The Ceremony
Big Love (LWM) | Season 1 | Episode 12

The Ceremony

TV-MA | 49 MIN

Written by Mark V. Olsen & Will Scheffer
Directed by Julian Farino

Joey and Bill prepare to take over Ernest Holloway's seat at the next UEB Council meeting, and Alby and Roman are beginning to suspect something's up. Holloway has gone missing with his wives, and Bill has been spotted on the compound. "Why is he so relentless," Roman asks his son. "What have we done to deserve such calumny?" Now that the settlement agreement forbids them to evict any of his family members, Roman tells Alby to find others ways to contain Bill.

Barb has been preparing for the Mother of the Year event at the Governor's mansion, and Nicki is not happy about it. Adding to her problems, Rhonda is still staying with them, claiming she's still in the drama competition, and she wants to know why the other mothers of the house aren't in the running for an award. "Was there something lacking in you two?" she asks Nicki and Margene.

Rhonda later admits to Barb that she sometimes misses school, and when Barb asks if she'd like to stay with them and finish out the school year, the bride-to-be is ecstatic. "No promises," Barb hedges, but Rhonda is way ahead of her: "I know that you'll make sure I can really are the best Mother of the Year!"

At Juniper Creek, Wanda gets a surprise visit from Alby, who's looking for Joey and Bill. Snooping through her house, he tells her to call her husband and find out where he is. Watching Alby get a little too close to her newborn, Wanda fakes the call and tells him to have a seat - Joey will be home shortly. She mixes him some iced tea in the mean time - laced with antifreeze coolant. When Joey finally returns, Alby is slumped over the couch. "You can't just go around trying to poison everyone who's mean to us!" he yells at his wife.

Preparing her outfit for the Governor's mansion affair, Barb confides to Margene that she wishes Nicki would wear something less conspicuously 'polygamist' to the event. "Maybe you could offer to do her hair," she tells Margie, just as Nicki enters with her sewing machine, making it clear she's overheard their conversation.

Late for their surprise visit to Roman's UEB meeting, Joey decides not to tell Bill about Alby. Their nerves on edge, the two barge in on the austere board room. "Is this Ernest Holloway's seat?" Bill asks, as a table of graying men stare up at them in shock. "Ernest Holloway has been excommunicated" Roman says, before ordering them to get out. "We're here at your table," Bill announces as Joey takes his seat, "where we rightfully belong." Standing by the transcriber, Bill tells them that as board members it's their responsibility to review all business and financial transactions, so they can get up to speed. Roman won't have any part of it. "I can take this right now," Bill says standing over the transcriber's laptop, "or I can go get a cop and enforce our rights as shareholders." Roman quickly adjourns the meeting, citing a rule that changes in membership must be submitted 10 days prior to meetings. As he gets up to leave the room, he tells Joey to get out of the seat. "I'm staying, Roman," Joey replies.

Wendy the Home Plus bookkeeper has come across an article about Barb earning Mother of the Year finalist. Overwrought, one of her co-workers, Dell, stops to ask her if she's okay. "If you knew someone was an imposter...pretending to be somebody they were not, hoodwinking others..." she says, barely looking up from her coffee, "and they were about to receive an honor based on false representations, wouldn't it be your responsibility to sit them down and talk to them?...about how misguided they were?" Dell seems confused. "I suppose it is," he responds, "if I thought it was my business."

"We got the files, we got the computer — he can't retaliate," an excited Bill calls his mother after the UEB meeting. But Lois doesn't sound too thrilled. "Can I talk to Joey?" is all she can say. Alby is still passed out, but his breathing is quickening. Joey can't keep his brother in the dark any longer, and it doesn't take Bill long to figure out that Wanda poisoned their father as well. Joey continues to explain how she called Bill because she felt guilty that he wouldn't get to say goodbye to his father. As for Alby, the antifreeze will soon knock out his kidneys. Bill takes charge of the situation: get him to a hospital, don't let anyone see you, then get rid of his car.

Nicki walks in on Barb rehearsing an acceptance speech, and tells her she thinks she should pull out of the contest. "You accepting this award feels like we're not what we say we are — a family — and that hurts me." Barb finally admits that she doesn't want to pull out. She's realized that it's important for her to feel like she can be seen as a good mother. With that, Nicki delivers a final salvo: she won't be attending the big event.

Alby is discovered on a gurney in an empty room of a hospital, a tag with his name on it and two words: "drank antifreeze." Roman gets news that his truck was found near the landfill, unlocked with his keys inside, but no one saw him. Confident that his son is still alive, Roman tells his men to keep him posted when they find him.

