Big Love 5.06 Bridge Over Troubled Waters

When pain is all around… Hooboy, this show is just becoming an exercise in sadomasochism. Everything is just dreary, hopeless, and unfair. But then as William Goldman wrote, “Life is unfair. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” Speaking of, would you like to join my Goji upline?

I don’t know if the writers are just dragging the Barb/priesthood story line out because they have no other choice or because they don’t get the culture, but let me be clear: if you’re a female Mormon, and if you’re a female Mormon in Utah, you do not ever ever ever believe that you will ever get the priesthood. Never. If you do think that, you know that you’re not Mormon and you’re just delaying the inevitable.

Really.

There’s no middle ground out there, guys, not on that one. To challenge that is like a Catholic saying, “yeah, but the Pope isn’t really the only leader of the church, I mean, let’s put the nuns in charge of the Vatican.” Ain’t happening. To question that concept is to question the very essence of Mormonism. Which, hey, I get the subliminal messages for the viewer, but in reality, Barb would be gone.

She’s left Bill’s version of Mormonism, but she’s still in the house, still trying to get those pieces of LDS in her new mindset, and it’s never going to work. And it’s dreadful to watch. But that’s the whole of this season, everyone is being forced to lie in the beds of their own doing, aren’t they?

Nikki has been scheming to be First Wife since the very first episode, and it’s on the brink of happening, yet there will be no power, no control to accompany the title. Margene has wanted to fit in the family and really BE a Henrickson, and now that’s it coming to fruition – including becoming a “believer” in the cause – she’s seeing how much more is out in the world, and how good she could be out in it. Barb just wanted to be a valuable, respected Mormon wife, who happens to be polygamous. And that unicorn is just not in this reality.

I’m sure that there are people who didn’t get the whole sacrament thing with Barb, so I’ll explain it: the sacrament is like a mini-baptism ever Sunday, you’re made clean and pure again (as long as you’re worthy to take it.) If I ever felt like I’d not repented enough, I would deny myself that little paper cup of bread and water, because it was drilled into my head that to take the sacrament when you’re not “worthy” (that’s a huge buzz word in the LDS faith) is to bring -they believe- literal damnation to yourself. You’re also taught to not let anyone that isn’t Mormon take the sacrament, because they’ll unwittingly do the same thing to themselves.  [This is in 3 Nephi 18: 28-29, for those curious.]

I can’t get a bead on Barb not taking it because she knows she’s treading apostate waters (she still sees herself as a Mainstream Mormon, I believe) or because she’s realizing that she’s been wrong all of this time, or because she’s just not believing anymore. Hopefully we’ll find out in the next episode or two.

I’ve never been a Ben fan, but he’s grown on me these past two episodes, his concern for his parent’s relationship masking his deeper questions of their lifestyle. And man, oh, man have I had that stupid ass conversation about missionaries and them coming home, and “It’s been fun, see ya!” It’s insane that kids will wait for each other when they’re 19 with the expectation that they’ll marry when the mission’s over. Utah does have a higher than national average divorce rate, I should mention.

And then the creepy Rhonda kiss. What on earth, you guys. I don’t know if I’m more disturbed by Ben knowingly kissing that married young mother or that there’s a karaoke strip club. Do dudes really want to see a chick belt out “Billie Jean” while taking off a Michael Jackson outfit? Or what about a Spandex dress being slowly pulled down while the young lass knocks out the intro to “Bohemian Rhapsody?” Hmm, there could be some pretty sweet pole and leg work for “YMCA,” though. I am extremely curious to see where this horrorshow will end up, won’t lie. Who ever thought we’d see Rhonda take Ben into a champagne room? Ick.

Also Icky is Cara Lynn’s throwaway story of the affair with a math teacher. This feels like a massive cheat, and I’m not happy about it. First off we’re told that they’ve shared a kiss. Oh, really? Show, don’t tell. (Except ew, don’t, and they did show #2, and I again say ew.) Second, she was super happy and joyful with Don’s son then throws herself at her teacher? A happy Mormon man that’s 37 and not married and not gay? Talk about a unicorn.  Also, Greg?  Have a seat.  Chris Hansen wants a chat.

That Verlan/Alby kiss was the furthest thing from sexy. It was all the way into Desperation City. Alby’s little lip lick and the confirmation that he has a toy to play with were delightfully creepy. Alby really is one of the most fascinating characters on the show. There needs to be a hell of a lot more Juniper Creek action in the next four episodes, or I’ll be very disappointed.

Just when I think this show has jumped the shark and is solidly in melodrama/Mexican Soap Opera land they’ll do something amazingly clever like have Margene use “Bridge Over Troubled Water” in her rally, and then have a montage of all of the women looking at their relationships. “Sail on Silver Girl, sail on by, your time has come to shine, all your dreams are on their way.” But that’s just a fool’s paradise, the older women (Silver Girls) just settle into resignation in this lifestyle, or they get the hell out of Dodge.

Lois. Oh, Lois! I do love the choice they’re making now to show only her lucid moments, and understanding that a lot of time is passing now in between those brief periods. I love when Lois gets her back up and you remember that she’s no dummy, and never has been. When she began talking about The Cisco Kid and how the show ended, Frank interrupted in that “yeah yeah, I know, shut up the game’s on” way, and she called his bluff. Oh you know, do you? Tell me then, hot shot.

And of course Frank had no idea how the show ended, so she told him, a joke about their latest adventure, a laugh, and a ride into the sunset.

“That don’t sound so great to me,” Frank scoffs.

“I didn’t say it was great. I just said that’s how it ended.” If looks were bullets, Frank would be splattered all over the room at that moment.

The later moments with them on the beach, Frank actually being attentive to her needs (as best as he can, at any rate) and then they climb into his beat up truck (“We gotta go.”) and ride off into the sunset.

There wasn’t any laughter, though.

And those folks out there that somehow thought this show was a comedy in the beginning weren’t paying attention. There’s nothing funny about it. Consider that a grandiose “gotcha” from the writers.

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  • Milurie

    This show, woman, good God, this show — DH is secretly grateful that it’s almost over, for he is worried about my levels of RAGE.

  • Mel

    I miss watching this show…but I don’t miss how almost dirty I felt when each episode ended. I’m so grateful you have such a gift for storytelling because each time I read one of your recaps, I feel like I’ve seen the show.

  • Laura Stone

    Mel, you will be so very grateful that you missed the next episode, then. I’m struggling to write it up, there was so much ick in it. (And thank you, that’s very sweet of you.)