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The Shove Heard 'Round the World: The Trial of Roman Grant on "Big Love"

Oh, Nicki.

After telling Margene that she either has to deal with her issues or move on, you're not exactly following your own advice, now are you? You tried to tell Adaleen that you didn't want to get married that first time, when Roman forced you into marriage with a much older man; you blindly followed Roman's instructions and caused the prosecution to collapse by tampering with key witnesses; you betrayed your husband and sister wives. You stood by and did nothing as your morally corrupt father was released from prison a free man.

And then there was the push.

I'm talking, of course, about last night's episode of HBO's Big Love ("On Trial"), which featured the legal battle between the state of Utah and Roman Grant and which, thanks to its tautness and surprising twists, could have been the season finale rather than the third season's fourth episode.

But the most surprising bit--which caused me to literally gasp out loud--was seeing Nicki deliberately push her father down the court steps. Was it Nicki finally showing her true colors? Or was it the only way she could express her true feelings when faced with the true consequences of what she had done?

Nicki. I really thought that Nicki would come through for the Henricksons in the end, but she proved that her true loyalty lays with the Grants, through and through, despite everything that they've done to the Henricksons, to herself, to Kathy Marquart and the others. She stole files from the prosecution, passed along Rhonda's whereabouts to Adaleen, and dug up $30,000 in stolen UEB money (loved that Adaleen had previously told her she could keep her half) in order to pay Rhonda to vanish and not testify against Roman. She is completely imprisoned by her life on the compound, by the moral cesspool from which she sprang. Despite Adaleen telling her that her first wedding day was the happiest day of her life (and how they sang as they sewed her pink dress), Nicki knows deep down inside what Roman has done is wrong. And evil. Yet when she has the chance to stop her father, she caves to his and her mother's demands once again.

So why the push then? Why does Nicki shove Roman down the stairs? Is it a small rebellion, t he biggest thing Nicki can do to show her father that she does hate him even after proving her love over and over again, a tiny way to prove her own thirst for independence, or is it the taunt of a spoiled brat? To me, it was the only language that Nicki could find to express her frustration at that moment, at the day of reckoning, with full knowledge of the laws--both man-made and moral--that she had broken, a violent reaction to what had been done against her and the others in the only way she knew how.

Perhaps she and Margene aren't so different after all. Perhaps we all do internalize and express our emotions in unlikely and unpredictable ways.

Margene. Speaking of Margie, I'm very worried about her. Existing in a state of supreme denial after the death of her mother, Margene is quickly becoming obsessed with Ginger, going so far as to dance obsessively while surrounded by her mother's pictures and letters and then dying her hair blonde, just like in Ginger's Marilyn-esque showgirl days. Last week, we saw her compulsively cleaning the house; I'm glad that Barb and Bill are trying to give her some space to grieve in her own way but neither of them seems to be seeing the danger signs. Color me concerned. (And I will admit that I miss brunette Margene.)

Ana. I was shocked as all hell to see Bill propose to Ana in the midst of all the trial craziness. I think Ana's still unsure of what she wants and if she's ready to become involved with this entire family and embrace this new lifestyle. She sure as hell can't get along with Nicki, as proven during the supermarket scene, and her integration into the Henrickson clan will not be a smooth one, I think. Still, she hasn't said yes just yet but I think she could be willing to give this a try.

Bill. Once again, Bill is attempting to play one side against another. After everything Alby has done to them, I was even more shocked to see Bill invite Alby to his office for a meeting and them over to the house for dinner. Alby's no fool and he knew exactly what Bill was trying to do, puffing him up and trying to form an alliance against Roman, an alliance that crumbles the very second the case starts going in Roman's favor. Yes, Bill is trying to secure his family's future and he's desperate for cash and security but Alby will sooner gut him than side with him against Roman.

