21 May, 2012

The Big C is back on fucking TOP form. (Season 3, Ep 7)



'The Big C' continues on Showtime in the US this week, with the seventh episode of its almost-finished third series. This run has taken a while (half of its ten episodes) to get going, but the sixth installment was a great improvement, and the seventh returned us to the dizzy heights of 'The Big C' at its best. Well done team.

This episode returned 'The Big C' to what it does best - a family-centric story about Cathy and her cancer, Sean having a crazy time in the background and Adam rebelling like any other teenager, but just a teensy bit more extreme. Despite it presumably being an unpopular narrative step, the writers seem to be putting a wedge between Cathy and Paul, through his relationship with Joy and Cathy's with the British Pub. To me, it seems like this could be edging towards a divorce, or a departure for Platt (Paul) at the end of the series.

I do this on a practically daily basis on Twitter, but once again massive commendations and 'wow! you can really ACT' exclamations to Linney, Platt, Basso and Benjamin Hickey for their respective portrayals of Cathy, Paul, Adam and Sean. Despite the poor writing a the beginning of the season, the cast carried the show, and I feel that even with a shorter episode run or reduced budget for Season 4, the cast could still carry it.


In that the plot returned to classic 'The Big C' territory this week, the programme also recovered some of its focus it had lost at the beginning of this run. What was most poignant about this episode was Cathy's line which showed yet another edge to her ongoing attitude to life, death and community: 'I help who I wanna help'. This attitude to charity might not be for everyone, but it's an interesting way to express the ideas and reservations about charity we all have. And with Cathy aware she is on borrowed time, all her perceptions feel, it seems to me, a little bit sharper than those of the average joe.

The final scenes of the episode were at once joyful and harrowing. Cathy rejects the wrongs of others, and does as she intends, without reservation the crippling consciousness of social norms. Her line 'God be with you' was absolutely fantastic, and I think we knew at that moment what had been missing from Season 3 of 'The Big C' - big, dramatic gestures of emotion and decisiveness. 'The Big C' shows the importance of taking a stance, and acting on it.

And in the final scene, as Cathy prepares to give a car to the couple who are giving away their child to her, we see that the baby mama is not in fact pregnant. I think we all expected something to go awry with the baby plot, and we're back on familiar 'Cathy doing nice things for bad people' mode, but in the way that 'The Big C' asserts fairness and justice, it is clear that Cathy will be getting her own back on the pair in a grand way. And whilst this may seem repetitive, it is the way in which Cathy deals with setbacks and learns from them that makes the programme what it is.

So whilst we wait on tenderhooks for an announcement about Season 4 (please Showtime, even if you reduce the budget PLEASE give The Big C a proper send-off), there are three episodes left this season, starting in two weeks' time with 'Killjoy'. I can't bloody wait - 'The Big C' gets bloody good in the run up to a series finale, and I'll be watching - I'll probably be crying too.

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