Welcome to Wife Watch!, the only blog post that ranks the most powerful wives on this week's Big Love.
This week, I'm starting with the final scene of the latest episode, "Fight or Flight." If you haven't yet seen it, you may want to stop reading, taking a 56-minute break with your HBO On Demand, and then come back.
So... let's have a moment of silence for dear, sweet Kathy Marquart, whose polygamy hair was the death of her. I have to say, I didn't appreciate until recently what a great character Kathy is. She's so sweetly unassuming that I overlooked how well she understands Juniper Creek politics and how unabashedly she loves the people around her (cheers to Mireille Enos for playing her so well.) In this episode, it was great to watch her rally more women to her anti-Roman cause while also forging a deep bond with Wanda. The scene where she floated off to pick flowers for Wanda's hair, dressed in her wedding gown, while Wanda plunked out "This Little Light of Mine" on a Casio was both moving and chilling. Moving because you knew how happy Kathy was. Chilling because this show punishes that kind of contentment.
Personally, I figured Wanda was going to hurl the Casio at Kathy's head and end the whole sister wife thing right there. Wanda's dangerous when she's calm, you know? But the actual shitstorm was even crazier. Selma Green in a dress? Trying to force Kathy to marry Hollis in a secret ceremony conducted by Roman? And then getting stabbed with a pitchfork after Kathy breaks free, only to be trampled by a giant hog? And then Hollis stabs the hog? Can't. Be. Topped.
And I loved the symbolism of Kathy's death-by-braid. It was Roman who smashed his jeep into her truck as she tried to get away, so he's obviously her killer. But how fitting that she might have lived if her braid hadn't been stuck in the truck door, snapping her neck when she hit a pole. That braid is crucial to the identity of the compound women, and so it's partially Kathy's life that doomed her.
You were never going to be First Wife, Kathy, even though Wanda wanted to cede her authority to you. But you will be missed.
Speaking of Wanda, she almost helped Barb into this week's top spot. When she asked Barb for advice on how to behave like a true first wife, she basically announced that Barb was queen of the roost. Barb also handled herself well when she was reconnecting with Sarah. By not freaking out (too much) about Sarah's decision not to go to college---and by admitting that she was relieved that Sarah lost her baby---Barb was just the kind of mother her daughter needed.
But Barb's getting entangled in this whole "my sister and brother-in-law bought some letter about polygamy, then somehow convinced Bill to pay for it in exchange for a casino loan" fiasco. Frankly, I don't care. This otherwise brilliant show spends way too much time dealing with the office politics of Mormonism. No matter how much the land deals and building codes affect the Henrickson's well-being or the power struggles at Juniper Creek, they are always, always boring. No wife who gets too close to them will ever come out on top.
For proof that work can be interesting, just take a look at Nicky. My girl kissed her boss! And they went on a date! And even after Margene busted her for using Margene's name at the office---and Nicky admitted she'd been spying on the D.A. to help Roman's case---Nicky kept seeing her undercover sweetie! As usual, Chloe Sevigny forced me to find new ways to praise her performance, especially during the scene where the family tried to stage an intervention about her birth control. Sevigny's face maintained an outward mask of composure, but we could see ripples of hurt, anger, and fear. And then she fainted. Oh my god! She fainted right there in the kitchen, like Pirandello"s hysterical wife!
But that doesn't do much for her power in this episode. No, in this installment, the first wife is finally, finally Margene. I know some of you have been in her corner since the beginning, but this time, she totally earns it. After almost breaking down about the fact that her entire life revolved around caring for the children, Margene realized that Nicky had been lying about work. And so, with ruthless perkiness, she cornered Nicky in her lie. With Nicky forced to watch, Margene told Barb that she and the Nick-ster had decided to swap places... that Nicky would watch the kids while Margene went back to work.
And oh, you could see in Ginnifer Goodwin's eyes that she knew exactly what she was doing. Nicky couldn't resist this plan without exposing her D.A. deceit, and so, boom. Margene got her way.
Good one, lady. When you go back to work, try to avoid all those business meetings with Bill, okay? I'd hate to see you drop in the ranks after you waited so long to climb them.