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.
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.