it seem as though the boyfriend was working against him, which made him mad, but then he showed back up at the house and things were resolved and the pair had what was, I think, their first genuine coupley moment. It wasn't forbidden lust finally taking hold, it was genuine care for the other, a safety in closeness that took the relationship to a new and deeper place. Of course nothing good will come of this, but for that brief moment it was nice. Again this show is so deft at making us feel warm feelings for totally hateful people. Alby just sold his own mom into marriage slavery! And yet, I awwwed at him and Squarejaw's intimate hug. Befuddling.
Of course in the end the whole Margene-kissed-Ben thing came to light and everyone was horrified and not a little grossed out, and at first Ben took the full blame, but a guilt-stricken Margene couldn't let that stand, so she sat in her sad little elephant costume (see! Bill's a fundie Republican, and yet I root for him!) and wept to Bill that it had been she who kissed Ben and that, most importantly, she "meant" it. (See clip above.) Does this spell the end for the Ben/Margene will-they-won't-they? Hm, I think maybe so. But you never know with this surprising show. They often bob when I expect them to weave.
I'm sure I'm forgetting to mention something huge, so please discuss in the comments. I'm loving this season, despite its heavy melodrama. It's not as ruminative as last season, but watching the earth rumble beneath these characters' feet (rather than in their heads) is just as satisfying, only in a different way.
What're you thinkin'?