Arts & Culture

Jews Watching Big Love: Help Me Rhonda

Episode number 6 of the final season of Big Love aired last night under the title D.I.V.O.R.C.E and acronym-ization of the word “divorce” was only one of the many puzzling things that took place in last night’s episode. Read More

By / February 21, 2011

Episode number 6 of the final season of Big Love aired last night under the title D.I.V.O.R.C.E and acronym-ization of the word “divorce” was only one of the many puzzling things that took place in last night’s episode.  The building of questions in the shows plot serves to simultaneously thrill and concern us viewers, because as it stands, there are only four more episodes left of the show. Last night’s episode was thematically punctuated by the beautifully placed “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and analogies seemed to be scattered asunder.  Lets take a look at what lied beneath some of the major moments in last night’s episode.

Rambunxious Rhonda, Bewildered Ben and Heather’s Hidden Agenda

Somewhere along the line, Ben decided to take Rhonda under his wing as she seemed to be blowing in the wind upon her return to town.  Because Ben and Heather kissed earlier this season and have since turned into an item, Heather is also involved in the Rhonda situation.  However, a few episodes ago, when Ben and Heather actually kissed, who of us had thoughts which harkened back a few seasons ago when it seemed that Heather was in love with Sarah?  It was easy to forget or mentally shuffle it off as a perhaps a plotline gone wrong, until now.  Last night, Heather announced to Ben that she’d been seeing a man at BYU who was away on mission and intended to continue seeing him upon his return. Aside from wondering whether Heather’s BYU Hubby was real, it suddenly seemed possible, that he was a she.  However, more interesting than the question of who, was why.   Why did Heather become intimate with Ben in the first place?  As she attempted to explain herself, Heather talked little about her feelings for Ben.  Instead she talked about her feelings for Ben’s family.  Did Heather begin a relationship with Ben as a misguided attempt at reconciling her feelings for Sarah?

Afterwards, Ben goes to visit Rhonda at the strip club where she works.  As it happens, strip clubs in Utah are never fully nude and women almost always wear pasties over their nipples.  This was a small but powerful reminder of the kind of backdrop we are dealing with on Big Love.  Utah is perhaps the only country in our nation where the laws are heavily dictated according to the will of the church.  As insignificant as it may seem, covered nipples are a reminder of that. I can’t help but think about Utah as similar to Israel.  Visiting Utah, I learned that the liquor is actually a lower proof than anywhere else.  Alcohol is made especially for Utah liquor stores, which also keep odd hours according to state law, not unlike the way stores close for the Sabbath in Jerusalem.

The question that remains here is, why Ben is drawn to Rhonda?  Sure, Rhonda/Daveigh Chase is stunningly beautiful, but she’s a mess.  Does Ben see Rhonda as an easily subjugated future wife, exactly unlike his own mother whose recent independence has, as he sees it, begun to tear his family apart?

Lois and Frank: So Happy Together

One confusing aspect of this story line was the sudden disappearance of Frank’s other wives.  It seemed as though, upon learning of his VD, they all left, but this seems minor compared to the terrible things Frank has done to his wives in the past.  Either way, Lois is back living with Frank as to her wishes and Frank has agreed to care for her with the help of a nurse.  The strange part: Frank seems to genuinely want to care for Lois.  When Bill informed Frank of his new duty, he didn’t offer him any money, so why is frank suddenly fond of Lois?  When Lois recounts her memories of The Cisco Kid radio series, a show which always ended by reaffirming the relationship between it’s two wacky hero’s, she’s reflecting on her relationship with Frank.  They are two wacky characters who are always trying to off one another, but in some terrible, twisted way, they’re in love, like Tom and Jerry, or Itchy and Scratchy.  Perhaps Frank is caring for Lois because he’s truly scared to be alone, or perhaps Lois’ dementia has served as a reminder for Frank of his own mortality, and the less-than righteous life he’s lived.

What Will Become of the Henricksons?

Since last season it’s as if the writers have been preparing us for the Henrickson family to break apart.  Oddly, it began with the seemingly inevitable departure of Nicolette.  Now, the only wife who it seems will actually stay is Nicky.  Whether it’s Barb leaving as a result of their paper divorce or it’s Marge leaving simply for hunky LDS love, it seems that, at any moment somebody is going to go for good.  So many interesting questions are looming in these final episodes: Alby’s strange relationship with Rhonda’s maybe-baby-daddy and Cara Lynn’s love affair with her teacher are brand new burning questions for this season. However, in these final episodes, one question will burn above all:  Who will be married when Big Love ends?