Unofficial Big Love

Real Mormons Talking About Fictional Mormons

Episode 9: More Greg Ivy and Cara Lynn, Legal Troubles, the Cult(?) of Goji Blasts

Just two more Big Love episodes as we break it down in podcast 9.

Greg Ivy and Cara Lynn take center stage in this episode. Margene sniffs out what’s going on. Greg denies, denies, denies when she shows up to confront them. (Then, of course, he admits his love for Cara Lynn.) Ben and Nicki both do their own separate flipping out when they hear about it too.

Barb a person of interest for procurement? Margie being interrogated? Bill knew he risked a trial for polygamy or bigamy, but being charged with rape? Bill even offers to resign if the Church will leave him alone. Things are looking bad.

Bill and Barb are worried about Margie’s participation in Goji Blasts–calling it a cult–just after Michael Saint confronts Margie about being in a cult of her own with her family. Which one is it? And what about the Mormon Church itself?

All that, Alby keeps getting crazier and craftier, Barb shows up at a church with a woman Bishop, and more!

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  • Michael

    On the Alby – Verlan – Nicki incident in the tent, I think the whole roll-out is a bit simpler than discussed, and more purely emotional-based. Really, all was going along as Nicki and Alby scenes tend to do, until Nicki hatefully spat out “We all know why Lura REALLY left you, and we all know about your ‘friend’ Dale who would rather hang himself than be stuck in outer darkness with you!!” Alby simply cracked: his life-long self-loathing at being Gay, detonated with his rage and deep resentment at being forced to be self-loathing. In that combustion, I’m pretty sure he fully intended to kill Nicki, but at the end of the day just couldn’t quite do it, and instead took out his rage on poor, hapless Verlan. Just my two cents. (Love the discussion, by the way)

    • Bob Caswell

      Thanks, Michael. I’m not sure yet if I’m completely sold on that scene, but I think your perspective is the closest so far to something that helps me make sense out of it.

  • Anonymous

    Greg and Cara Lynn both creep me out, separately or together. I see what the writers are trying to illustrate with the Bill/Margene parallel, but I could have easily done without their storyline. Their creepiness supersedes the inappropriateness -what’s ever appropriate on any tv these days? Cara lynn “mature for her age”? Dude, what? I dunno, their deal to me isn’t ‘sweet’, it’s desperate at best for both CL and Ivy.

    I’m hoping Nikki turns out to be right, and she knows more than she’s telling- like maybe Ivy has attempted this before, or somehow there is some back story to what Nik knows about Ivy. Grow up Ivy and get a grown woman because it’s not only creepy, it’s also sort of pathetic. Besides, the Bill and Marge parallel is only that in ages- the way the show tells it, Marge was saved from a life of trailer park doom by Bill, while Cara Lynn is supposed to be practically a Mensa member, in school and college awaiting-with all these people who care about her- so it’s not really a fair comparison.

    side note re Bill coming under legal scrutiny- it may not have been the sole doing of heather and her icky “want to unburden yourself’ bishop. Wasn’t there a scene where a room full of cop types watching Margene enthusing over goji on TV or somewhere and picking up on something she said? I’m pretty sure this was something separate from the Heather/bishop meeting.

    Eww- how can one of your panel members like Michael Saint -fakest name ever, BTW- He just oozes sliminess and probably listens to tapes on how to pick up chicks. I don’t know that he particularly was hung up on Margene per se, he’s just your garden-variety opportunist who will shine on and say whatever he has to say to get people to do what he wants. The whole goji thing seems to be concocted to be illustrative of how easily marge is sucked in or swept away into various things ( we have to save the world Bill!), and maybe have us make the leap that maybe the same thing happened with her and the family.

    Albie: a nightmarish amalgamation of Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Roarke and maybe Elvis. Too bad they couldn’t have matched Albie and Rhonda in some kind of twisted Rhonda ‘tries to save Albie from being gay-he could have been great as a more comedic character instead of strictly evil.

