Damage Control
Big Love | Season 2 | Episode 1

Damage Control

TV-MA | 55 MIN

Written by Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer
Directed by Dan Minahan

It's a sunny day in Sandy, UT, but a storm is brewing in the Henricksons' dining room as Nicki and Margene divide up the housework - with Barb conspicuously absent. "I can do that," Margene pipes in as Nicki delegates dinner preparation and grocery shopping to herself. In another room, Bill jumps off a business call to talk with his lawyer about finding the person who exposed Barb as a polygamist at the Mother of the Year ceremony. Out back in the pool, Barb drills out furious laps.

Saying goodbye to his distant first wife, Bill heads off to work. As he steps into his Denali, his gaze falls on the neighbors, Pam and Carl, where he sees his own suspicions reflected on their faces. Did they make the call? When he arrives at work, Bill confronts another possible leak in Wendy. Paging through her emails and Internet usage - along with newspaper articles about his family that Don found in her desk - Bill orders her phone tapped and tells Don he wants a reason to fire her by the end of the week.

Bill's investigation, however, pales in comparison to the inquiry facing Wanda back at Juniper Creek. Joey tells Bill the stories circulating about Alby's poisoning, everything from an emergency kidney transplant to death on the operating table. Bill brushes it off: "Whoa...You can't get an organ that fast, and we'd know if he were dead. Believe me." Not that the situation isn't serious. Bill tells his brother and Lois that Wanda's formal questioning by Juniper Creek officials could lead to state charges of attempted murder. And each of them had a hand in the conspiracy to cover it up. Lois, as usual, has the last word: "His kidneys could still fail."

Barb, aside from dealing with the shame of having her secret thrust into public view, starts to worry about the limits polygamy puts on her children. Ben, who's interested in joining the Naval Academy, asks her if he'll have trouble getting a congressional recommendation. Barb suggests changing schools to Sarah, who laughs, saying all her co-workers already call her "pliggy" and telling her mother, "Take me off your worry list."

Margene, nursing her own worries about becoming ineffectual in the family, pops up at Henrickson Home Plus to horn in on Nicki's shopping trip. Nicki tries to explain that only she has the strength to hold the family together, but her lesson gets interrupted when she spots Wendy across the aisle. "Let's just finish our shopping," Margene tells Nicki, dragging her onward.

Still wary of his neighbors, Bill calls Barb from the office, asking her to set up a dinner date so he can "look them square in the face." Barb's just not up to it. Later, Margene tries to console her, saying, "I'm strong. You can lean on me," before breaking into tears and admitting the Mother-of-the-Year debacle was probably her fault because she let Pam and Carl get too close. Now, it's Barb doing the consoling.

Back at Juniper Creek, Wanda's formal inquisition before the residents has begun with Roman directing the show. Wanda tries to stick to a simple story but gets derailed when Alby wheels himself into the room shouting, "Lies!" He goes on to declare that witnesses saw Wanda and Lois disposing of his truck and proclaims: "Your day in the sun is over!"

During a quiet evening at home, Barb's attention settles on each of her children: Ben playing piano, Teenie singing, Wayne reading with Bill. She breaks the calm: "They don't want me to teach anymore. Everyone knows." The exaggerated statement stirs up an argument between her and Bill, who points out they can't jump to conclusions about who knows what. "So, let's knock them off one by one," he continues. "Starting with Pam and Carl. I set up a dinner tomorrow night." Barb hits the roof, saying he has no right to order her around. She stalks off, and Bill picks up the phone to take a call from Joey and Lois.

"I can't go to jail," Lois states. With Joey providing details of Wanda's hearing - and Lois periodically jumping in to harp about "this rigamarole" - Bill instructs Joey to hang in there. "I'm going to send you an attorney," he tells his brother, explaining that the last thing Roman wants is state attention falling on the compound’s shady practices. Bill hangs up just as Lois grabs the phone back from Joey, but looking around, he realizes Barb is gone. Later, she calls from the Embry house, refusing to talk to Bill and determined to stay out of the house. Nicki and Margene try their best to cajole her back into the fold, but not even Wayne's innocent inquiries about her return can sway her. Bill tells them to let Barb walk it off: "If she wants to be mad, let's just give her the space and let her be mad."

The next morning, Bill's lawyer, Lee Hatcher, calls to say he's arranged a meeting with an employee at the Attorney General's office who may be able to shed light on Bill's search for the culprit. Hatcher remains far from enthused about Bill's initiative, however, warning, "Your lifestyle is illegal, you know." Bill's joking reply about landing in jail fails to elicit a laugh.

Taking her freedom to the next level, Barb visits the University of Utah to discuss enrolling in a master's program. During her conversation with the registrar, Margene calls, pitching a scheme to defuse the situation with the neighbors. After poking a few holes in Margene's plan, Barb tells her sister wife the fight with Bill involves far more than "dinner with the neighbors." Barb adds that she's spending a second night at the Embry's. Margene responds, "I don't know if I can be married to Nicki and Bill if I'm not married to you."

