Roberta's Funeral
Big Love | Season 1 | Episode 6

Roberta's Funeral

TV-MA | 51 MIN

Written by Eileen Myers
Directed by
Mary Harron

Nicki has Bill working hard at getting her pregnant again — at the height of passion she tells him to give her a boy. But when Barb tries to set the schedule around Nicki's ovulation cycle, Nicki bristles. She thinks she should get extra time with Bill when her temperature spikes, because this is how they used to do it. Barb insists it will be more efficient if they stick to a schedule. In a standoff, Nicki tells Barb she was wrong about Bill seeing a fourth. She must've had her signals crossed. "I never thought he was," Barb says, refusing to give anything away. After Barb leaves, Nicki pulls a pack of birth control pills from deep inside a drawer, and swallows one.

When Frank's first wife Roberta dies, Lois decides to confront her estranged husband at the wake. As his second wife, she's now entitled to become his first wife, and she wants the legal marriage. "Not if you were to put a gun to my head," Frank laughs, surrounded by adoring sister wives. "And knowing you as well as I do, I can see that as a very distinct possibility."

Following up on Don's call, Bill has drafted a letter to the Attorney General's office under the false name — offering details on Roman's real estate scam and the pending lawsuit. But as he's preparing to send it, he has second thoughts. He calls Roman and asks if they can meet to work out an agreement.

He puts Ben in charge of looking out for his moms while he makes the trip to Juniper Creek the next day. After Roman puts him off for a day, Bill stops by to visit his mother, who is still reeling from her showdown with Bill's father. She wanted to make her kids legitimate, she tells him, and she wanted the protection. She doesn't own a thing anymore — the Priesthood Council owns everything, even though her father was the true Prophet. "This isn't the life that was intended for me — or you or Joey," she tells him. Bill assures her he's doing fine. "I know you are. It's the rest of us I'm worried about."

Back at the Henrickson households, Ben is taking his new responsibility seriously, spying on Margene when neighbor Pam comes over to her house. Pam asks questions about the "standoffish" blonde woman who lives next door. "She's shy," Margie tells her, slightly shifty. After the woman leaves, Ben chastises Margie for her lack of discretion. "You have no idea how much of my day I spend alone," she says, breaking down. Ben suggests she take a class, where she can meet people in a more neutral setting. It's hard on him too, but he's learned to keep things separate.

Barb pays a visit to Peg Embry and shares a confession: she and Bill are having an 'affair,' and she's come to love the excitement of sneaking around. Peg is concerned. "I just don't want to see you getting hurt. He's not going to leave his wives." It's more complicated than that, is all Barb can say.

Still waiting for his meeting with Roman, Bill joins Joey and his father as they pick out a casket for Roberta. Frank reminds Bill that his first wife got him to stop stuttering when he was younger. Laughing at his son's expense, he tells Joey that his older brother "sounded like Porky Pig" when he got up to give testimony. Then he starts in on their mother. "Always told everybody that she married beneath her... Looky now, I'm on the Priesthood Council and she's a train wreck."

At the casket store, Frank picks out the cheapest model he can find, as Bill and Joey push for something nicer. "Roberta was a simple woman," Frank responds. "She'd never've gone for a fancy coffin." He makes Bill buy the low-end model as he reprimands him. "Shoulda done something nice for her while she was alive."

Before his meeting with Roman, Bill asks Joey if he's involved in any of the lawsuits surrounding the real estate scam — Joey insists he's not. With this Bill brings a large folder full of documents to his father in-law's office. The patriarch scolds him for talking business in the midst of Roberta's funeral, then makes him listen to Rhonda recite poetry. Fed up with his games, Bill interrupts to offer his proposal: he'll give Roman a cash settlement for $50,000 in exchange for a release from any more business dealings and an end to the harassment. When Roman scoffs, Bill brings up the lawsuit and the real estate scam. Roman pleads ignorance. "The Attorney General tells me they would just love to use it for the basis of a broader investigation into fraud at UEB," Bill informs him, dropping the stuffed folder of evidence on his desk. Roman tells him to leave — but Bill fires one last warning shot: Alby is never to come near his home or businesses again.

Despite her handywoman skills, Nicki can't fix Margie's garbage disposal, and takes it upon herself to buy her a new one at Home Plus. At the checkout, she tells the cashier that she's entitled to the family discount; she just forgot the card, which is in Barb Henrickson's name. The cashier explains she needs to see the card, and when she runs Nicki's credit card, it's rejected. Wendy the bookkeeper arrives, and Nicki tells her to call Don Embry to vouch for her family status.

Despite her resistance, Bill and Joey drag Lois to Roberta's funeral. Frank gives an over-the-top eulogy, announcing that while he can't imagine a better first wife, he knows Roberta will be smiling down when he takes 'Nita — the wife after Lois — in her place. After this performance, Bill yanks his father aside and asks him how much he wants to stop humiliating and shunning his mother. Frank negotiates a settlement: $5,000 and some roof tiles. Bill agrees to pay him, but only after his father delivers the marriage certificate. Lois calls her son later with the good news. "Your father had a change of heart!" she says, not suspecting Bill was involved. She doesn't see them moving in together again, but it won't matter. "He won't be around much longer," she says. Bill's face drops as he asks his mother what she means. "Oh just that he's not getting any younger, is all."

Barb is summoned to Home Plus to vouch for Nicki, who is being held by security under suspicion of identity theft. She told Wendy she was Barb's sister, then changed her story to 'neighbor.' Nicki is irate, and takes it out on Barb as soon as they leave the store. "I do not want to have to ask your permission for everything!" she screams, before revealing what's really getting at her. She thinks that Barb doesn't want her to have another baby, and she resents that she has no public life with Bill and no control over anything. "Well I'm sorry I didn't die," Barb responds. But this only upsets Nicki further; she's the one who took care of her every day when she was sick. Barb tells her how grateful she is for all Nicki has done. With this Nicki finally softens. She tells Barb she's wanted to have a girl - in honor of her.

Bill finally returns home, and Ben watches from a distance as the wives and kids gather around his father, excited to have him back. Later, he asks his father if he thinks he should have more than one wife someday. "Plural marriage is a tremendous responsibility," Bill answers. "It can be terribly abused. It's not for every man. God calls you to it and we have to answer with fortitude." Ben tells his father that he thinks he'd be good at it. Bill agrees. "You have a big heart son. Whadya say we keep an eye on it."