Thieves, Cheats, and Gamblers on Big Love

While last night's episode of Big Love ("Circle the Wagons") may not have had as many pick-your-jaw-off-the-ground moments as last week's action-packed installment, but it did answer the question that I've been pondering for the better part of last week.

That question? Is Old Roman (Harry Dean Stanton) dead and how will everyone react to his attempted murder by member of the Greenes' cult?

It turns out that the first part of that query is still difficult to answer. It appears that Old Roman has survived the assassination attempt on his life... for now, anyway. The prophet's not looking too good, anyway. Despite three bullets fired into him at close range, Roman survived several surgeries and was in critical condition but at the hospital he began to sing some creepy song (anyone have an idea what it was?) and started to bleed out. I never thought I'd feel bad for Old Roman, but talk about such an undignified way to die.

I loved the fact that one of Old Roman's would-be killers gave a shout-out to Squeaky Frome. For those of you not in the know, Lynette Alice "Squeaky" Frome was a follower of Charles Manson who stepped out of a crowd and pointed a gun at President Ford; she was apprehended before the gun could go off. Nice touch, Big Love writers.

With only three episodes to go, I'm really on the fence about whether Roman will live or die. In last night's episode, Alby made a play for power, guided by the hand of Adeleen, and I could see the series' writers having this ambitious psychotic take over running Juniper Creek next season. Or Roman could pull through in the end. Either way, I was stunned by the scene in which Alby, you know, started smelling the vapors in Roman's hat or whatever he was doing to channel the voice of the prophet. And, wouldn't you know, that voice sounded an awful lot like Alby himself and just happened to tell the congregation that he should lead them "during and after" Roman's death.

Kudos too to Adeleen for her convincing testimony that she saw the faces of Roman, Alby, and Joseph Smith in a vision. She even lined up a "witness" to this testimony to make her case even stronger. Now you know from where Nicki gets her skills for manipulation.

Nicki. Poor Nicki isn't taking Roman's shooting well. On the outs with the rest of her family, she's been shunned and ex-communicated from Juniper Creek but Adeleen does grant her a half-hour on the now highly-secure property. Nicki, in an attempt to make amends, steals Margene's garage freezer and brings it to Juniper Creek so Adeleen has someplace to store "all those casseroles" and is, in the words of the immortal Cher Horowitz, "brutally rebuffed." Ahem. Loved the scene in which a jilted Nicki decides to cut her losses and, well, repeatedly ram the hell out of that freezer with her pick-up truck. Classic.

What the hell was Nicki thinking stealing that cash from Juniper Creek? And how did she think that she would get away with it? Still, I love the fact that out of all of Bill's wives, she's the one to develop a gambling addiction. Teehee.

Lois. If we didn't already think that Lois was an underhanded, conniving master manipulator, we certainly do now. She turned to Sarah for help against Bill but when she met Sarah's 28-year-old boyfriend Scott, turned on her granddaughter and ratted her out to Barb (still not sure why though). But I was floored to learn that Lois broke into hubby Frank's house, locked him and the wives up in a closet, and ransacked his place. I only wish that we had gotten to see what must have been a hysterical scene, followed by Lois' arrest. I think it could have been one of the most comical scenes of the season. In any event, we (and Lois) learn that Frank has multiple businesses that he's concealed from everyone and Lois finds that check Bill gave to Frank in order to force him to legally marry Lois. Hmmm. Perhaps if Lois sues for divorce, she could walk away with half of everything, anyway.

Barb and Bill. Is it just me or has Bill really turned into a domineering patriarch over the course of this season? I've said it before but I'll say it again: he keeps claiming that he's different than the other Juniper Creek polygamists but then he acts just like them at moments like this. So what gives? Is he devolving into a caveman or finally showing his true colors?

As for Barb, she refuses to go down without a fight, considering all of the sacrifices she's made over the years. And won't back down over her distaste for the Weber Gaming deal, despite what Nicki might say. I'm not entirely sure why Barb and Bill went golfing with Roman at death's door or why she suddenly developed an irritating habit of chewing ice, but I do think that Barb was right to try to put her foot down about this deal. After all, it's not like they know the whole picture and Barb was right to suggest that this deal would put them in the same room as some rather shifty individuals (i.e. the Greenes).

I did think it was interesting that she reached out to Heather's policeman father and tried to bring Heather back into Sarah's life, even if it was a rather underhanded thing to do. Still, it came from good intentions (making sure Sarah had a positive influence in her life) though I wonder how truthful she was being about having Sarah attend an LDS church. We haven't really seen Barb's Boss Lady side lately, so it's good to know she hasn't lost her assertiveness after all.

Next week on Big Love ("The Happiest Girl"), Bill and Margene attend a convention together, Alby discovers that Juniper Creek has been robbed, Rhonda attempts to blackmail Sarah, and Frank isn't quite done with amateur poisoner Wanda.

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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.