Is it possible for a family to survive intense public scrutiny and ridicule? That’s the theme of HBO’s fifth and final season of Big Love.
Big Love followed elected politician Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) and the brutal fallout of outing his family as polygamists. His political supporters and friends turned on him almost immediately. Bill’s Home Plus employees have lost complete faith in him, but he just didn’t expect his family would start to doubt his principals. First wife Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn) started to rebel against Bill’s strict principals by taking up drinking. Second wife Nicki (Chloe Sevigny) has mostly accepted going public, except for one moment of poor judgment with a boy who bullied her son. Nicki also had to contend with her daughter Cara Lynn (Cassi Thomson) getting closer to the truth of her villainous father’s demise. Third wife Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin) lost her thriving jewelry business and her way as she searched for a way to successfully support herself. Margene ended up crossing paths with a fellow entrepreneur that will likely impact her down the line. Bill’s problems should continue to worsen with his brother-in-law/rival Alby (Matt Ross) looking to destroy him after his lover’s suicide last season. Will Bill’s public reveal strengthen his family or wreck them once and for all?
Thankfully, Big Love has fixed most of the mistakes made during the directionless fourth season by returning the focus back to Bill’s relationship with his wives. The premiere profiled closely how Bill’s bond with each wife changed when he made the arrogant decision to go public. Bill and his wives were given the chance to focus on their inability to properly cope with the public scrutiny. Paxton showcased the fallen patriarch as a man who watched his credibility with others get blown to pieces. His heart broke as he watched his wives pull further and further away from him. The premiere’s true revelation was Tripplehorn as she no longer felt the pull of being the first Mrs. Bill Henrickson. She lost her faith, her family and now her privacy. Tripplehorn designed Barb this year to be a mortally wounded woman searching for her identity whether married or single. Hopefully, her choices won’t completely damage her too soon. Sevigny and Goodwin also delivered admirable performances as wives trying to find a new place in society. Will they accepted or shunned completely? Only time will tell.
Big Love premiered on January 16th and airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.
Verdict: A little tinkering has gone a long way to repair a forgettable fourth season.
TV Score: 4 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)