'Big Love': The truth shall set you free
It was quite the explosive finish to an already action-packed season. This episode, titled “Sacrament,” had everything one could wish for — tension, redemption, a big bang and a big death — tying up enough story lines to keep one satisfied and giving enough to chew on before the next season.
It began similarly to the season opener, a chaotic scene that launched us right into the midst of another Henrickson morning. But save for a breakfast order without any egg juice left, this scene betrayed an air of solemnity. And sure enough, it’s separation day: Bill was helping Nicki move out of the house and into one of Don’s apartments. Only, Nicki had decided to make a beeline for the compound rather than be relegated to a ratty old two-bedroom.
There was still a lot going on without her, however. Kim Lee (could they really not come up with a better name for an Asian girl?) was still being held for ransom, and Bill was crafting his own crazy schemes to get her back to Ted and Cindy, arrest the Greenes and indict Roman for Kathy's death and get back in Joey's good graces. To his credit, Bill astutely figured out that Selma was the weak link in the Greene brigade. Turns out Selma unveiled a little Greene monster when it came to Hollis and other women (like Kathy), and she would rather get Kim Lee out of the picture than have that little minx steal her seat and play with her mimeograph. “He dotes on her!” she moaned to big brother Roman.
Roman, for his part, sure did leave his mark on this hour.
Not only was the Prophet of Juniper Creek the surprising voice of truth in this episode, but he also got in some great guitar licks — talk about unexpected treats. I particularly enjoyed when he put an otherwise lofty and overblown Bill in his place. Like when Bill blamed Roman for allowing Alby to get his greedy hands on the Woodruff document. “You’re the one who sold it at his behest, no less. And to the bastard church of all places," Roman responded calmly. "So maybe it’s not my son who’s the world’s biggest fool after all.” (And without missing a beat, he turned to the driver with the same aplomb and said, “Want half a sandwich? Meatloaf.”) And then he revealed the biggest con of all: that the document Alby sold — the one that had the church in a tizzy and was supposed to prove polygamy's legitimacy and justify Bill and his family — was false. “We’ve been selling this phony crap to the church for years,” Roman tattled. Ha!
Which then led us to the great roadside scene, when Bill somberly watched Selma drive away after giving up Kim Lee. “Why the long face?” Roman taunted. “Because you’ll never get the Greenes? Or ’cause you’ll never get me? Or is it because you are lost?” He seemed to have Bill pegged to a tee. Though when he planted that kiss on Bill, I immediately thought of Judas and half-expected to see the big, lumbering, bowl-cut Greene come and finish Bill off with his belt. But then Roman went further. “I’ve been kissed by the Heavenly Father. But that’s as close as you’ll ever get,” he said. “You have to take authority for God. I took it. I made myself.” And whether it was intentional, it was like Roman was giving Bill, if not the keys to the kingdom, a key step to seizing the authority for himself. I don't think it's any coincidence that Bill came up with the idea to establish his own church shortly thereafter.
Back at the compound, it was great to see Alby and Nicki getting along in their half-serious banter on how to get rid of their murderous parents (my favorite: the bomb in the Almond Roca tin). But Alby’s plan to blow his papa to kingdom come backfired when, of course, a cleaning lady had to turn the corner and muck it all up. (I also loved that Adaleen immediately scanned the wreckage, ignored the impaled cleaning lady and ran over to comfort her son, never mind that he was trying to kill her — so indicative of the family’s complicated love-hate relationship.)
The Prophet of Juniper Creek had cheated death once in this hour, but alas, he was not so lucky to escape Joey’s vengeful hands. In the end, Roman’s last shot was of him suffocated and lying on his bed, arms raised as if in surrender. The great Roman Grant was dead. Detractors may call him what they will, but Roman sure snapped everyone around him to attention. The same could be said about the impeccable Harry Dean Stanton, who played him. Stanton was able to do so much with the smallest of lines and imbued such rich texture into what easily could have been a one-note role. He will be missed.
In other news, Marge was going full steam ahead with her bracelet biz, and Barb was still in the midst of her own inner turmoil. Especially now that Sarah had dropped her own bomb and revealed that she was (groan) engaged to Scott. “What’s the plan, Bill? Present’s a little shaky. I need to nail down the future, and I need to nail it down now,” Barb insisted. And for a quick nanosecond, I thought that maybe, just maybe, Barb would suggest that they become monogamous again. But no, she hatched up this wonky rent-a-womb-in-India plan.
Barb, as the mother hen, needed to find some kind of solace in securing the future generation in order for her to rest easy with her own. As she told Cindy, “Nothing is more important than a child.” And Nicki needed not only to fess up and acknowledge her past, but also to act in the present and save her now-14-year-old daughter from a future of being written up in the joy books. And I loved the way the two dovetailed into a kind of double-redemption, along with Bill's somewhat startling answer to the issue that "no true church would leave you unconsoled." (Though, judging by her speechless reaction, whether Barb is on board with this revelatory new-church vision remains to be seen.) Significantly, Barb was the first one to take Nicki’s hand and welcome her and daughter Cara Lynn into their household. Which allowed Bill to come back into communion with his second wife as well. And as fleeting as it might be, it was lovely to see the family (save Teenie — where was that girl?) coming together and breaking bread to the tune of the Velvet Underground's "I Found a Reason" — a final scene that lifted up and faded not into darkness but light.
What did you think? Was the finale as satisfying as you hoped it would be? Are you sad to see Roman go? Where will the show go without him? Who's going to take over his spot? Until next season ...
— Allyssa Lee
Photo: Lacey Terrell / HBO