In the beginning, there was man and woman. Before we met them on Big Love, they were husband and wife, alone. Later, as we learned, came the kids, two more wives, more kids, almost a fourth wife, but at the core of this family, onto to which all these additions were attached, was Bill and Barb. And with the final episode of the series, “When Mountains and Men Meet,” the series returned–as, in retrospect, much of the final season did–to those two characters, and whether their diverging spiritual journeys could be reconciled.
Big Love has always been about the sister-wives’ relationship with each other as much as each of their relationships with Bill. And the finale emphasized that their partnership and marriage has an existence and rationale of its own, beyond Bill, even before his death. Whether it began as a compromise, was expanded through statutory rape or often existed in a state of battle, it was also highly functional, and made sense on it’s own contradictory terms.
The episode closed with a cover of the show’s original theme, “God Only Knows,” which felt like a nod toward the finale’s return to the show’s core issues, and maybe, an admission that the series lost its way the last couple of seasons. There was a lot that fell away in the wrap-up–Lois got a tearful sendoff, and we had the brief return of Amanda Seyfried as Sarah–but in the end, Big Love came back full circle to the core relationships. With Bill’s death, we’ll never really see whether his vision for his family was doomed or sustainable while he lived. Instead, we closed on a moving if messy note for a moving if messy series: a affirmation of love, at least, in bodily form on Earth. As for what comes after? God only knows.
Hat tip to THR and Time.