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September 3, 2015

'The Big C' Season 1, Episode 13 (Season Finale) Recap

by Laura Prudom, posted Nov 16th 2010 6:30AM
['The Big C' - 'Taking the Plunge']

It's been a tumultuous 13 episodes, full of heartbreak, hilarity and ridiculously hot guest stars (Idris Elba and Liam Neeson? What did we do to deserve this?), but over the course of the past few months, 'The Big C' has quietly, confidently developed into one of the most satisfying -- and undeniably addictive -- new shows of the year. Our only problem now is surviving the break between seasons.

So much has happened in the past two episodes (the space of a few days in the show) that has inexorably changed the dynamic of the show going forward, and it's edifying to see the storytelling hitting its stride. In hindsight, many of the earlier episodes seemed slow because the characters were still in the dark as to Cathy's condition, but her honesty has invigorated the plotting, giving it purpose and a sense of urgency as Cathy swings between letting go gracefully and refusing to go down without a fight.

The loss of Marlene (Phyllis Somerville) last week was a crushing blow, not just to Cathy but to the audience as well, since the quirky neighbor had quickly become the heart of the show. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who was in tears by the end of the episode, watching Marlene joyfully dancing in the grass as a blissful Cathy (who was practically glowing with happiness and health) surfaced from the water of her dream pool.

Marlene did promise Cathy in her suicide note that she'd be waiting for her in the end, but we're certainly not ready to see Cathy's vision of the afterlife quite yet (since the show has thankfully been renewed for a second season).

Speaking of tearjerkers ... after Cathy and Paul had spent so much effort trying to coax some semblance of human emotion out of the stoic (typical teenager) Adam, with sad movies and Marlene's funeral, we were relieved to see him finally break down upon discovering Cathy's storage locker of birthday, Christmas and graduation gifts -- not least of all because we were bawling around the same time Adam started.

Throughout the season, Adam has been fairly insufferable, but he's also a typical kid, often subject to his mother's unpredictable and inexplicable actions. From leaving mortifying voicemails to the object of his affections to forcibly preventing him from going to soccer camp, so we can't really blame the boy for thinking that his mom had completely lost her mind.

When finally faced with her diagnosis, Adam seemed unmoved, either through shock or denial. And while Cathy's condition remained an abstract idea -- she still seemed healthy and as nutty as she's probably always been -- it was easy for Adam to ignore the severity of the situation. But when faced with a lifetime's worth of gifts, signifying milestones that Cathy knew she would miss, it suddenly became impossible for Adam to deny the immediate reality of his mother's disease, one that is terrifying, no matter how old you are.

Adam's realization that his mother wouldn't be around forever -- and possibly wouldn't even be around for another year -- was one of the most poignant and affecting moments in an already powerful show, and one that will stay with me (and hopefully Emmy voters) for a long time to come.

Sean, meanwhile, continued to have the best lines of the season, though he's now the only one in Cathy's immediate family who doesn't know about her condition. Judging by the way he reacted to her cancer fake-out earlier in the year, though, we're imagining that eventual conversation is going to be every bit as powerful as Adam's revelatory moment in this week's episode.

For now, though, he has to worry about f*cking up a baby with Rebecca -- it's either going to be the most dysfunctional child in the world, or the most enlightened. Bets on it being called Cathy if it's a girl?

Since it's going to be a long wait until Season 2, why don't you check out the recent interview TV Squad's Maggie Furlong conducted with the man behind Sean's unwashed facade, John Benjamin Hickey, for his predictions for next season? We'd also love to hear your thoughts on the finale -- what was your favorite moment?

Follow Laura on Twitter @LauinLA.

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I love this programme, I cried and cried when Adam broke down. Roll on Series 2.

May 02 2011 at 2:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Actually I would say that the scene where Adam breaks down and cries ( like a baby - the only crying that's worth doing by the way, and yes, he does do it very well ) is one of the very few which is true to life and for that reason powerful and moving.
I have watched the series throughout hoping that at some point it would move me and involve me in ways similar to Six Feet Under - but it's never come close.
[ Or put another way : the Adam Crying Scene is a bit too little, too late. ]

I think the reason is that most of the characters most of the time are just unbelievable. Particularly Cathy - the woman supposedly with advanced cancer who never looks less than ravishingly beautiful and as if she's just stepped off the front page of a magazine; and who also keeps beaming that ludicrous smile whatever comes her way.
And who inexplicably threw out of the house this perfect husband type ; and whose concept of relating to her teenage son is to invent ways to mortify him with embarrassment : I mean I do understand the concept of artistic licence and that drama cannot just be a verbatim reproduction of 'life' but still - there has to be some point at which the characters ( certainly the main ones ) have a truth which resonates.
None of that applies to Cathy.
NO Mom has ever, or would ever, haul a son off a bus going to summer camp in front of all his pals telling him he was going to spend summer with her in preference to with them - it never has happened and never would or will - just totally unbelievable.
I have no doubt there is a great series to be made about someone who gets a cancer diagnosis in early or mid-life - but the Big C unfortunately isn't it.

