Vulture

Skip to content, or skip to search.

Big Love: Next Time, It’s Personal

It was only the beginning of this season that we acknowledged — in a perfunctory, even jaded manner — that Big Love makes art of male fantasy. Men — so insensitive. This episode, Bill’s sister-wives-in-law come to the fore, and even an avowed Brown Bunny fan has to see the show for what it really is: an interrogation into the compromised lives of women.

Kathy and Wanda, Joey’s wives, are a touching pair: the former, a picture of sturdy, apple-cheeked exuberance; the latter, a living embodiment of a finger twirling around a temple. We just about weep when the anxiety-stricken Wanda convinces Kathy to take up first wife duties shortly before their wedding. (Question: What happens to Wanda’s family calendar, decorated with Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and Jennifer Aniston?)

Joey’s no big prize, but my god, when Roman kidnaps Kathy, does he have to choose Hollis, who might as well be coaxing her into the back of a van with a Werther’s Original, as her new groom? No matter. Speeding off, hair braid caught in the pickup door, Kathy’s neck is broken when she slams into a telephone pole. (Not shown: Hollis sniffing her neck, taking a lock of hair.) Next episode: This time, it’s personal.

Speaking of predators: Nicki kisses that lawyer tool in the office, earning him a look of utter horror, totally justified, from a female co-worker. That he brandishes a coffee mug like Bill Lumbergh is a nice touch. With the women who play Kathy and Wanda no doubt in her rear-view, Chloë Sevigny plays a panic attack — induced, credibly, by Margene, Barb, and an unusually scary Bill staging an “intervention” over her use of the pill — to the hilt, but she’s not overacting: Is there any more essential gender battle?

At the outer edges of the ensemble, there’s Roman’s sibling, a big, suit-wearing lesbian Roman enlists to help in Kathy’s subjugation. Forced into a dress, she is stabbed with a pitchfork and sniffed extensively by a hog for her trouble. Then there’s Heather, whom Sarah dumps as a roommate, having decided (a bit arbitrarily) not to go off to college in Arizona: Was she hoping for some LUG action from her best friend? Never mind that she uses the jarringly lofty phrase “acquire and manipulate lives”; Heather totally has Sarah’s number when she accuses her, in essence, of being a spoiled brat. Honey, it takes a lot more than a miscarriage to plumb the depths encompassed by the ladies around here. And finally: something about a letter — big LDS cover-up, threat to the Henrickson’s way of life, etc. Bill, can you see to that? Thanks.

Photo: Courtesy of HBO