Only three episodes left, and by my count this season of Big Love has already had about four mini-season finales. But somehow the drama keeps clip, clip, clipping along. I've often heard Big Love compared to a soap opera, but soap operas are rarely this dense, satisfying, or eventful. There's been enough drama thus far on this season of Big Love to fill hundreds of soap episodes. The writers of Guiding Light or General Hospital would stretch this season to fill at least a year's worth of daily soap installments—and even then they'd never be able to come up with a death as shocking, strange, sad, and symbolic as Kathy's broken neck via her beautiful, prized long braid. (Although the Crying Game reveal that Selma isn't just Hollis Green's lackey, but is actually Hollis Green's wife? That's soap at its purest and most genius.)
In "Fight Or Flight" most everyone faced their threats—and there were a great many threats nearly all of them familial in origin—with some combination of the two. With her miscarriage out in the open, Sarah chose the latter, giddily planning to put it all behind her by escaping to ASU with Heather, despite Barb literally wringing her hands over the situation. But in the end, after Bill practically gives her a send-off in the form of a car, while Barb gives Sarah's conscience a loud, ringing echo, Sarah chooses to stay in Utah and face up to her own emotions about the miscarriage and her family. In short, the Big Love writers haven't given Sarah the easy TV teenage pregancy cop-out in writing in her miscarriage. When she was crying on Barb's shoulder about how she wanted her baby, but God punished her, and how she felt guilty because, "I was glad I lost him. I was relieved." it was clear the emotional ramifications of Sarah's pregancy/miscarriage hadn't simply disappeared when the pregnancy did.
Elsewhere on the Henrickson compound, Barb, Margene, and Bill staged a birth control intervention for Nicki, confronting her in her kitchen amongst the carrot raisin salad fixins. Adept liar that she is, Nicki's first instinct was to run away and pretend the whole thing wasn't happening, but Bill and Barb and Margene blocked her escape until she finally hyperventilated ("Get her a hard candy!") and fainted. The next night, however, Nicki made good on her flight response: accepting a dinner date with Ray the DA, who showered her with both gifts (A pink water bottle, for all of her water) and attention, the greatest gift anyone could give someone like Nicki. "You're uncomplicated," she says to Ray while John Legend croons in the background. "I don't have a lot of uncomplicated in my life." Of course she doesn't, but as evidenced by her date, that's exactly the way Nicki likes it. She complicates her life even in her quests for the uncomplicated.
Following Barb's bathroom confrontation ("Not now, Barb. This is quick-dry caulk."), Nicki knows she can't run away from making a decision about her babymaking purpose in the family forever. But it isn't until Margene, looking for an escape from the Henrickson day care center that is her life, turns up at Nicki's office and discovers Nicki's two-pronged deception (identity theft and espionage on behalf of Roman), that Nicki is forced to fight. Margene sheds her mourning/whore's license blonde, and fenagles a more permanent reprieve to the outside world than trips to the supermarket by cornering Nicki into quitting her job. Nicki responds by kissing Ray the DA, and telling Margene and Barb that she doesn't want to be on the conjugal schedule anymore. (Well, Barb did ask for a decision.)
Meanwhile as the Juniper Creek compound turns, Wanda was trying to face up to the nerve-racking prospect of Joey taking another wife, but all her body wanted to do was shut down. She was making Brangelina/Aniston love triangle collages instead of sex schedules, wetting the bed, and asking Barb for advice on how to be a first wife while thoroughly tuning her out. So, on her (second) wedding day, Wanda surrenders the position of first wife to the far more capable Kathy. But as Kathy, glowing in her crisp white prairie dress, bounded off to the hillside to get flowers for Wanda's hair, we knew it would never be. A short time later, she was being led into Hollis Green's creepy barn bunker/playground, and into what could have been her second arranged marriage brokered by Roman. Naturally, Kathy's instinctual response was fight—and fight she did: wrestling out of Hollis's grip and throwing a pitchfork at Selma before driving away in a truck. But as we saw tonight getting away from your problems is never so simple, especially on Big Love.
Grade: B +
--The killer braid was surprising, but Selma in a dress was completely shocking for me. How many people saw that coming?
--"It was Satan! Satan got a hold of me." That Nicki, always blaming Satan. And whatever else is handy.
--Speaking of Nicki, when she goes out on a date she really goes all out. "All out" here meaning "wanton displays of cleavage."
--"You can't do whatever you feel like with your own body." Of course not, Barb. That's what the schedule is for.
--Please correct me if I'm wrong, Mormon commenters, but an authentic "plural marriage smoking gun" letter by Wilford Woodruff would probably be a pretty big deal, right? But why would Albie sell it?
--Poor Heather. Even without the added complication of her possible SSA for Sarah, she must feel so abandoned.
--"I'm so sad. Why am I so sad?" Good thing Pam carries around spare Zoloft for just these suburbia depression situations, Margie!