Starting this week, we're onto the final three episodes of the final season of Big Love. More than ever, the law is drawing near, the Henrickson family's loyalties are tested, and blood has begun to flow.
Unlike last week's largely Barb-centric show, "The Noose Tightens" gives all the sister-wives important plot lines. It's likely, however, that the episode will be best remembered for the heart-stopping confrontation between siblings.
A Legal Nightmare
The day after Bill and Nicki's wedding, their attorney Lee walks through the ramifications of the police detective's questioning of Barb the night before. It turns out that the D.A.'s office isn't just interested in Bill for marrying an underage girl. They're also looking at Barb as a possible "procurer."
Barb is horrified that she might be accused of such a crime. To add insult to injury, Bill learns from Don that Alby has offered to buy Don's share of Home Plus. Bill is finally ready to play hardball with his wife's brother. He has proof about a gay relationship Alby had with a former UEB member years before. Bill will turn the info over to the compound members if Alby doesn't back off. Rather than give in to Bill's demands, however, a furious Alby calls Verlan into his office and tells him that the gloves are off -- he wants Verlan to kill Bill.
Helloooo, Young Lovers!
A suspicious Margene follows Cara Lynn and discovers the girl's secret love affair with her teacher, Greg Ivey. She begs Cara Lynn to fess up to Nicki, but she refuses.
The teen's other confidant, Ben, clues Nicki in that something's up, but she won't take a hint. Nicki is still angry Ben's girlfriend Heather (inadvertently) caused their legal troubles by talking to her bishop, who spilled the beans to Heather's parents and the cops. But when she catches Cara Lynn trying to sneak out with a travel bag, the truth comes out.
The angry mom and the lovers end up in a violent argument, with Nicki ready to report Greg to the authorities. Cara Lynn is not only underage, after all, but the whole mess flies in the face of the work Nicki is doing to save compound wives through the Safety Net program.
But Cara Lynn stands firm -- she wants to marry Greg when she turns 16 in a few months. (And weren't you surprised to find out that Cara Lynn was Greg's first lover? Isn't he about 35 or something? That is devout -- sort of.)
When the Saint Comes Marching In
Besides feeling guilty for running her mouth in front of Heather, Margene has another dilemma on her hands: her relationship with Goji Berry. The family wants her out. Not only do they believe it's a pyramid scheme, but they think it's a cult run by Michael Saint.
Meanwhile, Saint tries to convince Margene that her family has isolated her from her true purpose in life. He thinks that the family is ... wait for it ... a cult!
What's a would-be Goji Berry star salesperson to do? For a moment it really seems that Margene will follow Saint's path, but she sticks with her family and quits Goji Berry.
Like Nicki, Margene has bigger problems on her plate. The police interrogate her for more than five hours and she begins to question every aspect of her life with the family. Barb pleads with Nicki to use her influence with Alby to lay off Bill.
Bill realizes that he has to do something to stop the bleeding. He tells the president of the senate that if the police will leave him and his family alone, he'll resign. But it's too late -- he learns from Lee that the D.A. is pushing for an indictment. If he's found guilty, he could face 20 years.
Brother Against Sister
On her way to see Alby at the compound, Verlan secretly tells Nicki that her brother has put out a contract on Bill. She recklessly accuses her brother of plotting against her husband. They argue, she slaps him--and she ends up bound and gagged in a closet.
Alby and Verlan take a hooded and bound Nicki to a hidden camp. (Verlan has no idea it's Nicki under the hood.) When Nicki's identity is revealed, she begs for her life. "I'm the one person who understands you," she pleads. No one can possibly understand what the fallen world has pushed me to do, Alby responds.
The tension is almost unbearable. Alby raises his gun and shoots ... Verlan. Twice.
"This is who we are," he says as he embraces his sister. "This is who we'll always be. I don't want to kill you. You're my sister, and I love you."
In the final scene, Bill, Barb, and Margene discuss his desperate legal situation; they need to prepare for trial. Like a ghost, a stricken Nicki walks out of the dim hallway to join her family.
Who Will Go First?
The producers have promised a memorable wind-up and finish to the story of the Henricksons. If "The Noose Tightens" is any indication, they're going to fulfill their promise. For a moment, it looked as though Bill would lose two of his wives -- one to her dreams of self-fulfillment, one to murder. And though Bill doesn't know it, Barb continues to question her faith. Maybe she'll be the first to go.
This is the end. And this is HBO, so no guaranteed happy endings. Just because the family remains intact now doesn't mean it will stay that way. Or that everyone will make it to the end alive. Just two more weeks before we find out.
(Image courtesy of HBO)