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Friday, May 24, 2013

THE BIG C "The Finale" Review

Article first published as THE BIG C "The Finale" Review on TheTVKing.

Showtime's The Big C came to an understated end this week in "The Finale." Rather than make a big showy production, the final hour is about Cathy's (Laura Linney) last days, and the way that her loved ones say goodbye to her. Each of the main characters get a touching scene with Cathy, and the hour ends when she passes on.

I do kind of wish we'd gotten to see her funeral. Yes, Cathy's ending, speaking to her therapist (Kathy Najimy) about her story, taking Angel's hand (Michael Ray Escamilla), swimming in the pool with Marlene (Phyllis Somerville) and her dog, is sweet and appropriate, matching tone and closing that The Big C has been building to. It's nice enough that I won't complain about other deceased characters not appearing there, which I had hoped for going in. But I'd like to know what the effect of her actual death had on her loved ones, not just how they prepared themselves for her going.

Andrea (Gabourey Sidibe) can leave town with no regrets. She is willing to give up her fashion design internship to stay and watch Cathy die, but Cathy convinces her not to. By Cathy passing away so soon after that conversation, Andrea will get to attend the funeral and go to New York City, presumably. It's a happy ending for her.

Adam (Gabriel Basso) may be relieved. He works so hard to earn his high school diploma before Cathy's death, and barely succeeds. Now that everything he has devoted himself to these past few months is over, he can finally take a moment to relax. He is a good son who does everything he can to let Cathy die with no regrets, and deserves a reprieve.


Paul (Oliver Platt) also needs a break so he can heal and move on. His marriage to Cathy never does explicitly repair itself, regrettably, but his sticking by her until the end, taking care of her, visiting her, is his way of trying to make up for the mistakes he has made. He does right by her, and can grieve properly, conscience clear.

Sean (John Benjamin Hickey) also has much to be proud of. When his character is introduced on The Big C, he needs help. Taking care of Cathy, instead of she taking care of him, has let Sean grow as a person and become self-sufficient. He will miss his sister, to be sure, but he also has the skills to live in a house now, and be a productive member of society. Giving away his kidney, especially to someone so despicable as the recipient is, is a responsible, adult decision which shows how far he has come.

And Cathy gets closure with her dad (Brian Dennehy). He has not been an important part of The Big C, but in Cathy's final days, she gets to make peace with him, something important to helping her move on. I don't think this comes out of nowhere, having heard Cathy and Sean discuss their upbringing before, and it does feel right, even if he is a new character. It's part of life for parents and children to squabble, but to have that time together, to make amends, is priceless.

Cathy spends much of "The Finale" preparing to die, so that she will go out on a good note. She plans her funeral, talks to religious representatives (one of the best scenes in the episode), considers assisted suicide, and even tries to will herself to go out on her own terms. The fact that she's still alive, four months after she expects to die, and has to be kicked out of hospice, shows just how strong a person Cathy is. Yet, she can't control death, as she is forced to accept.

Cathy's last decision is her final words. She chooses "lucky me" because it is the perfect way to sum up her life. We don't know for sure if those are her last words, though they might be, since we don't see what she says after eating the homemade strawberry pie, and that seems a likely phrase. But those are her final words to each of the people she loves. None of them are there when she passes, which I'm sure she is grateful for. Instead, she gets to send them off right, leaving them with the memory of her she wants them to have, smiling and saying "lucky me."

I think we should all say "lucky me" for getting to watch The Big C. It is an original story, one many can relate to, but also forging its own path, avoiding the stereotypes such a tale usually engages in. It's charming, funny, depressing, and inspiring all at once. "The Finale" might not be what one would expect, but it should leave fans feeling proper closure. So to all involved, I say "lucky me" for getting to watch your fine series. Thank you.

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