Baptisms, under fire and otherwise
Big Love, Episode 10
By Rob Wilson
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Rob is a member of this online community. This series of reviews is his first submission to us. He can be reached via email, or through our forums.

This will be an ongoing review for the entire 12 weeks of the HBO drama Big Love. Previous editions of this review can be found in the Monthly Columns archives.

I hate to admit it, but I’ve been dreading writing reviews lately. I did however lose last weeks review when my computer crashed and burned. The reason why is very simple, Big Love hasn’t been very positive lately toward any issues shared by the large amount of polyamorous people - no matter what type of relationship they shared.

Until this one, finally an episode that reinforces that the Henrickson’s are indeed a family. And that you can indeed chose your family, regardless of blood.

Barbs’ sister Cindy comes to visit, this is the first time the show has provided us with how Barb’s family feels about her being a polygamist. It seems that when Barbara chose to follow her husband into polygamy she was cutting off her family. In fact, we learn that she has not seen her mother in seven years.

Her family is seeking some sort of reconciliation, something that Barb also wants . . . so when she suggests she stop over with the kids to see her mother her sister suggests “How about we start with just the kids,” referring to Ben, Sarah and Teenie.

Arriving early the next day to pick up the kids, Cindy receives an impromptu tour of the Henrickson’s homes from Nicki. Nicki gives a wonderful speech about how the houses have no fences between them, “kind of a metaphor for sisterhood . . . acceptance, love . . . but you know what I mean . . . you’re her real sister right?” She even questions Cindy about how hard it is for her to leave her children at home when she travels for business.

The problem is that Cindy’s view on polygamy is very condemning. As is the view of Pam, one of their neighbors as well as Margene’s friend. At one point she tells Margene about how polygamists are like cockroaches “trying to hide, they’re secretive, probably cause of the shame of it all.” How ruthless they can be when they fight with one another.

Given these two different points of views, Pam’s and Cindy’s, Margene starts to question her reasons for joining the Henrickson household. Even considering leaving all together but slowly her mind starts to change. It is the youngest Henrickson daughter that changes her mind.

As Teenie tries to hide an envelope in a series of flower pots, Margene catches her. As the two young woman exchange secrets (Margene smokes) we learn that Teenie entered her mother - Barb - into the Utah mother of the year contest and that she was chosen. However Teenie simply states “You’re our Moms too, and I don’t want to hurt your feelings.”

I have to admit I sat in my living room and beamed from ear to ear with that line.

A moment or two later Nicki barges in and finds Teenie and Margene in the garage full of cigarette smoke. After an initial outbreak Nicki admits that “I’m no cream puff like Barb. I don’t like a lot of people, but I liked you. Eventually I wanted you in this family because I grew to love you.”

The day of Teeni’s baptism finally arrives and Barb’s sister Cindy stops off to drop off one of Teenie’s toys - left at her grandmothers house the other day. She cannot help but chastise Barb for having a Baptism in the backyard and in a swimming pool. “The children are innocent, but you shouldn’t involve them in this. What kind of example are you setting?”

Before Barb can jump in and defend herself Nicki explodes with anger “Our children are strong minded, independent works of art - much like their mothers. Our children are at least three times as cared for and Barb is ten times the mother. Where are your children when you skip off every week on business?”

Notice the importance of two little words. “Our children,” not singling out any one child to any one mother. “Our children.” Every child in the family. Equally loved and cared for.

Cindy responds back that if something should happen to Barb, it would be her responsibility to look after the children - meaning of course the biological offspring of Barb and ignoring the offspring of the other two wives. To raise them “to be good, strong, moral young people.” Missing the fact that they are indeed good, strong and moral already.

In the aftermath of that fight, Barb tells her husband that she will be changing the will, so that her kids won’t be living with her sister. But instead will be staying with “their family.” Family that they chose.

As Bill dunks his little girls head under the water, baptizing her, Margene is overcome with emotion. Jumping into the pool she asks Bill to Baptize her next. “When I married into this family, I thought I was just marrying you,” she tells Bill. Turning to the full family gathered by the pool side she continues, “Now I realize I was marrying all of you. I was marrying sisters, my sisters, that was my choice, and I’d make that choice all over again.”

What a wonderful and powerful way to end the show.

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