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The Big C Mini-Reviews, 1.05-1.06

Since I’ve fallen so behind, I’ll be offering up mini-reviews of the episodes as I work to catch up. Here’s the first two, after the jump…

The Big C, “Blue Eyed Iris” (1.05): Written by Cara DiPaolo, directed by Craig Zisk. Also known as the sex episode. Cathy has a lot of questions about sex, and they tie themselves all up with her questions about pleasure and fulfillment, so she approaches both this week with the vigor with which she approaches everything. Cathy was alternately mortifying and enjoyable this week. One one hand, her desperation to connect with Adam and have all the conversations she’ll ever have with him now  leads her to watching porn with him for a few minutes (likely scarring him for life, or at least wrecking porn for a while for him) and trying to make him understand the difference between stylised sex-for-voyeurs in porn vs. actual sex with actual women. Later, she approaches him bearing condoms, knowing this conversation won’t be able to happen once he’s old enough to use it.

However, more intriguing is Cathy’s pursuit of her own sexuality, as she gets herself a waxing down there and shares a flirtation with painter Lenny, played by the wonderful Idris Elba. This officially crosses Cathy over the line from honourably trying to grasp control of her life to officially using her cancer as an excuse to do whatever she wants, but its understandable that she does want to knows what its like after twenty years being married to Paul. Having seen how this arc plays out, Cathy is terribly heartless in her quest to take control of her own final year of life, and this begins those ripples.

The other significant part of this episode is the show finally putting John Benjamin Hickey together with Phyllis Somerville for a subplot, and the two have sparkling chemistry. Though both characters are aware of the massive age difference between them, their dynamic is delightful: fond but snarky, as both toss barbs alike at one another. This proves to be one of the show’s more fruitful comedic relationships in coming weeks.

The Big C. “Taking Lumps” (1.06): Written by Toni Kalem, directed by Alan Poul. Cathy’s family begins to pull itself together after half a season of falling apart, when Cathy encourages Adam and Paul to do a bathtub race together. While son, husband and wife are bonding together again, Cathy is also able to reconnect with her brother by having him stay in her backyard after he’s assaulted in the park. Meanwhile, Cathy’s made the very definite decision to continue seeing Lenny, but is wondering whether her family might knit itself back together.

Of course, the moment she’s ready to come clean, Paul shatters the perfect picture in her head. More important than the infidelity, I think, is the shattering of that image that was supposed to give her strength, supposed to inspire her to reveal all. The moment that picture of them smiling, in her head, broke was the moment she no longer had the roadmap to survival. It’s not his fault, nor hers; just really shitty timing.

Next week: Cathy tells her father and her brother two different things, and neither one reacts the way she’d like.

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