'Big Love' season premiere: 'Where is Roman Grant?'

The irony ran high on last night’s season premiere of Big Love. Kenny Rogers was scheduled to open the new ”family-friendly” casino that Bill Paxton’s Bill Henrickson worked so hard on all last season with the Blackfoot Indian tribe. But the family we’re most concerned about — the Henrickson clan, including Bill’s three wives: Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn), Nicki (Chloë Sevigny), and Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin) — is anything but friendly at the moment. They may smile at each other, hold hands and pray in a Mormon storefront church, but back at home(s), things are tense, as good drama must be. Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the episode.

Harry Dean Stanton’s Roman Grant was killed at the end of last season by Bill’s brother Joey (Shawn Doyle), but “the prophet” still hovered over the fourth-season opener. “Where is Roman Grant?” is the headline on a TV news broadcast. “Where is Roman Grant?” was the question asked as the FBI bursts onto the dead man’s compound. His wife played by the vinegary Mary Kay Place pleads ignorance, but later, she’ll tell Nicki to go to the basement freezer for some bacon for a BLT sandwich and Nicki gets a load of a lot more than pig meat. Pretty soon, Roman’s corpse is being moved around with the abandon of some outtakes from Weekend at Bernie’s.

The Big Love producers could have gone one of two ways this season: They might have scaled back the series to re-focus on Bill and his three wives. (Lots of fans find the scenes of multi-family life the most interesting for the emotional and organizational complexity required.) Or the Love folks could expand the range of the series and follow through on all the inter-generational competition, back-stabbing and, in the case of Bill’s father Frank (goaty Bruce Dern), and mother, Lois (flinty Grace Zabriskie), front-stabbing.

It’s the latter path that’s been chosen. Whether this was the wisest decision remains to be seen. I like the idea of Bill running for political office in order to defend his polygamous lifestyle. So is anything to do with Alby Grant (Matt Ross), a devious son of Roman Grant hellbent on controlling dad’s empire but unable to resist cruising men in the park, a scandal in the making. (These two strands entwine artfully as well: Bill’s move into the political arena for a certain kind of sexual freedom can stand as a metaphor for gay-marriage rights, and the repression Alby suffers, no matter how much of a weasel he is in his other dealings, is rendered with stinging poignance.)

I open the floor to your discussion. Did the season premiere head off in directions you liked? Do you think Bill is stretching himself too thin as husband, father, and businessman? Which characters are you most interested in following this season?


Comments (59 total) Add your comment
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  • Ambient Lite

    I couldn’t believe Roman could really be dead, but seeing was believing! That imagery will be with me for a VERY long time! I love that they toted him around in a lawnchair. I don’t know if I’m ready for Alby’s reign.
    I hope the entire season hasn’t shifted away from the dynamic among the immediate family, that would be a shame. I’ve had my fun with Lois and Frank trying to kill each other, that storyline is tired. No need to continue that, nor add parrot trafficking to the mix.
    I’ve always thought of Bill as even-tempered and calm under dire circumstances, but next to the Indians, he (and Barb) look more like frenzied messes.

  • D

    Is this a recap? Kinda thin on
    content. I would have liked more analysis of the plot and character development. No mention of Nikki’s daughter running around hiding from the FBI and her father? Zilch about the Nikki and Bill’s lack of intimacy? Nothing about the wives’ interplay? Sorta not feeling this recap. Sorry.

  • joseph

    My beloved openeing credit sequence! The orignal had poetry this has bad music and dull visuals. Majoar letdown. Other wise Season 4 is off to a roaring start.

    • RustyT

      The new opening credits are a major mistake in setting the tone for the show. They are also comically bizarre, and they put me in a weird state of mind for the entire episode. Bring back the classic credits!! Also, I though the episode itself was too busy and farcical at times. Barb came off as a caricature, the frozen Roman gag was overplayed, and I hope we never have to see awkward Ben singing that much again (painful). I’m hoping for this series to calm down a bit in the next few weeks and get its rhythm back.

  • DE

    I’m not crazy about Bill running for Senate but I will wait and see how it plays out. I’m definitely interested in what Alby will do this season, he can be so twisted. But what is up w/ only eight episodes??

    • Ambient Lite

      Nine. But yeah, pretty disappointing that they cut so many. I hope they’re 9 GREAT episodes!

  • Kyle

    I thought the new credits were AWESOME! Listen to the lyrics of the new them song–very relevant to what’s going on now. Bit miffed that Douglas Smith (Ben) and Joel McKinnon Miller (Don) have been demoted to guest star status…anyone know why this is??

  • JJJJJJ

    I’m so happy this series is back. I’m just riveted by the characters. I’ll be interested to see what happens between Nicki, JJ and their daughter; Lois & Frank. Don’t forget the Greens still lurk out there. Whatever happened to Rhonda Volmer?

    • Bella

      I miss the opening credits but the story is so far away from family maybe they should take the que and head the story back home. They have a daughters thats moved out, a wife they arent speaking to, a mystery daughter, a love affair, albie being all gay with a hig ranking official this show is not short on drama but i do think they are short on time I just hope we arent left hanging!

  • jen

    i was disappointed in the new opening. it seemed arbitrary. i also wish we got to seem more of the henrickson’s home life, but as long as there’s drama drama drama i’m happy. i love how the show doesn’t feel like it has to speed up in order to create a fast pace.

  • Hope

    I love this show and they haven’t let me down with the season opener. I love all the wives and enjoy watching each one grow and change. Margie is my favorite and love her spunk and quirky ways.

