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'Big Love': Crazy hearts

January 31, 2010 | 10:00 pm

“There’s nothing we can do. They’re both consenting adults, and there’s no law against crazy.”

So Bill said about the mind-boggling would-be union between Nicki’s mother and her ex-husband. Though let's face it: J.J. and Adaleen weren't the only ones taking trips over to Crazytown. This episode had more nuttiness than a 10-ton Snickers. And if there really was some rule against being totally bonkers, more than half the characters would definitely be behind bars.

Though Bill himself should be incarcerated for all his low-down, dirty dealings. Bill announced his candidacy for state Senate, and dadgum if he didn’t step over, use, alienate and destroy whomever and whatever got in his way to do it. He’s always been self-serving and overly ambitious, but now he's really crossed the line.

He chided Rep. Colburn for calling the INS on Home Plus and playing dirty pool, but Bill is splashing around in the muckety muck along with him. He pulled a Roman and got new, eager worker bee and head cheerleader Nicki to don plain clothes again as a mole in Colburn’s campaign. He sent reports to Dale on how to redistribute the UEB’s assets. Moved up his announcement by three days. Eliminated healthcare for the other wives. Fed Don to the fishes. And threw his son out of the house! Build with Bill, my foot. How can one guy have his fingers in so many puddings and inflict such destructive force on them all? It’s enough to send one off to the cellar in a huff to sift weevils.

The most disgusting part: that he did these underhanded things while insisting his wives, children and friends all come clean.

Though, initially, Bill hadn’t the foggiest idea about Margie and Ben’s epic kiss. Or Barb running over the girl on the reservation, or Sarah’s subsequent kidnapping of her baby. Here’s a man increasingly detached from his own family even as he says he’s intent on preserving it. And his family, as he soon found out, has gone full-on loony tunes in his absence.

Like Sarah. Who got her hands on Layla’s baby and then decided she couldn’t let him go. And although the fallout from last season’s miscarriage had to be dealt with at some point, I wasn’t prepared to see it come back this way, particularly since Sarah’s been surrounded by and taking care of babies for, like, ever.

But what annoyed me most was how flippant she was when her mother hissed at her (“Sarah Elizabeth!”) to do the responsible thing. “Does Dad know?” Sarah asked in response, her only concern. It did, however, provide a nice opportunity to contrast Bill’s demand that Scott keep Sarah in line with Scott’s respectful rebuttal that that wasn’t how their marriage worked. And though Sarah ultimately agreed to get the baby back to the reservation, I have a feeling the rest of tribe will not be so forgiving.

Also crazy: Lois’ now-thwarted plan of smuggling exotic birds from Hermosillo. And correct me if I’m wrong, but the folks on the other side of the fence didn’t seem Mexican, did they? And after hiding money wads in stockings and ancient Aqua Net cans and scurrying about in the dirt evading Border Control, Lois promised God that this would be the last time she’d make this kind of run. Too bad it didn’t go as planned: A vengeful Jodean (who perhaps found a honeymoon with Frank in White Sands a little less than savory) sneakily undid the lock and let the flock go. I’m not sure where all this bird smuggling is leading (not a fan of our feathered friends), but this incident did offer one of the best lines of the night, squawked out by pimp Frank: “I wanna splurge for my honeys. Let’s stay at a Holiday Inn Express!”

705092_BL_404_LT_9_28_0087 Elsewhere, Alby let his freak flag fly when he home-invaded Dale, climbing into an open window and whipping up turkey tetrazzini and coleslaw for dinner (who knew Alby could cook?). Though it wasn’t all domestic bliss (darn dead Roman, who apparently has a thing for cushy armchairs, had to ruin the mood with his taunting “Nancy boy” comments. Again, so glad Harry Dean Stanton’s back: Only he could deliver the line “You’re a pathetic crybaby who masturbated himself into a sodomite” with such satisfied venom).

Though this homey scene came out of a creepily Stepford alternate universe, the way that Alby stood up for the compound and the Principle was both impassioned and sympathetic. And it led to a tender moment, where Alby called Dale “the answer to my prayers” and gave in to a sweet moment of surrender. But someone is bound to out this relationship. And what will Lura think when she inevitably discovers she’s dutifully been giving haircuts while Alby’s playing house and being serviced somewhere else?

Though she can’t really do anything about it, can she? That was made perfectly clear when J.J. and Alby had that chat about what to do to "dispose" of Roman’s 14 wives. Basically, they were reduced to chattel. “Do you have a burning in your bosom for anyone in particular?” Alby asked (ew). To which J.J. responded, “I should like your mother” (double ew). So Adaleen would be sealed to her ex-son-in-law, and J.J. would become his ex-wife’s father (triple ew with grape jelly on top).

