Once there was a great society that tried to take hold in America. But some horrible things happened, and the story of our culture took the turns that brought us to today. I think we all know who’s responsible. That’s right: Those filthy freakin’ aliens. Damn those shadowy monsters for turning the sixties into a boneyard of broken promises and shattered dreams! Damn those unsightly creatures for their hideous Otherness and unreasonable wants! Damn those weirdos for their queer ideas and strangelove ways! And most of all, damn them for the madness and destruction they inflicted on the members of the Kit Walker enclave, a would-be model of it-takes-a-village, can’t-we-all-just-get-along mixed modern family esprit de corps. They could have been The New Normal. Instead, they became a tragedy. Damn you, aliens! A species-killing influenza pox upon you!
Of course, Alma saw it coming. In 1967, the year of Sgt. Pepper’s and Purple Haze and the Summer of Love, no one was more threatened by the extraterrestrials than Kit’s first wife. After all, the ETs had abducted her, violated her, impregnated her, possibly killed her, and maybe resurrected her. Not exactly the best way to make a good impression. (Except maybe that last part.) For Alma, the ride aboard the aliens’ mystery mother-making ship was a close encounter of the Thredsonesque kind. It was a psychotic episode, a reality-rending break from the continuum of her life. And it was in the past. She wanted to leave it there, forget about it, and move into the future… albeit a future defined only by the safe, sheltered world she was building with her husband and their alien-hybrid child on their Massachusetts farm, and with another abductee victim-survivor, Kit’s Briarcliff soulmate Grace, and their alien-hybrid baby.
Which was a problem. Not necessarily because Alma had to share her husband with another woman. She was surprisingly okay with that. Or so she had convinced herself. The horror show had changed them, bonded them, and maybe enlightened them. The Walkers had enough Big Love to graciously, tolerantly, collaboratively co-exist with each other… to a point. And for Alma, that point was Grace’s attitude toward the aliens.
Unlike Alma, Grace didn’t view the Grays as a painful memory that needed to purged, or as perverse powers who stole their freedom and degraded them into chattel. No: The aliens were a higher power, who had blessed them with new life and miracle children and a meaningful new form of communal living. More, these angelic creatures with their transforming magic offered her the hope of becoming something and someone better, a hope she sorely needed as she continued to be haunted by her original sin: The damning day she took an axe and CHUNKED! her sexually absusive father and complicit stepmother. It was as if Grace viewed the aliens as harbingers of the revolutionary social change – or possibly even the agents of that change – that was sweeping the nation. (Or trying to.) They were the future. And the future needed to be embraced.
Perhaps affected by this charged zeitgeist, Grace’s convictions had become zealously inflamed. She was spending lots of time sketching extraordinarily detailed charcoal sketches of “The Ductors” (her term) – a little too much time, from Alma’s point of view. Alma didn’t think Grace’s scary images were appropriate for the children (but Grace so wanted the kids to know where they came from!), and perhaps viewed Grace’s artsy endeavors with resentment (stop your darkly dreaming doodling and help me with the domestic mule work!) and jealousy (you think you’re better than me and more sophisticated than me, just because Kit thinks you’re “talented?!”).
At first, Alma thought that Grace’s behavior wasn’t a healthy, personal form of processing past trauma (Kit’s theory), but a kind of sick acting out, the byproduct of feeling neglected within the construct of their unusual living arrangement. (“She’s dwelling on the past because she’s unhappy in the present.”) The rules of the house were never spelled out, but Kit seemed to manage his relationships by assigning first position to Alma, his first true love and legally wedded wife. She was the one Kit kissed when the activist-community organizer came home from a hard day of plotting civil rights marches. She was the one he went to bed with at night. But Alma suggested that Kit needed to rethink his distribution of love wealth. He needed to tend to Grace’s garden. So to speak.
NEXT: Big Love goes wrong