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FINALLY. The show is finally back on track, and we’re at the halfway mark before it’s over. I did notice that this episode had a lot of LDS dogma in it, things that the average person wouldn’t pick up on. When you get why it was a big deal that Alby said “Alby-ite” and why the intro was changed last season, and you see how it all fits in, you realize how clever this show can be when they do their homework.
It’s a big deal that Barb is going to be divorced. And it’s a big deal because the First Wife is traditionally the one with power. (Law of Sarah, refresh yourself with the Abraham story and how it dictates Mormon polygamy.) Without her permission, Bill can’t bring any new women into the fold. There is your one power play alloted to women living the Principle. The First Wife is usually the one that has the legal marriage, who’s children have the legitimacy of the family name, etc. For Bill to ask Barb to relinquish that… It’s a lot to ask.
But why this big thing about adopting a 16 year old anyway? Because the father is who gets to claim everyone in the next life. You’ve heard in the show that women and/or children were going to be “reassigned.” That means that Lura’s children, for example, would no longer be her children, but another of Alby’s wives. And in the LDS (and FLDS) faith, nothing is more important that family in the afterlife. I mean, it’s why they’re doing all of the cockamamie things they do in the first place. Without being reassigned to Bill, Cara Lynn would belong to JJ in the next life, she won’t be in Nicki’s ethereal ghost planet of polygamous harp playing and scrapbooking.
Bill is the “priesthood head” of that clan, so he needs to officially take her under his wing. HOWEVER. They’ve missed an important step. Legal paperwork isn’t the issue, it’s the “sealing” in the temple that matters. I’m not sure how they’re going to work this, maybe say that what’s done on earth will be done in heaven and have a special church service, it’s very strange, dogmatically speaking. So the writers got it half right. The “spiritual” sealing (adopting) is the more important aspect, which is why Bill is telling Barb their temporal marriage (what they call it) isn’t a big deal, because spiritually they’re still connected.
Last year when they changed the intro from the ice skating montage to the dark falling (and man, I get that song in my head and can’t get it out) I explained that they switched from the temporal marriage problems (everyone trying to hold on to each other, the foundation cracking, i.e. the ice) to their spiritual problems. In Mormon lore, hell is not being with God. But worse than hell is Outer Darkness, which is essentially where you Doth Cease To Be. You become an ex-being, you no longer pine for the fjords, you have joined the choir invisible.
Barb slowly falling towards the camera and then FWOOM, pulled back and into nothing, a look of sorrow and betrayal before she disappears. Bill falling slowly looking for everyone with panic and guilt on his face. Margene, serene, not really getting it, just being Margene. It’s almost as if she’s enjoying the fall, not understanding what it ultimately means And then Nikki. Nikki, curled up in a ball, her eyes closed, not a bit of fear or panic, just calm acceptance, as if she’d known it would always be this way. I love it. It so perfectly sums them all up.
I did find Barb telling Bill her new philosophy in the State House a little redonk, because really? Is this the time? But any man that has grown up LDS has been taught the rebuttal for this, and Bill laid it out verbatim. Who gave you this power? It is a physically bestowed living Thing in the Mormon faith, and it’s only given by a man with the “keys of the priesthood.” The conceit goes that Peter, James and John (as in, the dudes that hung with Jesus) showed up when Joseph Smith was hanging in the woods. They laid physical hands on his head and “conferred the power of the priesthood” to him, or the “keys” as Mormons call it. This is why they don’t respect the Catholic Church (one of the reasons, and thank you Nikki for backing up what I’ve been telling people for ages) because they believe that they and they alone are the rightful heirs to Jesus’ legacy, seeing as the Catholic Church was set up by Constantinople in 333AD, and not a conferring of power through the appropriate lineage.
Understand that I think it’s all hogwash, I’m just explaining their philosophy.
I remember finding my Grandpa’s “Priesthood book.” He kept a notepad in the side table by his recliner, and anytime he performed any sort of blessing or essentially used his priesthood, he notated it and who was there. I know that back when I was devout I thought it was a huge deal that Lorenzo Snow (one of the Prophets of the Church) had given my grandfather his priesthood, initially. That hand to head thing is huge.
So that’s why Bill was all, “Tchuh, nuh uh.”
I think that ultimately for Barb, because she was raised Mormon, she knows this stuff, this is her way of rebelling against all of it. Fundamentalism, mainstream Mormonism, the whole patriarchal set up. She’s not ready to drop all of the beliefs by the wayside (and I can identify, it took me ten years to do the same) so she’s worming her way into the center of the problem – the man-dominated society that is the Mormon and Utah experience.
Please know that Utah is in the process of claiming the Browning handgun to be the official state gun, exempting them from federal laws, which means you can carry one anywhere. And Senator Cancer Wife is always shown with his gun, and they made the big point of Bill and the Senator holding each other’s guns. Hey euphemism, we get it.