Adaleen had no say where she was assigned to, as Alby made it clear that she was now property of the priesthood. And whereas initially, she cried and honked out her anguish in her fortress of solitude parked out in the middle of nowhere, Nicki’s mother was the model of “perfect obedience” by the time she made it to J.J.’s. No doubt our fingernail-less bad guy had plans for Adaleen that go beyond merely angering Nicki, though it sure seemed like he had a good time getting a rise out of his ex-wife (“As someone about to be your new father, I’ll not allow you to address your mother in that tone”).

705092_BL_404_LT_10_6_0750 And now it appears Joey’s involved in J.J.’s master plan as well, blackmailed into doing his brother-in-law’s bidding by some choice snapshots (that last one of Joey and Wanda clutching each other over Roman’s burning body looked eerily like damnation). Which is no doubt why Joey did an about-face and showed up at Bill’s rally, smile plastered on face, supportive arms outstretched and Nerf footballs ready to be lobbed. I can also see Bill’s father enlisting in J.J.’s cause:  Frank all but left in disgust when his son didn’t acknowledge him during his candidacy announcement.

Though the rally nearly didn’t happen at all, because “everybody’s favorite pit bull” sent a reporter to sniff out claims about Home Plus’ polygamy. But instead of coming clean when the sugar really hit the fan, like he demanded of everyone else, Bill called for someone else to take the fall for him.

Poor Don. Who had never been able to cut the right figure, sport the right haircut or hold on to his other wives. The poor schlub who served loyally as Bill’s Man Friday for all these years had to make the ultimate sacrifice as the sad and humiliated polygamist scapegoat. I always thought Don had been supportive of Bill’s political ambitions (didn’t he have someone mock up those campaign hats a couple episodes back?), but the lumbering yes-man showed a little bit of gumption earlier in the hour by crossing his arms and snarkily pointing out that Bill’s bid had “opened us up to public scrutiny.”

Turned out that was just envy rearing its ugly head. Unfortunately, Don had to pay for that sin in spades, hanging himself to get dirt-digging Colburn off Bill's trail and saving Bill once again. Taking the blame in order to make Bill blameless. No amount of cinnamon buns is going to help ease the blow on this one; I don’t care if they’re homemade. And I don’t know what’s worse: the fact that Bill asked him to take the bullet or that Don took it and then came back to hear Bill’s announcement. Methinks this would give Ol' Buzz Cut ample fodder to turn against his sworn frenemy, but we’ll see what happens.

And let’s not forget the hundred-pound elephant in the room: Margie. The third wife, who seemed so adult and mature when she rebuffed Ben’s love note during last season’s road trip, has apparently regressed to the third grade and decided to handle the whole forbidden kiss situation with the highly immature “if I can’t see you you’re not there” defense.

So leave it to Ben — dear Ben, who was so grown up throughout this whole process — who not only owned up to his feelings, but also forced Margie to do it too. Though who else thought that she and Ben were going to have another lip-lock in the kitchen when she finally admitted that the kiss meant something to her as well? Part of me wanted him to take her into his arms and go for the gold when he swooped in. Margie herself looked like she wanted to devour him like a marshmallow after spotting that bit of his stomach as he reached up into the cupboard. But no, Ben just repaid Margie’s admission by helping her reach the irretrievable and walked away. Could it be that Margie now has feelings for Ben, and Ben has moved on?

Though, really, it’s Bill’s fault that she kissed him at all. Had he been a supportive husband and showed up to the shoot, they wouldn’t be in this incestuous mess in the first place. But of course, he couldn’t, because they’re polygamous. So can this plural marriage really work? Now that his wives are all pursing their own public agendas, Bill can’t be a full, supportive husband to all of them at all times. Which leads to inappropriate public kisses … and even more inappropriate public meltdowns. Margie’s admission about “Mr. Margene Heffman” quickly devolved into a horrible case of verbal diarrhea, in which she tearfully spewed on and on about how her husband abandoned her and she’s “just a single mom with three kids trying to sell shiny things.”

Margie spilled the truth and earned her Hearts on a Sleeve authenticity certificate. It also appears she’s come to grips with the sad reality of her life (it’ll be interesting to see where she’ll go from here – and what will happen to her day job). And Ben made a dramatic move to leave the households for a while. But instead of telling his son that he should stay to work it out, Bill bared his alpha-dog fangs and (gasp) showed him the door. So he’s running his son off for being a threat to his dominion? So much for open channels of trust and communication. Not to mention that it’s all so Romanesque. One cannot forgive an act like that so easily — not even if he stood on his head and spit wooden nickels.

At the end, that happy face that William Orville (“You can call me Bill”) put out on the platform was like the shaky log cabin behind him: a facade. And with all the upheaval that he’s caused to himself and his family, who knows how long they’ll be around to help prop it up?

What did you think? Did Bill cross the line? Why wasn’t Sarah up on the platform with the rest of the family during the rally? Is anyone else missing the deviant Teenie now that this reformed tattletale is around? What the heck's a reaper? What happened to Wanda before she met Joey? Who knew Biff from “Back to the Future” hosted a radio talk show in Utah?

— Allyssa Lee


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Photos: Lacey Terrell / HBO