Big Love Post Mortem: Your Burning Series Finale Questions Answered!

Warning: Head to the nearest exit if you have yet to watch Sunday’s wholly satisfying Big Love finale. Everyone else, head onward and downward for an exclusive post mortem with series creators Mark Olsen and Will Scheffer, during which the duo tackle everything from that shocking climactic twist (crikey!), the Heather/Ben scene that ended up on the cutting room floor, and who did and didn’t commit suicide in the episode.

TVLINE | Why’d you kill Bill?
The decision came from a desire to look at all of of our characters and try and find the most positive spin on their journey. And when we looked at the character of Bill we thought, “What could be the most important testament to the life that that character has lived on the planet Earth?” And it’s not that he had two hardware stores. And it’s not that he had a casino. It’s that he created a family that endured. And we thought the best way of establishing that was seeing that the family continues after he’s gone… He forged a family, as Barb says to Sarah in our little epilogue.

TVLINE | How would the season have ended if this was a season finale and not a series finale? Would it have been basically the same episode with just a different final 10 minutes?
That’s an interesting question.
Olsen: I don’t think we would’ve gone to the mat quite as much as we did.
Scheffer: I imagine we would’ve [focused on] Bill and Barb’s power struggle. We never wanted her to actually divorce Bill. But she might’ve struggled with separation before ultimately coming back. We always knew the family would stay together in the end.
Olsen: Throughout the year in the writers room all of us were continually commenting on what an incredible gift it has been to know that we were writing [towards an ending]. To know where we were going story-wise. And one of the things that all of us said in that room is that if there’s anything left to be [written] about these characters, do it now and leave it on the floor because this is the last opportunity. So, as a consequence, we went deeper into Nikki’s story with her daughter to much more painful depths than we probably would have had this not been the last season.

TVLINE | Bill’s death aside, I felt after watching the finale that the show could’ve easily gone on another one or two seasons. Do you feel the same way?
No. Look, could we have created situations for these characters that would’ve been fun to follow? Absolutely. But I think on the most fundamental level that everything we had to say with this material was said this season.
Scheffer: There was nothing more that we wanted to say.

TVLINE | One of my favorite scenes from the finale was the three wives driving down the highway in Barb’s new car. It sort of hit me in that moment that this has really been a love story about these women. Would you agree?
Olsen: Yes. There are other elements to it, but [that dynamic] is the heart and soul of the material. We discovered that very early on. Our fingers discovered it writing for those women around the table during their wives meetings.
Scheffer: The show has always been a feminist show, which I think people didn’t always understand. And some people were put off by the fact that these women were quote-unquote under the thumb of a patriarchal jerk. But it’s always been a show about the bonds between women, about the way that women subvert power when they’re in [oppressive] situations.
Olsen: I’m glad you loved that scene, Michael. That scene is just fantastic. You kind of also [realize] that this is the last time these women are going to be together because you know it’s the finale, so it adds a little extra oomph to it.

TVLINE | Looking back on the entire run, were you making any particular statement about polygamy?
I think we were making a statement about marriage. We were careful not to make a statement about polygamy. At the beginning we tried to be non-judgmental about whether this particular kind of marital arrangement had merit or not. As the show went on and we started to explore the abuses on the compound, certainly we were making a statement about that kind of polygamy. But in terms if this sunny suburban life that Bill had with his three wives, we always saw the women as choosing the relationship. We always acknowledged that it was a patriarchal structure and that in that sense the women struggled for equality in a way that was perhaps different than how a man and a woman in a monogamous relationship might struggle. But we always saw it as a larger metaphor on marriage in general.
Olsen: I don’t think we came into this or came out of it with an agenda or statement that Will and I are really comfortable making about polygamy – either an endorsement of it or an indictment of it. Although I hope the indictment of its abuses are patently obvious over the course of the show. But I do think one of the things that has come out this season a little bit more than others is that the show has had some comments to make about misogyny. And even though we’re looking at it in the context of polygamy, I hope the echoes of some of the things that we’re decrying through the relationships that we explore transcend that brittle architecture of polygamy as a larger statement. There remains a certain misogyny afoot in the world, and we had a few comments about that.

TVLINE | Did Frank commit suicide too?
He did not. We tried to clarify that when we saw the footage we had. In one of the close-up shots there had been two needles on that bureau, and we tried to erase one of them to indicate that there was only one injection. We toyed around with [adding] a line for Frank where at the very end of the scene he said, “Good-bye Peaches,” but it felt really ham-fisted. So we’re sorry if there was any ambiguity there. It was just Lois [who died].

TVLINE | Talk to me about the epiphany and vision that Bill had while giving the sermon.
It was two things. The first thing was him realizing he was really talking about the eternal nature of marriage and family. That reality became manifest for him in that moment, and that it went back beyond Lois and his wives to the generations which had come before him. But the second part of it is that the final vision inside the church rests and falls on the character of Emma Smith. And [viewers] will know her, hopefully, because of the recognizable Mamie Eisenhower hairdo she’s wearing, which was also written into the script in episode 4 where Bill had his vision after Margene knocked him over. And within that vision he and his mother Lois were at this odd 1950s-esque cocktail party where this same woman, Emma Smith, appeared to him. And the poetry of that is that in that episode, Bill realized that his mother was the ultimate victim of this patriarchal and polygamist lifestyle on the compound. She had been disempowered and had contracted a venereal disease that led to her dementia. In the same episode where Bill is struggling with his version of his abuses — his knowledge that he married Margene when she was 16 — he sees Emma Smith in that dream sequence and she is the personification in Mormon culture of all the abuses of polygamy on a personal level because her husband Joseph Smith was the philanderer who broke her heart. And in that first sequence in the fourth episode, Emma is invested in lying. She can’t say the whole truth to Bill. So she says, “There were no 16-year-olds in my household. There were no nannys, there were no chambermaids that my husband bedded… ” That was Bill’s soul wrestling with the abuses of what happened with his mother and what happens in polygamy. Now fast-forward to the finale where Bill has had his moment of grace, and at the back of this entire room is the character of Emma Smith, who looks at him and nods and affirms what he is now feeling and now learning that there is more to life than patriarchy and that Bill has made the internal adjustment to absorb Barb’s growth. So that’s what Emma Smith represented. Bill had a profound and deep change.

