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True Blood Minisode 2: Vampire Jessica is Hungry! (Parental Discretion is Advised)

Hey fellow Fang Bangers!  The second True Blood minisode has finally hit the airwaves, and it’s a doozy!  This one features Newbie Vampire Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) on a night out at the local casino.  By the way, if you haven’t viewed the first minisode yet, you can do so, by clicking here.

If you recall, Jessica was a god-fearing teen from an abusive family, who Old Vampire Bill was forced to turn by the Vampire Council at the end of Season 1, as his punishment for killing one of his own kind.

Vampire Jessica started off the show as your typically bratty and rebellious teen, a real thorn in Vampire Bill’s side.  But then, during Season 2, she met the sweet and virginal Hoyt Fortenberry (played by the adorable Jim Parrack) . . . and the two entered into a relationship that was about as healthy and innocent as a coupling between a human and a bloodsucker can get!

Unfortunately, toward the end of Season 2, things went sour for these two, when Jessica sort of / kind of tried to eat Hoyt’s closed-minded vampire- hating mom.

So, Hoyt dumped Jessica.  And, although he would eventually reconsider, it seemed to be too late.  Our Scorned Newbie was already off on a TOTAL blood rampage!  Presumably, this minisode kicks off where Season 2 left off, with a hungry Jessica out on the prowl.  There’s some REAL strong language in this one, so put the kiddies to bed before watching, please . . .

(By the way, if for any reason they disable the below video, you can also catch this new minisode at Movieweb, by clicking here or Daily Motion, by clicking here.)

What did you think?  Pretty intense, huh?  I don’t know about you guys, but I kind of preferred this one to the first minisode.  It was a bit meatier and more revealing.  Plus, the fun twist at the end was one I didn’t necessarily see coming. 

 True Blood returns to HBO on June 13th.  Be there, or be eaten by vampires . . .

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Escape from Crazytown: A Recap of Big Love’s “Next Ticket Out”

 

Welcome back Big Lovers!  Can you believe the season finale is just one week away?  It seems like only yesterday we were driving around Utah, with Roman Grant’s frozen dead corpse in the back seat . . .

Ahhh, memories . . .

It has been a bit of an uneven season — one filled with some jaw-droppingly amazing moments (Margene’s romantic encounters with Ben, Dale’s tragic suicide, and Nikki’s heroic rescue of Cara Lynn), some truly bizarre moments (anything involving J.J.), and some teeth-clenchingly annoying moments (anything involving Marilyn, and the entire bird-smuggling / Mexico storyline – up until Hollis got his arm chopped off . . . that was cool). 

 Yes, it has definitely been a wild ride.  None of the Henricksons have had a particularly easy go of it this season.  Is it any wonder that this latest installment of Big Love focused on the theme of escape?  After all, who wouldn’t want to run away from this family of wack jobs?

Auf Wiedersehen, Sara!

“You are OUT!”

Near the end of Godfather III,  Michael Corleone utters the iconic line: “Everytime I think I’m out, they pull me back in!”  (The line was practically the only good thing about the film, which was a major disappointment, especially following the awesomeness that was the first two Godfather movies.)

I bring up the quote, because I imagine that this was how Sarah Henrickson felt, throughout most of the Big Love series.  Having been raised for most of her young life in a “normal” two-parent home, Sarah never really bought into the whole “polygamy” thing.  And I was always under the impression that her hasty  marriage to Scott was simply a way for her to distance herself from her family and their religious beliefs, permanently.

My suspicions were confirmed in the opening moments of this episode, when Sarah announced that she and Scott had put a downpayment on a home in Portland, Oregon.  The couple would be leaving Utah ASAP.  Now, I understand that this was somewhat of a plot contrivance, given that Amanda Seyfried wanted out of the show to pursue her burgeoning movie career.  However, I also happen to think that Sarah’s actions were consistent with the overall development of her character throughout the series.  And, I can’t help but be proud of my girl, Sarah,  for FINALLY escaping the utter craziness of the rest of her gene pool . . .

“Sayonara Suckers!”

Although the family initially balked at her decision,  the Henricksons ultimately came around to supporting Sarah.  Even Bill ultimately caved, arriving at Sarah’s home late at night, with a pizza pie and $5,000 as proverbial olive branches.   Sarah returned the favor, by publicly supporting her family during a television interview for the Senatorial campaign.  At the conclusion of the episode, the Henricksons gave Sarah an admittedly sweet parting gift, a quilt made from various family members’ attire and prized belongings.

Although I wasn’t particularly keen on her “baby napping” storyline this season, I must say that I overall enjoyed Sarah’s character during her run on Big Love.  Sarah was a relatable island of sanity amidst the show’s sea of craziness.  She will be missed . . .

Goodbye and Good Riddance, Marilyn . . . Oh, wait . . . You’re still here.

Last week, I compared Sissy Spacek’s devious and highly annoying lobbyist Marilyn to an itchy rash that just wouldn’t go away, no matter how much Benadryl you slathered on it.  This week, she proved herself to be exactly that.  When Barb comes clean to Bill about Marilyn’s double-crossing of the Casino, by hiring right-wing extremists to terrorize them, Bill immediately fires Marilyn’s ass.  I literally pumped my fist in the air in triumph.  Hurrah!  The Wicked Bitch of the West is finally gone!  I cheered.

And then . . . The Rash came back. (Boo!)  Marilyn popped up at Margene’s office, accusing the latter of having “an affair” with Bill.  (har de har, har)  When that didn’t work, she called Barb in the middle of the night to tell her about the affair.  The character’s motivations are becoming increasingly less clear as the season progresses.  I’m starting to think it all comes down to one thing:  BITCH IS CRAZY!

