Last season, Big Love rewarded its viewers with incest, an amputation worthy of Monty Python's Holy Grail, and a tetherball match over a woman. This season, all the main characters are alone. We know this because the words "alone" or "on your own" or other synonyms are all over this episode. Parsing television for meaning has never been easier.
The episode opens on a camping trip of the damned, where Margene weeps over bad press and Barb is forced to dress like Charlie Chaplin's tramp. In the desert, we hear the backstory: Teeny moved to Oregon with Sarah and Scott. Lucky her.
Back in the real world, Bill's Home Plus employees hate him. Loyal Lieutenant Don has a new look, courtesy of Men's Warehouse. Don wants to run things, but Bill resists.
The wives and Bill check out the Captiol, and Bill celebrates by busting out a box of Russel Stover he likely bought at the gas station on the way to Salt Lake City. The Senate majority leader Bill considered an ally is resigning after a DUI. "You're on your own," he tells Bill. "Boy, are you."
The Henricksons go about their business, but defending the Principle is tough work. A group of Boy Scouts gunning for their bigot badge beat on one of Bill and Nicki's kids, calling him "Plyg." Nicki pays the ringleader back by terrorizing him after school. He runs into a fence trying to get away and loses a tooth.
Margene's "Heart on Your Sleeve" line is dumped by VSN because she violated the morality clause in her contract. Weeping, she runs into a colleague who gives her his self-help DVD. His scam is "multi-level network marketing," a Ponzi scheme poor Margene might just fall for later in the season.
Barb drives to a state liquor store and buys a bottle of wine. When Nicki catches her with it, Barb claims it's just for coq au vin. Nicki accuses Barb of violating the Word of Wisdom, the LDS doctrine that prohibits booze, coffee, tobacco, and other wonderful things that are bad for you. When Barb chokes down a glass later (she probably doesn't know what to buy, poor thing), Nicki complains to Bill that Barb is becoming a drinker. Bill worries that Barb no longer shares his "vision." Considering his "vision" involves Bill making decisions "in consultation with his wives" and then everyone has to do what he says, we hope Barb is shitfaced for the rest of the series.
Looking miserable, Margene and Goren sign divorce papers. Goren and Ana have 60 days to leave the country with Ana's unborn son, who is likely giving Bill the finger in utero. Later, Bill casually mentions to Barb that the Black Foot tribe canceled the casino contract with Weaver Gaming and refuses to pay out the Henrickson's share. So that's two major plot points tied up in less than a minute of screen time.
A bright spot: Don's brick-throwing son awkwardly flirts with Cara Lynn at Home Plus. He uses the oldest trick in the book, slamming his cart into Cara Lynn's ladder. "I'm socially retarded, sort of," he tells her. "Me, too," she replies. At last, some characters we can root for!
Bill and Nicki visit the Boy Scout to apologize for terrorizing him. Turns out the scout is from a self-hating polygamist family. "We're not on the same side," the dad explains to Bill. "We don't want to be a part of you." Bill and Nicki are left on the porch. Alone.
Alby Grant returns home from his sojourn to the desert and breezes past his wife and children without even a hello. Laura wants to celebrate their triumph, but Alby's sights are still on Bill Henrickson. "He took away everything I loved," says Alby, unconcerned with Laura's feelings. (Does he know she betrayed his lover?) Laura takes her rage out on Adaleen, who's been shut up in a desert root cellar. Laura banishes Adaleen, but not before saying mean things about her baby and suggesting she read some Leviticus: "And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you."
Bill's not having much luck back in the capital. The Senate majority leader (who, in an unintentional nod to current events, is packing) wants to ice Bill for the rest of his term. "You don't have any relationships. You don't have anyone. You're alone."
Bill fires a Home Plus employee for making polygamy jokes and a constituent spits in his face. That makes it the perfect time for the Henricksons to host an open house. No one shows up except Don, who is half a season too late in being pissed at Bill for making him take the polygamy fall during the election. Under assault from all sides, Bill caves. "I've gone and torn my family apart," he confesses. "I am truly sorry."
"I'll leave you folks alone," Don says.
But the doorbell rings, and Bill welcomes his new flock: a small group of polygamists who support him on the DL. Looks like he's not so alone, after all.
• Don buys Home Plus from Bill.
• One of the wives leaves Bill.
• Laura or Nicki murders Alby, but not before Alby tries to kill Bill.
• Cara Lynn marries Don's son.
(We'll make new predictions every week. Leave your own in the comments.)