The Big C Review: R.I.P.P.

at . Comments

I watch and enjoy The Big C for many reasons: the incredible acting of Laura Linney; the interesting take on cancer; the humor.

But I don't expect the show to shock me with a season finale such as "Crossing The Line," one that legitimately left me stunned, mouth agape on my sofa, taken utterly aback by a death I did not see coming.

Running Siblings

But, wow, RIP, Paul. What an unexpected turn of tragic events. Can anyone say they thought Cathy would actually survive longer than her spouse?

Looking back, previous episodes actually did build up to this passing. Paul has been stressed about paying the bills all season. Sean has been acting a lot more like a father figure to Adam. Still, I watch a great deal of television to make my living and it takes a lot to surprise me at this point. So well done, The Big C. I'm still shaking my head as I write this.

Poor, poor Cathy. I can't even imagine the guilt and anger that will result from Paul's death. The former because it was her decision to stay by Lee's dying side that led to the family skipping its Italy trip, which would have meant no intense confrontation for Paul at the insurance office; and anger because, come on! She's the one dying of cancer and, yes, of course, that is also hard on her loved ones, but is it really too much to ask for her husband to not snort cocaine?!?

It's safe to assume Cathy and Adam will be forced to sell their house now. Look for them to shack up with Sean on season three, which should give John Benjamin Hickey even more material to mine. (Sean did want to be a father, right? Just not like this, obviously). Still, the practical ramifications of Paul's demise won't match the emotional ones.

As is always the case when a major character is killed off, some viewers will take issue with this development. They'll accuse the show of a ratings grab, of trying to shock purely for shock value. But The Big C doesn't need that, for starters. The series is doing very well on Showtime. Also, as I said above, if you go back through the season, you'll see the seeds planted over the last few weeks. Paul has always been a tense, overweight, anger-filled individual. We haven't focused on his health because Cathy's has been a lot more pressing.

But people definitely do get heart attacks, especially when they use cocaine. You can't accuse the show of a lack of realism here.

You also need to give it credit for the concluding scene's execution. It was beautifully shot and set to the perfect song. Both Cathy and the viewer realized what had transpired at the exact same time, with the extra tragedy being Adam's oblivious reaction: Dad isn't here yet. When Cathy fell to the ground, my jaw literally fell open. Turns out, Paul wasn't lying earlier in the episode: he really will meet his wife at the finish line.


Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
  • 4.6 / 5.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (130 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


this should be a top drama but, as usual,they are playing the favorite hollywood game of who can shock with the most graphic foul sexual dialog and situations they can manage, now even involving teens . typical of writers these days that cant discern the difference between hard hitting dramatic writing and the totally gratuitous use of shock and revulsion to gain the attention of the viewer. this has become the staple of this show,overshadowinng a real story line that deserves better. one less viewer here.


It's interesting how a lot of people seem to think that Paul's death and possible resuscitation will be a cop out in Season 3. The beauty of the Season 2 finale cliffhanger is the irony in the way Cathy was handling death after she witnessed her friend die. She embraced the beauty of choosing your own death, and now she's going to have to deal with the possible abruptness of it - living life with some boundaries. It's pretty obvious Cathy's character development will do a 180 in the next season, but I think this will be at the hands of Paul's death/resuscitation. Either way, I'm looking forward to next season, and I hope they bring Oliver Platt back as a human and not a spirit. That'd be too overwhelming.


Brilliant season finale.
But I'm just unsure about one thing, since when did Cathy become a medium? Has having terminal cancer brought her closer to the dead enough so she can see them? Fair enough she can see Lee and Marleen because she knows their dead and she is just remembering them. But i didn't really understand how she knew something bad had happened to Paul and why she could see him.


i think this season was phoned in. the writing was dismal and obvious right from the start. a show gets about three rolls of the eyes: when it became a slapstick comedy of misunderstanding - i'm sure any man would have checked the door before masturbating, knowing there was a houseguest, i'd had enough. i turned the thing off, and let it go. season one - magic! i was riveted from moment to moment and cried at the end. season two was unexpected and completely superfluous.


Paul had to die. He was involved in criminal activity, he was using cocaine, there was nowhere for him to go but down. I thought the show was shot beautifully and, though a shocker, in thinking it over, it is the only logical way for it to have ended. This show started as a black comedy and it has done a 180 the last couple of weeks.


NOOOOOOOOOOO,I was caught totally off guard, with Paul dying. He is the
reason i watch the show. His character is so real, i hope they bring him back.
Plus i agree Cathy looks pretty damn good for someone dying.


Totally love this show, and sure hope Paul is not dead. Hated to see Lee die, and miss Marlene she was to me a big part of what Kathy needed in her life. But Oh no you guys had to kill her off. But it will not stop me from watching. lol:)


I think Paul can’t come back. One of the nice and flexible things about this show is that people, once gone still appear and interact with Cathy. Him Dying makes us all think, and I think is the most important thing of The Big C, that we'll eventually die and can’t hold on to life expecting that it will be merciful and allow us to live forever, or to be gone at the best moment. Cathy on one hand is allowed to go through the reflexive process of accepting her death, while Sean didn’t get the chance to think about himself. I love the show and will not miss one episode either... even if Sean lives and it starts to be not so unexpected....


I knew he was going to have a Cocaine heart attack when he sniffed the whole bottle in the bathroom. He will be revived I am sure. One of the best shows on TV today!


I agree with MG that season 2 was not as good as season 1, and I even had thoughts of not continuing to watch. I felt the sexual stuff was gratuitous as was the dinner with Alan Alda and references to his character's sexual side. Whose doctor invites their patient to their home for dinner anyway?! I don't even know where mine live! It's not like they are in a small town where this might happen. I do hope that Paul is in that space where he is going toward the white light and then is shocked back to life by the paramedics we saw who were working on him. If not, I will really be angry with the writers for going for sheer shock value. I hope this will be a life changer for Paul. I was so happy to see their relationship strengthen. And what a bad joke to play on Adam. We'll see next June.

Tags: ,