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Recapping the Series Finale of "Big Love": “When Men and Mountains Meet”

By Melissa McKimmey | TV | March 22, 2011 |

By Melissa McKimmey | TV | March 22, 2011 |

This last episode is mixed for me. Parts are poignant and well-crafted, but much of it is heavy-handed and geared toward manipulating the story for emotion. So it’s pretty much just like the season as a whole.

Bill walks out of a detention center with Barb where he’s been held for two days after his arrest for two charges of statutory rape. Bill meets Margie and Nicki and tells reporters he will fight the charges and see out his term in the senate. He is ambitious. The trial is in four weeks. We get some exposition that Alby is in the clink and Adalene’s out on bail. She’s protesting Bill’s bail and saying that Alby should get bail as well, saying it’s religious persecution. Yeah, he probably would have if he hadn’t, you know, KILLED some one.

Barb talks to her new church pastor (Sister? Bishop? I don’t know.) about getting baptized in the church. That should go over well.

Bill talks to Margie after he finds her passport in a kitchen cabinet. Nice hiding place, Margie. Of course, I can see Bill as the kind of guy who doesn’t do the dishes, so maybe it’s a decent spot. Anyway, Margie tells him she wanted to go on a medical ship that travels South America and do missionary work. She’s knows it’s something she can’t do and be in this family and it’s clear she’s really giving up on a dream. She tells Bill that she was unformed when she met him but now she has a foundation and she wants to share her faith and see the world that she now knows is out there. Margie’s really blossomed this season, I will say. She’s gone from a lost, unbalanced girl to a smart, stable though quirky, woman. It’s a nice progression. She tells Bill she knows what she wants to do but she’s afraid that it’s too late for her. Hello, she’s 23 years old! She shouldn’t be so resigned to her future as though it’s a death march.

Dinner. Nicki apologies to Cara Lynn in front of the family and Cara Lynn looks pissy. The family discusses Easter and Bill says that the wills have been changed so that if anything were to happen to Nicki and Bill, Barb will become Cara Lynn’s guardian. Cara Lynn looks rather pleased about it. Uh, I’d sleep with one eye open, Nicki.

Cara Lynn finds Nicki in the basement and I expect to be proven right. Cara Lynn tells Nicki that she knows Nicki isn’t sincere. Nicki says that she said what she did to Cara Lynn because she was desperate. Cara Lynn says she’s thinking about going back to her other family. I highly doubt that. She’s really going to give up school and clothing freedom and TV and all the luxuries the Henrickson’s have to go back to prairie dresses on a compound? It’s a good bluff, though, because Nicki looks worried.

Lois is in the home and sad because she can’t remember anything. She’s in and out of lucidity.

Bill and the wives give interviews to various news outlets and Bill introduces Margie as the wife he raped. It’s creepy but an interesting approach to the idea that these are trumped-up charges. It’s rather telling that Bill pops in to answer questions that are directed to the wives. Nicki gets in a great sound bite when she says that the reason they are being sought out is because they use the word “Mormon.” It’s a good point, if they’d left the church out of it, it might have blown over much easier than it did.

Ben tries to win back Heather by naming a star after her. She thinks it’s as stupid as I do. Hell, even Ben thinks it’s as stupid as I do.

Bill talks to Senator Barn about getting the municipality agreement take away from the compound. You know, since he’s got nothing else to worry about. At least he’s determined, I guess.

Nicki and Margie have a passive-aggressive fight about how Nicki thinks the whole Bill-rape-charge is Margie’s fault and Margie point-blank tells her that she doesn’t feel that’s true. Nicki tells her Bill told her about the missionary ship and that it’s stupid and selfish. Margie tells her it’s not ridiculous and she hurt her feelings. Nicki seems surprised. I can’t imagine why, she must get that reaction multiple times a day.

Bill and Barb fight about Easter. She’s not going to his services and tells him she’s being baptized. Bill doesn’t want to talk about it and packs up to go to Nicki’s. Damn, Bill. Take advantage of the multiple wives thing much? Bill tells her they have nothing in common anymore and maybe his life is elsewhere. She tells Bill that it’s not fair because she followed his ass into polygamy. It’s about time she brought that up. She changed her basic religious beliefs for him and he says that she’s trying to destroy them. Bill says he built the church for her when she was ex-communicated. Eh, half a point to Bill. He did do it to help Barb, but he also did it so he could do whatever he wanted in his own church.

Nicki catches Bill coming in from Barb’s.

Awkward wives meeting. Margie and Nicki want Barb to open up about her problems with Bill. Barb comes close, but she can’t open that door. Bill’s always standing between them in some way.

Barb goes out and picks herself up a shiny Mini Cooper convertible. It is adorable. She and Nicki and Margie go for a ride. Barb named it Honeybee. It’s so cute. They ride around and Nicki picks at it and complains, but for a moment they are all peaceful and happy together. The lines fade off of everyone’s faces, the smiles come out and the tension releases. Margie wishes they could just keep going forever. A fleeting moment of happiness.