    As far as Barb and the priesthood (holder?) thing- although I was not raised LDS and am not sure what that means- the other stuff, her trying to ‘find herself’ and all that- is that a realistic story for someone who just recently got booted from mainstream LDS and who has been living in a poly situation for years and years?

    One thing for sure, it is clear the show is trying to cumulatively create a blank hitting the fan scenario – as if their situation or poly in general creates a ticking time bomb(s) scenario. Also, it seems to borrow curiously as far as family themes and personality types – from the Sopranos -religious cult or MLM mafia, who can say for sure? Perhaps that isn’t unintentional? Like the Albie to Nikki line, something like, ‘you’re still one of us’- the theme of ‘you can never really get out’…..Albie Coreleone, the gay, fundamentalist Mormon dapper don, lol.

    One thing is for sure- I’ll be sorry to see the series go, it beats the pants off old shows like Dynasty or Falcon Crest. It’s cool how the characters on BL aren’t always super made-up and some even look grubby or frumpy occasionally. Your show is also great fun, and explains things non-LDSers may fail to follow or understand from an LDS perspective.

    sidenote: whatever happened to crazy Wanda? She added kind of a Twin-Peaks-esque element to BL- (maybe you guys are too young to remember that show)

    • Bob Caswell

      Thanks for the great comment. To answer your question about Barb, in my experience, I’d say that a lot of disaffected Mormon women fall into this camp. That is, the weightiness of the Mormon patriarchy has a fairly narrow definition of women’s roles within the religion. So it’s pretty natural for women to go through the “find thyself” phase at some point on the way out and/or look for an alternative spiritual path that involves women holding the same authority as men.

      That said, since Barb’s a polygamist, that complicates the answer to the question of “is this realistic?”. Difficult to say how realistic this is considering the irony that Barb went two steps backwards (polygamy, kind of an antithesis to women’s rights) to go forward (seeking priesthood authority). And I personally don’t think that’s very likely in real life (nor have I ever heard of examples like it). But given how the characters have played out throughout the seasons, it still works within the context of the story portrayed.

      • Anonymous

        Bob: “since Barb’s a polygamist, that complicates the answer to the question of “is this realistic?”. Difficult to say how realistic this is considering the irony that Barb went two steps backwards (polygamy, kind of an antithesis to women’s rights) to go forward (seeking priesthood authority).”>>

        CK >>Thanks for the compliment and the reply. I’m not sure if the polygamy per se is or isn’t the antithesis to women’s rights or not, as not all people who practice it feel they are oppressed, or perhaps it is more democratic … but I suppose within a context of any heavily patriarchal religious system it might well be.

        One could say Nikki’s compound crusading or Marge’s various job gigs could be similar attempts at autonomy, without the wanting to take the priesthood-someone explain on the podcast what this priesthood/holder/authority thing means and how one gets it? Is it one of those ‘I know because I have a testimony or get a warm glow’ things I’ve heard people refer to or does someone bestow it or what?

        And what is so great about having priesthood power anyway? What does Barb think she’s getting by having ‘it’, that she doesn’t already have on her own? Maybe all this is too time-consuming to deal with on the show, but I think I may represent many non-LDSers who are looking at each other watching this and asking themselves similar things, feeling like we’re in a Magic: The Gathering card game without knowing the rules. Not to poke fun at anyone’s religion, I’ve liked the few LDS people I’ve randomly met here and there, it’s just the perspective is so much different than a lot of other religions.

        It is just fascinating to an outsider -I’m in the fairly tiny minority who was raised (and rather flakily) Greek Orthodox-I’ve listened to other Mormon podcasts, such as Mormon Expression that’s affiliated or also has one of your hosts on it?) and they speak of things like “is the church ‘true’ or not?” That’s something I have never heard anyone of other (at least major) religions say, like ever-maybe we’re just slacking or maybe see it as well, it’s all faith and belief anyway, so why worry if it’s ‘true’ or this part of the story has holes or seems implausible, it just isn’t worried about to the point of having that be the reason people become disaffected and leave their entire community and culture, which seems very tied together in LDS/Utah unlike other places where it’s more of a melting pot and if you stop going to church no one even notices and all your neighbors are of different faiths or none.

