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Big Love: "Outer Darkness"

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Big Love

"Outer Darkness"

Season 3, Episode 9
A

Big Love

"Outer Darkness"

Season 3, Episode 9

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"I don't know why we've been called to live in a time when no one holds the keys and there's no one to lead us. The church is as corrupt as Roman, and we drift in between. But I know there's a reason. We won't be cast into outer darkness. Have faith."

Well, that poolside pep talk just about sums up Bill's character in five tidy sentences. Governed as he is by blind faith, everything happens to him. He could hold the keys. He could be the leader—of his own family at least. Instead, this whole season he's allowed himself to be volleyed back and forth like a shuttlecock (or a phallic time capsule) between the compound and the LDS (as personified by Ted & Cindy), between Roman and Alby, between Kathy & Joey and Roman—refusing to either fully pick a side in these many, increasingly labyrinthine allegiances, or strike out on his own. And now he wants to divorce Nicki because she's essentially doing the same thing: playing both sides at once. That apparition of Don, Bill's Jiminey Cricket, couldn't have been more on point when he said, "You failed them, Bill. You know it's not just Nicki's fault."

After melodramatically crushing a photo of he and Nicki in his mind, after the hilarious break-up attempt over breadsticks at Bennigan's, after the subsequent hatesex, Bill finally told Nicki that they were to be unsealed. He cast her out into the outer darkness of Don's apartment building with the words, "There's something in you. Something deeply broken. And I don't know how to fix it." Nicki could have very easily replied, "Uh. Ditto." After all, what did Nicki do that Bill hasn't done? She worked for Roman to try and hinder his prosecution. So did Bill, for a time anyway. She had a largely innocent flirtation with someone. So did Bill—although he didn't bother "resisting temptation." She hid her birth control pills. Bill hid his Viagra pills. She lied to her family. So does Bill, constantly. If there were no lying to family in Big Love, there wouldn't be a show. In fact, the only thing that Nicki did that Bill has never done is claim to be Margene Heffman—and if Margene doesn't seem to care about that too much, why should Bill?

But Nicki wasn't the only cast-off in tonight's episode. Barb, too, suffered a significantly harsher break-up: her excommunication from the LDS. After experiencing the strange, multi-veiled, stark white heaven of the LDS at the temple with her mother and Cindy ("This is just a little foretaste of what eternity will look like."), she experiences their hell: a sober conference room where a church official cruelly enumerates exactly how alone Barb will be in eternity (no ancestors, no family, no progenitors, oh my). The scene was truly heartbreaking.

Still, in refusing to repent for her polygamy, this was a break-up that Barb chose. "I can't forsake my family," she told the inquistors before they damned her to unending darkness. Nicki, however, Barb can forsake—which seems strange given her excommunication. Nicki's rift with the family gives Barb the perfect reason to drop polygamy once and for all. Because if Bill had a testimony about marrying Nicki, and now he wants to divorce her, the whole Henrickson compound is built on a faulty foundation. Barb even said as much to Margene and Bill after the disasterous lemonade summit with Nicki, Alby, and Laura on the porch of the Juniper Creek big house: "I'm facing excommunication because of her entry into my marriage."  Yet, Barb didn't turn away from the free floating form of polygamy she practices and back to the structure and ritual of the LDS. Instead she clung to polygamy and her family, but at the same time seemed to unseal herself from Nicki.

Then, one final cast-off: Bill. After having Ray the DA (who still has a job, apparently) make a deal with the devil (read:Roman) to get Ted & Cindy's kidnapped daughter back from the Greens, Bill visits Joey in the murky darkness of the barn where Kathy was last seen alive. Joey, still raw with grief and teeming with anger naturally doesn't take the news of Bill's alliance with Roman very well. He cuts his brotherly ties with Bill, who at this point shouldn't worry about being cast into outer darkness. As we saw at the end of the episode, when he was lying on his back in the barn staring up at the dark vast night sky above, he's basically already there.

Grade: A

Stray Observations:

--The biggest revelation of the night? (Yes, even bigger than the bracelet buying habits of large-knuckled women) Nicki has a daughter with JJ. Also, what happened in Kansas? The Season Of Nicki, as #1 Big Love pinch-hitter Kyle so aptly dubbed it last week, continues apace.

--"We were born of parents with murder in their hearts." Does anyone else find the renewed brother/sister bond between Nicki and Alby kind of sweet? Very, very creepy obviously, but also sort of heartwarming? They truly understand each other better than anyone else can. Also, it's fun to see Alby's wife Laura threatened.

--"Dead girl in the truck! Dead girl in the truck again!" Not only that, but: Dead girl kissing Joey!

--"So you haven't tithed in seven years?" Nice opener, LDS official.

--About Barb's endowment, hopefully a Mormon reader can answer a few questions: Is it common for lifelong members of the church to have an endowment ceremony so late in life? Is it a repeatable ceremony? Did the scene ring true?

--"Barb, anger festers. It does. Before you know it, it's infected. Then it's gangrene. And then you can't save the leg." Poor Margene. No one listens to her, especially in this episode.

--"In the washer. HOT water." For Nicki, teen sex is a big laundry issue.

--Didn't Kim Lee learn stranger danger? When a white van with a strange butch woman sitting in an armchair in the back pulls up, you turn, run, and never stop running.

 

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