TVLINE | Let’s discuss Heather for a moment. I thought it was firmly established that she was a lesbian, so her romance with Ben took me off guard.
The only one who said she was a lesbian was our little sociopath Rhonda in the second season. Other then that, she was a gawky Napoleon Dynamite kid struggling with what it is to be a girl in this world. I never understood how [the lesbian label] took root. It was Rhonda’s attempt to blackmail her, and poor Heather was so terrified she didn’t know how to handle it.

TVLINE | Didn’t she have a mad crush on Sarah?
She… I don’t know. If you go all the way back to the pilot when we first introduced that teen world, Heather is the character who’s largely demeaned by all the cool girls. And she doesn’t care because she’s righteous and all that stuff. And Sarah is nice to her. In that very first scene in the pilot, Sarah tells the other guys to lay off. I always thought she was just a dorky girl and Sarah was someone who was decent to her.

TVLINE | I thought it was an interesting choice on your part to not show Bill’s actual arrest or brief incarceration.
As many of our critics have rightfully told us, the series is about more than just plot points. And Bill getting arrested is a plot point. Had we gone through the arrest and the days in jail, I felt like it would’ve given us the wrong footing for the finale, which [delved into] so many deeper, emotional things.

TVLINE | Anything you ended up cutting out of the episode?
Just one thing. There was one last Heather/Ben/Rhonda scene where Ben made one more [overture] to Heather by way of apology and Rhonda’s basic attitude is, “You know what? You two putzes, you sort this out. I’m getting on a bus and going to Branson. I’m going to sing with the Osmonds.” [Laughs] We didn’t cut it for timing. It was a momentum thing. By the time that would’ve come up we were dealing with so many other deeper things that it felt like a frivolous scene. It didn’t fit the episode.

TVLINE | Had the show not ended, what would’ve happened to Cara Lynn and her teacher. Would they have endured?
Olsen: I was going to say yes but Will is shaking his head no. I don’t know what would’ve happened. I do know this: It would’ve required a significant amount of time passing.

TVLINE | How did Bill Paxton react to learning you were killing off his character?
Initially he wasn’t terribly focused on it. He was like, “OK, this is great.” And then he went through a phase where he wasn’t so crazy about it. He felt really bad that his character had to die. He spent six years in the skin of that character. It wasn’t a vanity thing, it had to do with the kind of love and custodianship he felt toward his character.

TVLINE | And what about Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny and Ginnifer Goodwin?
They loved it. Just after Bill had read the pages we took Ginny, Chloe and Jeanne up to Will’s office and handed them the last 10 pages and we left the room so we weren’t breathing down they’re necks as they read it. And then we came back in 10 minutes and they were ecstatic. They were incredibly pleased on a storytelling level. They didn’t see it coming. Jeanne said it best, “It’s the only way it could’ve ended.”

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Rebecca Parker says:

    I came here hoping we would get some clarification on what happened with Joey and Wanda, and why that storyline was dropped, but I see the question wasn’t asked. VERY disappointing.

    • Stacie says:

      I honestly didn’t mind not seeing Joey and Wanda. I thought it was very played out last season. Also, it would be way too big of a storyline to throw in there in the last episode. I think most of the more pressing issues were answered, and nothing was left extremly ambiguous like a lot of series finales are these days. Could they have done a little more? Sure, but I think they did a really solid job.

    • Pam Bernstein says:

      I agree! I did miss them, and wondered why they weren’t mentioned.

    • debbie says:

      The reason Joey was not developed…he is on a new show called “Endgame”. Great premise with his main character eng a Russian chess player who solves crimes. Believe it is also on HBO or Showcase.

    • marya says:

      I kept waiting for the show to bring Wanda and Joey back into the story. It was a big disappointment how they dropped them out of the story line, I love Wanda’s craziness. Without a doubt they should have been included in the finale.

    • Jenn says:

      It disturbed me all season that Joey and Wanda had just disappeared! They were such a big part of the show, and they simply vanished.

  2. bb says:

    One word! Bullcrap!!!!!!!!! What a waste!

    • vicksisamonster says:

      “Bullcrap!!!!!!!!! What a waste!”

      You couldn’t be more right. Worst finale ever. And there have been some PRETTY bad finales on lately, ‘Medium’ I’m looking at you.

      But I have to give it to Olsen and Johnson, their writing managed to sink lower than whale excrement these last two years. BL was a blow to women everywhere. The poor put upon women of BL had to wait until Bill was a corpse in order to live. BL was a fitting testament to the misogynists of the world.

      Thankfully, the show is over, abysmal finale or not. Hopefully, no one will buy the DVDs. Happily, Bill Henrickson is dead, so there is nothing to fear re Big Love Part Deux.

      Awful finale, terrible writing, horrible seasons past the first four.

      Good riddance, Big Love.

      • Ann says:

        And yet you still watched the show, and took the time to comment. Had I felt the way you do, I would have pushed one of the many buttons on my remote that would have changed the channel or turned off the TV.

      • astro says:

        Yes. you have to be wary of the overly hateful. They seemed to be disgruntled over the smallest things…

        This is not a forum to judge, but how do you think your point of view comes across having watched 2 years worth of this program which you hated? Your words are so bitter and miserable that this is clearly a venue for you to vent about other issues in your life set off by the show.

        Congratulations to the actors, producers, directors, writers, a great production, a great story that needed to be told. Despite anyone else’s perspective, I think this show was realistic and honest and emotional. One of the best shows on television. I can happily say I was watching without knowing that this was the finale. Sure there are some questions left unanswered… but that should be expected. I think they dealt with the core of the story, the main characters, and tied it off nicely in the end.