  • AC

    Help me understand something…why did Bill get involved with moving Roman’s body?

    Why didn’t he let the police come, then point the blame back at Alby?

    Sure it may have impacted the opening of the casino, but it just seemed silly to me for him to do that.

    Am I missing something?

    • Ambient Lite

      Well, it not only would be horrible press at the site of his casino on opening day, but it would also publicly link him to Juniper Creek. I think it made sense for him to try to distance himself from the popsicle prophet.

      • cat

        So where did he take the body, I could not figure out who’s house that was and what story he told Nikki to tell???

      • Ambient Lite

        He took it back to Roman’s house, but I don’t know what story he told Nicki to tell.
        I liked her mom’s reasoning that Roman died because he was playing his guitar and was overcome by joy. Awesome.

      • Trinity

        Mary Kay Place is awesome!

  • Jack M

    I’m concerned that Big Love is jumping the shark. The first episode was way out there, even for BL. It is coming dangerously close to being campy, which is not as dramatic. The casino scenes were lukewarm.

    • char

      I couldn’t agree more. This whole episode felt wrong, from the opening credits to the smarmy casino storyline. This wasn’t the same show that I’ve loved from the beginning. The family dynamic is the heart of the show, and it was missing entirely from last night’s episode.

  • cc

    LOVED the scenes with Frank and Lois. They make me laugh out loud. I like the way they’re taking the show … going to be interesting to watch what happens with Nikki, who still has a thing for the FBI guy.

  • Mary Q. Contrary

    Ken, your recaps always leave me wanting more. I mean, I have a lot of respect for you, especially since we seem to share a lot of the same favorite shows, but if all you’re ever going to write is a few paragraphs about whatever plot point interested you the most, I would rather someone who has the time and dedication to give a much more detailed recap start doing it. Especially since this was a very much anticipated season finale, I feel like you could have written more about the various subplots and characters you always seem to ignore.

    • Mary Q. Contrary

      I’m not trying to hate on Ken, btw. It just seems like his recaps are always comparatively short, which sucks because he does all the best shows, like Mad Men, Big Love, True Blood.

    • D

      I totally agree, Mary Q. Contrary. I like reading long, detailed recaps from writers who are “fans” of the show in the sense that they KNOW IT intimately. They don’t have to like the show, but they need to demonstrate that they know it well.

    • Ambient Lite

      Yeah, they seem a little generic. Even though he rates it highly, I’m not getting the vibe that he’s personally invested, that he’s a fan.

    • posy

      I read the recap for clarification of the things that I just didn’t get. (In this episode there were several.) A simple plot summary usually does the job. It could still be followed by a stimulating discussion question.

    • David

      Josh’s folks (Dave & Jackie) come to visit from Wisconsin. Jackie goes to NYC with Josh while Dave hangs out with Brent at the farm. Josh worries about Jackie ebasrmsaing him at the office he should’ve worried about the entire office falling in love with her. Dave & Jackie want grandkids. Josh talks timing Brent talks neurosis. Brent gets dad time with Dave. Josh gets adult parent time with Jackie. Dave is the dad we all have or wish for. Jackie is a constant warm hug. Dave & Jackie have THREE sons!

  • Michael

    I like the show when it sticks with the family, so last night’s emphasis on business and legal and political stuff was boring and overly complicated. But that looks like the direction they’re going in this season and I’ll keep watching. It also bothered me that not a single scene in the premiere lasted longer than about a minute.

  • Pixxie Trixxie

    This is what makes these recaps so interesting – if the recapper (?) is too detail conscious then they get criticized for not being in depth enough on the plot points, but if they just touch on key points to inspire conversation, then they are too shallow. I have noticed that Mr. Tucker does seem to have more shows that he covers than others do. Being the tv critic I would assume that he would. I do not usually visit the recaps, etc. to find out what happened on the show – I know that – I want to discuss the show with others and Mr. Tucker does a fine job of inspiring discussion. You don’t need a three page recap to do that.

    • D

      I don’t need three pages either, but SOME mention of critical developments (i.e. Nikki’s kid and her dad) would be appreciated. :-)

    • Mary Q. Contrary

      I actually really enjoy the points that Ken does make, but each time I read one of his recaps, he leaves out parts that I happened to find pretty interesting. I just don’t think it would be that hard to cover all the bases.

  • Kerri

    First, I LOVE the new opening. I found it even better than the Beach Boys opening, more poignant, everyone floating away from each other, not able to touch. The episode had me biting my never-manicured nails, waiting to see what came next. Alby is so slimy, I hate feeling sorry for him, but wow. I wish Bill would find where he wants to be… he’s really got too many pans on the stove… casino, home and wives, store, new church, transporting dead fathers. And Nikki’s daughter… and the father. Wow, is he creepy or what!? And the daughter… did she tell him she didn’t like it there just to appease him or is she up to something? Anyway, I love this show. It’s one of the few that we watch live, even as we TIVO it. LOL!

    • Kerri

      A few other comments… we will really miss Amanda Seyfried, but hopefully, she’s going on to do more films. And the best laughs are had at the expense of Lois and Frank. Their old-people fight was priceless… reminded me of my two old cats fighting, one bat of a paw here, one very tired hiss there. Great job!

    • Nancy

      Kerri,

      My husband always makes fun of me for watching live and DVRing same show. But on Big Love I can’t take any chances!!! Your post made me feel not alone, Thanks!

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