“I will not be ignored, HENRICKSONS.  And I will not leave, FANS, no matter how much you all want me to!”

When Barb doesn’t react to Marilyn’s claims that Bill is cheating on her, Marilyn puts two and two together and criticizes Barb for her unhealthy polygamist way of life.  At the conclusion of the episode, Tommy, who has been digging up dirt on Marilyn throughout the episode, informs Barb that Marilyn has waged a personal vendetta against the Henricksons, going as far as to stealing all of their personal financial information.   Someone’s not getting the bid for fourth wife anytime soon . . .

To Marry or Not To Marry, That is the Question

The Henricksons might NOT be getting a fourth wife this season.  However, it looks like a  second husband is definitely in the cards for them.  Initially, Bill refuses to condone Margene’s green card marriage.  Margene’s a part of this family, dammit!  And she’s going to have to give up her career, life, and happiness for Bill, just like everyone else!  When Margene assures him that the marriage is only a paper one, Bill asserts that a legal document now binds Margene to Goran.  Margene counters nicely, arguing that if legal documents are so important, than Bill’s marriage to Barb would be more real and binding than his marriage to Margene.

Later, Anna, who has oddly become the show’s moral compass (go figure), again calls Bill out on his hypocrisy.  When Bill whines that a woman can only have one husband, Anna laughs in his face.  “Do you even hear what you are saying?”  She inquires.  “You people are crazy!”


“I LIKE her . . .”

Bill’s tune rapidly changes when Marilyn threatens to expose the Henricksons as polygamists BEFORE the election.  Now Bill NEEDS Margene to marry Goran to reduce suspicion and keep the dogs at bay.  In a passive aggressive move that made me smile, Margene takes the liberty of inviting her new husband to the Henrickson home, arguing that doing so is necessary to make their marriage seem more believable.  Bill responds by getting into a classic pissing contest with Margene’s other husband, and knocking him violently in the head with a tether ball.

“Those homo sapiens . . . so unevolved.”

There’s such a thing as the Women’s Movement?  Who knew?

“Wake up and smell the new millenium, Barb!”

After being fired from the casino by Bill for putting Crazy Marilyn on the payroll, a frustrated Barb speaks to a group of local female voters about the challenges associated with being a woman in the 21st century – one who is expected to be perfect at all times.  She then makes an offhand comment about women solving their problems by becoming addicted to prescription medication. 

The statement backfires on Barb, when Bill’s senatorial opponent mischaracterizes it, asserting that Barb believes the woman of Utah to be a bunch of drug-addicted freaks.  Bill reprimands Barb, demanding that she retract her statement, regardless of its original harmless intent.  A distraught and newly unemployed Barb seeks solace from Tommy, who offers her a few words of encouragement and the steamiest hug I have ever seen!  Can these two hook up already?  Please!

“Stick with me, babe, and the only PILL you’re going to need is birth control!”

At the conclusion of the episode, Bill redeems himself a bit by sticking up for Barb on national television regarding her statements about prescription drugs.  Too little, too late, as far as I am concerned . . .

Nikki Loves Bill!  Alert the Media!

One of my favorite storylines this season has been the evolution of Nikki Grant from a shallow, immature, self-centered Daddy’s girl, and devout polygamist, to a sympathetic, caring, and strong woman coming to terms with the shortcomings of both her family and her religion.  Sure, she has had some missteps along the way.  Like, for instance, there was that time when she dressed like this . . .

However, ultimately, it has been rewarding to watch Nikki come into her own this season.  In the opening scene of this episode, Nikki appears at the family dinner in a modern and stylish, if slightly revealing, dress.  She continues her fashion-forward trend later that evening, coming to Bill’s bed dressed in sexy lingerie.  It is there that she comes clean to Bill about her difficulties conceiving a child and her visits with a “fertility specialist”  a.k.a. J.J.’s creepy son.

When Barb accidentally spills the beans to Nikki about Joey killing her father, Nikki rushes to Joey’s home to confront him.  However, instead of lashing out in anger, as the old Nikki was wont to do, Nikki finds herself immediately concerned for the safety of Joey’s fragile and  unstable wife, Wanda, who is nearly catatonic when Nikki finds her.  Just as she did with Cara Lynn a few episodes back, Nikki gallantly rescues Wanda from the compound.

“Think Bill will like my new outfit?”

Clearly in the rescuing mood, Nikki makes a pitstop at her brother Albie’s home.  As a result of Dale’s suicide and the resulting investigation into the latter’s finances, by the UEB, Albie appears to be having some type of nervous breakdown.  He is sweaty and shaking.  He keeps having hallucinations involving his father.  And he has become (gasp) a bad dancer!  Albie is bopping around his home to 80s music, when Nikki arrives.  (What is it with the Grants and the 80s?)

“What?  Those were good times!”

(BTW: Albie’s wife, the traitorous Laura, announces Nikki’s arrival.  Based on his interaction with her, it appears that Albie has not, in fact, put two and two together, regarding her role in Dale’s demise.  It seems unlike Albie to be so dense.  Is it possible that he DOES know and is merely waiting for the right moment to seek revenge?  I am intrigued to see how this will all play out. . . )

Nikki offers to go away somewhere with Albie, so that he can escape the toxic atmosphere of the compound.  Unfortunately, Crazed Albie is not exactly in the vacationing mood.  He violently pushes Nikki away, harshly ridiculing her new wardrobe and lifestyle.

Later, Nikki again confides in Bill that, after all these years of marriage, she has finally come to love him.  Compound living had taught her not to love, but only to obey.  Now, that Nikki truly loves Bill, she no longer wants to share him with Barb and Margene . . .

