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

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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
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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 show is not a comedy.. at all period. The writing is terrible. In Pauls' interview for season 2 he stated there would be 3 deaths. (ck it out) Next season she will be sleeping with another doctor. I know I'm related to the actor. Not bad for someone with terminal cancer.


That very second that Cathy said "everyone's here" and there was Paul looking confused next to Lee and Marla, I just knew that he had died. When that realization hit Cathy and she crumpled to the ground, I started to lose it. The scene was so incredibly well done and the show once again left me with my mouth hanging open and crying as if I had just lost a friend. When Marla shot herself, I was shocked and a blubbering idiot. Kudos to this show for taking me there yet again and never failing to deliver. bring on season 3!


The ending blew me away. I hope they don't cop out and bring Paul back. Much like real life one day your loved ones are here and sometimes, unexpectedly and without notice, the next day they are gone.
The hardest part about that is going to their home and seeing their life paused. Bills on the table left to be paid and crossword puzzles half finished.


I too have watched the BIG C since episode 1 and will not miss an episode, thank God for DVR! I never thought the season finale would include a daeth since we had just lost the character Lee in the previous episode. So now I have to wait til 2012 to see if Paul is alive or dead. Between now and then I am sure I will think of numerous ways that he could be bought back...or maybe he's not dead at all. Maybe he was having one of those out of body experiences and Cathy's buddies will convince him that he must go back and help Cathy make it to the end and to be there for Adam as he continues to experience loosing his mom. Who knows?? These writers are obviously brilliant so we have no way of knowing what will happen, either way I'm positive as always that it will be humorous, heartwarming and entertaining all wrapped up in one fantastic series.


I disagree that Season 2 was better than Season 1. It seemed that whenever the stories began to lag in Season 2, the scriptwriters resorted to excessive sexual references or profanity, which really detracted from the stories. The characters were not as sharply drawn and the plots were just not as good. One of the worst scenes was the dinner with Dr. Sherman. How ridiculous, and what a waste of Alan Alda's talents. Paul should stay dead. We may not even watch Season 3. Cathy is surely pretty healthy for someone with terminal melanoma.


I'm hoping he's not dead, but had a near-death experience and came back. His role is too important. But, it was definitely a shocker and beautifully executed, as has been said.


@Me Andrea WAS mentioned when Adam was asking Cathy if he could go to the party she stayed it was fine because the marathon was at 8 am and she mentioned that Andrea was with her parents so he should go.


So...... What ever happened with Andrea?... She was not even @ the finish line?? Just cuz she left heart broken on the 21st of Dec did not clarify the relationship between her and Cathy should be permanently over 10 days later...!?!? She was not even mentioned.... Now Paul!!!.... What the.. Gotta say that we kept saying that the last finale could not be topped... Gotta give it to them... Could not stop the tears, puffy eyes in the morning and all! Was a bit disappointed of the little appearance of Marlene, love her and want continue to see more of her in the next years to come....PLEASE!! :D


Great recap...amazing finale! A part of me wants to embrace the beauty of this twist, that Paul is dead and life can change in an instant. But of course another part of me can't fathom that he's gone! In any case, I keep thinking about season one and the pool she was trying to build. From what I remember, the pool is still under construction in the form of a big gaping hole in her backyard. The fact that each episode opens up with her swimming in a pool with everyone looking down on her tells me that the pool has GOT to mean SOMETHING. I think Cathy and Adam (and Paul, if he survives) will ultimately stay in their house, and by the end of spring/start of summer (which will cover all the seasons since the show began, symbolically outlining the seasons of life as well), Cathy will finally have her pool built to enjoy for summer. Whether she actually gets to enjoy it physically or spiritually is a mystery yet to be seen, which is why this show is so fantastic :-)


why is everyone assuming that Paul is dead?? I mean it could be one of those almost-died scenarios you know where he's just in a come or something and he'll come back to life! I sure hope so he's a great actor and its too soon to take him off the show! otherwise amazing show! heartbreaking, warm, funny, real.

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