Early on in Big Love
's second season, closeted polygamist Bill Henrickson's kids come to him with a broken toy. "I can fix anything," he reassures them.If only his chaotic life were as easy to mend. Among the crises vying for his attention this season are finding out who was responsible for outing his wife, Barbara (Jeanne Tripplehorn), at the Mother of the Year ceremony; the investigation into the poisoning of his brother-in-law, Alby, for which he could be implicated in a cover-up; negotiating a deal to purchase a gaming company coveted by Roman (Harry Dean Stanton); and, in a "holy spirit sucker punch," meeting Ana (Branca Katic), a Serbian waitress who just could be wife No. 4. A Golden Globe nominee for Best Drama, Big Love
further draws viewers into the polygamists' shadow world. "If they could show just one normal plural family for a change," someone remarks at one point. Grounded in "the principle," the Henrickson households are about as normal as you can get with the sister wives at once fiercely protective of the family, while at the same jockeying for position and influence. Nicki (Chloe Svigny) is beholden to her father, the prophet Roman (whom Bill aptly calls "venal, corrupt, the face of evil"), and duty-bound mother, Adaleen (Mary Kay Place). Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin), the third and youngest wife, has absolutely no boundaries, and initiates a friendship with Ana, and agrees to be a surrogate mother for her unwitting neighbor. "Boss Lady" Barbara must come to terms with the sacrifices she made for her marriage. Meanwhile, Barbara's teenage son and daughter are at their own crossroads on deciding whether to follow their parents' path. Complicating matters even further are Rhonda (Daveigh Chase, the voice of Lilo in Disney's Lilo & Stitch
), the lying and manipulative child bride who runs away from Roman and the compound, Alby's sinister ascendancy, and Hollis Green, a rival polygamist patriarch and fierce fundamentalist with a penchant for branding those who cross him.
Season 2 further fleshes out television's most unconventional family drama. This set also includes three "prequels" that peek in on the Henricksons up to five years before the events of the first season. In one, Nicki suffers post-partum depression following the birth of her first son. In the second, Margene makes an indelible first impression in "Meet the Baby-Sitter." The third shows how Bill's three wives compel a move to the suburbs and into their three-home compound. This series has emerged from The Sopranos' shadow to earn some Big Love of its own. What happens next? As the Beach Boys sing during the haunting and etheral opening credits, "God only knows." --Donald Liebenson