As last night's season premiere illustrated, polygamist Bill Henrickson's got 99 problems and a bitch ain't one—more like three or four of them. Also filling his plate were crab legs, a casino, Kenny Rogers, and his father-in-law's corpse.
Let's do a quick recap of where everyone stood at the end of last season. Bill married a fourth wife but then she left him; his brother Joey married a second wife, but then she died in an accident caused by her hair and Roman Grant; Joey murdered Roman; Bill and his second wife Nicki broke up, but he took her back; Nicki reconnected with the teenage daughter no one knew she had; Bill's daughter Sarah got engaged; Bill's son Ben developed feelings for Margene, Bill's third wife; Margene started a home shopping empire; Bill's first wife Barb was officially excommunicated from the LDS; and Bill decided to start a formal church to give his family the rituals and traditions that people seem to like about organized religion.
This new season also introduced a new opening sequence. Instead of Bill and his three wives ice-skating and eating dinner in the celestial kingdom, they are now floating and falling through blackness, grasping for one another. The significance of this has to do with the Mormon belief of outer darkness, which is essentially their version of hell. Only those who have committed blasphemy—an unpardonable sin—will be cast into the outer darkness, and they'll have to remain there for eternity because they won't be receiving an invitation into the kingdom of glory after Judgment Day. Barb was super afraid and upset that the LDS basically sentenced her to outer darkness after they excommunicated her, which is one of the reasons why Bill decided to start his own church. The new opening sequence suggests that the Henricksons are in outer darkness, but they're there together, and being together in the afterlife was their idea of heaven anyway. It's either that or I'm reading too much into it and Big Love producers just couldn't afford to use that Beach Boys song anymore.
So Bill has founded a new church and his congregation seems to be comprised only of his family and the family of Don, his Home Plus business partner. Don, Bill and Bill's son Benny are the holders of priesthood, and together act as the church's quorum. (If you remember, Benny has told his parents that he's totally into the idea of polygamy and wants to practice it in adulthood.)
Ben also started a Christian rock band.
He's so Johnny Bravo.
Alby, of course, is still homosexual, and has abandoned his truck stop bathroom trysts for Gaywatch. This is going to come back and bite him in the ass—figuratively, and if he's lucky, literally—because the guy he picked up while cruising the park turns out to be a lawyer who is working on dissolving the UEB trust. It's not likely that Alby will ever come out of the closet, not so much because it's against the religion he's practicing, but because he's only really practicing the religion as a means to gain power and control. Those cravings—stemming from his inferiority complex—have a much stronger hold over him than any sexual desires.
Gay guys and musical acts aside, the most compelling characters on the show are the women. Despite the fact that they are following a religion that uses patriarchy as its building blocks, is rife with double standards, and requires total submission to male authority and priesthood, it's clear that the women only view these as obstacles to work around, finding their own ways to manipulate—and ultimately determine the outcome of—situations. Having to constantly be on their toes and scheming has made them sharper, smarter, and more competent than their male counterparts. Nicki, her mother Adaleen, and Bill's mother Lois are prime examples of this, but even more so is Nicki's daughter Cara Lynn.
Nicki recognized herself in Cara Lynn, who wants to go to school and have something a little more than what was being offered to her on the compound. Despite her lack of a comprehensive education, Cara Lynn scored highly on her aptitude tests. However, when Cara Lynn's father showed up to fetch his daughter, Cara Lynn told him that she doesn't like living with the Henricksons and will eventually return to the compound with him. She might actually really dislike living with her new family, but I think it's unlikely that she will return to the compound. It seems more like she was taking a page from her mother's book of survival techniques by telling her father what he wanted to hear with no plans to do anything else except exactly what she wants.
It's not that these women truly think they aren't valuable or resourceful. They've just been told so often that they're supposed to believe in this irrelevance that they blindly repeat it without understand the meaning. Kinda like Lois' parrots.
How awesome was Mary Kay Place in this episode?
More awesome than a BLT.
Things are so weird at the compound. There's a dead prophet hidden in the freezer and contraband hidden in the fridge.
BTW, what is the deal with Alby's wife's false lashes? Secondly, she might not be clued into the fact that she's married to a gay guy, but she's well aware that she's married to a halfwit.
So do you think that a large part of the show's budget was spent on that Madame Tussauds reject of Harry Dean Stanton? They made sure it popped up every few minutes. It had movable eyelids. I couldn't help but make a gif of him, like one of those lenticular Jesus portraits in which the eyes open and close.
Did you notice Kenny Rogers' cameo via cardboard cutout? It was almost as realistic as Roman's corpse. The subplot involved Kenny being unable to make it to the opening of the casino, so Ben's Christian rock band performed instead.
This might be over-analyzing things a bit, but I couldn't help but think that when Barb said, "Benny, take care of Cara Lynn," it was a foreshadowing. After all, Ben does believe in polygamy…and he doesn't really understand who he is and isn't supposed to be attracted to, incest-wise. Do you think that Cara Lynn will recognize this, and marry Ben as a way to not have to return to Kansas with her father?
We'll have to wait and see, but for now, what we know for sure, is that nobody in Utah eats salmon.