‘Big Love’ – ‘Exorcism’: Keep choppin’ wood

Senior Television Writer
03.14.11 44 Comments


I’m saving up most of my “Big Love” thoughts for after the series finale airs on Sunday, but I have a quick review of the penultimate episode coming up just as soon as I burn some books…

Five years in, and none of these people have changed, have they? Sure, Nicki may be dressing differently, Barb may be drinking wine and exploring other churches, etc., but fundamentally, most of our major characters are the same as they were when we met them: Bill is still maddeningly blinded by his own faith, Nicki is still a pathological liar and manipulator, Margene is still naive, Barb still a doormat who won’t really acknowledge what Bill has done to her, Rhonda still an evil little schemer, etc., etc. Nicki comes dangerously close to having an epiphany at the end of the episode, finally acknowledging to herself and Bill just what a terrible person she is, but Bill all but shouts her down, using the force of his own convictions to convince her – as he’s so often convinced himself – that she must be good, because how could anyone loved by BIll Henrickson (or Bill himself) be bad?

As I’ve said many times in the past, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with a drama about people who are incapable of change. (See “The Sopranos,” for instance.) But when a show like this is
built around a character who is simultaneously insufferable and bland in the way that Bill is, it becomes incredibly tedious.

So as I watched the characters go through their familiar patterns – even with the usual fine acting (particularly from Chloe Sevigny this week) – I mainly had to ask myself why I was still watching after all these years and all this frustration. My hope, I guess, is that Bill gets what’s coming to him in the finale, but the problem with a character like Bill is that even if he goes to prison for 20 years, he’ll just think of himself as a martyr to the cause. The only truly satisfying ending will be Bill finally recognizing how wrong he’s been about so many things for so many years, and I just can’t see the show bringing him to that place within the hour and 10 minutes that the finale is scheduled to run next week.

What did everybody else think of last night’s episode? And what, if anything, would satisfy you in the finale?

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