S02E09: The Big C, you did it. For the first time since the pilot episode, you gave us a half-hour of television that I legitimately enjoyed. Bravo.
The story picks up from last week's cliffhanger: Rebecca has a miscarriage. The tone of the episode is no darker or more dire than usual for The Big C: it takes weak, uninspired attempts at caustic humor directed at fetal death as opposed to the usual target of cancer. The humor isn't any more impressive in this episode, but there's something else going on that just feels more substantial.
Rebecca is not treating the matter as severely as Cathy thinks she should. Rebecca is planning a funeral as a celebration rather than a mourning. There will be a sushi bar and a photo booth. Meanwhile, Sean is off his meds and attempting to feel as badly as possible about not only his unborn daughter's death, but also about the lack of significance "society places" on the deaths of unborn children. I'm not sure if that's really the way society feels; I've never heard of anyone treating miscarriages with anything other than large amounts of sorrow. But let's roll with it. He's Sean, he's misguided, and he's grieving intently. Or at least the show is claiming that he is; his grief doesn't seem to be much more genuine than Rebecca's. But again, I'm willing to roll with it. Mainly because the real value of the episode is devoted to Cathy.
"At least the widower will not go hungry." - Paul
As Sean and Rebecca's unborn daughter was named Cathy, the obituary offers a good deal of confusion: everyone attending is under the impression that Cathy Jamison died. Her old friends from high school attend, whom she has not seen in years. The fact that attending one's own funeral is one of the most fascinating and ruminated upon notions in the scope of the human imagination does contribute in large to the episode's power. They play it off well. Especially when conflict arises between Rebecca and Cathy; Rebecca begins to take issue with the focus of the funeral diverting toward Cathy rather than her baby. It is the means to which her grief finally releases genuinely. Obvious? Very. But letting things like that slide is what I'm all about this week: the episode was good, and I'm not nitpicking!
Meanwhile, we get a glimpse of how Adam has been secretly grieving his mother's disease. He visits a Kids of Cancer chatroom online and speaks to someone named Poppy17. He and Poppy finally meet, to reveal (guest-star extraordinaire) Parker Posey, as a flighty, 30-something daughter of a cancer patient in suspended adolescence. The issue with their age difference is only touched upon, but WILL be revisited by Cathy and Paul in an episode more conducive to that plot. Plus, Adam and Parker Posey actually have very good onscreen chemistry. Adam, for the first time all series, I do not hate you.
Cathy and Paul visit an inexpensive gravesite where Cathy plans to lay to rest. She would rather a spot in the sun (and one not next to a man named "Alfonso P. Dick"), but the whole "It's all we can afford" mantra is repeated. Little does she know that Paul is stealing merchandise from the electronics store with Ukranian Mick. So, a nicer plot Cathy shall have.
"Have you done it before?" - Cathy
"You calling me a ho?" - Andrea
Mick is around too, but nothing new is going on with he and Andrea (other than her quick speech to Cathy about how they will sleep together soon, and a few sweet moments between the couple furthering their "right-for-each-other"-ness).
And, just for fun, Rugby Slut attends to make the moves on Paul, but is caught off guard by a living Cathy, who confronts her and tells her that she's garbage. It's not really an important moment, but it's well executed and gives some closure to a Season One story arc.
Finally, Cathy reaches out to Rebecca by delivering a nice eulogy about the baby, and how she touched the lives of everyone in the family even though she was never born. It brings Rebecca to tears (in a good way), but also leads to her deciding that she doesn't belong with either Cathy or Sean, and must leave. So, I guess we're done with her. Which is probably the best payoff of this episode.
So, it wasn't a perfect half-hour of television, but it was genuinely the best one of the series. Well done, The Big C. If you can keep this degree of quality up, I will keep up this degree of praise. See you next week.