On last night's season finale of Big Love, Nicki was reunited with her 14-year-old daughter, Cara Lynn, from her first marriage. Their conversation helped explain a lot of Nicki's questionable motives.
As bitchy and scheming as Nicki can be in her suburban life with Bill, Barb, and Margie, it's hard not to sympathize with her character when thinking about her in the context of the compound, brainwashing, Joy Book, and forced, underage marriage.
FLDS women are raised to be mothers and wives and nothing more. They are often denied any education beyond eighth grade, robbed of choices regarding their own lives, and conditioned to think that men should do all the thinking for them.
Seeing her daughter — whom she was forced to abandon in order to get away from her ex-husband — have an active interest in things that girls on the compound aren't supposed to (desire to go to school, playing in the dirt, etc.), Nicki knew Cara Lynn was destined for a life that lacked personal fulfillment.
Some of Cara Lynn's behavior, at first glance, seemed a bit "off," like when she spoke with enthusiasm about killing and dissecting a frog and lying to her stepmother in order to get more dessert. But Nicki recognized those actions as survival techniques in an environment in which girls' best interests are not looked out for, and ambitions are squashed. It makes Nicki's own deviant behavior suddenly make so much more sense.