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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Big Love: "Sacrament"

Illustration for article titled Big Love: "Sacrament"
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Ah, communion (Wonder Bread) and holy water in Dixie Cups by the pool with the fam (minus one. Is Teeny back at athletic camp?) after you've decided to form your own church just because you can. Is there any sweeter family scene? Maybe riffing about the best way to kill your parents with your equally unstable brother? Or forming a FLDS pieta in the hallway of a Holiday Inn with your crazy mother after you accidentally set off the bomb you planted for her? Family: they put the fun in dysfunctional.

Last week, when Bill fell through the barn floor, landed on his back, and gazed up at the vast, dark night above, a number of Big Love watchers in the comments saw that scene as prelude to a revelation, as opposed to Bill's confronting the outer darkness. Well, in this season finale, Bill did have a revelation—but it wasn't from God, it was from Roman, and it had nothing to do with staring up at the heavens. After being led around by the nose by Roman for days in the effort to get the kidnapped Kim Lee back from the Greens, and after (rightly) being called a fool by Roman multiple times—first for trusting Roman, and then for trusting the authenticity of a letter brokered by Alby—Bill thinks he's finally got Roman where he wants him. But then Roman pulls a gun, throws away Bill's cell phone (so he can't text Don with the signal to get Selma arrested—great plan, Bill), and kisses Bill on the mouth before telling Bill his secret: Roman took power from God, because sometimes that's what you have to do. Evidently, this is a novel concept to Bill: making your own destiny, instead of waiting around for God to reveal it to you. And so, with the spittle of an admitted false prophet now dry on his lips, Bill is inspired to become his own false prophet by officially starting his own church. (Nevermind that this season we've seen that the Henricksons pretty much already have their own little church, with their own little rituals, but whatever.) And why not? The Henricksons can't do any worse than the LDS or Juniper Creek, or so Bill thinks.

But Bill wasn't the only person in this action-packed season finale who was grasping for the keys. Margene sells her car to finance her bracelet business, and despite Bill's discouragement, she strikes out on her own, selling out her wares on the Home Shopping Network by reminding people, "I"m just an ordinary person." Sarah impulsively proposes to Scott after seeing him sing "I Wanna Be Sedated" to her baby half-sister. (Ironically, she seems to be choosing marriage and family over school, while Nicki's daughter Carolynn wants to choose school, but instead is on the cusp of a Joy Book marriage.)  And on the compound, Alby was spurred into action by his and Nicki's patri/matricide rap session and enlisted the devoted Laura's help in making a bomb to kill his parents. Alby wants Juniper Creek for himself once and for all. Unfortunately, with the bomb the only person Alby ensures will never claim the compound is the poor maid who was in the wrong Holiday Inn corridor at the wrong time.

Then there's Barb. In the wake of her excommunication, which nearly obliterated all of Barb's ties to the past, Barb seems to be fixating on the future. And in Barb's mind, as well as Whitney Houston's, the children are our future—"Nothing is more important than a child," she reminds Cindy—and so naturally Barb wants to have more babies, even if she has to "rent" a womb in India to make it happen. Bill, to his credit, thinks this is an insane plan. But even though Barb can't make her own baby-making destiny in India just yet, it's Barb who is instrumental in Nicki's grabbing the keys in terms of her abandoned daughter, Carolynn. Following the heartbreaking scene with Nicki and Carolynn on the dusty lawn of JJ's house, when Nicki realizes that her daughter is going to suffer the same fate that she did, Nicki is flailing. She doesn't know what to tell her daughter, how to help her, or even where to go. But when Nicki admits everything to Barb, including that she hates herself for what she did, Barb gives Nicki the resolve to act. And so, hours later, Nicki and Carolynn show up at the Henrickson compound just in time for Wonder Bread communion. Meanwhile, back on the compound, Joey is grasping the keys in his own way. Instead of waiting around for Bill to make good on his promise to get Roman for Kathy's murder, Joey gets Roman himself, smothering the prophet with a pillow on his bed.

To sum up: Sarah's getting married, Nicki's raising a teenager and hiding from her creepy ex-husband, Roman is in all likelihood dead, Alby is in all likelihood in charge, Margene is a bracelet mogul, Bill took God's keys, and Barb wants still more children. Next season should be another good one.

Grade: B+

Stray Observations:

—Anyone else less than enthralled by this episode's driving narrative force, the kidnapping? The whole thing just seemed like a cheap, and not particularly interesting way of ratcheting up the drama. Though it was fun to see Selma stew with envy about Hollis' "unnatural friendship for the pretty oriental girl"


—Also, all this negotiating, and never once did Hollis Green get to use his signature send off, "Sincerely yours, Hollis Green."

—Ray the DA: still has a job, still making Bill look almost smart by comparision. Nicki really wasn't kidding when she said he was uncomplicated.


—"They've already had premarital sex. This is making it right." Uh, that's one way of looking at Sarah's engagement, Bill.

—Barb was in uber-judgmental-mom mode this episode, admonishing Nicki for not thinking about Wayne and Raymond, but where is Teeny? She'll be so excited when she gets home to discover that her dad started a family church in the backyard without her.


—"Oooh. Maybe a pit of snakes." Once again, Nicki and Alby's murderous sibling bonding is equal parts funny and oddly touching.