Chuck Zlotnick/HBO
Brian Orloff
March 21, 2011 11:20 AM

After five seasons, HBO’s Big Love wrapped up with an emotional – and literal – bang.

(Spoiler alert ahead )

In a dramatic story arc, Sunday’s episode found Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) facing almost-certain jail time in his statutory rape case – as well as the loss of his business. In a final move in Congress, he introduces a bill to decriminalize polygamy, an act that earns him the support of a newly leaderless Juniper Creek, the polygamist compound.

At home, his wives were facing their own crises: Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin), longing to broaden her horizons, endeavors to leave the family and go on a medical mission trip abroad. Nicki (Chloe Sevigny) attempts to makes amends with her daughter Cara Lynn, and repair her relationships with her sister wives. And Barbara (Jeanne Tripplehorn) seeks religious fulfillment in a liberal church, though she ultimately decides she cannot be baptized in the church, leaving her at a spiritual impasse.

As all the threads weave together, though, Bill is shot dead by his emasculated, disgruntled neighbor, a member of the Mormon church who resented Bill’s virility and putative success in a bad economy. As he lies, dying on the ground, Bill asks Barbara for a blessing, and acknowledges her desire to be a priesthood holder.

In an epilogue, we see the women, coexisting together at home after Bill’s death, with Margene set to go on another mission. Their bond, it seems, is strong, and they recognize that none of this would be possible without Bill, who seems, in death, to have been redeemed for all of his earthly failings.

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