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Mark Blankenship

Mark Blankenship

Posted: March 9, 2010 12:43 PM

Welcome to Wife Watch!, the only blog post that ranks the most powerful wives on this week's episode of Big Love.

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As we cast our minds across "End of Days," the final episode of Big Love's fourth season, let's remember the third season of Six Feet Under and the third season of Lost.

Those were both middling years for otherwise excellent series. Those were the years that Nate suddenly had a wife and a bad haircut, and Jack had an unfortunate run-in with Bai Ling's magical tattoos. Yet both shows rebounded. Six Feet Under produced the greatest final episode in the history of American television (yeah, I said it), and Lost is going out with a bang.

With that in mind, let's assume that Big Love is going to emerge from the wreckage of this terrible season with a new sense of purpose.

But as we're being hopeful, let's also be frank: Girl, this show gone crazy. Can we get security?

We know the biggest problem, of course: Overkill. Too much stuff happening in too little time led to unconvincing writing, unsatisfying plots, and unrecognizable characters. It also forced the show to focus on conflict-conflict-conflict. Every week, that were so many events that the series had little time for tender, quiet, or funny moments that didn't directly forward the plot.

As it turns out, those moments make the show. Without them, we get nothing but people screaming at each other, and who wants to watch that? If there's no love in Big Love, if there's no tenderness or joy, then there's really nothing to hang on to.

God! Listen to me! It's like I'm talking to a divorce lawyer. "Well, we were fighting all the time, and then one morning I realized that fighting was all we had. I know that we used to love each other, but I can't remember how that used to feel."

So... yeah. Here's hoping the show pulls it together next year and lets people care about each other again.

That could happen, I think. After all, this episode puts a stop to an awful lot of nonsense. Adaleen is a strong contender for first wife, simply because she kills off the useless J.J. and his Bewigged Bride.

Except... really? That's how she kills them? After spending several days strapped to a gurney and being pumped with medication, she's strong enough to tie up two adults and set them on fire? Don't be surprised if she starts next season by building a Buick with her bare hands.

And what about her motive for killing them? Apparently, J.J. has been harvesting eggs from his sister (Wanda) and daughter (Cara Lynn), mixing them with his own sperm, and then implanting the incest-by-proxy embryos into the wombs of other women. Adaleen is carrying a Wanda-J.J baby, and before Adaleen stops them, J.J. and his crony Dr. Rocket are about to implant a J.J.-Cara Lynn embryo into Nicki. If they had succeeded, then Nicki would've been carrying a baby belonging to her own daughter and ex-husband.

So... sure. I can understand Adaleen's desire for revenge. But why didn't she just call Wolverine to come kill J.J.? Why didn't she steal the ring from Frodo and use it to turn her tormentors into dust? I mean, this entire story is so ludicrous that the show might as well introduce super heroes and magic.

Ugh. Enough. Let's move on to the casino subplot because... zzzzz.

What? Oh! Sorry. It made me fall asleep. Because you see, Tommy's niece is the girl that Barb hit with her car, and the kid is dealing meth at the casino, and Tommy and his father have been overlooking it, and now Bill got them ejected from the casino's board and... zzzzz.

I know this hullabaloo is important to the characters, but it just feels so tangential. It's telling, I think, that every time Barb and Bill discuss the casino, Barb says something like, "You're leaving me alone up there. Don't you care about our buisness?" In other words: The casino is not fully integrated into the show.

However, by practically living on the rez, Barb has found an independent streak, and her show-closing announcement that she doesn't need Bill anymore is one of the best-acted moments of the season. We've seen her betrayal---she reported Bill's baby with Ana to the local news---coming for weeks, but it's nice that she finally steps up and does something. She's positioned to be very powerful next year, and I hope the writers push this story. It's actually about the family, and that's what I want to see.

I'm not sure I want to see more of Marge's new family, though. But maybe I do. I'm divided. On one hand, I don't have the emotional room for an Ana-Goran-Marge triangle. On the other, it's interesting that Ana, who has judged the Henricksons, is now in her own quasi-polygamous relationship. This could keep my attention, but since Ana has always felt like an interloper, I'm dubious.

I am convinced by Nicki's new hairstyle, however. She ends the season with a new look, a new attitude, and a new understanding of why she can't go back to the Juniper Creek lifestyle ever again. Will these changes take? Will she ever be comfortable as a "modern woman?" Will Bill's public announcement of his polygamy help or hinder her?

Nicki has put herself in a position to ask those questions from a place of strength. Barb and Marge also take bold steps in this episode, but they take them away from the core Henrickson family. Nicki takes a bold step toward it. With that, she gains a unique type of power, and she is the season's final First Wife.

I'll see you next season for more hijinks. Even in these trying times, your thoughtful and engaging comments have made it a pleasure to think and write a bout this show week after week. And if you can't wait for the return of Wife Watch!, then look my for second round of True Blood recaps to start this summer.

 

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