        • Davera says:

          I agree, I truly enjoyed the show, all seasons, it kept me on my toes. I liked the perspective of the show as it showed the women from three walks of life coming together as a family. You hear the saying “It takes a village to raise a family” I would have never thought of having sister wives/best friends as family members to be there for the good and bad times, but this show changed my view.

          Thank you for the enlightenment of polygamy, the good, the bad and the ugly.

      • Selbs says:

        Good grief, you are a jerk! Obviously you’re unable to appreciate great storytelling when you see it. Big Love had it’s weaknesses, but this finale erased all of that. Did you actually watch this series from start to finish? Never mind, don’t answer. Your response would be meaningless.

      • syvorlust says:

        Your fn nuts. That ending was great. Did anyone notice when the three women hugged, Bill’s ghost was sitting at the kitchen table? Very cool. Worst ending ever- Sopranos

      • TT says:

        You must be a MAN to make this comment.

    • Jody says:

      The first season was great and it was a great idea for a show but it steadily declined, until the finale which was the worst of all.

      I wish someone else would make a show about polygamy and do a better job of it.

  3. Jack Hammer says:

    Thank God it’s over. What a waste of airtime!

  4. “It’s the only way it could’ve ended.”

    I disagree.

  5. Stacie says:

    As much as I fast forwarded a lot of Season 4, I was glued to the TV for Season 5. Every episode, but mainly last episode and this finale were extremly satisfying. This show definetly had its ups and downs. It was tough to root for the “protagonist” Bill from time to time, but the 3 women really held this show. The characters as well as the real life actresses. The 3 actresses really held up and if Chloe Sevingy doesn’t recieve an Emmy or at least nomination this year it would be an incredible over sight. Her scenes with her daughter, including this episode were gripping.

    I probably won’t miss this show like I miss Lost or still miss Friends, but it will definetly go down as one of the most fascinating, unique shows on TV with an unbelievable cast.

    Also, I’m glad Ausiello asked about Heather, I was waiting a couple seasons about her and Sarah. I honestly thought she had a crush on Sarah. Only until Heather started showing intrest in Ben this season did I figure she wasn’t gay.

    • Larry Curmudgeon says:

      The creators did something brilliant in the finale episode:
      Bill is addressing a group of co-religionists. The room is fairly dark, poorly lit.
      He says “One day there will be a new [or true] Prophet.”

      At that exact moment, Barb, in her white gown from the Baptism, enters, surrounded by outdoor light. So everyone is dark, she is bright, haloed. Clearly, Bill has prophesied that Barb will become the Prophet he has just mentioned, though that wasn’t his purpose.

      But first, Bill has to die so she can become head of her family, and grow from there to community matriarch, then Prophet. As foreshadowing of her future role—

      as Bill dies, he asks HER for a blessing. He has thus, at the moment of death, ceded his prior exclusively male rights to her to bless someone, a major change in their religion.

      If Barb does evolve into and become Prophet, will she, like Congress, like religious leaders everywhere, later succumb to corruption?

      • Pam says:

        Wow! An interesting point! I did notice that when Bill was dying, he knew enough to ask Barb for a blessing, but figured that he thought ‘well, it’s better than nothing’.

        I didn’t pay close attention to the other stuff…

      • Lori says:

        Great observation – and there’s more that I saw too. Not only did Barb enter the meeting room at that precise moment, but she also took the seat of her eldest son. :-) So SHE became the head of Bill’s church instead of his eldest son… and Brigham Young became the head of the Mormon church rather than HIS son. (I have to credit my friend for pointing that last part out. Barb = Brigham Young is SO cool.)

        Also, for anyone watching the other Mormon “connections”, Bill was writing what my friend and I believe could have been his revelation about women getting the priesthood, in the back yard on a “golden tablet” (yellow legal pad); with subtle but noticable “white light” shining down from above on him – perhaps recording his own “first vision” — all superb references to Joseph Smith adn the many classic first vision illustrations. WELL DONE!

        The only thing I found mildly out-of-place this season was the lack of children in so many of the scenes. This is simply an observation – not a criticism. They have a LOT of children that were always quietly in the background, or presumably in the other house with Ben or Nicki’s daughter watching them. Maybe the next show about polygamy can center on the life of the oldest sibling, who’s always being required to babysit for the younger ones instead of have their own life?

        I LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED this show! I’m an ex-Mormon (joined as an adult, left 13 years later), and I watched this show since the beginning with a good friend who was raised a Mormon in southern Utah (around all the compounds). He left the church as soon as he turned 18. Our experiences of Mormonism are quite different, so it was always fun to compare notes!

        Oh! And the last thing I’ve not seen mentioned anywhere is the STRIKING resemblance of Alby to Joseph Smith! They did an absolutely brilliant job casting everyone in this show – including him.

        THANK YOU to EVERYONE who helped create Big Love!

      • Angelo says:

        Are you sure Barb walked in to Bill’s church in her white gown? I am pretty sure that she changed before going to Bill’s church – after abandoning the baptism. And the “dimly lit” & “haloed” lighting was nothing like you described. You are coming up with inaccurate details to prove a point that was obviously not the intention of the writers. Barb was just walking in the door, and the focus was on the fact that she was at Bill’s church and not at her baptism – and had nothing to do with any prophet foreshadowing.

        • Jillian McDaniel says:

          I know it is years and years since this comment was made, but I just watched the finale of Big Love and you are right … Barb did not walk into the church in her white gown from the baptism. She changed into a cream colored suit/dress.

  6. LV says:

    Finale was garbage and it is irritating to see them acting like they spent any time on it.

    • astro says:

      and of course your great sense of this comes from years of experience actually working on television series?

      or just munching on potato chips while picking apart other people’s hard work?

      love it or hate it, don’t hate on the people who work to entertain the masses.

