Arts & Culture

Jews Watching Big Love: God Only Knows

Big Love hits its stride with last night’s Christmas themed episode by laying out the main conflicts that will drive this season and close the show. Read More

By / January 31, 2011
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Big Love hits its stride with last night’s Christmas themed episode by laying out the main conflicts that will drive this season and close the show.

Margene’s Enlightenment: The major reveal in last night’s episode: Margene was only sixteen years old when she married Bill.  This packs an incredible punch, most obviously with regard to Bill’s place in the political spotlight, but also because it puts him amongst the false prophets he claims to oppose.  Bill always purported to be the moral polygamist, and now he’s realized that he took a sixteen-year-old girl into his marriage, a girl who might not have been sound of mind enough to choose their lifestyle.

Also, Margene is now coming of age.  All the multi level marketing stuff is just her late twenties drive to be an independent person, showing itself.  It seems she’s still drawn to Bill, but her diminishing sense of self might result in her leaving the family at the close of the show.

Barb’s Suffrage: Barb is the emotional anchor of the Henrickson family but this season, her bond to Bill might be the most tenuous.  Her desire for independence within her faith might be a dead end.  She’s realizing that she can’t be a free thinking human being within her faith and therefore within her marriage, and as a result the whole family walked in on her drunk at the end of last night’s episode.

Albert’s Reign: Having shuffled off his homoerotic-coil, Albert is storming the compound in attempt to “purify” everything in sight.  This week he kicked his mother, Adeline out of her house and had all of the dogs on the compound poisoned, but the real conflict took place between him and Laura.  After the dog incident and an apparent growing disconnect in the bedroom, Laura seeks Bill for refuge from the compound.  Bill takes her to a shelter and the whole incident coalesces with a stand off between Bill and Alby.  After punching Albert in the face, Bill spews a barrage of insults his way to the point where his Margene steps in to silence his him, keeping Bill from belittling him further in front of his kids.

There’ve been many frightening forces in the Big Love World, most notably the indelible Hollace Green, but the one that’s most potentially dangerous, is the pent up rage and unfettered insanity of Albert Grant.

This episode really moved Big Love back into familiar territory.  Thankfully Benny made his return to the show and Adeline and Lois, the secondary characters that really enliven the show, have become a solid part of this season’s storyline. The best part of this season so far, however, has been the prevalence of feminist undertones in recent episodes.  Shocking as it sounds out of context, Big Love is shaping up to be one the most important feminist TV shows of all time.   Otherwise, it’s a show about faith.  Without the polygamy theme, Big Love could easily be a show about a huge Hassidic family.  Gentiles aren’t the only ones who can ice skate to the Beach Boys, and they’re certainly not the only ones who do both beautiful and ugly things in the name of god.  A lot of big things are on the horizon, but thus far, predictions are futile.  God only knows what’s next.