TV

Fifth-season premiere of 'Big Love,' Sunday on HBO

Verne Gay
BIG LOVE - 9 p.m. EST Sunday - HBO
Newsday (MCT)

REASON TO WATCH: The fifth and final season begins.

CATCHING UP: In the crazy fourth-season finale, Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) wins election to the state senate, and stands on stage at his victory speech celebration to introduce his wives — all three of them.

Surprise! Utah — and even Bill's supporters — learn for the first time they've just elected a polygamist. You can hear the proverbial pin drop. More complications: Wife Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin) ponders her continued ties to Goran (Steve Bacic), who is married to Ana (Branka Katic), who is carrying Bill's baby. Eugenics mastermind JJ (Zeljko Ivanek), who was literally seeding an incestuous Kansas community, meets a brutal end. One of Bill's other wives, Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn), had tried to sabotage his campaign, and the other, Nic (Chloe Sevigny), wants to get pregnant. Neither succeeds.

WHAT SUNDAY'S ABOUT: Deep winter in the desert. The wind is blowing. Only silence. Bill and family are camping in the wild, away from the media and critics — who are no longer silent.

Only Marg's sobs shatter the peace. Bill's decision to come out of the closet, so to speak, in support of The Principle (polygamy), has consequences. His new senate colleagues are pondering his removal; they are led by Richard Dwyer, the Republican majority leader (Gregory Itzin, "24").

MY SAY: The fourth season of "Big Love" had many exotic twists and curves, followed by abrupt saves or debacles. It was not unentertaining, but it was not uncomplicated, either. Fans said it was bloated; in a moment of candor, later followed by an apology, Sevigny even declared it "awful."

But the fifth is a fresh start and a bit of a reboot. There's real clarity to the storytelling Sunday night. The clouds part. The confusion dissipates.

BOTTOM LINE: Of course there are dozens of loose ends in need of tying, but you do get the sense that some will actually get tied, and in a satisfying way.

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