The Beginning of the End
OK, Natalie, I know you are out of town and won’t get to watch this penultimate episode, but wow, do you have some drama in store! This episode was a bit more chaotic, setting up the various plot lines that are going to come to a massive collision next week.I know some people are going to object that the episode was a bit talky, and I suppose that is right. It was full of speeches that are just a little too explicit and expository, but you know, after five seasons of incredible characters and non-stop melodrama, I’m OK with a few long speeches. Can we please start, though, with the audible gasp and clenching of my stomach when Margie said she was going to the bathroom?
In all my predictions of who might shoot whom I have never once thought about Margie dying. The minute she left that room I knew the showdown was coming. And I have to give the show credit. They’ve been subtly and not-so-subtly building up to shootout and I really thought they might pull the trigger, so to speak, and take out one of the clear players. Of course, of course, of course I didn’t want Margie to die, but it would have been one hell of a way for the show to go, and they do love unexpected, nearly impossible twists. So more power to them that the big finale seems like it will center on what really matters most – the core family and their internal fight to preserve their way of life and justify it to the world.
Maybe that is why I didn’t mind the speeches – they were all designed to make explicit what we’ve known about these characters all along. So let’s start with what really matters, the wives.
Barb: it is not the Presbyterian church, but the Reformed Church of Latter Day Saints sounds pretty much right up Barb’s ally. And the path Barb is on is remarkably realistic to me. I loved Bill’s speech, as problematic as it was, because it is the central question feminist and other religious reformers have been asking for generations: can you change a religion or does it change you? As bullheaded as Bill is, his questions are not ridiculous:what will it mean for Barb to continue down this path? I am not so worried about his concern that she will reject polygamy outright, but it is certainly true that the deeper she goes down a reforming path the harder it will be for Barb to keep holding the tension that seems so manageable to her now. I also loved Barb’s comeback – in this season it has been early impossible not to see Barb as the instigator of much of the tension in the marriage. But her take on the situation was also incredibly right – Bill’s stubborn clinging to his own dogma, his complete unwillingness to change, have always been the problem and it was so good to have her call him on it.
Nicki: Poor Nicki definitely got the short end of the dramatic-speeches-that-encapsulate-all-character-growth-in-one-moment stick. But the scene in the dark on Cara Lyn’s bed was pretty devastating, even if it was psychology 101. Everything she said was obviously a deep reflection of the truth about her – once a victim always a victim. People like you don’t deserve love; they can’t give or get it. You are a little manipulator and a liar. For all we know you are probably on birth control. You have them fooled but not me – which was only proven true in her breakdown scene with Bill in which she acknowledges that far more than JJ or Alby she has shamed her daughter into self-loathing.
Margie: we’ve really watched Margie grow and I am sort of amazed at how centered and grounded she is. Watching her and Bill together definitely made me rethink who Bill should end up with. When did Margie turn out to have the handle on romantic commitment so much more than the other wives? When did she so fully embrace the consequences of her life’s choices or seem so capable of genuinely sticking by them? If my predictions were as dire this week as last week, I’d change them to say that Bill and Margie should perhaps end up together. In some fitting conclusion to the way the newest wife could outlast them all.
And let’s spare a moment for Bill since he also got a couple doozy summary lines tonight. All his megolamania could be summed up into his doctrine, expressed to Nicki in her breakdown and differently to Bark on the compound: that his family is his faith and that if he loses any part of it, he will lose everything.
Which begs the question, will Bill Henrickson lose everything? I am no longer at all convinced that anyone will die. I am not sure if Bill will go to prison. If he does, I am not sure what that will mean. If he doesn’t, I still can’t accept that the family will be in tact, I am just totally flummoxed about what to predict will happen next. Will happen last.
I am willing to predict that Heather will be smart enough to stay away from the polygamous trap that Ben was so clearly laying for her. Sneaky, manipulative, liar though she is, it was pretty smart to push Ben’s back against the wall so the full depth of his plural marriage fantasy would be revealed. If anything might keep Heather running, I think it would be playing sister-wife with Rhonda.
And what about Alby? Is that the end? Oh, oh, I just thought of this. Alby and Bill end up in prison together and the fight for the compound moves behind bars. That, in all honesty, might just be the perfect tragic end.
I can’t wait to talk about the finale next week!
p.s. did the music they played when Bill chased Alby into the back ally sound to you like a Deadwood sequence?