Brief spoilers about Sunday’s Big Love coming up after the jump:
This series just keeps getting better. Again, a lot of plot here, as the series doesn’t slow down for a second: Roman’s being freed, the proposal to Anna (notably, without Nicki) and so on. We can discuss the story points in the comments; I just want to talk about one scene.
The scene in which Nancy, Barb’s mother, meets up with Lois outside the house, then enters to witness the fight/proposal among the wives, was astonishing. It’s a perfect example of how at the same time Big Love has created an extreme situation and highly unusual characters and yet manages not to lose credibility because it believes in its story. Big Love is not trying to impress you with its quirkiness; it’s not trying to hang a light on how weird it is. It just sets up an admittedly weird situation and then lets it play out naturally, with each character being true to her nature.
In the hands of another set of actors and writers, the scene could have been a complete freak show. Here, it’s bizarre, funny and mortifying, but all in ways that grow out of the characters and that illustrate the dynamics that have been set up: Nicki’s judgment of Margene; Nancy’s patronization of Lois; Lois’ ambivalence about The Principle and big, swinging patriarchs (“Three is enough! Three is celestial!”); Barb’s need for but anger at her mother; Margene’s desire to assert her will, and so on.
A short hail of bullets:
* Alby to Nicky: ”What is it in you that hates yourself so much?” When has he ever said anything this perceptive before? And how interesting that, as alliances shift and Bill joins up with Alby, the sibling’s opposition is the one thing that stays constant.
* Frank’s alive! On the one hand I’m glad to see Bruce Dern again. On the other, though, if I’m going to criticize 24 for it, I have to also say to Big Love: enough with the fake-out “deaths.”
* The bit with Margene channeling her mother—through dancing and her dye job—was nice and a little chilling, though “Take Your Mother Out” was probably too literal a music choice. (I watched on DVD, so tell me if they switched tunes for the air version.)
* Very good guest turn by Stephen Spinella (from the Broadway Angels in America) as the “recovering” gay man seeking to adopt Sarah’s baby.
* Adaleen is one scary woman: her getting Kathy’s sister to undermine her testimony—apparently by threatening her son, or threatening to take him?—was creepy even by compound standards.
* As conniving and self-serving as Rhonda is, I always end up feeling sorry for her.