        I personally have not seen people who have left other major religions who switch to yet another even vaguely similar religion and then go on these passionate rampages against their former religion. Example: the ex-LDS podcasters who are now so off the rails anti-LDS (but still some other kind of Christian?), it’s just seems really weird. Most folks that I know who are either atheist or agnostic are not so invested in spending time tearing down their former beliefs. It’s like the ex’s take it so personally like a bitter divorce.

        In any case, it’s all food for thought even if it’s got some strange ingredients at times! So looking forward to your next episode.

        • Bob Caswell

          The priesthood is power, in fact, it’s often referred to as “priesthood power”. In mainstream Mormonism, it has to be “given” to you by someone else who has it (via a laying on of hands ordinance, like a blessing).

          But there are rules, only men can have it and give it. Also, only those with the priesthood can do things like bless the sick or even run certain types of meetings. If you don’t have the priesthood (i.e., if you’re a woman), you are fairly limited in comparison in terms of your ability to bless others and/or act administratively in Church affairs. At the highest level, the Church is run by a prophet and a quorum of twelve Apostles. Underneath them is a leadership group referred to as “The Seventy” and underneath them, there are organizational units called “stakes” which have “stake presidents”. Each stake is made up of several “wards”, and each ward is run by a bishop. Wards are basically congregations based on geography. In any event, to be in a position of leadership in any of these organizations (prophet, apostle, stake president, bishop, etc.), you must have priesthood authority and you must be a man.

          I agree with your point about Margene and Nikki. Yes, plenty of women find their own way via other endeavors not related to Mormon priesthood authority / power (the Mormon Church even has auxiliary organizations specifically designed for women, though with limited “power” as compared to priesthood authority). So some women end up getting frustrated by the fact that, no matter what they do on the inside or outside of the Church, they will never be able to act with the same authority like men do on the inside. Barb obviously falls into this category and is even considering joining a church where women are granted priesthood authority like men.

          One important point, though, which is easily lost on non-Mormons: priesthood authority is exclusive to Mormonism. It was “restored” by Joseph Smith. As can often be the case with religious groups, Mormons believe they are the only ones on this earth to act in God’s name under his priesthood authority. So if another church (like Bill’s or whichever one Barb is attending) claims to have priesthood authority, mainstream Mormons automatically denounce this or, at the very least, consider it to be incomplete or likely not real authority from God.

          Last point (for now :-) ): as you’ve noticed, Mormons do have an infatuation with the word “true”. But to your point on faith, Mormons are also notorious for using phrases like “I know this Church is true” rather than “I believe this Church is true”. There’s so much to deconstruct there. What does it mean for an institution to be true? How can we know this rather than simply believe it? Especially considering that much of the details as to how the Church is run administratively at the top are kept behind closed doors.

          In any event, Mormons typically pride themselves in “knowing” things more so than “believing” things. And the “knowing” is often paired with “truth”.

          • Anonymous

            Thanks again Bob for explaining and demystifying this stuff how things are organized and hwat stuff means for ‘the rest of us’. So …one receives the priesthood from someone (probably higher up) on the totem pole -that said, all priesthood holders are men, but not all men are priesthood holders, correct? The man has to ‘earn it’ or is it recognized through deeds? Is it one of those ‘I just know’ or ‘I have a calling/inner voice’ things and then one goes and talks to someone and they either say ‘OK you are worthy’ or ‘sorry’ ?

            Barb seems to think she just magically ‘has it’ ? This is one of those infuriatingly un-understandable things- it’s like an oxymoron within an oxymoron wrapped in an enigma. bill and Barb are constantly having fights over whether or not she ‘has it’ or should have (in her case) this self-proclaimed priesthood.

            I mean. even to the uninitiated, non-LDS clueless viewer, we have figured out the basics. If men are the only ones who are recognized as having priesthood power, than Barb can prance around all darn day speaking in her ‘I am profound’ voice, drinking her wine and lavishing oil on whomever she wants, but she is basically playing pretend- she will not be recognized within the regular LDS church, or the FLDS compound church or Bill’s church either- the best she can hope for is these disaffected Berkeley-protester type chicks. So she’s taking a stand to get essentially….nothing.