  7. Meliha says:

    Agree with Rebecca — halfway through the ep when Bill’s mom was talking about her kids, I started wondering “whatever happened to the other son…Wanda’s husband?”
    Also felt that Alby should have been present in the final ep. Lot of things were unclear…like Bill’s mom’s death and whether the father also killed himself (though that was answered here)

  8. Rebecca Parker says:

    Thought I would add that while I found the lack of Joey & Wanda resolution disappointing, I thought they did a great job with the finale.

  9. Carrie says:

    What I really liked about the finale, particularly about the end is that through all of what Bill was doing, becoming Senator and outing himself as a polygamist and ticking off the Mormon church, as well as his feud with Alby, none of that is what did him in. It was just his ticked off neighbor, set off after Bill did his lawn. It kind of underlined that despite everything, Bill is supposed to be a regular guy with a regular family.

    Despite some of the criticism I really enjoyed it and I was glad to see that Margie, Nicki and Barb are still a family, still wives after everything that happened. I thought it was a fantastic moment when Bill knew he was going to die and asked Barb for a blessing, paving the way, especially with Marge and Nicki there, for Barb to lead the church after his death.

    Perhaps in this imaginary world, polygamy is legalized in some form or at least more protection given to the women that fall victim to the compounds, as Bill wanted.

    • Tikigirrl says:

      I completely agree, It was so ironic that with all the people who vehemently hated Bill, his unstable neighbor snapped and shot him. I thought the whole show, the cast, the writing, and the finale were brilliant. Loved all 5 seasons and sorry to see it end, but kudos to the creators – it was so well done. This is one of my favorite shows ever.

      • Tikigirrl says:

        Further, I loved the scene with Frank and Lois, it was so poignant and made me cry. They came full circle as did the Henricksons. Despite what a jerk Frank was all those years, he came through for Lois when she really needed him. Brilliant show!

    • Sat says:

      Bill being a lightning rod figure who was hated my many people because they didn’t like his lifestyle getting shot & killed by someone he knows that feels slighted by him, which has nothing to do with the reason that he is hated) is taken almost exactly from Harvey Milk’s story.

      p.s. Milk was a great movie

  10. Jennifer says:

    I have to say that this show has been absolutely brilliant! I love a show that believes in quality versus quantity and admire the somewhat risky subject matter. This show was intelligent, thought provoking, and emotional. I fell in love with these characters. Even bill though I tended to love and hate him at the same time. I often wondered how these women, especially Barb could put up with such a patriarch, yet I felt a compassion for Bill I cannot explain. I have watched many shows end but never one I followed so faithfully, I found the ending shocking and beautiful. As o end not to be the most emotional person, I found myself crying uncontrollably when Bill died. I dont want to think of this as the ending, even though it most definitely is. This family will stay with me as I can watch the seasons over again. Thank you to the creators of this show. It has been an amazing journey.

    • jayell says:

      I too loved this series. I just watched the final episode and i think it was fantastic. Really rounded out the story but i feel really sad to say goodbye to all the characters. Well done!!!

  11. ema says:

    But are those of us who don’t have HBO and no way to have watched it going to be left until January 2012 for the DVDs to come out? This was the last season and usually, at least for other shows, it only takes a few weeks maybe a couple of months until the DVDs come out.

    • Jan says:

      HBO usually has a free week in June – that’s how I watched the complete Season 4 last year.

      This year I subscribed to HBO last Wednesday – just in time to watch all the other episodes and see the finale. Won’t be keeping my $17.95 HBO much longer than that. :-)

  12. Keli says:

    I am so sad it’s over, I can’t even comment!

  13. Laura says:

    I wish we could have seen Alby one last time.

  14. goojee says:

    “so we weren’t breathing down they’re necks as they read it.”

    It’s “their”, not “they’re”.

  15. Bobby says:

    It’s funny, I feel like Big Love ended how the Sopranos should have, this show will be one of the greats forever now like Six Feet Under, Deadwood, Rome, Sex and the City, and Entorauge. There is something to be said for a show that grows with you and ends perfectly, unlike that enormous waste of time we call Lost. I always felt like Big Love was a show that was a monogomist take on polygamy, but now I see that it was actually a show that was able to break down stereotypes, and brighten society’s outlook on yet another demonized group in America. Bravo cast and crew, I know I am gonna stick to one wife now for sure, but I will think twice before I judge someone else that feels differently.

    • Debbie says:

      I absolutely agree. In addition to incredibly well-drawn characters and intriguing plot lines, this show really pushed us to be open minded about the ways that others choose to live their lives. Who are we to judge?
      The acting was phenomenal. I felt like I really knew these people after watching them for a few years.

    • Tara says:

      I’m sorry but how could you add Entourage to that list of shows?? Entourage in my opinion is nowhere near the level of those other shows, which actually are great. Really? It’s like listing the great bands as The Stones, The Beatles and One Direction.

  16. Mikey says:

    Joey and Wanda’s story was concluded last season when Joey admitted to killing Roman and was put in jail. I’m sure he would get a long sentence for 1st degree murder. While it would be interesting to see how Wanda is coping without her husband, given that it’s the final season and the focus needs to be on the main family, I don’t feel it is was that relevant to focus on.

    • Jennifer G. says:

      I just watched the entire series again. Joey & Wanda took off. He was never arrested for Roman’s death. The only time he was arrested was for saying he poisoned Alby in season 1 or 2. J.J. had threatened to turn them in but never did.
      Maybe I’m wrong about this though….?

  17. Barrack Obama says:

    Bill was killed for doing a good deed. He also received a message from God…Was Bill a Christ Figure? What happened to Heather, did she get back with Ben or leave him forever? Did the wives only own one home? Or were all three still in the family? Who are the wives going to get down with now? Will they find another man to take on all three of them, or will they marry seperately?

    • Carrie says:

      About the wives remarrying, I am not sure how that works in Mormonism. If they would want to be sealed to a new husband, would they have to be unsealed from Bill, because if that is the case I don’t think that would happen. Also, it’s different from a traditional marriage, because they are still all married to each other even though Bill is dead.

