Can I just say how f'ing much I love Big Love? This series gets more complex and compelling with every subsequent episode and last night's installment ("Rock and a Hard Place") was no exception, delivering a taut series of overlapping story lines that had me at the very edge of my seat.
Wanted surprises? How about Alby stalking Sarah and confronting her while she was making out with her new 28-year-old beau Scott? Or how he proceeded to make slightly animal-esque noises while stroking her hair? Yes, Alby's always been creepy (remember how he tried to strangle Ben last season?), but last night's episode make me sit up and gasp. Just please don't have Alby do something too crazy like kill Sarah. I couldn't live without an Amanda Seyfried-laden Big Love.
Speaking of which, I was ever so pleased to see Sarah attempting to bond with her prickly best friend Heather (Veronica Mars' Tina Majorino) at the restaurant. Loved the bit where Heather dropped the bun on the floor and then casually picked it up, blew on it, and then proceeded to make a customer's sandwich with it. (Classic.) Sarah's openness and willingness to change were perfectly set against Heather's attempts to be understanding in her own close-minded way. These two have one of the very best and complicated TV friendships going right now and I hope that we see more of their support/friction over the course of the season.
But last night's episode really dealt with cover-ups and there was really nary a character who wasn't trying to cover something up, from the minute (Ben drinks at parties with his girlfriend) to the major (Nicki knew Roman was the one who outed them). It's episodes like these, where both the characters and the plots are propelled forward and scenes like the one where Nicki confronts her mother Adeleen at the children's shelter, that remind me of how gritty and emotionally powerful this series can be. After concealing her knowledge of Roman's involvement in Barb's outing (which put Nicki and her kids at risk), Nicki finally confronts Adeleen about it, right in front of Barb, drawing a line in the sand and showing her sister wives whose side she's really on... even if Adeleen disowns Nicki completely and tells her that she is dead to them.
I've never felt as bad for Nicki as I did in this installment. Torn between her devotion to her father and her love for her family, Nicki is further put in a compromising and no-win situation by runaway Rhonda, who blackmails her into keeping her at the Henrickson homes in exchange for her silence that Nicki knew it was "Old Roman" who had revealed them as polygamists. If only Nicki had spoken up, I know that Barb and Margene would have been fine (after all, it was proof that Nicki had taken their side rather than Roman's), but instead she couldn't bear to tell Barb or Bill what had happened. All while concealing Rhonda from the Juniper Creek police, who spit in her carrot and raisin salad!
Bill's cover-up of Wanda's poisoning of Alby proves that no good deed goes unpunished, as he quickly finds himself dragged into the legal proceedings unless Wanda steps forward and admits that she was the true poisoner. No such luck, though I could not believe that Lois would try to use Wanda to murder the D.A. in the courthouse by planting a suggestion that he was to blame for Joey's incarceration and persecution... and mentioning the gun in her glove compartment. Loved that Wanda shoved the gun at Bill and told him it was Lois' idea.
Fortunately, the tape containing Bill's admission of a cover-up (he refers to himself as "Mr. Cover-Up") goes missing (it's the same tape Roman discussed cheese on) and the prosecutors do not have enough evidence to proceed with Joey's trial. Woohoo! But where did the tape go? I could not believe my eyes when I saw that Adeleen had stolen the tape from Roman. The phone call between her and Bill was filled with the unspoken between them, with Bill pleading for his freedom and Adeleen steadfastly saying that there was no tape, and then sobbing her eyes out, Adeleen destroyed the tape and the Grants' proof of any wrongdoing from Bill. If that's not a mother's love, I don't know what is; it also went to show that Adeleen is just as trapped as Nicki. In her own way, she does love Nicki but she can't, especially now, express that love publicly. But she'll do what she needs to do in order to protect her daughter.
All in all, "Rock and a Hard Place" was simply a fantastic episode from start to finish that made me anxious for the next installment to roll around already. Sure, it's only Tuesday, but I am already counting down the days for my next fix of Big Love, not least of all to discover just where Rhonda went to at the very end (loved the brightly lit arrow pointing) and if she's returned to the Juniper Creek compound, or if she's a runaway for good. Regardless, there's bound to be a major plot twist or two before this is over...
Next time on Big Love ("Vision Thing"), Bill may have just found a fourth wife in an attractive waitress; Nicki frets over Wayne's enrollment at a Catholic school after finding him playing with rosary beads; and Bill turns to his uncle for a loan when he can't raise enough cash immediately for the Weber gaming deal.
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Jace is an LA-based television development and acquisitions exec who watches way too much television for his own good and would love a TiVo for every room in the house. (He’s halfway there.) His blog, Televisionary, can be found at televisionaryblog.com.