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+.


Who needs dialogue with an actor like Oliver Platt? His facial expressions, his heavy sigh, the stillness -- yet beseeching look -- in his eyes ... a simply amazing final scene.


This season finale shocked and devastated me. Wow, impeccably acted. In a sense we should've seen it coming - labored breathing in the office, doing cocaine in general is a health risk - but just could never fathom that 1)Paul would die 2) that anyone else would die since Cathy already lost Lee. Sadly, the blindside is so true to life. It takes balls to go there on the writers' and actors' part and as a loyal viewer from the start it will be interesting to see how this develops in a comedy that is ultimately about such a serious subject.


Your recap is the best I've read yet... While I understand that people want Paul's character to return, I am hoping that season 3 will allow us to see how Cathy, Adam, et al react and cope with his sudden departure. His heart wrenching (literally) monologue in the insurance office made my eyes misty. When Cathy reached the finish line, I bawled. In fact, I haven't bawled that much watching a show since Adam's discovery of the storage unit his mom was using to stash gifts, in anticipation of what stage 4 means to so many. Kudos to the writers for giving me a reason to step outside my bubble, in a time that is so economically stressful, to once again see how short life it can change at any moment and the importance of living life without regret, with passion, and with love. (and to think I used to just read for that.)


I love this show and I also have been watching this since day 1. When the scene unfolded and Cathy saw Marlene and Lee I understood where we were going, BUT I didn't see Paul joining "them". Sure he was pissed at the insurance company and he had labored breathing, but when I realized he was dead, I burst out crying and I stunned myself and made my husband run from the other room to see what happened to me. I thought of my long marriage to my husband and all we have been through in that nano second. It was compelling. It took me long hours to relax and calm down enough to go to bed. No show has made me that emotional before.


Do any of you watch "Ghost Whisperer?" Maybe Paul is not dead...maybe they revive him...maybe he was having an out of body/near death experience.....hopefully he will be back next season either alive again, or in the same way we see Marlene and Lee...


I have been watching this show from day one. I too have cancer and can relate to this whole thing. I can wait for Monday's to come to see what happens next. Cathy and her family have been fighting for a while up and down but they still stayed together! But i ask why did they have to kill the husband paul??????????????? Please bring him back!!!! Make the other two send him back. He is a big part of this show two and you are going to kill the whole show!!!!!!!but oh yea thats why you do you destroy everything that is good!!!!!! Please rethink it for next season.!!!!!!! Thanks


Wow, they completely blindsided me. I should have seen it coming, expected Paul to have a heart attack or something, but not DIE! I have not cried like that since The End of Lost. I love The Big C, but it is the most unfunny comedy I have ever watched.


Love your article that Big C is fantastic! I totally BOOOHOOOed at the finish line. Paul is such a lovable character it totally broke my heart.


Koodos to Showtime and the writers/producers for creating and keeping a terrific show on the air. The unexpected turn in story line will keep me, and others, tuned in for yet another season - as if Laura Linney's acting wouldn't.
Way to go The Big C people for having guts to not conform to typical TV standards.

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