      I thought that if I were in their place that with the kids moving out and getting older it might be nice to spend more time in Barb’s big house since I can imagine it would be lonely otherwise.

      The only thing I don’t buy is Margene is supposed to be 22 because she said her and Bill were married for six years? Ginnifer Goodwin is great looking but I don’t think she can pass for 22.

      Also, I thought Bill was building him and the wives a great big house last year. What happened with that? Did the wives sell it for money after Bill’s death?

      In regards to Bill’s message from God, I think he really was a prophet, even if he didn’t see himself as such.

      • Davera says:

        Bill was the prophet and he was thrown off the compound at age 15 when Roman Grant stole the prophet seat. This was all discussed in the first season.

        • rgd says:

          Bill was not the prophet. He was the grandson of the prophet. He was thrown off the compound because he was seen as competition for the young women that Roman wanted.

    • Bob says:

      Isn’t it ‘Barack’, with one ‘r’?

      Anyway, if I’m not mistaken, in the epilogue scene, Ben and Heather were there for Margene’s goodbye scene, so that should indicate they are somehow ‘together’. And as Carrie pointed out, they are still ‘married’ to each other and sealed for all eternity with Bill. So if they wanted to remarry, they’d have to leave their faith.

      • liz says:

        Ben and Heather were both wearing wedding rings

        • Jayme says:

          Thank you, when I saw all the questions about Ben and Heather’s relationship status I thought I was imagining the ring I saw on Heather’s finger ( I didn’t see Ben’s). Heather was most definitely wearing a ring.

      • Tammy says:

        If you think back, when Roman died, Alby sent his mother Adeline to marry / be sealed to AJ (Nikki’s first husband) So, I wonder if that was just a practice on the compound or if they actually can mary someone else upon the death of a spouse?

        • Lori says:

          Speaking as an ex-Mormon… there a difference between being “Sealed for time and all eternity” (Bill, Barb, Nicki and Margene are sealed, per Bill’s preisthood authority), versus “married” (usually equates to civil / legal / til death do you parg marriage and was done by State” authority – which the polygamist clans don’t recognize – they just ignore it. Like the State ignores their sealings).

          If you’ve been SEALED to a man, sure you can MARRY someone else if you become widowed/widower. But in eternity, after you die, you’ll be spending eternity with the spouse you were SEALED to.

          There is such a thing as becoming UN-SEALED (basically an eternal divorce) but it is ENORMOUSLY difficulty to get one of these – particularly if you’re a woman. Hope you found that helpful!

      • dc says:

        I thought I saw a wedding ring on Ben at the end- maybe he and Heather married?

    • Andy says:

      As for Ben, if you look a the end of the episode again, you can see they are clearly together as he sits with Heather, and he has a ring on his finger, so they must have got married. I doubt they are in a polygamist relationship.

      • Pam says:

        They may not be poligamist now, but give them a few years… when Rhonda told Heather that she and Ben had been together, he said that he could be with them both. Heather told him of course, because you’re poligamist.

        Give them a decade or so, and they’ll repeat Bill and Barb’s life. Ben will bring Heather into poligamy, just as Bill did to Barb.

    • justnowwatching says:

      If you look closely at the last shot as the camera pans out, you can see the fence that used to connect the two houses, is only connected to the other home (not “barb’s”). Which makes me believe that they all live in Barb’s home.

  18. Sean Hunt says:

    Never have I loved a show as much as this. I will miss it dearly. Excellent work.

  19. Carrie says:

    This was a good series and hit the mark well on plural marriage. I live in Alaska and this is a common life style for Mormons.

    • Krystal says:

      Polygamy is not a common lifestyle for Mormons. When polygamy was cut out of the church well over a hundred years ago, some people left the church to start up their own off-shoot mormons sects that still included polygamy. Mormons do not practice polygamy and if they are active members of the church and still practice it, then the church doesn’t know about it. If the church knew, they would be excommunicated.

  20. Tanya says:

    The point about the show being feminist – absolutely true. I always felt this, and felt that the women were always at the heart of things.

  21. Headmaven says:

    I called it last week. Why would Pam go on and on about her husband being suicidal, with only one episode left. There wasn’t time for that story. I loved the ending!

  22. john says:

    i loved when in the last scene bill was at the dinner table as they all huged . this was my favorite show and im pissed that its over

  23. OldSchool says:

    I thought it was a good way to end the series. I think with Bill gone it finally gave these fantastic women their own voices. Barb now has the freedom to practice her own religious beliefs; Margene gets to see the world; and Nicki has finally learned to love someone other than herself.

    • rgd says:

      I never thought Nicki only loved herself. In fact, I believe she had a lot of self-loathing-hence the tirade she launched at her daughter. She was insufferably rude and selfish but that was rooted in terrible insecurity. Just my opinion. : )

  24. anonymously here says:

    Why were Nikki and Margene wearing black and Barb was wearing red?

  25. Amy says:

    Oh, I’m-a-gonna miss this show! Jeanne Tripplehorn (IMO) was AMAZING this season. I somehow figured Bill was going to Bite it in the end, and how interesting was it that it was at the hands of the Loopy Neighbor? (I actually thought it was going to be Nikki’s mom carrying out Creepy Albie’s wishes, or even Lois in her demented state)
    Rhonda’s “Lesbian” Comment to Heather way back didn’t even stick with me, as everything Rhonda said went in 1 ear and out the other.

    As an east coaster, I am oddly drawn to the “Sister Wives” of this country. It just something I can’t wrap my brain around. But this show was just fantastic. Again, I’ll miss it lots. And the House(s)…ohhh, I just loved the Hendrickson Compound.

    RIP Big Love!

  26. Dawn says:

    “Just after Bill had read the pages we took Ginny, Chloe and Jeanne up to Will’s office and handed them the last 10 pages and we left the room so we weren’t breathing down they’re necks as they read it.”

    They’re necks? C’mon Aus! Editor In Chief, indeed. What would Williamson say?

