Monday night was the second episode of the season, The Writing on the Wall. The synopsis on HBO.com gives us:
Home Plus billboards have been defaced, leading Bill and Don to scramble for repairs and a rethinking of Bill's public face on Home Plus. When Barb registers for college courses, her check bounces; the culprit turns out to be Nicki. At Juniper Creek, Joey finds himself caught between a rock and a hard place, driving him to fall off the wagon and sending Nicki (accompanied by Margene) on a remedial trip to the compound. Rebuked by Roman, Alby looks to settle his vendetta by approaching the D.A.'s office. Now working at Home Plus, Ben comes clean to Brynn about his family, while Sarah is caught in a lie with Scott. In the midst of crises, Bill and Barb forget Nicki's anniversary, and Joey makes a decision that will have far-ranging implications. (TVMA) ()
I really enjoyed this episode. The plot of the defaced billboards that HBO had been teasing wasn't the real story. As always, the real story is the family dynamics.
Starting with seeing Nicki so happy (a rarity), was great. The look on her face when she realized that Bill and Barb forgot her anniversary was heartbreaking. Margene, as always, fights to keep the family together, and calls to remind Bill and Barb about the anniversary. How cute was it when she said, "Oh shit…sorry". Margene was the star of this episode (more on that later).
Barb gets a little more than she asked for when Ben decides he wants to introduce Brynn the WHOLE family. Ben lied to Bill to get him to agree (telling him that she already knew), but when Ben tells her, she freaks a little but seems to accept it. It seems that more and more civilians are finding out the Henrickson family secret; which now includes Sara's new boy-friend.
Roman's plan of blackmailing Joey seems to have backfired. Alby goes to the County Sheriff, which causes Joey to turn himself in to save Wanda. It looks from the previews that Roman isn't going to take this behavior from Alby lightly.
We get another peek into Nicki's money issues. She seems to still have a spending problem. Barb's tuition check bounced because of Nicki and she doesn't have the money to pay her back. She even has to borrow money from Margene. This is an ongoing story-line that I think will continue to impact the relationships in the show.
Now back to Margene. She'd never been to the compound before, and tags along with Nicki when Wanda askes for help. What a first visit! Joey Drunk, the State Police show up, and crazy Wanda. But she handled it really well. She held things together. Didn't freak. It was a shame that Nicki didn't give Margene any credit when she was recounting the story to Bill at dinner (though Margie didn't seem to realize). Margene was THE star of this episode.
I could go on and on with all the other happenings in this episode. It is amazing that they are able to so nicely pack so much information into a single episode and keep it entertaining throughout. It is evident that this season's main theme revolves around the reasons each of the spouses are in the plural-marriage. Nicki's explains her feelings in detail tonight in her final talk with Barb, and we've gotten little hints of each in these first 2 episodes (including Ben's explanation to Brynn). I imagine we'll be getter more insight throughout this season.