“It looks like monogamy is coming to get you, Mr. Bill.  Be afraid, be very afraid.”

The Devil You Know Versus The One You Don’t

In other Grant news, Nikki’s mom, Adaleen, has just learned that J.J. is crazy.  (Shocker!)  But not just your garden variety crazy, so crazy that ROMAN didn’t want J.J. around J.J. ‘s OWN daughter!  Apparently, prior to his death, Roman did, in fact, sign off on young Cara Lynn’s “sealing” to the dirty old man from a few episodes prior. 

However, as it turns out, Roman did so, not to seek vengeance against Nikki, as we once thought, but to rescue Cara Lynn from J.J.!   Now, when Roman Grant thinks your an evil nutjob, you KNOW things are bad .  .  .  I have a feeling this J.J. storyline is going to come to head next week in a major way!

That’s a wrap Big Lovers! Tune in next week for the grand finale, where, HOPEFULLY, Barb and Tommy will hook up, and we will FINALLY see the last of that pain in the ass, Marilyn . . .

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Oh no, Mr. Bill (Henrickson)!: A Recap of Big Love’s “Blood Atonement”

OHHHH NOOO!  Things aren’t going so well for the Henrickson clan!  But, hey, at least they have all their limbs in tact, which is more than I can say for SOME people on this show. . .

When I think back on this week’s installment of “Big Love,” the first word that comes to mind is “bizarro.”  In fact, if there was a camera on me while I was watching “Blood Atonement,” I probably would have looked a lot like this . . .

Yeah, I’m a monkey.  Got a problem with that?

But if I HAD to pick a theme for this episode, it would probably be “family”  — more specifically, the lengths a person will go to

save it . . .

seek vengeance on its behalf . . .

or prevent it from running her mildly successful jewelry business into the ground, by outing her as a polygamist.

So, without further adieu, let’s check in with our favorite family to find out who got married, who got knocked up,  who almost got blown up, who has an “unhappy uterus,” and who is no longer capable of clapping . . .

Oh Baby!

Apparently, Nikki will not be having one of these any time soon . . . but someone else will.

For some time now, our favorite second wife, Nikki Grant, has been receiving pressure from her sister wives to conceive.  At first, Nikki was hell bent against it, even going as far as to sneak birth control pills behind Bill’s back.  Now, however, Nikki is suddenly desperate to conceive.  Unfortunately, Heavenly Father has other ideas.   

Nikki’s doctor informs her that, having reached the ripe old age of 30ish, she has suddenly developed  . . .

 . . . an unhappy uterus (thus proving you can find ANYTHING in Google Images).

Speaking of uteruses (uteri?), you know who has the most cheerful uterus in the world?  Nikki’s Mommy, Adaleen, of course!  Given that she has a 30ish daughter, I’m guessing Adaleen is probably somewhere in her 50’s, just a wee bit past prime child-birthing age.  And yet, lo and behold, she is pregnant.  It’s a MIRACLE! 

Or is it?  J.J. was acting very strangely when discussing Adaleen’s pregnancy with his sister.  Plus, I didn’t trust that baby-faced “family doctor” to whom J.J. sent Adaleen (Nikki visited him later for help with her own infertility woes) as far as I could throw him.  

It may be too soon to tell what the heck is going on here.  However, my guess is that J.J. paid off that squirmy doc to inseminate Adaleen, in some strange and complicated ploy to either screw with Nikki or somehow become Prophet.  That being said, I am more than a bit worried for Nikki right now.  With J.J. watching her every move, an  “Unhappy Uterus” is  the least of her problems . . .

Holy Nuptials!

In other pregnancy news, erstwhile fourth wife Anna still has a bun in the oven, and Barb is still trying to get her holier-than-thou mitts on it.  “The Crazy Lady wants me to drink the Kool Aid again,” explains Anna in Russian to her vaguely attractive, but kind of dirty- looking fiancé, when Barb barges into the couple’s home for what feels like the 20,000th time this season, and begs Anna to reconsider her decision.

Anna explains that her fiancé, who is studying to become a doctor (yeah because this guy has PROFESSIONAL written all over him . . . PROFESSIONAL HITMAN), is in danger of being deported.  Therefore, the two of them must leave the country ASAP.  Seeing the writing on the wall for her jewelry business, should Bill win the Senatorial election and out the entire family as polygamists, Margene comes up with a thoughtful, if not entirely altruistic, solution. 

SHE will marry Anna’s fiancé!  This way, he and Anna will get to stay in the country!  Anna’s fiancé can become the doctor he always dreamed of being!  (Ha ha)  Bill and Barb can get to screw up yet another child!  And, most importantly, Margene can continue selling cheap bracelets on the Home Shopping Network!  EVERYBODY WINS !

Except, I’m not sure Barb would agree.  Then again, she has her own crap to deal with — or, as they say in the casino world . . .

Oh Craps!

Remember last week, when I warned Barb to beware of evil little women bearing sweet gifts?

She didn’t listen.  Back at the casino, Barb and Tommy (I hate to say it, but these two are actually really hot together and they haven’t even kissed yet) have their hands full with a right-wing extremist group that is loudly boycotting the casino.  Unfortunately, now that they actually need her, their high- priced media whore publicist, Marilyn, is no where to be found.  Things really get out of hand when the casino receives a bomb threat and has to be evacuated.

In an effort to reach some sort of compromise, Barb contacts the head of the extremist group, while the latter is on business in Scotland.  However, the Right Wing Nut Job denies playing any role in the bomb fiasco, and refuses to help.  When Barb learns that Marilyn is also in Scotland, she puts two and two together, and figures out that Marilyn is in cohoots with the Right Wing Nut Job. 