Bill heads to the compound and orders Joey, Wanda and Lois to stick to the same story: Alby came by the house, asked about Joey, then left. He wants Joey to check up on Alby's condition at the hospital — via cell phone so that it can't be traced.

Back at Barb's house, Adaleen arrives via Hummer to take Roman's wife-to-be back to her rightful place. "Your little Roman holiday is over," she tells Rhonda, who shakes her head defiantly. "I'm still in the competition," Rhonda announces. "I don't know if you're deluded, demented or merely willfully disobedient, now get in this car!" Adaleen fires back. Rhonda makes a run for it, and her much-older sister wife quickly gives up the chase.

As he's poring over Roman's computer files, Bill gets an after-hours visit from the man himself — and his security detail. "You're not displeasing me," the prophet tells him. "You're throwing out a challenge to God. You shall relinquish that seat, or I'll bring your temple crashing down upon you."

"No you won't," Bill says, refusing to be cowed any longer. "You've had your hands on my throat and now I've got mine on yours. Everything on your computer I now have on disc. If anything happens to me or my family, one copy goes to the District Attorney, one to the Attorney General, and one to the I.R.S."

"I see," Roman says, changing his tone. "What have you done to Alby?" Bill feigns ignorance, but Roman insists he knows he's involved. "You have become a mad dog lunging and attacking without cause. Mad dogs must be eradicated."

Dressed and ready for her big night at the Governor's mansion, Barb gets a special surprise: Nicki has decided to attend the event after all, and she's shed her braid and prairie dress for the occasion. As fate would have it, Barb discovers she didn't receive the extra tickets she requested for her 'sisters.' They can't quite seem to shake the compound, either. Adaleen arrives again, and Barb learns that Rhonda has been lying about the competition. "We'll work on it," Barb tells her, but Rhonda isn't buying it. As Barb and the kids pack into the van, Bill takes a call from Joey — the police are at his house, and they're interrogating Wanda. "Just stick to the story," Bill tells him, trying to keep his composure for the big event.

At the Governor's Mansion, Barb takes her place on a stage with the two other Mother of the Year finalists as Bill and the kids watch proudly from the audience. Scanning the seated crowd, Bill's mood darkens when he spots Wendy in a back row, looking disturbed, just as the First Lady of Utah approaches the podium.

Back at Juniper Creek, a sullen Rhonda works a Be-dazzler machine on her jean jacket as Roman watches, her mood brightening only slightly when she hears him pick up the phone. "I would like to speak with someone about this evening's ceremony."

As the First Lady launches into a speech honoring the mothers, she's interrupted by an aide who summons her off the dais. Moments later, Barb is summoned off stage as well, and the aide asks her point blank if she's a practicing polygamist. Fighting off tears, Barb confesses. "Good heavens," the First Lady responds, shaking her head.

Oblivious to the drama unfolding at the Governor's mansion, Nicki and Margene share a consolation dinner at a Mexican restaurant, still dolled up in their dresses, and wonder what their lives would be like if they hadn't married Bill. "I'd be dating someone...probably in Portland," Margene imagines. Nicki doesn't have to imagine. "I probably would have been placed with a husband in the compound." There was a guy named Jerry who made overtures to her father about her. He was nice enough, and "younger," only in his 40s. "Sometimes you don't get a lot of choice there." Margie thinks fate brought Nicki to Bill. "Marge, I brought me to Bill," Nicki tells her.

As Barb is ushered past the peering audience and out a back door, the First Lady returns to the podium to make an announcement: one of the Mother of the Year candidates had to withdraw "for personal reasons." Bill grabs the aide by the arm and asks him what has happened to his wife. "That would be a matter for you to discuss with her — and your other wives." As the audience breaks into whispers, Ben, Sarah and Teenie follow their mother out, heads bowed.

Bill calls Don Embry to break the news: "We've been exposed." When Nicki gets wind of the story, she breaks into hysterics, terrified that Bill is going to be arrested — or that their houses will be burned. That doesn't happen anymore, Bill tries to assure her. Crestfallen and unable to speak, Barb retreats to her room. Nicki and Margene soon follow, but they're unable to console her. "I got what I deserved," she says to Nicki, tears streaming down. "Oh boss lady," is all Nicki can say, her own tears finally coming down.

As for Alby, word of his condition has finally made it to Roman. He pays his unconscious son a visit in the hospital.