Most shows only have one season finale. Big Love, of course, has several. Every season has a couple of big, grand, bombastic episodes that at least feel like season finales. Last week's episode—with Dale's suicide, Adaleen and JJ's wedding (and their clothed-but-still-creepy wedding night), Nicki dressing up like an extra in Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and literally rescuing Cara Lynne from the clutches of a pedophile, Ana's surprise return and pregnancy, Hollis Green kidnapping Ben, Frank, and Lois, etc.—was definitely one of those jam-packed, beyond eventful episodes. Sure, not everything was resolved, but there was a sense of finality to it all—or at least a sense of "that's it...till next season!"
Of course, that wasn't it. Not by a long shot. Big Love still has about 75 plots (estimated) to conclude, augment, embellish, or complicate—and the show is adding more all the time! Case in point: Tonight's episode was mainly focused on Bill's efforts to rescue Ben, Frank, and Lois (but mostly Ben) from Hollis Green's Mexican compound, Ciudad Green. (You see, rescuing kidnapped family members from Hollis Green is one of Bill's favorite pastimes.) While it was fun to see how the Greens live and adjudicate in Mexico, personally I didn't find this plotline nearly as interesting as the writers apparently did. For one thing, it was basically the same kidnapping debacle as last season's, except this time Ben was the child in peril instead of Kim Lee, Bill was yelling at Mexican police instead of Ray the DA, and Joey was the guy with an ulterior motive who was along for the ride instead of Roman. Bill was still as inept as possible--"Uh, what's that up ahead? A drug war? Oh, I'll drive right into it."--yet he still managed to free his family from Hollis Green.
Another reason the Bill Y Joey En La Ciudad Green plot fell flat for me was because it gave Bill a chance to play the unselfish hero—which isn't a role that fits him very well. In fact, tonight he was playing more superhero than anything else, so the whole enterprise just seemed hopelessly cartoonish (which, granted, might be the only appropriate way to best a cartoonish supervillain like Hollis Green). First Bill thwarts Joey's revenge killing plan by stealing his gun—Pow!—Then he sneaks onto the Green compound, undetected—Zap!—Then, The Amazing Bill insists on carrying the ailing Frank because "No one gets left behind this time."—Bam! And then, of course, Bill offers up his own life in exchange for the release of his family, casts a meaningful glance at Ben as if to say, "See? See what I'm doing for you?", and then he prepares to die. Luckily, Lois is handy with a machete and she cleanly cuts off Hollis Green's arm—Zot!—thus saving Bill and becoming something of a hero in her own right.
Thankfully, while Mexico was the main setting for all the action tonight, there were many new developments elsewhere. Back in Sandy, Margene married Ana's fiance, Goren Petrovik, ostensibly to keep Ana and her baby in the country to please Bill and Barb, but really so that Margene and her business wouldn't have to go down with the Henricksons when/if Bill's brilliant "Become a state senator, tell everyone I'm a polygamist, then live a normal life" plan comes to fruition. Margene's separation from the family grows wider and more fascinating with every episode.
Then there's the problem of "Babies, babies, babies!" Nicki's uterus is unhappy. Obviously. But her mother Adaleen is evidently pregnant and has "the uterus of a woman half her age." Clearly, something very creepy is going on at the compound—and possibly inside Adaleen's uterus. What is JJ incubating in there? Replacement fingernails? But Nicki, blinded by baby lust and the need to hold on to her "womanhood", goes to JJ's brother for a fertility consult despite the fact that he's a.) JJ's brother, b.) he wants to put her on hormones and c.) "He's a doctor now" isn't much of a recommendation. This can't turn out well.
Meanwhile back at the casino, Barb has to contend with evangelical protesters, dummy bombs, and Bill's eternal absence. In tonight's episode, Barb and Tommy shared a moment of—what should we call it?—tension (this time outside of the sweat lodge); they skyped with an evangelical leader together; and they uncovered a nonsensical (so far) conspiracy involving Marilyn, Congressman Paley, the evangelical guy, and Scotland. In short, they were more of a couple than Barb and Bill have been lately, which is a very interesting development indeed.
--Even though I'm rooting for Tommy and Barb to fall helplessly into each others' arms, the scene where Bill, spurred by the melancholic Mexican movie, calls Barb to apologize and say, "It's gonna be different. I'm not that person you think I'm becoming." was moving. I don't believe Bill, obviously. But it was still an effective scene.
--"Pee! Drop your drawers and pee on this stick!" Ah, it's mother/daughter moments like that one that really make this show something special.
--"The cult lady wants me to drink the Kool-Aid again." Exactly. Ana's fiance must really be hard up to stay in the US, because why would she go along with any plan that would tether her to the Henricksons any more than she has to be?
--"I'm a partial mother." Barb's baby hunger never fails to sound anything but completely insane. Remember when she wanted to rent a womb?
--Margene just got married, evangelicals are attacking the casino, and, oh look, Cara Lynn made a pie!
--Selma's coming home party on the compound looked pretty happening.
--Any guesses about what, exactly, this Scottish conspiracy is?