Her and Tommy have been set up!  Marilyn is EVIL!  I’m SHOCKED!  (NOT!)

Aye Chihuahua!

“We’re not in Utah anymore, Tito.”

While Barb is busy mucking things up at the casino, Bill and Joey are traveling down to Mexico to rescue Ma and Pa Looney Tunes and Bill’s oldest son, Ben, from that dastardly polygamist, Hollis Green and his wife, who reminds me of someone, but I can’t quite place her . . .

Oh yeah, that’s the one!

Anyway, Ma, Pa, Ben, and Pa’s other wife, Jodeen, are holed up in Green’s Mexican compound awaiting “trial,” while Bill and Brother Joey try to come up with a plan.  Joey, still peeved at the Greens for their role in his almost-wife Cathy’s death, literally wants to go in with guns blazing.  (He found Pa’s stash in the trunk of his car.  Apparently, Ma and Pa Looney Tunes were not ONLY smuggling birds across state lines, but weapons too)  Bill, however, has other ideas . . .

Leaving a very angry Joey behind, Bill sneaks onto the compound and almost manages to escape with his brood, when Hollis and his wife catch them.  Hollis deems the escape the ultimate betrayal, and wishes to execute Ma, Pa, Ben, and Jodeen ASAP.  In an odd moment of self-sacrifice, the typically self-absorbed Bill offers to give his own life for that of his family.  Just when it looks as though Hollis is about to . .  .

 . . . his arm falls off .  . . no really, it does.  Ma Henrickson may be a bad parent; she may be really lousy at bird smuggling, but, apparently, she has a unique talent for swordplay.  The now One-Armed Hollis crumples to the floor, and Pat Mrs. Green truly appears anguished over her husband’s agony.

Bill explains to Mrs. Green that her husband should be able to live, and may even be able to salvage his arm, but only if she gets him to a doctor ASAP.  That means setting the Henricksons free.  Fortunately, Mrs. Green chooses her husband, because I REALLY couldn’t take another Mexico-based episode of this show . . .

So, what did you think?  Were you  getting as sick of Mexico as I was?  Will Hollis be able to reattach his arm?  And what the heck is the deal with Preggers Adaleen?

 

 

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Et tu Barb? – A Recap of Big Love’s “Under One Roof”

Watch your backs, Big Lovers!  Tonight’s episode was all about betrayal.  Not a single character made it through the hour unscathed.  In fact, one character didn’t make it out alive.

 So, without further adieu, let’s take a look back at this blood bath of an episode, to find out who stabbed who, and which wounds were lethal . . .

She’s Baack!

While at a restaurant schmoozing a potential campaign contributor, Bill and Barb run into a very pregnant Anna, a.k.a the fourth wife that almost was . . . but wasn’t.  Doing a bit of mathematical calculation in their heads, Bill and Barb become instantly convinced that the bun in Anna’s oven is Bill’s.  Of course, the self-righteous Henrickson clan is certain that Anna should want nothing more than to rejoin “The Family” with her new baby.

Despite Anna’s pleas that the Henricksons leave her alone, the following evening, Bill and the wives arrive at the restaurant where Anna works to re-plead their case.  As far as they are concerned, the situation is a clear win-win.  After all, who wouldn’t want to join a family as healthy and functional as this one?

 

Clearly smarter than she looks, Anna blows them all off.  Later, however, she approaches Bill at his office to inform him that she has changed her mind.  Apparently, fifteen-hour restaurant workdays are not exactly healthy for a mother in her third trimester.  Anna proposes that Bill provide her with some monetary help.  In exchange, she will arrange for Bill to have some visitation rights, once the baby is born.  Anna conditions the agreement on Bill’s promise to keep the other wives out of the arrangement, because, frankly, they scare the crap out of her.

“Oh HELL no!  I absolutely refuse to become part of that loony family!  I’ll stay in your tummy forever, if I have to!”

Anna suggests that they hire a lawyer to draft a visitation agreement.  However, Bill assures her that such formal measures are not necessary.  He may be a D-Bag, but he’s no dummy.  After all, bastard children and political campaigns do not exactly mix.  The less evidence against Bill, the better  . . .

“Yeah, no sh&t, Sherlock!”

When Barb learns about what transpired between Bill and Anna, she is livid.  After all, any baby conceived during a Henrickson marriage is Henrickson property, as far as she is concerned.  (women and children apparently equal chattel, here in Big Love land).  Barb barges into Anna’s apartment and demands that she reconsider.   She is shocked to find another man there.    “He is my fiancé,” explains Anna.

According to Anna, her fiancé is aware that the baby Anna is carrying is Bill’s.  However, he is allowing Anna to receive help from Bill because he wants what’s best for the baby.  (Do you want to see a paternity test?  Because I sure do!  No man is that understanding.)

Barb remakes her lame argument about the baby being born out of “their” marriage.  This is the moment Anna chooses to drop her bombshell.  “The baby was NOT conceived during the marriage.  It was conceived before [Bill and I] were married.”

“Oh Billlllyyy!  You have some explaining to do!”

The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave . . .

The Henrickson’s not only had to deal with the woman who had abruptly re-entered their lives, they also had to cope with the one who just wouldn’t leave.  Evil publicist Marilyn, still intent on signing Bill’s casino to her client roll, finagles yet another meeting with Bill’s partners to make her pitch.  She goes one step further by approaching Barb with girl talk and sweets wrapped in a red bow.

 Beware of evil women bearing goodies, Barb . . .

