Monday, March 8, 2010

"Big Love" season finale recap: "End of Days"

I know most people watched the Academy Awards last night, and might not yet have seen the (completely insane) season finale of "Big Love." Once you've seen it, feel free to click through for the recap.

The final image of last night's "Big Love" season four finale was a powerful one: Bill Hendrickson (Bill Paxton), having won the election for senate, came out as a polygamist, and invited his three miserable wives up on stage with him. There they stood -- man triumphant; women trapped and confused -- as Bill's perplexed and angry supporters stormed out of the room.
It was a typical "Big Love" moment: strange, filled with mixed emotions -- and totally bonkers. It's unclear where the show will go from here, now that its main characters have come out and, basically, made themselves pariahs in the non-polygamist community. But here's the real question: do we care?
After a strong third season, "Big Love" showed up for season four with, as is typical, a lot of ideas. But it didn't seem to have much of a clue about how to execute them.
The senate run might have been intriguing, if the show didn't already have so many balls up in the air. Last season, we spent so much time on that casino story line, and this season, it was more or less in the background. I wouldn't be surprised if the coming out party story has a similarly unsatisfying conclusion.
I also hated the last minute, rushed reveal that Nicki's former husband, J.J.(Zeljko Ivanek) was creating inbred babies. That scene with a drugged up Nicki strapped down, ready to received the fertilized egg of her own daughter was effectively creepy, but more appropriate for a horror movie than a dysfunctional family drama.
In fact, the J.J. story has felt out of place all season. I liked the idea of Nicki being reunited with her daughter, and forced to confront her past demons -- I just wish they could have addressed that issue without bringing in yet another insane character from Juniper Creek. I don't know -- maybe the show's creators thought the death of Harry Dean Stanton's Roman left an opening for another wacky male authority figure in Nicki's life.
And yet, there were still a lot of things about this season that I liked. Though I disliked much of the Barb story line this season (she too frequently bounced from the intelligent, stable Barb we knew to a blithering idiot), I did love last night's confrontation scene between Barb and Bill, in which she told him she was growing tired of her increasingly confusing life. Jeanne Tripplehorn hasn't been given much good material this season, but she nailed Barb's pain and anger in that scene.
I also liked the idea that Bill, in chasing after every "testimony" that comes his way, is turning into the very thing he hates: a demagogue on the order of Roman Grant. Last night's episode had Bill facing his growing descent into darkness, with the return of a broken -- yet stoic -- Don, and the appearance of Don's angry son.
I would have really liked to have seen more exploration of Bill's betrayal of Don, as opposed to all the wacky J.J.-Nicki stuff.
And, as always, the acting has been stellar. Paxton has had a very strong season, playing all of Bill's many moods, and Chloe Sevigny is always excellent as Nicki. Also worth mentioning is Matt Ross, who plays Nicki's angry, sexually confused brother Albie. Ross was lucky enough to have one of the few stories this season that I thoroughly enjoyed, as Albie finally gave in to his yearnings, and fell in love with Dale, the ill-fated trustee of Juniper Creek. Usually relegated to standing around and looking sinister, Ross got to play real emotion, going from giddy joy to crushing grief and everything in between.
But, overall, I wasn't in love with this season. You?
Here are some more thoughts on "End of Days":
* I guess I didn't realize until tonight that Bill's cohorts at the Indian casino were name Tom and Jerry. Funny.
* As much as I hated the J.J. stuff, it did give Mary Kay Place's Adaleen an opportunity to show off her badass side, which I loved. After the clinic fire, I have officially added Adaleen to the list of TV Characters You Just Don't Mess With, right next to Sayid Jarrah and the Jacks Bristow and Bauer.
* So, Margene is still married to Goren? I guess that means more Ana next season. Oof.
* Can someone tell me why Sissy Spacek was on this season? It just seemed like a waste of an excellent actress. Her sinister Marilyn really didn't do much except provide another obstacle in Bill's already tortured political campaign. As much as I love Spacek, the story didn't need her.
* When Bill stood up and announced that he was a polygamist, my husband bellowed "The recall election starts tomorrow!"

1 comment:

Bill Scurry said...

I thought Sissy Spacek worked on the locust schedule -- pop out every seven years, tear it up, and then go away again. See: "In The Bedroom." She was excellent, but I can't disagree about that whole thing just being superfluous wrinkle that distracted from the main story.

Come to think of it, I don't think I could tell you what main story is anymore.