Bill and the wives. Bill’s pissed that Barb sold the wagon. He says that was a piece of their history from before she got sick. Margie tells Bill that she and Nicki are in this marriage too and they need to work it out. So instead of talking about things, Bill drops another bomb that Homes Plus is no more. The loans got called in and the stores have lost too much money because of the boycotts and the only way to save it would have been to sell the houses and they can’t do that. He says that everything comes back to his being a polygamist.

Bill and Nicki have a moment where he tells her to support Margie, because what she wants to do is kind and unselfish. Nicki does not comprehend this idea and tells Bill that the best place for Margie is at home, with them. Bill says that they are all free.

Bill goes to see Cara Lynn when she doesn’t show for breakfast. She’s says “I don’t eat with Nicki” and Bill gets his parent game on and says “Her name is Mom and yes, you do.” It’s a nice, genuine moment.

Nicki is at the shelter helping out when Barb comes to find her. Nicki is scared; she doesn’t want to be alone. She thinks Barb’s on her way out the door and Margie wants to leave. If Bill leaves, she’ll be alone. She tells Barb in a moment of honesty and says “I have no ounce of the milk of human kindness in me. I’m spiteful, jealous and mean. No, really.” Barb’s all “I know. Trust me, got that memo.” Barb hugs Nicki and Nicki shifts and complains that she hates to be touched and they hug anyway.

Bill gets on the capital and tries to force his municipality hearing into a debate about the legality of polygamy. He had to make one last stand, I guess. I know I’m supposed to be moved here, but I’m not really. Making polygamy legal makes Bill’s life easier, but what about marriages like Roman’s or Alby’s? What about those trapped women?

Easter. Barb’s got her Baptism dress and she tells Bill she loves him before she goes.

Cara Lynn and Nicki have a nice, brief talk about how Nicki knows that Cara Lynn was in love and that she wanted to try out the dangerousness of love. Nicki tells her that it never feels any less dangerous.

Barb goes to be baptized and can’t do it. She’s not Barb Dutton; she’s Barb Henrickson and she needs her family.

Hundreds of polygamists come to Bill’s Easter services. Apparently they all saw on the news how Bill wants polygamy made legal. It’s feels like a forced manipulation to make Bill seem to be the hero one last time. Barb comes in and Ben gives up his seat for her. At least he’s polite, even if he is dumb.

Bill has a vision of the polygamists before him, including Emma Smith, wife of Joseph and rebel priesthood holder. He gets his sermon on.

Barb tells the other wives that she didn’t get baptized. Bill sits outside, writing pages and pages in a yellow tablet, while watching the wives through the window. He seems very happy and peaceful. Hell, he’s even tolerable to me. Ben comes out and Bill tells him that he felt a grace descend upon him at the service. Bill says everything’s going to be OK and to remember that faith comes from love, not the other way around.

Frank and Lois are laying together and Frank’s remembering when they were first married. The camera pans to the bedside table with some medicine and a syringe. He talks to Lois until she doesn’t respond. Oh, man. Way to come through at the end, Frank.

Bill heads out to pick up Lois, not knowing about her and Frank. Carl the creepy neighbor comes by and asks Bill about the sod on his lawn. Bill tells him he said he’d take care of it. Carl gets agitated. We cut back to the wives cooking and hear three gunshots. Damn it.

The wives run out Margie calls 911 because Bill’s on the ground bleeding. He’s in and out and he turns to Barb. He tells her he needs a blessing. She’s crying, shaking her head and he finally gets through to her and she blesses him, saying that the Heavenly Father knows what is in his heart. And then Bill fades out.

Yes, I cried. Bill wasn’t a bad person. He didn’t always do the right thing and he hurt a lot of people, but he wasn’t malicious about it. And it was really a kind thing to ask Barb to bless him. It was a gift that gave her purpose and something to hold on to after he was gone. Throughout the show, it’s clear how much Bill and Barb loved each other.

Eleven months later.

Sarah and her husband are in town for a christening ceremony for their baby. Aw. Barb did the honors. The baby is named after Bill. Sarah remarks about how interesting is was to see her mom up on the dais and Barb says that it wouldn’t have happened without her father. I’d say that Bill’s vision of Emma and all that writing were him writing about adding women to the priesthood. Ben’s with Heather and they are both wearing wedding rings. Heather’s such a sucker. I honestly thought she was smarter than that. I wonder how Ben conned her into it. There’s a fleeting glance of Cara Lynn with her hair down, looking lovely. Margie’s there and she’s got a pixie cut and I HATE it. I’m sorry, it looks awful. She looks like an elf. She’s back from a three month missionary trip. I guess Nicki and Barb are watching her kids. Nicki lectures Margie about not calling more often because Barb worries. Oh Nicki, never able to let herself feel anything. Margie says she wishes Bill were there and the women hug tightly and Bill’s blurry image is sitting at the head of the table, watching.

In the end, what I see in this show is the story that was supposed to be about a husband and his wives, but was really about how these women came together and formed a life and carried on even without Bill. He brought together these people and in the end they all chose to stay together, to build a family. And isn’t that what we all want? People who love us enough to stay with us when it’s crazy and when it’s bad and when it’s wonderful and when it just is.

Melissa McKimmey is thankful for this space and the trust to let her write here. She would like to thank her wonderful husband for reading and editing her recaps and telling her when she’s funny. Much love.

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