            She accepted Nikki and Margene, and pretty much gave away her power as first and legal wife what seemed to be a little too casually -I didn’t see any scenes of angst, or crying or arguing that duh, Nikki doesn’t need to adopt her own daughter, right? A daughter who is not 2, or 5 but will be 18 in a few years? Maybe they don’t put much stock in state-mandated marriage contracts period? Point being- she’s doing this …why?

            She’s educated, she can work if she wants to, or not, now her husband is senator (well, sort-of-husband anyway)- she’s not Margie’s age- meaning the idea of a later in life identity crisis seems a little odd-and as you said, she made the choice to break from the main church a long time ago,but you say this isn’t a terribly uncommon thing, at least among the disaffected or ‘questioning’ camp. Because ‘you’ (not you Bob, but ‘you’ in the general sense) don’t like something, does that make it automatically wrong? Because something is not popular, does that make it inherently wrong?

            It just irks me the show is taking the predictable tack of playing the look-at-the-train-wreck-the-evil-and-oh-so-not-PC-patriarchy-is-going-to-cause:
            oh-poor-no-identity-wannabe-religio-suffragette Barb. Oh poor ex-compound-no-identity-my-name-only-on-the-cake-I’m-married-for-real-now Nikki. Oh poor someone-give-me-hope-and-purpose_i’m-so-naive-but”I coulda been a contender” Margene. Maybe I should sit in a tree in Berkeley myself and protest the oppression of Barb, Nikki and Marge. Yeah, that’s gonna happen.

            Looking at things from different perspectives is infinitely interesting to me, even if said perspectives don’t particularly make a lot of sense (i.e. Barb). I thought she actually *had* power before all this priesthood stuff started- maybe not priesthood power but the power most women naturally have. Maybe I now sound like the Berkeley hippie chicks, or I will be accused of being like one of the evil patronizing and condescending elders, but I can only go on my own experiences as a woman- If you are close to a man, it’s usually not that hard to influence him to make things happen that you care about. One doesn’t even require a title.

            Why would you want to have to account to others by getting the actual priesthood power, come under scrutiny and have to account to others about things you want to do or change? I’m guessing if you have ‘PP’ this is the case.. if you can use the power you already have to maneuver things without all the added hassle? Just because a door is locked doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worth the trouble it takes to get in. The way I’m looking at it, Barb is ending up losing what real power she already had for this power she can never actually have.

            (going to be sad when BL is over, unless you all feel like revisiting seasons past, which would be awesome just for discussion’s sake – who cares about spoilers, the show has been out on DVD and re-runs for years- I want to be the token non-LDS guest!)

    • Melissa

      Just to clarify, non of the panel members… and I mean me- Melissa, has a thing for Michael Saint. It’s more of an “inside joke” Glenn likes to play on me. :) I’m totally with you on that, slimmer!
      Good call on the Wanda! Where is that crazy chick? Maybe she’ll return for the last episode, I hear they’re “all” supposed to come back. At least Sarah & Teeny I’m pretty sure. SO sad it’s almost over.

      • Anonymous

        oh that’s a relief regarding Saint ! Me too on the sad (and kinda mad!), big time, but like I said in some other post, just go back to the beginning and start there and make new podcasts with commentary of the old stuff. There’s definitely tons there for you guys to discuss and debate about….Like the whole Ana thing- that was handled so badly. You guys could totally rip that to shreds no doubt. I probably won’t watch the old episodes for a long while unless you all do podcasts of them. I guess there’s that reality show kinda like BL, but I would feel weird critiquing real people’s real lives. Maybe you guys could handle it, but it’s not really the same deal as BL, even if it’s the real thing. Maybe that doesn’t make sense, maybe it does.

        (trying not to feel like a total d-chebag with no life for even being into this show because where I live, it’s not even considered cool to even have a tv, let alone watch it, I should be out having funerals for whales, planting trees and whining that there’s not enough dog parks- eyerolling@ yuppie/hippie SF people, not giving up BL! )