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The Best and Worst of the <I>Big Love</i> Series Finale

After five seasons, Big Love bowed out for good last night with a shocking twist, a few final signature Bill Paxton bad acting moments (for good measure), and a mostly happy ending. The series finale was like this show has always been -- uneven, at times brilliant, other times overly wacky -- and though it wasn't perfect, it was at least a satisfying send-off for all in the Henrickson marriage. Actually, make that extremely satisfying for one member in particular.

Best: Barb's Blessing
Many people probably found this to be a cop-out, with Bill only accepting Barb's priesthood appropriateness on his deathbed -- out of desperation -- but for me, it was a hugely moving moment. And besides that, it was true to character. When has Bill Henrickson ever responded to anything that makes him uncomfortable without the consequences for himself being dire?

Worst: Bill's Heroic Moment
I don't blindly hate Bill, as easy as it is to do so. I've always found him to be a flawed, misguided and tremendously selfish person, but also a fundamentally good one, on many levels. But the "inspirational" scene where his polygamy legalization bill has stirred the hearts of hundreds of "oppressed" and "persecuted" polygamists so much that they drive for hours to be in the presence of the great Bill Henrickson was such an oversimplified validation of The Principle and everything awful about Bill (his ego, his self-righteousness, his narrow-mindedness, his condescension -- I could go on) that it almost marred the entire finale. The Principle promotes an inherently misogynistic and destructive form of slavery. I would think at this point in the series we wouldn't be celebrating it or anyone who supports it, but that scene would strongly suggest otherwise.

Best: No Time Wasted on an Alby Conclusion
It was strange to exclude Alby from the finale, sure, but it was also a blessing. He's long been one of the most over-the-top albatrosses to the show's credibility and I honestly didn't need any closure from his crazy ass.

Worst: Barb Comes Back to the Fold
Barb's change of heart mid-baptism was a predictable and artificial moment in addition to how disappointing it was. The fact that Barb ends this series with any power at all only because her husband granted it to her is beneath her as a character and beneath the viewing audience, who has rooted for her self-actualization for five years.

Best: Nicki's Lines
Nicki's always been my favorite, mostly because she'd be the one I would be if I were forced into some nightmare polygamist structure, and I was thrilled that she had a series of some of her best one-liners ever last night. "Margene without borders," "I'm spiteful, I'm jealous, I'm mean. No, I really am," and the plain and direct "It's all your fault" were tremendously satisfying Nicki moments. Chloe Sevigny may not be the best actress, but she's definitely the best at being Nicki Grant.

Worst: The Off-Screen Shooting
Again, I don't blindly hate Bill. But if he's going to die as a direct result of flippantly disregarding someone's serious emotional issues as he so often did to nearly every character who has ever been on this show, I want the satisfaction of seeing those bullets go into his body. Why the show chose to have them only heard off-screen is a sad mystery.

Best: The Convertible Scene
It was beautifully shot, with all three women enjoying a musical moment of freedom together (the kids were watching themselves, I guess), but it was also great as a snapshot of them boiled down as individuals, with Barb asserting her independence, Nicki trying to find something to be ashamed of in the experience, and Marge trying to change the subject. And free of Bill, you finally saw how that dynamic could form a functional family for once.

Best: They're Finally Free of Him
The epilogue had its cheesy elements -- ghost Bill, everyone creepily mentioning how all the babies look like Bill, everyone constantly referencing King Bill, Bill, Bill in general -- but it was still wonderful. I can't help it. Barb's leading her own church, Marge is free to pursue her charity work abroad and Nicki's comfortably wearing an outfit that exposes her shoulders. Would such progress have ever happened with Bill around? Not to mention the fact that no one's trying to kill, jail or blackmail them for once. Life without Bill Henrickson is good.

Your thoughts on the finale? Leave them in the comments!

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