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‘Big Love’: Cancan Dancers for Christ

Daveigh Chase in last night's episode of Big Love.Courtesy of HBO

"This could be our last family portrait. Jesus could be here by Labor Day."

Ahhh! Our favorite character is back! It's scary, scary child bride, Rhonda, played by Daveigh Chase, a.k.a. Samara in The Ring. She's a pure expression of this show's appeal: creepy and wholesome in equal measures.

In this excellent, totally confusing episode, Big Love flashed its seamy petticoats all over the place, like a cancan dancer for Christ. We got half-naked teen-boy bonding at a tattoo parlor; tender outdoor conjugal white-sheet sex (featuring Chloë Sevigny freed of her braid); sister-mom-on-teen-son pool wrestling; a random flash of middle-aged sister-mom rack; and teen-boy-on-slatternly-secular-girlfriend rutting, the most graphic and least erotic scene of the bunch. Plus, as a bonus, Bill Paxton making oddly adorable "bleep bleep" sounds while testing out a video gambling machine.

Plot-wise, there was so much going on here that no one who's drifted over from The Sopranos is going to understand who the heck these people are — a situation rather hilariously alluded to by Adelene's lunatic monologue concluding, "And that's how I become my own grandmother."

But let's face it, the true engine of this series is no great puzzle: It's an endless, entertaining riff on the virgin fetish, broken up by philosophical interludes, inter-family skulduggery, and occasional bouts of poisoning. So when Samara showed up at Barb's door all dressed in white, we couldn't have been happier: The endlessly unsullied bride of the prophet has escaped, and now her innocent evil can provide one more monkey wrench of naïveté thrown into the Henrickson happiness machine. —Emily Nussbaum