Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Big Love Tuesdays: Season Two, Episode 20, "Kingdom Come"

Growing up fundamentalist is a tricky balancing act, as the fundamentalist teenager constantly dances between new and potent urges (to have sex or to rebel against parents) and the way of life he or she has been taught, since childhood, is the one true way to eternal life. Try though the teen might, the dance can only end in one of the two camps. It’s hard to stand in both. Either you give in to temptation and find yourself realizing there’s more in Heaven and Earth than were dreamt of, or you give in to temptation and find yourself crippled with guilt, racing back to the comfort of what you have known your whole life. In one of this season of Big Love’s longest-simmering plotlines, Ben Henrickson (Douglas Smith, turning in his finest performance yet) is finally forced to choose between his way of life and his sexual relationship with his girlfriend, Brynn (Sarah Jones). This season of Big Love has been particularly skillful at illuminating the conflicts between creed and self (especially in the case of the Henrickson wives and teens), and the season’s eighth episode, “Kingdom Come,” written by Dustin Lance Black and directed by Daniel Attias, turns this overriding theme into a character-specific plotline as Ben struggles to find a way to reconcile both sides of his life.

If Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton, almost scary when angered by his teenagers) has seemed blithely unaware of the way his plural marriage has hurt his first wife Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn, giving her best performance since the season premiere), he’s completely oblivious when it comes to the way this life has affected his teenagers, who are still struggling to find some form of moral purchase in the world. His daughter Sarah (Amanda Seyfried) has already received a lecture from Barb on why she shouldn’t join a life of polygamy and joined a post-Mormon support group. When she and her boyfriend were threatened by Juniper Creek goon Alby Grant (Matt Ross), she didn’t even bother to report it to Bill, perhaps because the whole incident didn’t strike her as incredibly odd. Ben, meanwhile, has tried and tried to find a way to stop sleeping with Brynn, but it just feels too good. When he goes to his old pastor for guidance, the pastor comes to his house and nearly exposes the whole family (simply from Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin) being in the wrong place at the wrong time). From there, Barb and Bill grill their son on why, exactly, the pastor felt they should talk with Ben.
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Read more about it at your local library. Or here.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

Especially wonderful recap this week, Todd. I really enjoyed this episode and you so elegantly expressed all of the reasons why. My one quibble right now is that while I enjoy Chloe Sevigny and the character of Nicki, sometimes I feel she is very inconsistently written. Because of this, she's the character I understand the least.

Side note: I totally squealed when Bill met Roman at Chili John's. That is right near my house (in Burbank) and I always pass it and want to go in, but it's always closed! I guess they make enough money by renting it out to productions that they don't have to keep long hours. ;)