‘Big Love’: We’re With You, Barb!

Show
Big Love
Episode Title
Damage Control
Season
2
Episode
1

Margene and Bill ignore the Barb problem. Photo: Courtesy of HBO

Everyone’s favorite family of Utah polygamists are back, and the new season kicked off with a … well, to avoid saying that it kicked off with a whimper, we’ll just say it sort of chugged along: no racy butt-shots of Bill Paxton, no anxiety-induced heart attacks, no lewd lip-smacking about the impending “sealing” of underage brides. In fact, last season’s cliff-hanger — will Barb’s unmasking at the governor’s mansion lead to social exile and ruin for the Hendrickson clan? — was barely addressed. The terror of being exposed, which once simmered under the dialogue in almost every scene, has died down, confusingly, to a far-off-in-the-future problem that doesn’t seem to bother anyone all that much.

Will Barb (the all-important First Wife, played fetchingly by Jeanne Tripplehorn) stay or will Barb go? Barb has always seemed way too smart (and, we suspect, too much of a blasphemer at heart) to put up with all this husband-sharing nonsense, and she’s finally starting to give in to her normal-person instincts after being shamed by the community at large. Bill doesn’t get it, as evidenced by the following:

Barb: “Maybe this whole [polygamous marriage] thing has been a mistake.”
Bill: “Our family is not a mistake! Nicky, Margene, Wayne, Raymond, Vin and Sara, Teeny, Aaron, and Lester are not a mistake!”

Seriously, Bill? Because the ongoing battle with Mormon overlord Roman, Viagra-induced fainting spells, and your family’s pending trouble with the Feds would seem to suggest otherwise. Meanwhile, Bill’s brother’s crazy wife Wanda is on community trial for having poisoned a fellow resident at the Mormon Compound, and everyone’s trying to figure out who exposed Barb to the “Mother of the Year”–award folks. We see the beginnings of discontent stirring in sweet Margene’s brain at the thought of being stuck at the house(s) with only Nicky’s thinly veiled insults for entertainment, while Nicky seems determined to keep things together, but only because she has her eyes on the ultimate prize (First Wife).

Our dream scenario: Barb and Margene ditch the clan to start anew, leaving loathsome Nicky to chase around after super-sperminator Bill’s still-growing brood and handle the Feds all on her own when they inevitably come knocking. Barb seems to be staying put for now — but a girl (or two, or three) can dream. —Sara Cardace