Tuned In

Big Love Watch: Now What?

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HBO

Brief spoilers for last night’s season premiere of Big Love coming up:

It was fitting that the season opened with the Henricksons, literally, in the wilderness. Over four seasons of Big Love, Bill has cast himself as the family’s guide as they seek a Promised Land separate from the abuses of Juniper Creek and the shame of a secret life. But it turns out that his plan to win the family acceptance by “coming out” after his State Senate election was as poorly thought through as—in a meta-sense—season 4 seemed to be. They are out in the open, and it seems that their Moses has no idea of the path through the desert.

The premiere episode, while not stellar, did a good job tightening the story’s focus to show how badly Bill’s strategy and its consequences have hit the family’s sense of security and confidence. Barb, who already expressed doubts about her marriage toward the end of last season—as she felt her autonomy being lost to Bill’s plans—is now questioning her relationship to her religion itself, rebelling (in a touchingly banal yet deeply meaningful way) by popping open a bottle of red wine. Nicki coped by going into defensive mode, confronting Wayne’s school bully comically and counterproductively; Margene feels achingly and desperately alone, suddenly stripped of the business that had finally instilled her with confidence. And Bill, for once, is showing the cracks in his facade of confidence as the family’s priesthood holder.

I’m going to keep things brief today because of the holiday and because I shared my general thoughts about Big Love’s return before the weekend, but I wanted to give Tuned Inland a chance to comment. The premiere did, however, give me hope that this sometimes unruly drama has refocused itself by exposing the family and setting an end date. I’ll have more to say after future episodes, but for now, do you think Big Love can find its way home?

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