A Big Love Post-Mortem
(SPOILER ALERT) I’m just gonna start off by talking about the big whammy at the end of the episode – I’m speaking of the death of Bill Henrickson. I had a feeling Bill would die, I simply thought it would be at the hands of Adaleen. I guess I’m okay with Carl as the assassin; in terms of being completely emasculated I bought it, in terms of fighting for his church, I had a little trouble with Carl as some conflicted LDS mormon who needed to preserve the sanctity of his faith.
The death scene itself was as close to perfect as we could have asked for. I’ve thought Barb’s struggle with finding her place in a patriarchal faith has been compelling television. As Bill lay dying, he looked from Margene to Nikki to Barb who was basked in light, and then he asked Barb to bless him. I lost it. It was at an instant both mortifying that it took his death for him to see Barb’s light, and beautiful in that he finally was able to see her for the priesthood holder she deserved to be.
I’ve read a lot of hate regarding the finale, but fans are never capable of looking at a series finale objectively, no finale can live up to the expectations of it’s entire series, look back to the last 20 years and tell me one single series finale that had it’s fans en masse declare it a success. While this finale may not have tied up every storyline dangling, it wasn’t about that. Alby was finished last week. The terms of his arrest and sentence are irrelevant. It wasn’t about the principal or politics or juniper creek or anything else even though we were given some great church stuff (more on that later).
It was about family, and in making it about family I believe it succeeded brilliantly. While we’ve always loved the soapy side stories that allow us glimpses into compound life, it’s been the bonds of the Henricksons that have really been the glue of the series so it’s only fitting that the final hour focus on them.
We were treated to a bevy of great moments and scenes with the family, inclduing but not limited to; The wives driving in Barb’s new car, Barb forcing Nicki to hug her, Nicki and Cara Lynn making up, Margene talking about a life of service, Barb not going through with her baptism, and Bill’s last father son talk with Ben. None of this felt forced, like they felt as if they had to shove it in before it ended. It felt right.
Even though family was the focus, we were still treated to a slightly emotionally manipulative tear-jerky church gratification scene. After taking a stand in the senate for the principal (plural marriage) publically, Bill was treated to his own “if you build it they will come” moment as he was greeted at his church by hundreds of mormon polygamist who’ve travelled from all over. Despite my feeling about being manipulated, it was a great moment, well deserved by the Henricksons who’ve spent the last three seasons with this gloomy doom cloud hanging over their heads. We’ve watched as more hardships have been heaped upon their shoulders then any family deserves. This, the church’s success, might not have been necessary, but for those of us who wanted some happiness in the finale, it was a welcome break.
The only aspect of the finale I wasn’t so crazy about was Lois and Frank. For 5 years we’ve watched two great actors (Grace Zabriskie and Bruce Dern) in one of the most antagonistic and hate-filled marriages on screen, only to have them be so lovey dovey for the last few weeks was a little hard for me to believe. But I can reconcile it in a number of ways, most easily using her illness. It just irks me a smidge.
In the end it was Big Love’s big love that endured and really impacted the finale. Even in death Bill’s greatest accomplishment stood tall and survived, his family. Barb said it best in the epilogue; We’re strong, we’ve been forged, we endure. The epilogue took us 11 months into the future. To a time where Sarah and Scott have a son named William (Bill), to a time where Ben and Heather are married (Yup, they had rings on!) and Teeny is still off screen in TV child hell applying mascara to Wayne. They seemed okay and I breathed a sigh of relief. It could have just ended with Bill’s assassination.
I loved Marge’s haircut, and how she turned and said that; “It breaks my heart that he wasn’t there to see this day”, and then she runs to her sisterwives and their embrace. Cue the original theme song and my river of tears.
I’ll miss the Henricksons but mostly I’ll miss having a series on that’s of the same calibre. Even when the show faltered (season 4), you could always count on the capable cast to elevate the material. I hope the get snatched up by other series fast, especially Tripplehorn – she’s something special.
What did you think of the finale? Were you disappointed or left huddling sobbing in the corner (like me)?