Speaking of holding someone else’s guns, Alby wants to bone Verlan so badly, am I right? He’s got that self-loathing look in his eye coupled with, “Oh, yeah, I’m in charge!” and it’s gonna get way worse. I did like them having a drink of milk, the most wholesome of beverages, to seal the deal on Verlan becoming a murderer. Because that’s what an Alby-ite is. Alby took the term Danite and personalized it.
Don’t know who a Danite is? Lemme ‘splain. Joseph Smith, because he was boinking teenage girls left and right (and even some of his friend’s wives) kinda had a lot of trouble with people wanting to kill him. I mean, before he was killed by an angry mob. So he took some of his loyal members, including his brother Hyrum, and conferred a special power on them, they would be Danites, Joe’s personal hit squad, and let’s keep some of this on the hush hush.
Danites swore an oath “ to support the heads of the church in all things that they say or do, whether right or wrong.” They started off with veiled threats to people who vocalized displeasure with the church, then moved to physically forcing people out of Mormon-identified lands, taking their property, and burning down houses. Joseph Smith said in 1838, “We have a company of Danites in these times, to put to right physically that which is not right, and to cleanse the Church of every great evil which has hitherto existed among us.”
And of course, for Alby, that means kill people that done did him wrong. (After all, it meant the same thing to Joseph Smith.)
Funny little aside, after Joseph was killed, Brigham Young became the new leader, everyone moved to Utah, and the Danites were no longer an official group. It became far more secretive. For example, they established a “Whistling and Whittling Group” in Navoo, Illinois as they moved across the country. These guys followed around outsiders that stumbled on the Mormon town. Their sole purpose was the intimidate and frighten away people who didn’t belong. They still do this in FLDS towns like Colorado City and Hilldale. I’ve been chased out of Colorado City a few times by them, actually.
One of the Danites, Porter Rockwell, was (and still is) lovingly referred to as Joseph’s “Destroying Angel.” He’s the guy that tried to kill Missouri’s governor, and who the Clint Eastwood character “The Preacher” from Pale Rider is based on. (I don’t want you to miss a Trivial Pursuit question and be sad like Nikki.)
So what I’m saying is there can’t be a happy outcome for Verlan and Rhonda/Samara. (And why hasn’t she let go of the angel bang yet? I can’t help but lol at her “rebellious” sparkle tees under the flannel button down and opaque tights.) I mean, Verlan’s going to have to “flog the bishop” if you catch my meaning. We’re all in agreement on that, right? Alby’s going to force himself on Verlan? The only thing helping me right now is that awesome painting of Alby as Jesus with a lamb in his lap. I think it was done by the same person that painted the A-Rod unicorn series.
Things that I thought made awesome touches:
- Nikki not getting any of the pop trivia, and becoming increasingly frustrated
- Nikki projecting all of her issues onto her poor daughter, who overheard and (rightfully) was devastated
- the Book of Mormon/Bible cartoons playing in the background. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to watch or listen to those. My little brother looooooved them.
- The perfectly cast Mormon church leaders. The gentle effete looking male to lure Bill into false security, the matronly and “kind-faced” woman that was really iron-fisted, and the Muscle with the flat top. Yep. That’s what you get to pick from in Utah (with the random outdoors man with a rock climber’s build thrown in to confuse you)
- I wish they’d show the whole front of the Church offices, because on either side of the tall center building are two squat buildings with etchings of the globe on them. It totally looks like a cock and balls, it’s hilarious.
- Barb sneaking a glass of wine, and when they toasted to Safety Net getting a nod, Bill says, “We deserve this,” and there were three clear glasses and one dark and ominous glass. Yeah, you do deserve it, Bill.
- The whole scene with Don being attacked. Beautifully shot from the boys’ perspective, so ominous and sad. I was surprised he didn’t die, and I’m glad he didn’t for his sake, his boys, and for Verlan.
- Everything about Goji. Everything. I love that Margene’s poster looked like a vagina, first of all. And I love that the president said that it’s essentially a Mormon company. Utah is truly the capital of pyramid schemes. See: Nu-Skin, Melaleuca, Tahitian Noni, Herbalife, GoldQuest, Arbonne, etc. etc. After all the church is a Multi-Level-Marketing company. Or you know, pyramid scheme.
- The writers putting it out there that the Church runs the state. I mean, duh, everyone who lives there knows it, but it’s good to remind outsiders that it’s the case. (The church bought the NBC affiliate so Saturday Night Live couldn’t air, or any other salacious shows. NO, REALLY. We had to wait until 1:30 to catch the replay from Vegas when I lived in Southern Utah. So ridiculous. No one challenges this, either.)
- The special proposal bench, their sweet memory of their engagement, and then Barb saying she’ll take the divorce. Ouch.
I’m predicting that a representative of Hollis Green will come and assassinate Bill, and that Alby – like Warren Jeffs – will get caught with Second Favorite Wife and Verlan fleeing a crime scene and jailed. Barb is going to use the divorce to get away from this life, and Margene is going to follow her. Nikki… I think she’s going down with the ship.
Only five episodes left, there’s a lot of ground to cover.