Marilyn does a fairly good job of getting into Barb’s head, regarding the latter’s lack of equal standing at the casino, despite her being a full partner.  Marilyn then informs Barb about her pitch for representation of the casino – a pitch to which, of course, Barb was not invited.  Ultimately, Barb goes behind Bill’s back and signs Marilyn as casino representative, on his behalf.  Apparently, Bill is not the only one who can make agreements that affect The Family without the rest of The Family’s approval.

Not Without My Daughter!

Nikki’s “fashionable” new look

Nikki is appalled and disgusted when she learns that her “ex-husband” and the father of her child, J.J.,  is being “sealed” to her mother at the same creepy run-down motel where she lost her virginity at age 14.  When J.J.’s sister calls her to inform her that J.J.’s whole family is coming down for the “sealing,” Nikki begins to fear for her mother and her daughter’s safety.

To prove her independence, Nikki crashes the “wedding” dressed in “modern” clothes.  Or rather, she dresses in clothes she assumes are modern, seeing as she has basically  dressed like a pilgrim since birth.  Her sideways ponytail and short jean skirt were admittedly hilarious.  However, I think 1984 probably wants them back.  In all honesty, I haven’t seen Chloe Sevigny so poorly dressed since . . . this.

But I do feel a bit bad about harping on Nikki’s clothing, seeing as she was definitely the hero of this episode.  When Nikki learns that her 16-year old daughter is to be sealed to an older man, much like Nikki was sealed to J.J. in the past, Nikki breaks into the motel and gallantly comes to her daughter’s rescue. 

Getting Loco Down in Mexico

Things are going slightly better (at least, at first), for young Ben, as he bonds with his Crazy Grandma and Grandpa down in Mexico, while they attempt to carry out their “bird-brained” scheme to bootleg parrots across state lines.  Ben lies to his family, telling them that he is nursing his Grandmother’s broken foot.

Meanwhile, Ben and Grams are having a grand old time dancing (on both feet), eating shrimp cocktails, and talking about living together in Mexico.  Unfortunately, when they go to market to collect their parrots, things do not exactly go as planned.  Apparently, Ma and Pa Henrickson aren’t the only ones involved the bird racket.  The creepy mafia-esque polygamist Greene family like their birds as well, and aren’t big fans of competition . . .

Blind (and Dumb) Ambition

Much to the chagrin of the entire Henrickson family, Bill is determined that they come “out” as polygamists upon Bill’s election to Senate.  Under the flimsy rationale that it will help his campaign, he begins making rash decisions on the family’s behalf.  First, he decides to rebrand his “local family” casino by placing billboards for it outside of his voting district.  Then, he makes plans to purchase a larger campaign headquarters, despite the financial burden it will undoubtedly place on the increasingly cash-strapped family.

After meeting some unexpected opposition from his wives, Bill reveals his new “campaign headquarters” to his family.  These “headquarters” are not located in a stodgy warehouse, or office, but rather, inside a stately mansion.  Bill informs his wives that this is where he plans to move with them, after they come forward as polygamists.  According to Bill, it has always been his dream to have his entire family living under one roof.

Love Hurts (and Sometimes Kills)

Juniper Creek Trustee, Dale, and Albie are still involved in their heated love affair at the episode’s opening.  Unfortunately, their relationship cannot stay a secret for long.  Soon, Albie’s wife, Laura, finds the couple leaving their clandestine hideaway together.  Heartbroken, Laura begins to tip off the other trustees as to Dale’s sexual orientation. 

In a heart-wrenching speech, Dale confronts his religious leaders about his struggles with homosexuality.  He complains that although he has lived a righteous and religious lifestyle, he cannot change his sexuality, no matter how hard he tries to do so.  Still not satisfied, Laura approaches Bill about Dale and Albie. 

Bill meets Dale in secret to confront him with this new information.  Although he is sympathetic to Dale’s troubles, Bill has no choice but to ask him to resign, due to the obvious conflict of interest this presents with respect to the trusteeship.

Shoving the final nail in the coffin, Laura then confronts Dale’s wife and children with their patriarch’s secret.  In the last few moments of the episode, Albie enters the couple’s secret hideaway to find a dead Dale hanging from the rafters by his tie.

It doesn’t get much more intense than that, folks.  Tune in next week, to find out whether Bill can rescue his crazy parents and fairly sane, but Oedipal, son from the Mexican firing squad . . .

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Lost Boys and Peter Pan Complexes – A Recap of Big Love’s “The Sins of The Father”

Welcome back, Big Lovers!  A lot has happened since we last visited the Henrickson clan.  Bill got the Senate nomination!  Ben went off to live with his Bat-S*&^ Crazy Grandma!  Barb got hot and steamy with another man!

Tonight’s episode had a lot to do with accepting responsibility for, and coming to terms with, one’s past.  While some characters were able to do this successfully, others seemed to regress, resorting to pouting, name-calling, manipulation, and other childish antics, to get what they wanted. 

So, what do you say we jump on the campaign bandwagon, to find out which Henricksons “grew up,” and which decided to remain in Never Never Land?

Father Knows Least

“I just can’t understand why all of you won’t cater to my every whim.”

If you recall, erstwhile D-Bag Bill kicked his 17-year-old son Ben out of the house, because his wife, Margene, developed feelings for Ben and kissed him on the mouth.  All of this was clearly Ben’s fault!  After all, despite his youth, Ben is a MAN!  Therefore, he should ABSOLUTELY be responsible for controlling the inappropriate sexual urges of all of the “weak and feeble-minded” women in his life.  Right?

 (Ooh, perhaps I went a bit heavy on the sarcasm there . . . Naaaah.)

“Man, compared to this guy, even I’m evolved!”

