S02E06: Crabs. That’s what "The Little c" is. It’s crabs. I just thought we should get that out of the way.
This episode of The Big C, in the show’s tradition, attempts to link each of the Jamisons with a central storyline, while having them all off pursuing validation in some ill-conceived way. For Cathy, it’s becoming the high school swim coach. For Paul, it’s helping an auspicious stock boy obtain a sales position at his new place of employ. For Adam, it’s still sex-related…although, this time, it’s more focal on the ramifications of his sexual obsession.
"I'm seeing a lot of bubbles, ladies. It's like you're swimming in tonic water." - Cathy
Cathy, in her infinite quest for distractions, self-fulfillment, and the ability to prove that she’s capable of anything, takes a vacant position as the high school’s swim coach. Her biggest challenge here, as is commonplace in any series that features school sports, is an overbearing parent. Their back-and-forth escalates from competitive arguing over the best way to coach the children to a climactic scene wherein he accuses Cathy of being a poor coach due to her cancer. It turns out, the principal hired Cathy in the first place because “no one wants to say no to the woman with cancer,” which highlights an intriguing theme on which I hope they follow up. Cathy, eager to keep her beloved job above all else, threatens to sue if they fire her because of her disease—her empowerment alienates her coworkers and the swimmers’ parents, but actually attracts all of the swimmers—so win-win.
"This is the most black people I have ever seen at one time in Minnesota." - Mick
Paul, in defiance of his tool-of-a-boss (and his job itself, of which Adam is vocally embarrassed), takes Mick, a young Ukrainian stock boy, under his wing to help him advance to a sales position. Paul offers Mick a mock interview, allows him to practice a sales pitch on Andrea, and even stands up for him pseudo-violently when their boss’ ethnic prejudices are what keep Mick from getting a promotion. Mick is gracious, and at the end of the episode visits the Jamison household to ask Andrea on a date—which, more than anything else, just seemed awkward. Sure, he’s relatively young, but he’s not that young. She’s playing a high school girl.
And now, the crabs. Last week, if you recall, Adam slept with a prostitute in his parents’ bed. As a result: all the Jamisons have crabs now, and Adam is forced to tell them (part of) the truth (he left out the prostitute detail). Cathy jumps to the conclusion that it was Adam’s girlfriend who transferred the STD to the family and confronts her—later on, Adam is forced to reveal that his sex was not with his girlfriend and was in fact with a lady of the evening, which leads to the most genuine moment of anger and pain this show has yet to reveal: Cathy tells Adam she doesn’t know how to parent him anymore. Unfortunately, it is usurped by a quick piece of wordplay, and the sentiment is sacrificed. But finally, Adam’s reaction (albeit a plausibly inauthentic one) is revealed: he blames Cathy for bringing cancer into the house for everyone else to have to deal with.
Finally, Sean: Sean is balancing between the original, crazy Sean and the newer, responsible Sean. He insists on a water birth, but also intends to propose to Rebecca, who already prides herself on an expert in mothering.
I imagine the tension between Cathy/Paul and Adam is already on its way to a hasty resolution. Sean is mostly playing the comic relief. And Paul is mostly playing a sounding board for Cathy. But at least Andrea has a boyfriend now! A much older boyfriend… let’s hope that comes into play in some respectable way.