  27. Amy says:

    BTW, I watched the Final 2 scenese again this morning (sniff) and Heather and Ben were wearing Wedding Bands…. I read some “what happened to those 2” comments above, so I thought I’d just put that out there.

  28. Jake says:

    I enjoyed this entire series, but didn’t love the conclusion. I felt they took the easy way out with him dying. I understand the rationale and how it punctuates the theme of a forged family, but there were other ways to do it. What about him just going to jail? That would have been a harder choice for all of them, and the ending would have been the same.

  29. mm says:

    I think the ending was terrible. One man killing him on his own street was poor writing. It was a weak killing in that the killing meant little – killing is terrible I know – but it seemed so pointless after all the years they had endured. The women also did not seem that upset that he was gone. What happens to the houses? Who gets the money? The stores? The casino? Just dumb and a quick way to end a series. This season was terrible in my opinion.

    • Zakry says:

      This sounds like a comment from someone didn’t watch the show. It wasn’t “one man,” it was Carl – a character we knew was not a fan of Bill’s for a long time. We knew earlier this season Carl’s wife was working with Margene selling Goji juice, and he hated that she was breadwinner while he was unemployed. Then Bill re-sods Carl’s lawn, Carl took it as a smack in the face (and Bill’s ego being what it is, it might have been). The shooting made sense. Yes, it was ironic that with facing jail, his political career, Ana, the casino native Americans, Albie, and those crazy compound folks in Utah and out, it was CARL who finally took Bill down. There was nothing weak in that. I’m sorry you missed it.

      • Chris says:

        It wasn’t ego in season 4 Carl complained that the people from Bill’s campaign had tore up his yard. Bill said I’m really sorry about that how about in the spring I’ll have the guys from the store resod your front yard, and Carl seemed to be ok with this. I think it was all jealousy. Carl not able to have kids,Carl not able to support his wife,Carl can’t even make his one marriage work and is getting a divorce. All while being a good LDS Morman, while Bill as far as Carl sees is a horrible polygymist who owns 2 businesses and a casino has 3 loving happy wives and I believe 9 kids and he’s a Senator. Top it all off he remembers and is a good guy and resods his lawn even though Carl hates him, Bill doesn’t hold it against him.

    • Jayme says:

      They skipped to 11 months down the road, presumably Bill had a Will where everything was divided equally ( which I think was actually mentioned in an earlier season) ,with the exception of the stores because if you actually watched the episode you would know that the stores have gone under, they don’t exist anymore, the Casino was dealt with end of last season early this season, Bill has nothing to do with the Casino anymore, he’d been pushed out, I believe he would be considered a “silent partner”
      and honestly I prefer the “11 months later” ending then seeing a meeting with a lawyer about Bill’s will

  30. Nathalie says:

    Loved the show, loved the final season and LOVED the finally. The show will be missed.

  31. Chris Willi says:

    I thought the finale was near perfect. Having brought “the principle” out of the closet, Bill was redeemed by the throngs of people coming to his church. A church that had to have Barb as its head.

    The family he created, like all families, endured after his death, allowing each wife to fulfill her calling. All things that could not have happened had he lived.

    I loved it.

  32. Dona says:

    Does anyone know what happened with the actresses who played teeny? Lame to say that she was putting on mascara.

  33. Peter says:

    Ah, so they admit they killed Bill to prove the point that his family would endure. Like we were too stupid to get that already! They only spent Five seasons telling us that this is a real, loving, committed family. Either they have no confidence in themselves as writers or they have no respect for us as viewers. Killing a main character to hammer home the point of your story is lazy and manipulative. And to kill him in such a pointless way, after everything was resolved and set in motion, is a suckerpunch to the viewer and demeaning to all the wives who had to fight for their place in the marriage.

    • bubba raj says:

      couldn’t agree with your point more…it’s like the writers couldn’t think of a great, memorable way that *just maybe* was uplifting or happy (sorry, Bill was a dick sometimes and a BAD father but I wanted him to live with his family and not shot by a whacko who was very peripheral to the story). Think of all the HBO series that ended with the death of a main character–6FU, Sopranos, now BL…Dexter tried it and I stopped watching after they killed Rita. It has almost become cliche to kill a main character, and almost seems like a parting shot at the loyal watcher (you can’t tell me these smart writers could generate such a soap opera and not develop some contempt for the viewers). And could someone please explain why Bill’s death HAD to happen (to give the actresses one more chance to over-emote)? I think that’s what someone says when they want to look smart and artistic. Having said all that, I barely slept last night thinking about this ending…which was probably all the writers could ask for.

      • anon says:

        Hey, thanks for listing what shows kill off a main character when other people haven’t gotten a chance to see those shows.

  34. Bonnie says:

    I have watched every episode of Big Love and throughly enjoyed 90% of the entire series. I knew that Bill would die but didn’t see the neighbor doing it. I wondered about Joey and Wanda since I couldn’t remember if they just left town or what last season. I wish the Rhonda scene had aired because I wanted to see all the characters wrapped up in some way. I also wonder how they supported themselves after Bill’s death, maybe he had money from the casinos or a huge life insurance policy? And what happened to Cara Lynn? I cried at the end, Lois and Bill dying on the same day. There were periods in the show when it got had too many characters/plots going and I didn’t enjoy much of the political/casino stuff. What drew me to it in the very beginning was the family dynamic. Great writing and acting and lots of surprises over the years. I will miss you Big Love.

  35. C.W. says:

    This past season was a waste. Killing the main character is always safe, so it’s always boring. The entire season, and the last part of last season, should have allowed the women to end their relationships with bill.
    Each woman essentially represented a different aspect of Bill: Margie was his youthful innocence and idealism; Barb was his moderate side and his desire to fit in to normal society; Nicky was his worst side, his past. They should have peeled away one by one (representing Bill’s disillusionment with society and his inability to fit in) starting with Margie, then Barb, until he was left with only Nicky. The series should have allowed Bill’s character to go full circle, ending with him leading his newly founded church out of society and into a new compound. He would become the newest reincarnation of Roman, even having Roman’s daughter as his wife representing all that was left of him. The inability to escape his fate would have sealed Bill as a tragic hero and would have been more satisfying.

