Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Big Love 2 Episode 5: The Waitress and More

A fine, complex episode of Big Love last night, with lots of important things going on.

1. I think my favorite was Bill's flirting with the waitress in the diner. If I'm not mistaken, this is the first time we've seen Bill go down this road with another woman - and it raises a bunch of juicy questions-

a. Why is Bill doing this? Is he getting not enough love at home - is the ratio between emotional support and aggravation tipping towards too much aggravation? Or would he be doing this anyway, regardless of how good or bad things were at home(s)?

b. Margene sees this from a car outside the diner. She reacts to this with her face - an excellent performance by Ginnifer Goodwin - but it's not clear exactly what she's feeling, maybe because she doesn't know herself. Later that evening, which is Bill's night with her, we do see that she's still thinking about the diner, but she doesn't say anything about it to Bill.

c. Which brings us to the underlying question here: Is Bill's behavior ok and even expected in a polygamous culture, or is he in some sense cheating on his three wives? Don Embry - one of my favorite characters in the show, because he always tells you what he thinks - is supportive, which suggests that Bill is doing nothing wrong...

d. The question for next week and beyond: how far, then, with this diner relationship go?

2. Nikki's views of the Roman Catholic Church were another important facet of this episode. Nikki is always the clearest exponent of the Morman view - which makes her a superb character - and her antipathy towards the Catholic Church was daring to put in the show, and fascinating to see. The occasion was their son going to a parochial school, far enough from home that Bill could fully be the boy's father in public, without fear of discovery. This whole thread captured the conflict and sacrifices of the polygamist: Nikki is forced to accept her son going to a school with values she loathes, so she and Bill can more of a public family, which the world would deny to them because of their practices.

3. And just for good measure, we have Joey maybe falling in love with Barb, Sarah getting in some good kissing, and Rhonda up to some more tricks ...

This episode could have been three hours and I still would have wanted more...

Big Love is clearly the best show now on television.

See also reviews of other episodes: 1. Big Love Resumes ... 2. Oh Happy Days ... 3. Sons and Mothers ... 4. Help Me Rhonda ... 6. Just Lust ... 7. Margene's Mama ... 8. Polygamy and Misgivings ... 9. Swing Vote Margene ... 10. Polygamy as the Ultimate Cool/Bad ... 11. Family in Crisis ... 12. Polygamy and Great Performances Confirmed
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