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‘Big Love’: Margene, Flee for Showtime!

It's nice to be dating again!Courtesy of HBO

"You're my wife, Margene. You can't be seeing the girl that I'm dating."

Poor Margene! While the sight of Bill on a date is strikingly icky — the water purifier as aphrodisiac, that old "sometimes your eyes are green, sometimes blue" line, the constant praying — Margene's parallel courtship of the same woman was sweet, doomed, and, well, sexy. By the time Bill stormed home shouting, "Margie! Margie! Have you been getting pie at the diner?" we couldn't help but fantasize about the two of them fleeing the confines of Utah and HBO for Showtime's The L Word.

Somehow, despite her shenanigans being, theoretically, even more dishonest and manipulative than Bill's and a whole lot wackier (at times, she resembles a Lucille Ball called by the Lord), Margene never comes out looking bad. She's pure enthusiasm. And unlike Bill, she seemed to truly love this woman and to get her: the perverse sense of humor, the European fatalism.

On the other side of the sister-wife spectrum, weaselly ex-child-bride Samara (i.e. Rhonda) managed to threaten pretty much every major structure on the show, from Sarah's friendship with Heather to the Hendrickson's safety from the law. Personally, we prefer her less purely evil than simply deeply broken, so her "kiss-off" moment with Barb had a little too much of the hissing-tongued serpent for us. But it was nice to see Barb step up to defend her poor daughter against "the wild unsupported allegations of a damaged pathological liar" — and nice to see Barb, who all too often grades on a curve, finally call a snake a snake.

Meanwhile, more business stuff transpires, with super-spooky sister-wife arson and someone named Hollis and a man in a toupee in a chair in a van and a slow descent into a mysterious basement world filled with knickknacks and old mattresses. "God wants us to possess it for our portfolio. You took it … You will disgorge that company." And then, the threats of branding. What the hell? Are they using Tarantino scare tactics to force us to get interested in the business plots? It won't work, dammit! Bring back crazy Wanda and Adelene! —Emily Nussbaum