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Big Love Recap: Joseph Smith Goes to Washington

This season’s vicious cycle is in full motion: Bill is indeed running for State Senate. Not that he’s gone so far as to officially declare it — first, he must travel to Washington, D.C., to try to secure an endorsement from a Utah congressman. Or if not an endorsement, a promise that the politico won’t endorse Bill’s opponent, Colburn. And to do that, Bill must get into a fund-raiser. But after twenty minutes spent waiting in a lobby, he discovers that he can’t get a ticket. Jesus, would somebody make a racially insensitive gaffe already?

Game Change this episode was not, but if Bill’s to convincingly make headway in this lopsided match, we suppose the show has to drag us through some of the deadly boring how-your-sausage-gets-made. At least they did us the favor of introducing the politico’s aide, Marilyn Densham — Sissy Spacek playing hard-bitten, with a fabulous glint in her eye. Bill tangling with her reminds us exactly how much of a rube he really is, and even though he, of course, scores a semi-endorsement after sneaking into the fund-raiser, it’s only because Densham deems him worthy of exploitation. For this, Bill has Nicki to thank — in the ladies' room, she reveals to Marilyn that Bill’s a big shot with casino money. Ten minutes later, Nicki’s in handcuffs for bringing a gun to the party. Palin-Nicki — there’s a ticket for 2012.

Nicki also brings Cara Lynn to D.C., sending J.J. even deeper into crazytown, but she might not even be the stupidest character this episode. Barb, for one, navigates her SUV into a woman on the reservation — after carefully drawing out a hilarious “fuck you, white bitch!” at sensitivity training — which leads to infuriatingly idealistic Sarah helping to care for the woman’s baby. (As Tommy, looking handsomer by the moment, points out, the woman is a meth head.) Joey — who was always a little slow, and has J.J. harassing him and poor Wanda — decides to dig up Roman’s body so he can somehow remove the DNA he left behind when he killed him. Dale falls head over wingtips for Alby — who takes a cell-phone pic of the two in bed while Dale sleeps. Cara Lynn, for her part, announces that Nicki has the gun, but she’s stressed about being paraded around the big city with bare forearms, and after we saw her forlornly staring at the street caricature that made a tidal wave of her hair, we would have forgiven her most anything.

Which leads us to Margene, who also does something incredibly dumb but completely human, furnishing the show’s oh-shit finale: She kisses Ben, long and hard and on the lips, after he shows up at the live broadcast of her prime-time home-shopping debut. Ben and Marge, so sweet and so horny, deserve this and much more. But then Marge’s boss lady has the cameras turn to show “Mr. Margene Heffman.” And we thought this whole situation could not get any more awkward. We wish Marge could tell Nicki all about it — once Nicki finished telling Marge about her new lingerie with “no bottoms,” of course.

Photo: Courtesy of HBO