In addition to banishing his own son, Bill is also giving Margene the cold shoulder.  Barb initially pleads with Bill to take back his son and play nice with Margene.  “You have to forgive her,” Barb lectures, using words that will come back to haunt her by the episode’s end.

However, when Barb learns that this was more than just a “missed peck on the cheek,” her tune quickly changes.  She too begins giving Margene the cold shoulder.  And how does Margene respond to all this iciness?  By sucking on a helium balloon and speaking in an “adorably” squeaky voice, of course.  (I’m not kidding.  She actually does this.)

“Margene is hot and all.  But I am starting to think that she is a bit too immature for me.  Too bad Sarah is already taken . . .”

While crashing at his Big Sister Sarah’s, Ben calls his Grandma Lois, in hopes of getting some money with a much-needed side of sympathy.  When Ma Henrickson learns what Bill did, she is understandably horrified, not to mention overcome with guilt.  This situation forces Lois to recall how she sat idly by, while her husband threw Bill and his brother Joey out of the house, when both were barely teenagers.

Lois confronts Bill with the intention of preventing him from repeating his father’s mistakes.  However, the self-involved Lois winds up merely defending her own cowardly past misdeeds.  “This isn’t my fault,” she whines.  (Oh, yes, it is!)

Later, when Bill gets roped into spending the evening at his own casino to please an important campaign contributor (This is the first time I’ve actually seen him there all season), he is mortified to find his own parents in attendance and causing a scene.  Bill and his father soon come to blows.  Bill blames his father for his crappy childhood.  Papa Henrickson responds by calling Bill out on his own hypocrisy.  They beat each other up a bit.

To make matters even worse for Bill, Joey, typically a staunch supporter of Bill’s, surprises his brother by taking his father’s side.  “You are on the wrong path, brother,” scolds Joey. 

And in polygamist speak, telling someone that they are on the wrong path is about as bad as telling them to go %$& themselves.  (Worse, actually, since polygamists don’t curse).

Nikki Develops a Conscience

Nikki’s been a busy little bee lately.  Bill has decided to pimp her out to his opponent’s campaign in order to collect some helpful intel.  At the same time, she is posing as Bill’s “assistant,” Daphne, in order to quell the suspicions of the devious lobbyist, Marilyn.  “Why am I always the one asked to do morally ambiguous things?”  Nikki inquires.  (Good question.)

Bill puts up some lame excuse about delegating jobs that cater to everyone’s individual strengths.  Nikki, who obviously has dreadfully low self esteem, seems to buy into this.  But I, for one, would be hugely offended, if I were her.  Basically, Bill has just told his own wife that her “strengths” lie in being a conniving bitch.  Based on past experience, this may be true, but still . . . 

“I’m not bad.  I’m just drawn that way.”

Some Like it Hot

To say that Bill’s Senatorial campaign is bringing out the worst in Barb is the understatement of the century.  Normally calm and collected, Barb lashes out at Margene when she finds out the true nature of her feelings for Ben, calling her a flirt and a floozy.  Barb then gets real classy, outing Margene’s deceased mother as a low-class alcoholic.

“Oh no she di-dn’t!”

Barb concludes this “mature and rational” meeting of the minds by knocking down Margene’s bracelet sales display with the verve and intensity of a playground bully.  Realizing that she needs to “cool off,” Barb heads to the casino where she encounters its co-owner Tommy.  Instead of cooling things off for Barb, Tommy decides to heat them up, by taking Barb to a sweat lodge.

Tommy’s hot shirtless bod doesn’t go unnoticed by Barb, particularly when she finds out that he is a widower.  The sexual tension between these two has been evident since they started arguing with one another early in the season about how to run the casino.  Now, it appears the pair has reached a whole new level of “hot for each other”-ness.

Barb leaves the sweat lodge before things can get too steamy between her and Tommy.  However, she returns there on her own to gather her thoughts at the end of the episode.  I having a feeling that this is not the last we will see of Barb and Tommy.

(It is now official.  Every single wife of Bill’s has had an emotion affair on his ass.  It serves him right, as far as I am concerned . . .)

Rebel With a Cause

In Bill’s defense, he actually made some important strides toward being a decent human being, during this episode.  For one thing, he refused to link up with the clearly EEEEVVVIL lobbyist Marilyn, despite the fact that doing so would undoubtedly help his campaign.

Bill does the right thing again, when tragic news hits Utah regarding a “Lost Boy,” who escaped from the Juniper Creek compound, robbed a convenient store, and ended up being killed as a result.  When Bill’s Senatorial adversary, Coburn, pushes him to take a hard stance against the dead youth and the crimes he committed, Bill takes the high road and refuses.  Later, in secret, he contacts the county and ensures that the boy be given a proper burial.

On the day of the primary runoff election, Bill returns to the convention center to find it wallpapered with his mug shot, which was taken during his own “Lost Boy” teenage years.  And I’ll be darned if the young Bill Henrickson isn’t a spitting image of the young Frank Sinatra.

(Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the actual “Henrickson mugshot” to post here.  However, anyone who saw the episode could probably back me up on this one.)

During the Republican Primary Debate, Bill surprises everyone by coming clean about his father’s abuse, his mother’s abandonment, and his childhood crimes.  In a heartfelt speech that literally brought tears to my eyes, erstwhile D-Bag Bill invites his community to take responsibility for its “Lost Children,” and accept these neglected children’s sins as their own.

As a result of this admittedly awesome speech, Bill wins the primary against his highly unsympathetic opponent, who actually reminded me a lot of this guy . . .

During the celebration of his victory, a humbled Bill agrees to try and reconcile with Margene.  He even goes as far as to patronize Barb for not being as open and godlike as he has just recently become.  “You have to forgive her,” Bill scolds, throwing Barb’s own words from the episode’s opening back in her face.  (Burn!)

