S02E10: Maybe it's just a resonating high from last week's surprisingly impressive episode of The Big C, but tonight's was once again a primarily positive installment. At least the first half of the episode was, anyway. But nobody's here to nitpick. "How Do You Feel?" suggested some potential for the series of missed opportunity, and it's nice to see that again.
Cathy opens the episode by reuniting and reconciling with Lee after the Thanksgiving episode's catastrophic ending. He immediately forgives her for her dishonesty with him (Cathy lied to cover up her own improving health because she knew that he was getting sicker) and apologizes for overreacting. The two promptly rekindle their old "drinking buddy" motif, again with a hint of sexual tension (even though we know he's gay this time around).
"I think if I came back as a straight guy in my next life, I would be able to wrap my head around a vagina." - Lee
So, Cathy and Lee are back in action. Early in the episode, Cathy finds out that her tumors are shrinking, and Lee finds out that his are multiplying. Nonetheless, he maintains his generally upbeat detached attitude that he attributes in part to Buddhism and in part to being somewhat emotionally crippled. The rest of the episode formulates as Cathy/Lee episodes seem to: the two spend an inordinate bulk of time together, drinking, sharing personal secrets, and oozing sexual desire for one another. Now, of course you'll say, "But Lee is gay! How can he want Cathy?" Well, here's the thing. If you've watched the above clip, you know there's something more there than just what he describes an "aesthetic appreciation for the female body."
Now, don't get me wrong. The show is not going to "turn" Lee, or make him realize he's been straight all along--that'd just be ridiculous. But it does seem to be putting a heightened stress on the sentimentality between his more-than-a-friendship with Cathy. Lee's homosexuality is treated by the show as more of a character quirk than a legitimate sexual identity: he has meaningless one night stands and makes a hefty sum of gay jokes. Meanwhile, his single heterosexual 'encounter' is teamed with the character's most significant instance of sentiment yet. I'm not saying the show has some homophobic propaganda, but it does seem like they are, plausibly unintentionally, normalizing and romanticizing a heterosexual Lee, all the while diminishing the sincerity, romance and sympathy that can be attached to a homosexual Lee. Hopefully, I'm taking things out of context, and next week will show Lee, and the show, embracing his homosexuality with an open heart and mounds of sincerity. But if not, it's a shame that they even bothered to write a gay character in the first place if all they intended to do was to show how meaningful "certain types" of relationships could be.
"All these names... I'm having a bad flashback. People kind of made fun of me back then. I wore a Sherlock Holmes hat, whatever." - Poppy
Meanwhile, the return of Parker Posey as the mentally-sixteen Poppy Kowalski marks the true vivacity of the episode. It's an interesting type of character: a young-at-heart woman befriending a young-in-reality man, completely platonically (although for sincerity's sake, Cathy does suspect a sexual relationship), in a codependent grief-coping situation. So far, it is the most interesting relationship fostered by the series. But the real life of it is due entirely to Parker Posey being a superb actress and onscreen presence.Poppy brings Adam to her high school reunion, which she attends as sort of a method of self-empowerment. However, she is instantly brought back to her insecure youth when the former popular girls resort to their backhandedly nasty selves. Adam comes to her rescue by making up tall tales about Poppy's success as a filmmaker, his own success as an internet mogul, and their romantic relationship (he adds the fact that he is twenty-one in order to make it all the less creepy). The women are impressed, but that is not enough to keep Poppy from cutting herself in the bathroom (a storyline alluded to last week). Adam is aware of her habit, but does not know how to confront it. He and his mother share their most civil moment yet in the series when he comes home from the dance, having matured "seamlessly" into a gentleman. Poppy is an important character for Adam, because he is finally developing a relationship with an attractive woman that is not at all about sex. Instead, he is her friend and was willing to debase himself to the point of buying tampons for her, all just to make her feel more comfortable.
The third storyline carries over Sean's grief from last week. He is now without a child and without Rebecca, so he's beginning to lose it (understandably). Sean begins to try and give away the baby stuff he has accumulated. Enter: new neighbors with a new baby. A baby that cries and laughs at levels all-too-audible for the mourning Sean, who reacts, as one would expect, with relentless hostility. Now off his meds, Sean curses at the baby, storms Cathy's and Paul's house for earplugs, and, finally, at the close of the episode, leaves a large note (painted on his wall) for Cathy to find, indicating that he couldn't take the sounds of a baby any further, and that he would be leaving. So now, Sean's gone. Next week: Sean hunt? Could be fun.
Oh, and Paul gets a scale and realizes that he's fat. Pretty sufficient C-Story.