Spoilers for last night’s Big Love coming up after the jump:
Let us all now mourn Kathy Marquart. If her death was not entirely a surprise—you could see Something Very Bad Happening once she had her bonding moment with Wanda and went off to pick flowers, like a teen parking on Inspiration Point in a monster movie—it was still moving. We get no shortage of the freakshow of compound life on Big Love, but it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the real human horror of it. It’s a totalitarian state in the middle of a free country, where standing up to your oppressors gets you disenfranchised, enslaved or worse. (Which would have been worse: having her neck snapped or going off to Mexico as the bride of Sincerely Yours, Hollis Greene?) Kathy was just this culture’s newest undeserving victim.
I’m going to miss Mireille Enos’ portrayal of Kathy. (Or sort of miss, since she still has twin sister Jodeen to play and is credited in that role in upcoming episodes.) She was maybe the actress who best captured the out-of-time otherness of compound life. There was something about her reserve, her primness and her utter lack of modern affect that made her seem as if she had stepped out of a 19th-century painting.
Her final scene, with the near-shotgun marriage to Greene, was horrific; the Greenes really give Big Love license to go full-bore weird, and the barn tableau, complete with pig rooting about, was like something out of Carnivale. But for all the grotesquerie and even slapstick—the pitchfork in Selma’s leg, followed by the hog attack—it was heartbreaking to see the overmatched Kathy drive off, her braid with her wedding flowers stuck in the door becoming the instrument of her death.
A lot going on in this episode and little time to blog it in, so on the hail of bullets:
* Enos gets the spotlight this week, but credit is due to Melora Walters too. As she plays Wanda, you can see flashes of self-awareness flicker among her delusions; it’s one thing to play a character like her simply as crazy, it’s another to show us that she knows, in some way, that she is damaged. When she had enough lucidity to recognize that she simply was not up to being First Wife, that in fact she needed Kathy, it was sweet and—since we could see the train bearing down on the track for Kathy—sad too.
* So Selma Greene is Roman’s sister. Oh, those must be some proud parents in the Celestial Kingdom! I wonder if this was a new invention of the writers; it seems odd it never would have come up during the season 2 war. Still, I will never complain about the Greenes’ returning.
* Nice work again with the intertwining of Sarah and Nicki’s respective secrets and their unfolding. It becomes clear—with the staged intervention and Barb’s demand, “Fix it!”—that, while she’s genuinely outraged at Nicki, she also sees her sister-wife as a surrogate for her daughter. Nicki wants to avoid talking about, and taking responsibility for, her deception just as Sarah does, but where Bill insists on giving Sarah time, Barb can turn Boss Lady with Nicki. (“Put down the carrot and the grater!”)
* Scene of the evening, though, may have to go to Tina Majorino, who gave Sarah a heated, and pretty much deserved, tongue-lashing over jerking her around over college. Essentially, she gets to tells Sarah what Barb is restrained from saying: thats she’s been given too much space, that she’s been insulated from the consequences of her actions. (Not entirely true, but you can feel the heartbreak speaking here.) ”I’ve had to struggle with my innermost beliefs to be your friend, Sarah,” she charges. “What have you ever had to struggle with?” That, of course, is not the only struggle Heather has had in befriending Sarah. I’m not entirely sure how much Sarah knows of Heather’s feelings for her—someone let me know if there’s a significant revelation I’m forgetting—but love or just deep friendship, Sarah can’t not know that she’s been taking advantage of her. (Majorino, like Amanda Seyfried, is a great crier—they both lose it in that flush-faced, sobbing way that reminds you that their characters are, after all, barely more than kids.)
* I may just have been distracted, but I had a tough time following the blow-up over the misrepresented documents from Alby—in particular why the admission that the LDS church did not intend to outlaw polygamy would be so dangerous. (I mean, I get that the Church now wants to distance itself from polygamists as much as possible, but it’s common historical knowledge that rejecting polygamy was imposed on it from without, no? Or am I showing my ignorance?) What I’m more curious about is: if Alby is willing to sell this document to the Church, does he believe in anything besides saving his own skin? Roman, however twisted, has always seemed at root a true believer in his faith; I thought that was true of Alby too. But maybe I’m wrong, or maybe his situation is more precarious than I had thought.
* Nicki’s date with Ray was as hilarious as it was surprising. Somehow I thought that—as much as Nicki acts out when threatened or hurt—she would only dance up to the edge of actually seeing him. But it’s good to know that the way to a woman’s heart is still through a water bottle.