Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Big Love Tuesdays: Season Two, Episode 21, "Circle the Wagons"

After last week's generally excellent “Kingdom Come”, Big Love retreats to its Juniper Creek storyline in “Circle Your Wagons,” written by Doug Jung and directed by John Strickland. This is probably the most interesting that Juniper Creek has been in a good long time (perhaps mostly because the compound has been largely sidelined throughout season two), but it is still grating and rather boring to have to go to the compound for lots of backstabbing and squabbling politics when our hearts and interest lie with Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) and his increasingly unruly wives. Unfortunately, the Henrickson storylines are also lacking, and the episode ends up being one of the more lackluster ones in the otherwise sterling second season.

One of the nice things about “Circle Your Wagons” is that the show rebounds from a few weeks of sturm und drang with an episode that reminds us that Big Love can be a really wickedly funny comedy when it wants to be. Sure, there are the concerns over who will lead the UEB in the absence of Roman and Bill’s politicking with his wives to let him buy the gaming company he has already purchased, but the episode features some choice laugh moments as well, from Margie (Ginnifer Goodwin) running into an ex-boyfriend she wants nothing to do with, to Lois (Grace Zabriskie) slowly getting the wheels in her head to turn so she can extricate herself from her marriage to Frank (the absent Bruce Dern). Zabriskie plays the role of Lois, Bill’s mother, rather broadly, so she doesn’t always fit in with the other goings-on, but she’s a welcome respite from the Juniper Creek storylines, where she’s one of the few characters who isn’t either ridiculously quirky or all-consumingly self-serious.
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