After Bill arrives at work, Don tries to alleviate his concerns about Barb and suggests joining his prayer group. Bill shrugs off Don's invitation, telling him, "I just keep asking myself, 'What would Abraham Lincoln do?'"

Back at the homes, a visit from Adaleen gives Nicki a chance to seek advice, but her mother prefers to swap gossip about Alby's poisoning. Nicki interrupts her, insisting her marriage is "dangling by a wire." She goes on to demonize Wendy and says she wishes she could "teach her a lesson." Adaleen catches the veiled message and, suddenly remembering a gift Roman had left for Nicki, hands her a Tupperware container. Inside, Nicki finds a loaded revolver. "For your protection," Adaleen explains.

Later, at Henrickson Home Plus, Nicki and Margene sit in the car, fretting to Bill over the phone while he stands across the parking lot. Bill reassures them, just as Wayne escapes from the hatchback and runs toward Bill yelling, "Dad!" Without a word, Margene jumps out, corrals Wayne and deposits him in the back seat.

Inside the store, Don snoops on Wendy's calls, but she catches on when her discussion with a friend about a sick cat causes him to exclaim inadvertently. Bill and Don call her into Bill's office, where she asserts that she knows who Bill "really is" and won't take harassment - there are laws against that. Bill explains there are also laws against damaging a company's reputation, making a point to mention the cost of damages and legal fees. When Wendy leaves work for the day, she notices a black Hummer trailing her. Attempting to flee, she crashes her Lexus into a parked car and catches an airbag in the face.

Barb tries to sneak back into the house to grab a few possessions and runs into Sarah, who asks, "If you really leave, do you think Dad is going to go with you?" Barb doesn't have an answer, and Sarah warns her that Bill will be home any minute. "I'll bring you some things," she tells her mother.

Joey, trying to find some answers of his own, finds himself sitting on the uncomfortable side of Roman's desk. Driven to action by Joey's lawyer - who wants to let the state take over the investigation "wherever it may lead" - the prophet promises Joey that Wanda's predicament could easily evaporate if Joey were to use his newly acquired seat on the UEB board to pass some key votes. Sliding a "Bridal Registry" with photos of young women across the desk to Joey, Roman tells him other rewards await the faithful. By the same token, if Joey can't tend to Wanda's immortal soul, another husband might suit her better - "my son Albert or perhaps your father, Frank?"

As her home life crumbles around her, Sarah visits a support group for ex-Mormons and comes clean about her secret. It's as if a Martian has landed in their midst. Fleeing their questioning, Sarah almost makes it out the door before a young man named Scott catches up to her, giving her his number and promising he'll find her someone who can help.

Bill finally gets his chance at some inside information about the Mother of the Year outing, meeting an Attorney General staffer, Robert Scheele, at Lee's office. Unfortunately, Scheele can't give Bill the specifics he's looking for, but he offers assurances that the AG won't pursue a case unless Bill commits welfare fraud or marries an underage girl. After some soul searching in the desert, Bill accepts Don's invitation and prays for guidance. Afterward, he approaches Barb at Don's house, struggling to reconcile through a closed door. When Bill lectures her, saying their family is not a mistake, Barb retorts: "I sacrificed our love for the love I have for this family!" Exhausted, Bill leaves to join Pam and Carl for dinner.

Barb, Nicki and Margene sit on the porch of the Embry house talking things over. Barb shares her plan for returning to school. Nicki responds by telling her that it's a hard road to walk alone; Bill will live in polygamy - with or without her. It's time to leave the past behind, Nicki says, "If you come back, this time it can't be for Bill. It has to be for you."

Bill sits on the neighbors' patio, listening to Carl drone on about urban sprawl, when Barb comes around the side of the house, apologizing for showing up late. When she sits down at the table, an embarrassed Pam admits she was nervous about the dinner because she didn't think Barb and Bill liked them anymore. She thought they'd taken the side of Nicki, "a real live polygamist," just like Margene had when she broke off their friendship. Thinking on her feet, Barb tells Pam and Carl that Margene broke up with them because she's pregnant again and fears their judgment. One suspect eliminated and a crisis averted.

After dinner, as Barb pauses by her station wagon, she and Bill hit another impasse. Unable to persuade her to come inside, Bill opens up: "I'm sorry. I did push you into this different kind of marriage. I took advantage of your love." Barb says she's realized how much anger she's harbored for him, and says she can no longer pose as the wife she used to be. Bill waits for a long moment, and Barb, opening the car door, takes her overnight bag and walks with Bill toward the house.

"Something good is going to come from all this," Bill says. "I swear it."