Monday, February 23, 2009

Big Love 3.6: Perfect, Exquisitely Played

A perfect, beautiful, exquisitely played episode of Big Love last night - 3.6 - probably the best episode ever on the series. In part, because, at last, it focused only on Bill's family...

First, though, I should mention that I'm really enjoying the fast pace of Big Love this year. Like Lost, 24, Heroes, and Damages, Big Love has learned to wrap up story lines, before they even edge slightly towards tiring us. Roman's out of prison and court, Bill and Ana got married and split, and lots of other crises have been well introduced and better resolved.

Which left last night's story wide open to really delve into other, long brewing family matters.

One of the most compelling aspects of Big Love has always been how Bill's family, despite it being so different from most families in America, grapples with the same problems. That was never shown better than last night.

Sarah (wonderfully played by Amanda Seyfried) is pregnant. This would be very difficult for a teenager about to go off to college in any family. But in the Henricksons, that pain is magnified more than three-fold, like most of the other crises they struggle with.

Barb discovers Nicki's birth control pills, assumes they are Sarah's, and starts going ballistic. This puts Nicki in a tough position - she knows Bill and her sister wives will be angry, to say the least, if they find out Nicki's been sabotaging her wifely responsibilities. In one of the best sequences in the entire series, Nicki comes through for Sarah, and tells Barb and Margene she's been taking the pills. As bad as Nicki has been at times, this shows what she's made of at the core, and how much she loves her family. She also comes through for Sarah and the family after Sarah loses her baby, supporting Sarah, and encouraging her to tell Bill and Barb.

Barb's and Bill's reactions were also a high point of this show, and the series. They love their daughter, and support her. I don't see how there could be could anyone without tears in their eyes after watching that heart-rending scene. Barb and Bill put love for their daughter above any religious teachings, and that's a redeeming message indeed.

On just a slightly lighter side, Margene and Ben run into each naked in a room (nice derriere Ginnifer Goodwin, or who's ever that was in that scene). Ben writes a Margene a love note, which Teenie sees ... Teenie talks to Margene, who talks to Ben. This, of course, is a problem that could only arise in a polygamous family, and it was rendered very well last night, too.

And on the subject of polygamy - we see Bill, struggling with his faith, not wanting to lose it, when he gets a few seconds alone with the sky.

An unforgettable episode of Big Love, reminiscent of the best of The Sopranos. I expect it will be seen for years to come, and will make an indelible contribution to the evolution of television narrative.









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