As much as that line made me cringe, when Sarah tells Bill that young Ben did not come to his victory celebration; and has, instead, went off to live with Crazy Ma and Pa Henrickson, I genuinely felt bad for the guy.

Growing up isn’t always easy . . .

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Weekend at Roman’s – A Recap of Big Love, Season 4, Episode 1 “Free at Last”

            Greetings “Big Lovers!”  It’s that time again.  After the obligatory year-long hiatus that has become trademark for HBO Series, our favorite polygamist family are back to grace our television screens with their Heavenly Father-loving presence.  So, without further adieu, gather up all your wives, broil up some crab legs, and let’s get on with the show, shall we?

            Big Love’s premiere episode began with a brand new opener and corresponding theme song.  The show’s producers have decided to ditch The Beach Boys’, sappily sweet and jubilantly jolly, “God Only Knows,” for the sad emo sounds of Animal Kingdom’s “Bright Lights.”  Really?  An ultra hip indie rock song as an opener for a television show about uptight polygamists in Utah?  Call me a fuddy duddy, but I am just not that comfortable with my Henricksons having cooler taste in music than I do.

            In addition to the new song, the old opening sequence has also been unceremoniously dumped.  No longer will we be treated to images of the Henrickson family holding hands as they enjoy ice skating through a sea of white, or chowing down on a bountiful outdoor meal under a sun-filled sky.  Instead, each of the four main characters are now shown amidst a sea of black, falling.  Not just falling, but falling “dramatically.” It was almost as if the entire cast of Big Love had taken an acting class together, in which they were given directions such as “fall sad,”  “fall happy,” “fall contemplative,” “fall constipated,” and we are watching their responses.

                  Remember back when The Sopranos was still on the air, and before each season began, the producers would release a promo poster featuring the entire cast?  (Man, do I miss that show!)  Remember how television pundits across the nation would use up pages and pages of magazine space analyzing the poster and its implications for the upcoming season?  Well, I could only guess that the producers of Big Love were going for the same effect here.  But for me, the new somber-toned opener was a tad esoteric, more than a bit depressing, and just plain over-ambitious.

            Overall, the series’ excessive ambition was a problem that plagued the entire episode, which seemed to be heading a million directions at once, making it difficult for the viewer to become particularly invested in any one story.  Nevertheless, there were some intriguing stories presented here, which definitely deserve their due.  Here are some of the new plotlines that jump started Season 4:

Plot 1: Weekend at Roman’s

            Although this will undoubtedly make me sound morbid as heck, this was by far my favorite plotline of the night.  When we last saw The Prophet of Juniper Creek (played with “dirty old man” goodness by Harry Dean Stanton), he had just been smothered under the weight of a pillow held by Bill’s brother, Joey and was, presumably, dead.

            Now, Roman is missing.  And yet, for a dead guy, he seems surprisingly adept at investing.  Apparently the aforementioned corpse has recently come into large sums of money – said money having been purportedly deposited into a new bank account opened in Roman’s name by his daughter and Bill’s scheming adulterer of a second wife, Nikki Grant (Chloe Sevigny).  As a result, the FBI are literally invading upon the lives of our characters in search of the errant Roman, raiding the compound and harassing Nikki, who, of course, denies all accusations against her. 

            When a hysterical Adaleen Grant (Mary Kay Place) calls Nikki about a power outage on the compound, her daughter reluctantly purchases a generator and heads to her estranged mother’s doorstep.  Nikki drops off the generator and turns to leave when her mother implores her to remain for a BLT sandwich. (This seemed to be an odd lunch choice for a bunch of religious extremists, so my Spidey Sense was immediately tingling by this point.)  Nevertheless, when Adaleen requested that Nikki go down to the cellar to “bring home the bacon,” Nikki obediently complied.

            I instantly expected Momma Grant to lock Nikki in the cellar, but she surprised me and didn’t.  What happened next was far more interesting.  When Nikki reaches the end of the dark creepy compound basement and moves the slabs of meat out of the way, she finds herself face-to-face with a Roman Grantsicle.  Yep, it appears Roman Grant has been reduced from the living leader of the Juniper Creek LDS community to a very realistic Madame Tussaud wax figure of Harry Dead Stanton, complete with icicles hanging from its nose.  And if that’s not dead, I don’t know what is.

            When Nikki informs her brother Alby (Matt Ross) about their father’s death and subsequent baconey burial, he can barely restrain his unadulterated glee at the news.  “No, you be sad!  It’s very, very sad,” Nikki scolds self-righteously.

            And yet, Nikki is not gone for two seconds before Alby and his Lady MacBeth-esque wife, Laura (Anne Dudek) begin their “Daddy is Dead Celebration Party!”  Laura, ever the rebel, goes as far as to remove two cans of Coors Light from their otherwise empty fridge!  (Apparently, when stocking up on the LDS-verboten alcohol, the Grants neglected to purchase any real food.  Perhaps Abaleen should send over some of her famous BLT sandwiches?)

                 Empty fridge aside, it is Laura who triumphantly utters the very words that make up the episode’s title, “Free at Last.”  Alby, whose fur-free baby face does mustache-twirling villany like no other, is slightly more restrained than his wife.  Instead of jumping for joy, Nikki’s bad seed brother calmly sits back in his chair, clasps his hands together and says tonelessly, “My destiny is filled.  God will surely punish those who block my path to Glory.”

            Later that evening, Alby and Laura are seen driving together in a car that bears some very precious cargo.  “Did you see that?  He just gave me a mean look, because I’m going to be the prophet now,” explains Alby childishly, as he stares intently at our favorite frozen LDS leader in the backseat.