    • AnitaK says:

      I totally agree with your scenario ending. Would have been completely satisfying!

    • Caroline says:

      I agree, although I don’t think Bill would have ended in a compound, he would have just ended with Nikki and 1 or 2 wives at the most, who’d be members of his church. It would have been very logical that the plural marriage finally breaks, Marge and Barb finally leaving Bill, the entire series was leading up to that. Which does not mean that there was no love, nor meaning in those relationships.

      The writers say that their intent was not to send out a message pro nor against plural marriage, but the entire show clearly leaned one way: against. And I am not speaking about what was going on in the compound, I am speaking of the Margie / Nikki / Barb Bill relationship, and the relationships of their oldest children.

      It seems that the writers did not have the courage to show the plural marriage dissolve, they went with their original decision, despite where their baby had lead us, in a way they opted for an easy way to break the 3 women free by killing their husband, I think that’s why the actresses said it could not have ended otherwise. Bill had to go. The selfish patriarchal jerk had to go.

      There is one satisfying aspect to Bill’s death, that Barb, whose faith was authentic, became the leader of his new church, it seems almost right away after his death. Margie’s and Nikki’s faiths were shallow, Margie’s faith came as an accessory to her love for Bill, while for Nikki it was just a way of life, Nikki did not have a spiritual life (unlike her brother, the psycho).

  36. Leen says:

    A few comments:

    1) Apparently I was the only one on earth that didn’t know that last night was the finale (with my DVR I forward through everything in the beginning, and never watch previews), so Bill’s death came out of NOWHERE to me. Wow. I was surprised at how sad it made me.

    2) The storyline with Margene going on the mission ship annoyed me to no end, so I didn’t consider that some great triumph for her. A mother with 3 children (who now have no father) just doesn’t get to up & leave the kids for weeks, months at a time. I know the wives are all “mothers”, but how unfair is that to them?? Seemed very irresponsible to me.

    3) I’m surprised there was a question about Frank dying. He was talkative & coherent the whole time his wife (can’t remember her name for some reason!) was falling off, so along with the one syringe, it was clearly the mercy killing she had asked him for (and reminded him about the previous week).

    4) Good catch from the previous posters about Ben & Heather’s rings! But I assumed they were at least a couple.

    5) All-in-all, great ep. I think I’m glad I didn’t know it was the finale, because I made no storyline assumptions. I just took everything as it came, and it was fun to just “live in the moment”.

    • sbn says:

      Another question….Did Salty get shot? It appearred that Alby may have shot him in the Capitol building, but it was never referred to. Bill just said that Alby “shot up the Capitol”.

  37. Joe says:

    Thank God it’s over is right. It was a horrible over praised show. The acting is what saved it. The writing was laughable. The first 4 seasons they spent leading everyone up to the edge and never letting them jump. Barb should have left Bill years ago and it would have been a great drama to see her on her own and him contemplate the choices he made and put upon her and his love for her. They always took the easy way out and kept the family together. As for the neighbor killing Bill, it was lame. I would have rather it be Albie, or Nickie’s mother or some random Mormon than the sad guy across the street who was meaningless in the show’s history. While the actors should all be applauded for their work, the writers hit doubles rather than home runs for 5 seasons. They did just enough to keep it going and in this final season it didn’t raise it’s game. It just kept on hitting doubles. For an HBO show, that’s sad.

  38. Leon says:

    Great series, disappointing finale. Nothing happened for 50 minutes and then bam his neighbor kills him. At least if Alby did it, it would have meant something.

    Niki never gets her comeuppance, she should have been smacked by Margene at least once in the finale.

    We never see Bill’s brother and his wife and the women were supposed to pick up his mom, but they never talk about her death and the attempted assasination of a US senator by the leader of a cult does not warrant that same senator receiving extra security.

    NOT TO MENTION not one reporter at his home after that same senator shot someone. Too many holes

  39. khatalyst says:

    There was so much to love in this finale, and it also made sense of a lot of what seemed so over-the-top in the season. It was issues rising to crisis point and some resolution.

    As far the neighbor killing Bill, it made sense in Bill’s story. The neighbor was a guy whose self-esteem was tanking, and he took it out on Bill, who was taking risk and after risk in the most public way possible, and still talking about love as a principle. In fact, in the face of repercussions that would have convinced most people to back off, Bill kept walking deeper into the line of fire and becoming larger than life because of it. I think the finest scene in the episode was his argument for the introduction of an amendment to relegalize polygamy, where he talked about the way that voices of the sister-wives had effectively been silenced by illegality of polygamy. This was right after all three of the wives spoke up in the legislative session. It took my breath away.

    The ending made me cry, as it did many people. Not just for the lose of Bill but for the sweetness of the last scene with his parents. But later I thought about how Bill’s clarity and persistance about the importance of mutual caring was so much of the glue in the show. All the women had their struggles with each other, and all of them were heroic in their own ways. But his vision about what it meant to be a family was a constant gift. There were all human, with their faults and mistakes. But more of the drama, it seems to me, was about the way they coped together and individually with circumstances that originated outside their homes. And he led with his courage and belief. The fact that he referred so often to religious principle doesn’t change the fact that it was his character to lead. (And in doing so, create a hothouse for the leadership capabilities of his wives, as they followed their own paths.

    They faced big circumstances. Their extended families and their dramas. The need to hide because their marriage style was illegal. The impact the prophets of Juniper Creek, past and present. The Mormon church. The legal and financial threats that evolved.

    I think this series was as rich in characters, challenging questions and insights as a great novel. I congratulate everyone involved in it. And I appreciate the ending. Because for me, it wrapped up neatly the way that weakness and power, no matter how intense, are still subordinate to spiritual insight and real commitment to kindness and love. Life isn’t easy, and we we struggle and often lose what’s dear to us, but in the end, what comforts us is also what sustains us.

