Bill’s triumph is Big Love’s triumph: His wild ambitions were like this season’s wild ambitions, and somehow, both came unexpectedly to fruition. Underneath that neat bit of symmetry are planted the seeds of a new hubris for Bill; but the show itself seems just about flawless.
How is it that these characters are saved? Nicki is on the compound, menaced by the man who first “sealed” the deal with her, and tormented by the presence of their daughter. She has never seemed more like a young girl than when she dreamily fantasizes with Alby about killing their parents. Margene comes out with the unfortunate but all too true, “I’m not the little girl you married,” as she plots a career hawking her jewelry to home shoppers under the direction of a nonsense-spouting huckster woman. Sarah proposes to Scott (!) and he responds, “I’m not saying ‘no,’ exactly … ” (!!). Barb wants to rent a womb in India. Hollis offers lessons on “the Orient” to the Asian girl he has kidnapped (not the preferred nomenclature, dude), and perhaps worst of all, Bill has to suffer small talk from Roman (“So, do you enjoy intimate relations with all of your wives, or just some?”).
Bill, Roman, Ray Henry, Hollis, and Selma and the woozy schematics of their legal and extralegal dealings — with what we discover to be the fake letter as their linchpin — give the episode its unrelenting forward motion, but emotional depth charges set the track quaking. Nicki’s 14-year-old daughter has a mind for science (or at least, dissecting toads), but she’s taken out of school to wash windows — and will soon be sealed, probably not to someone all that nice, if history’s any judge.
And that’s only just as heartbreaking as the hysterical look on Barb’s face when she begs for another child, even if it means going to India to get her. Are you putting two and two together? The writers did, but there is no such thing as simple arithmetic in this family. A new daughter moves in, sure, but did you see all her baggage? Oh, and by the way: Saying, “You’re not losing Sarah, you’re gaining Scott,” when the marriage is finally on? Not helping, Margene. (Scott, by the way, has a major Ray Henry problem: is this guy supposed to by likable? We’re honestly not sure.)
Margene turns on the charm and, more importantly, uses her baby (whom Nicki is not around to watch) to sell those bracelets, but the other fortuitous, if fraught, events accumulate mostly to Bill, who, in the course of rescuing the kidnapped girl, manages to set up both Hollis and Roman for arrest. He also outmaneuvers a grateful Ted, striking a deal with Mormon execs to assure passage of his casino. Alby nearly takes out a maid and himself trying to blow up his mother (revenge, of course, for the attempt on his life), so it seems he’s out of Bill’s hair, too.
But into this perfect arc intrudes Joey, who smothers Roman just as he’s about to be arrested. (Bitter irony: It was Kathy, of course, who pursued Roman so vigorously in court.) And Bill, flush with adrenaline, can’t help but rush into the void left by the compound leadership (and that faked letter): Following Roman’s advice to grab power from God himself, Bill declares himself leader of his own sect (new religion! new religion!), one that might provide comfort to Barb, but could also give him kind of a big head. At least this means an end to the “Joy Book,” right? Unless Ben looks past Margene and sees Nicki’s daughter. If Bill has any principle, after all, it seems to be rooted in the marriage of convenience.