Big Love Recap: July 23, 2007

About five times during this episode, someone speaks of Bill being a good man. He even says it himself once. They’re trying really hard to convince us, don’t you think? The characters also use the word “vile” a lot. Can anyone get comfortable with who they are? Any show could take a lesson from Big Love character development, though.

Margene’s lush of a mother comes to visit tonight, and she’s played by Bonnie Bedelia. Up until now, I think we’ve really been waiting for this great insight into Margie’s life. When mom, Ginger, arrives, the backyards of the three homes have been cordoned off into three separate neighborly yards and the sham begins. Margie explains that she, her husband, Bill, and the neighbors, Nikki and Barb, are very close and very conservative, which means no drinking, smoking or swearing. This proves to be pretty difficult for Ginger. They all eat dinner together and reminisce over basically one good time, which involves Margene not liking her head and Ginger poking fun. Ginger also whines that she hopes Bill won’t pray again, and Barb, never sounding so cultish to me before, says, “Prayer is not a stranger in any of our homes, Ginger.” After dinner, Ginger confesses that she’s jealous of Margene’s perfect life and since apparently Margie has never heard this before, she’d rather not tell her mom about her polygamist life. Unfortunately, Ginger opens the window to smoke and sees Bill and Barb steal a kiss over the fence. Convinced they’re having an affair behind her poor daughter’s back, the girl who always clung to men and hung around with oddballs, Ginger tells Nikki about what she witnesses and somehow causes Nikki to disclose the marriages.

Margene tries to convince Ginger that the three are devoted to each other and it’s a righteous thing they’ve got going on, but Ginger leaves Margene’s house and flees to Nikki. Now, Nikki is in need of some serious motherly love and hoards Ginger from Margene. This is finally a good night for her too: she smiles more than usual and is complimented on her hair. She even takes as warm and fuzzy Ginger’s dig that polygamy is perverted but “Nikki can’t help it.” Later on, after much sibling-like fighting over Nikki telling Ginger about their life, Nikki and Margie bond. Nikki can see for herself what Margene has been trying to tell her about her mom – that Ginger is a drunk and has always tried to compete for Margene’s boyfriends. Bill welcomes Ginger into the family but says he won’t stand for her mocking them. Margene then kicks her out but not before being slightly convinced by Ginger that while Nikki and Barb think they have all the power, Margene is really most powerful in the marriage. Hence, a fourth wife would not be in her best interests. Hmm. Margene finally looks pregnant too in some of these scenes. We also get an unexpected and raging sex scene! They are so few and far between on this show.

Frank is back in the picture after hearing rumors of Lois’ fur coat, new snow mobile and nice furniture. He does his own internal “audit” by turning Lois’ house upside down and threatening to beat her up if she doesn’t give him 50% of her money from the Laundromat. She throws a fifty dollar bill out the front door, and Frank chases it like a dog. Frank calls Lois “woman” and threatens her; he doesn’t know who is own grandson is and then later tells Barb that Bill is just as much of a creep as he is. When she married Bill, she married “this place” After all, they do live by the same principle.

Don Embry gets increasingly anxious about Weber Gaming and basically calls Bill out on behaving in a vile way. Little does Roman know that, in addition to poaching the gaming company, Bill has given Roman a new problem, the Greens. In order avoid being branded in the rear last week, Bill made Roman his excuse for Weber Gaming not being available for the Greens to purchase. Bill lies to the Greens and says he’s spoken to Roman and that Roman has refused to reconsider. Hollis Green now respects Bill and hates Roman, and Bill doesn’t seem all that fazed by the whole thing. Is Bill all that righteous? We’re constantly being shown the difference between the compound and their suburban life, but is it all that different?

Joey summons Barb to pick up Wanda at the hospital and deliver her to the compound, which she sneaks off to do. When she arrives, she’s asked to stay overnight until Joey returns and while Bill objects, Barb does what she wants anyway (yeah Barb). While picking up the baby, Lois has to pull a shotgun on Frank to keep him away from Wanda. That night, when the lights go out due to ominous wind, Barb starts crying because she thinks Frank is out to get them. It’s really Joey, though, as he puts one arm around Wanda and one arm around Kathy. Barb realizes she doesn’t have a non-polygamist ally anymore.

A polygamist leader has been caught by the police and the Greens are after Roman. The compound is on lockdown and when Barb tries to leave, she sees Roman and confronts him on exposing the family at the Governor’s mansion. She calls him a false profit who governs using fear. He explains that they’re all family and he was merely trying to bring her into the light. This is another defining moment for Barb because she realizes what she's gotten herself into but stays convinced that her life is different. I also love how Adaleen was made defenseless for a minute when the Green cronies tie her up and leave their videotaped demand for the transfer of the gaming company.

Sarah’s boyfriend, Scott, also pays Bill a visit in this episode and tells Bill that Alby has been stalking Sarah. He also explains that they've been dating. Bill politely thanks Scott for the information and promptly goes and beats the crap out of Alby. He then approaches Sarah about Alby (note, not the boyfriend) and Sarah says it didn’t occur to her to be scared of her uncle. Again, Sarah is trying to pretend she can handle everything and everyone on her own, which is probably because she’s used to taking care of herself while her moms work out their schedules. In the UEB meeting, Alby’s face is all bruised and beaten. We get the sense that Bill might be a little bit more like his dad than he realizes, despite wishing he could remove the portion of his blood that contains the same blood as his father.

Bill is, again, in bed with Juniper Creek and his life outside the compound seems to mirror his suburban one. Clearly, it’s hard for Bill to find time for his kids, having to “manage” his immature, arguing wives all the time, deal with Roman and dig himself out of business problems. The kids just live their own lives - Ben having sex, Sarah dating someone secretly and Teeny…I wonder what we’ll find Teeny is up to. I think that Margene and Nikki are learning to respect each other more on their own - without Barb as referee. Is polygamy really for Margene or is it a phase, like wanting a tattoo? For Barb, keeping their lives a secret isn’t only because it’s illegal but because she’s actually really challenged by the entire concept. Yet, she does seem to become stronger in her conviction for her religion and that she is not like those on the compound. Or is she?

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