The Big C Mini-Reviews, 1.07-1.13

To catch up with last season ahead of the second season premiere, he’s some quick thoughts on each of the remaining episodes from last season…

The Big C, “Two For the Road” (1.07): Written by Hilly Hicks Jr., directed by Alan Poul. Best episode of the season, I think, barring the pilot. Cathy and Sean take off for a road trip to see their father, and Cathy has some great moments: being confronted by Sean about her affair with Lenny, confronting her father about his emotional abuse and the scars it left on their family, and the grand finale, possibly the show’s strongest: Cathy telling Sean about her cancer, and seeing it destroy him so far that she takes it back. Really powerful stuff.

The Big C. “Happy Birthday Cancer” (1.08): Written by Darlene Hunt, directed by Tricia Brock. After the heights of “Two For the Road”, we get this two-fer of enjoyable, but ultimately frustrating episodes. In “Birthday”, we see Cathy trying to escape her life to be with Lenny, only to be reminded that – even though she’s been trying to all season – she can’t, because her life is everything around her. This episode also introduced Cynthia Nixon as Rebecca, Cathy’s former best friend and the show’s biggest, most prominent misstep in its short life.

The Big C, “The Ecstacy and the Agony” (1.09): Written by Jenny Bicks and Hilly Hicks, Jr., directed by Tricia Brock. At the time I enjoyed “Ecstacy”, but it was also really frustrating to watch. It’s understandable that Cathy would seek an affair with Lenny, played by the beautiful Idris Elba, but the way she approaches it is hard to watch. Though she isn’t alone to blame for everything that occurs, the entire disastrous night sets off a domino effect that destroys her husband, hurts her son and leaves her looking at a divorce.

The Big C. “Divine Intervention” (1.10): Written by Mark Kunerth, directed by Matthew Lehmann. The season’s final concluding arc kicks off here, and “Intervention” was a great step up from the previous two episodes. Having been forced to see herself in a new light after the catastrophic results of her affair with Lenny, Cathy owns up to everything she’s been doing and how much damage she’s been dealing to those around her. The episode has some moments of squirmingly bad ‘Cathy makes everything around her about herself’, much like when she destroyed Dr. Mauer’s chances of getting that house early in the season, but the pushing forward from her self-destruction earns it a better review. That and her always-great dynamic with Andrea.

The Big C, “New Beginnings” (1.11): Written by Cara DiPaolo, directed by Matthew Lehmann. To be honest… I remember almost everything about each episode from the first season, except this one, Truly a filler episode, even though it was a lot of fun.

The Big C. “Everything That Rises Must Converge” (1.12): Written by Jenny Bicks, directed by Michael Engler. This episode had a few moments that destroyed me. The first was when Todd, after a season of Cathy not being sure whether he was interested, finally makes a move – only for Cathy to remind him that she’s dying, and that she isn’t an option, as much as she wants to be. The second was, of course, those final moments. Marlene, realising that she could have killed Adam without realising who he was, fearing the grip of Alzheimer’s getting stronger, takes her own life. If only for those two moments, one of the season’s best.

The Big C. “Taking the Plunge” (1.13): Written by Darlene Hunt, directed by Michael Engler. The finale, wherein Cathy finally decides, in amongst Marlene’s funeral and Sean’s baby news, that she wants to fight to survive. I found the finale pretty weak in places, but it had two fantastic moments: Cathy and Marlene by the pool, and Adam going to his mom’s storage locker and realising exactly how sick his mother really is.

The first season, ultimately, was a lot of fun. It had its ups and downs, laughs and heartbreak, and a great showcase for Laura Linney, Phyllis Somerville, John Benjamin Hickey and Gabourey Sidibe. Very much looking forward to season two…


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