            Our well-traveled human ice sculpture pops up again later, somewhat thawed out, on the grounds where the Henrickson’s new casino is set to open in just a few days.  There he sits, soaking up some sun, while lying a comfy beach chair, in what must be a send up to that classic 80’s dead-guy flick “Weekend at Bernie’s.”  And pardon me for saying that, just like the titular Bernie Lomax, Roman Grant seems to be having way more fun dead than he ever did alive.

            Fortunately, as always, Bill (played by the still sexy Bill Paxton) is there to save the day.  With Nikki in toe, he carts the Roaming Roman away in his car, presumably toward a proper burial.  En route, he and Nikki, who we learn have not screwed since he found out she was cheating on him with the DA investigating her father last season, share a moment.  Bill provides comfort, delicately taking his second wife’s hand, when the heretofore stoic Nikki finally breaks down and cries over the death of her not-so-paternal daddy.

Plot 2: Mother and Child

            On the homefront, the Henrickson clan is adjusting to yet another new addition to their already insanely large family: namely, Nikki’s 14-year old daughter, Cara Lynn.  Fearing that her former husband J.J. will enter her daughter into the Joy Book, making her eligible for marriage at the compound, Nikki takes Cara Lynn into her home, and hides her from authorities.  Cara Lynn, who desires the opportunity to attend public school, agrees.  We learn from Nikki, that Cara Lynn has done exceedingly well on her placement exams, and will start public school a grade ahead of other girls her age.  (Gee, the Juniper Creek educational system must be awesome.  When can I enroll?)

            When J.J. storms into the Henrickson’s backyard and demands the return of his daughter, Bill, ever the peacekeeper, brokers a compromise.  He proposes Cara Lynn be returned to J.J on weekends, provided that she be allowed to attend school and stay with the Henricksons during the week.  J.J. reluctantly agrees, and actually seems like a pretty good dad in his initial interaction with his daughter.  He denies designs on placing Cara Lynn in the Joy Book, and even offers to re-enroll her in school at the compound, if that is what she wants.  Cara Lynn promises J.J. that she has every intention of returning to him once the school year ends.  She even agrees to go with him to Kansas when he moves there the following summer.

Plot 3: Itchy and Scratchy Henrickson

            In my least favorite plot point of the night, Ma and Pa Henrickson (played by, Grace Zabriski and Bruce Dern, respectively) continued their three season trend of finding new and increasingly less inventive ways to try and kill one another.  Frank, for his part, hired goons with nooses to accost Lois when he picked her up in his car.  Lois, in return, put a gun to Frank’s head.  Later, after a tedious tussle in Lois’s new home, the couple came to a temporary truce, agreeing to become business partners in Lois’s new hare-brained (or should I say “bird-brained”) profit-making scheme, which involves buying parrots for $30 and selling them for $700.  Here’s hoping that these two play nice for at least a few more episodes.

Plot 4: I Want Crab Legs!

            In the season opener, we find that the often-underestimated Margene (played by the adorable Ginnifer Goodwin) has become overwhelmed with juggling her new jewelry making career and the public relations aspects associated with opening the Blackfoot Magic Casino.  As we learned last year, Margene exhibited quite a bit of natural talent when it came to schmoozing the Blackfoot people.  I love that the once-juvenile and needy Margene is finally coming into her own as a capable and intelligent woman this season. 

              Margene encourages Barb (Jean Tripplehorn) to take over her responsibilities regarding the Casino, claiming that doing so will help the First Wife regain the confidence she lost after being excommunicated from her church.  And yet, Barb, typically the universal caretaker, and quintessential Super Mom, finds herself to be lacking in the social skills and personable warmth necessary to handle the Henrickson’s newest business partners.  She butts heads with them in many ways, most notably regarding the food choice for the casino’s opening night.  Barb demands that they serve crab legs, apparently a main stay on every Mormon family dinner table, while the Blackfoot tribe prefers salmon. 

                 When Bill is way-layed on the casino’s opening night, and the Casino’s would-be headliner Kenny Rogers can’t make it there in time to perform, Margene encourages Barb to make the opening night speech.  Barb initially looks incredibly nervous and awkward, standing in front of the gaming crowd.  However, she ultimately does an admirable job welcoming her new customers to the casino.  She ends her short speech, by introducing her son Ben’s band to the crowd, as it performs a slightly pitchy karaoke-esque cover of Rogers’ once chart-topping The Gambler.

                 Judging by the impressive amount of green stashed in the metal box exhibited to the family at the end of the night by the security staff, Barb’s awkward introduction did little to diminish the new casino’s giant profit margin.  All in all, the casino’s opening night appeared to be a successful one.

Plot 1 (Reprise): Dead Guys Don’t Always Wear Black

             Unfortunately, when it comes to the Henricksons, if something appears too good to be true, it probably is.  Despite, the Casino’s opening night success, angry Blackfoot Tribe representatives confront Bill at the end of the evening.  Holding Roman’s iconic white hat aloft like the talisman of evil it clearly is, the tribe representatives demand answers.  It appears that “Dead Roman” is having some trouble keeping himself buried.

                I have to say, this part rang just a bit untrue for me.  Are we really supposed to believe that the Blackfoots would instantly identify that hat as belonging to Roman Grant.  Sure, he was wearing it in his Wanted Poster, but doesn’t everyone in Utah own at least one white cowboy hat?  Come on now . . .  

              That aside, the re-emergence of the white hat was an intriguing end to an uneven episode.  Here’s hoping it symbolizes the promise of better episodes to come.

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