Sarah. Poor Sarah really is weighing all of her options and is considering running away to school in Arizona to conceal her pregnancy from her family and then give the child up for adoption. Still, I cannot see her giving the baby to the couple with OCD-induced rages and a same-sex-attracted husband. (Not going to happen.) I'm glad, however, that Sarah came clean to Heather about the baby and at least can talk to her and Ben about what's going on. The scene between Sarah and Ben on the couch as they watch the trial coverage on the news was beautifully understated as Ben tells his sister that he'll support her no matter what. Poignant and affecting as well as sweet at the same time.

Kathy. I also really felt for Kathy, who has emerged this season as one of the most tragic figures in Big Love's swelling cast of characters. (The scene where Wanda tells her to leave and then says she's only kidding--but not really--was heartbreaking. Is there a character more innately sweet and good than Kathy?) Bravely taking the witness stand as the only person willing to stand up to Roman, she's utterly blindsided by her twin sister Jodean's testimony that they were in fact 19 years old when they were sealed to Ron. I was baffled as to why Jodean would betray her beloved sister until we learn that Adaleen was holding Jodean's son hostage. The look on Kathy's face when she sees her twin contradict her testimony--and that on Jodean's face when Kathy flees the courtroom--was heartrending. God, I love Mireille Enos.

Roman. If we learn anything from the trial of Roman Grant, it's that the good guys don't always win and the bad guys aren't always punished. Sometimes there are forces even greater than that of justice: fear, greed, duty. Evil does sometimes prevail, even in the face of moral outrage. The look of satisfaction on Roman's face when he walks out of court a free man was terrifying. He said that there would be a day of reckoning against those who stood opposed to him and now that he is out of jail--with only a six-month victim sympathy course, no less--he'll be gunning for Alby and Bill. Things are about to get very scary, methinks.

Rhonda. Finally, there was Rhonda. After admitting to Sarah that she's confused and scared and has done the wrong thing, it finally seems as though Rhonda will do the RIGHT thing for a change and stand up to Roman Grant. Yet, she takes the cash that Adaleen offers and even accepts that Roman doesn't love her, doesn't care about her, and never wants to see her again. Boarding a truck bound for Los Angeles, she weeps for what she's lost as she sings along to her demo. Yet there's no freedom for Rhonda, no matter what she might say. Her trucker friend tells her to come sit closer to him and we're left with the feeling that Rhonda will never escape the cycle of abuse that has colored her life to that point. Freedom never comes in the end, even when--like Kathy--you're willing to stand up to the face of tyranny and depravity.

All in all, another fantastic installment of Big Love that once again proves that Season Three is pulling out all of the stops. Just what will happen next and where this season is going is anybody's guess and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Next week on Big Love ("For Better or For Worse"), the family's new living arrangement with Ana results in squabbling among Barb, Nicki, and Margene; Sarah, Ben, Heather, and Frankie make a dangerous trip to the compound in order to find Frankie's mother; Alby strives to create a military state at Juniper Creek with the formation of his "God Squads"; Roman calls a family meeting; Bill tries to get brother-in-law Ted to loan him some start-up capital for the casino; Nicki contemplates returning to work at the DA's office.


Anonymous said…
Hang on. A full three days, well, nearly three days, after one of the best BSG episodes in the history of the storied franchise and you're giving us....Big Love?

Anonymous said…
I knew that Nicki was going to do something at the trial but never could have guessed that the action she'd take would be pushing dear ole' dad down the stairs, which was both satisfying and terrifying!

Equally terrifying was Bill inviting Alby into his home. Yes, Bill was doing everything he could to bring down Roman but if Roman had been convicted it would only ensure Alby's seat on the throne - swapping one evil for another.
Anonymous said…
That push defined Nicolette Grant as one of the most wonderfully flawed characters on television. She is so completely hypocritical and yet you believe that she truly loves Bill and her sister wives with every fiber of her being - even when she goes behind their backs and does such horrible things! I so wanted Bill to catch her at the DA's office but I also do want to see what happens if she continues to work there and what develops between her and her boss.

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