  40. Evan says:

    I personally think Bill shouldn’t have died, that he should have gone to jail IF anything should’ve happened at all.


    My main question is…..WHY CARL?! Why not someone worth more to the show? It felt a little forced.

    • Angie Parks says:

      I disagree about Carl. I think it was an awesome choice. This entire season Bill has been struggling with issues and people thrown in his face. He knew his enemies. Carl was shown as having building frustration and resentment this season, an appearing unstable at times. Feeling less like a “man” after his job loss, and wife working with Margie. Carl approached Bill with these issues, and Bill frankly did not give it much credence. The fact that Bill was taken down by someone he least expected to be was pivotal. We have always known who his enemies were, but as viewers also overlooked Carl and his issues. How often in life are we hit by the unexpected?

      • Kevin says:

        I think Carl killing Bill (whether intended or not) made me see it as a commentary about society not being ready to accept that type of lifestyle as much or more than being seen as one man’s misery and hopelessness about his own situation.

  41. Angie Parks says:

    I am truly sad the show is over. I have been amazed by the talented writing for this series. Polygamy is looked at with disgust in our society, admitedly, myself included in that opinion. But this show opened my eyes to a different view. Not that I personally would like to be a polygamist, but I am not so quick to pass judgement on those who choose that life style. I love that Barb did not go through with her baptism, and that she became the priesthood holder. Almost as if she had a sixth sense this season that she would be needed in that position someday. I would have loved for the show to continue a few more seasons. To the nay sayers of the show….no one forced you to watch. And if you dislike the shows finale, then you most likely never understood the show to begin with.

  42. TS says:

    I thought the series was great.
    I became invested in the characters to the point where I was truly troubled at the murder of Bill.
    I did not initially understand the reasons for that.
    After sleeping on it, I realized that it was to shed the true light on the nature of Plural Marriage in that it is a marraige among women even more so than to the patriarch.
    Even so, I didn’t like it. Not at all…
    To me, it was a like train wreck for a man who has fought incredibly to get his family and his faith where they were. He was on the cusp of a major milestone for his faith both within the family and all the way up to the state level. In the process, he’d lost everything but his faith and his family. To take him out like that to me was hurtful.

    Sorry guys, but the writers did such a good job with these characters that I was invested in the show. And, it made me very sad to know that his wives, and the other members of his family would now have to go on without him. It’s great that they showed them moveing on. But WOW, what a loss for them to endure after all they’d already gone through!

  43. N. says:

    With some of these answers, I’m surprised that this show was ever good at all. For example:
    Olsen: I’m glad you loved that scene [with the women in the new car together], Michael. That scene is just fantastic. You kind of also [realize] that this is the last time these women are going to be together because you know it’s the finale, so it adds a little extra oomph to it.
    But that was not the last time they were together, as we were deliberately shown WTH?

    And, regarding the outcome of Frank:
    Olsen: He did not [die]. We tried to clarify that when we saw the footage we had. In one of the close-up shots there had been two needles on that bureau, and we tried to erase one of them to indicate that there was only one injection. We toyed around with [adding] a line for Frank where at the very end of the scene he said, “Good-bye Peaches,” but it felt really ham-fisted. So we’re sorry if there was any ambiguity there. It was just Lois [who died].

    If we don’t know the next day, you kind of failed and maybe should have left the “Peaches” remark in.

    And, this site greatly needs a copy editor — good lord, the grammar and spelling mistakes made this hard to follow.

  44. Great finale.

    Bill, the metaphoric builder, furnished the metaphoric hardware to honor his family values by doing the heavy moral lifting of taking a stand in the legislature of Utah and by building a church that stayed faithful to his beliefs.

    Bill’s death over Easter is symbolic of renewal – perhaps the resurrection of lawful polygamy or the recognition of the influence of women. Maybe this is what was ratified by the multi-generational head nods of the Emma Smith vision and Bill’s mom (and by Ben and Heather’s subsequent ring wearing.

    Earlier in the episode Bill asked his mom to nod her head to signify something – I forget exactly what – but he got his grace and his blessing despite the tribulation he suffered at the end – or was it the beginning?

  45. Tom Cannone says:

    I sensed it coming as I watched the clock and kept asking myself, when are they going to arrest him and what about the trial etc. When I saw the neighbor I knew Bill was getting killed. I think it came off a bit too Jesus like especially as he sees the history of “Mormondom” before his eyes while giving his sermon right before getting killed and his death is viewed as a passing to some glorious place and not a murder on some Utah street. I loved the transformation of Margene from a sex kitten into a Mormon powerhouse, and Niki in the black dress almost a year later. She is so fragile and sexy. I guess we will have to draw our own conclusions about what happens to the characters as life insurance is keeping them financially afloat? What happens to Joey, and Albie, and Ben and Frank and the Hollis Green bunch. Too bad we will never know. I for one will certainly feel lost for a while on Sunday evenings without the show. It was wonderful

  46. susan says:

    Was Ben and Heather going to follow the pologomist belief?

    • Pam says:

      They don’t think so, but they will…

      When Ben told Heather and Rhonda that he could love both of them, it was clearly foreshadowing a time when be, like Bill, will bring his first wife into poligamy.

  47. Kevin says:

    I thought the final episode was very well done. From the very start of the series, Bill struck me as a tragic figure whose dogged determination to get his own way would eventually lead to his untimely demise. That his untimely demise came from an unexpected source made it even better.

    And it also made perfect sense that the wives would get along better without Bill, since they would no longer have to constantly deal with the immediate consequences of his selfish acts.

    If I have any criticism of the final season, it is that it often felt like an abridged edition of a longer story. Since Big Love was not a “miniseries event”, the producers could have taken the extra time to tell the story, rather than constantly junping around and skipping stuff.

    And the opening credit sequence the last two seasons was one of the best I’ve ever seen. It perfectly captured the essence of the characters and their story.

  48. teniba says:

    Great show and great finale