April 28 2011 at 10:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Carole Carey

My daughter and I just finished watching the last episode of The Big C. We had them all taped and have watched 2-3 episodes late at night, together, until tonight, four days before Thanksgiving. I was looking for the song title to the Finale when I stumbled upon this site. Gotta leave my two cents.

I identified with Cathy as I, too, have fought the Big C (breast cancer) and at the same time had an affair. I had been married 28 years to my college sweetheart. My favorite scene outside the obvious tear-jerking ones at the end, was when she's telling her husband all the reasons she has for fighting the cancer, and the one that rang so true to me was when she said, "And I love the new us." Earlier she'd slipped into her husband's arms as he slumbered on 'his' new couch, and just sighed as if she'd come home to a place she had forgotten was so comfortable.

I've a survivor of five years going on six, our marriage survived my cheating heart, and I'm going to be a first-time grandmother when my son and his wife have a baby together the end of March '12. I'm living with Parkinson's (since age 30) and just found out two months ago that now I've got the family gift of diabetes. I doubt I'd find the strength to end it all like Marlene did, however. Some would call it the easy way out, but I for one, would never be able to pull the trigger.

Second favorite scene is when Cathy sends the three wicked dots home - "Get the &%*^ out!" We were cheering her on!

Third favorite is when the husband comes to take Cathy to the hospital and seeing her sitting by the edge of her 'pool hole' and says, in reference to Adam, "I guess crying must skip a generation."

Fourth fav is watching mom and dad bawling their heads off to the movie of my all-time favorite YA novel, "Where the Red Fern Grows" by Wilson Rawls. Son Adam, sitting between them, remains unmoved by it all. I remember having that abstract feeling when my f-i-l announced he had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in 1985. "I'm sure you'll beat this," we had both assuredly told him, and he fought it for less than a year.

They call me Momma Cee (soon to be Grandmama Cee.)

November 23 2010 at 2:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Carole Carey's comment
Carole Carey

I meant my d-i-l is due March of 2011, NOT '12!(oops - she's not an elephant that gestate over a year...)

November 24 2010 at 2:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ron B.

James, great description of Adam & the "storage room discovery." One additional point...Cathy always has a good sense of humor...When Adam read the card on the Mustang, Cathy first wrote Happy 18th Birthday. Then she crossed out the 18 and put in 30.....Only a loving mom could worry about handing over the keys to a Mustang convertible.....

November 21 2010 at 3:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I honestly thought i'd never get into a show like this. I'm more of the Dexter type and like shows with alot of comedy and action. But this show is SOOOO different, i guess i can kind-of relate because i was at a point where i was about to die one time in my life.

I just love the show so much, terrific acting, brillantly written. It just takes your breath away and feels your soul with emotion. I'm not the emotional "cry on every sad scene" type of person. But i shed a tear when i seen her soon looking at all the future birthday gifts and christmas gifts his mother gotten him in advance. That is so sad, brings tears to my eyes.

Of course she's eventually going to beat this thing, i wouldn't want to see 3 - 4 seasons of her dealing with cancer, i think we can all agree with that.

November 17 2010 at 1:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Please help! I am visually impaired and I was hoping someone could please give me a more detailed description of the last episode when the song is playing. I'm most interested in the scene with Adam. I couldn't even see the damn thing and I was still crying. That song was very moving. What kind of presents were in the storage and does anyone know what the cards said? I lost my Mom at his age and I identify with him alot. One last thing if anyone knows the song please let me know. Hope to hear from someone. Thanks

November 16 2010 at 8:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to jamie's comment

The red car Cathy bought earlier in the season was in the storage unit with a "Happy 30th Birthday Adam" card surrounded by smaller gift wrapped boxes. It did not show what the boxed presents were, since Adam kept them wrapped, but there were gift tags describing when to open them, such as Christmas 2015, and Congrats on Graduating High School Adam. There was a large photo of Cathy & Adam on the wall of the storage unit above the presents.

November 16 2010 at 10:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am more than happy to describe the "storage room" scene to our friend Jamie who is visually inpaired. I watched it like 3 times in a row because I was so moved and emotional and cried about the same time Adam did. When Adam lifts the door to the storage room he see's a room full of mostly wrapped gifts. There are a few gifts that couldn't be wrapped that we like the brand new Mustang convertible, a pair of skiis, some golf clubs and a bicycle. There are so many gifts that they even filled the inside of the Mustang. On the back wall he sees a framed photo of Adam and his Mom together. At this point he has a puzzled look on his face wondering what are all of these gifts for. He then reaches for the card on the windshield of the car and it says " Happy 30th Birthday Adam, Love mom" He then reaches for another gift and the card says "Happy 19th Birthday, Love Mom", another gift says Happy 26th Birthday". The next box he looks at says "2012 Merry Christmas Adam!, and another one says 2015 Merry Christmas, Love Mom". This is when it really had me bawling because the next 2 gifts signify milestones that she might miss in his life. The cards on these gifts say " Congratulations To My High School Graduate xxMom" and "For Adam on your College Graduation, Love Mom". It is at this moment we see a close-up of Adam and he starts to cry. He then looks up at the photo on the wall of him and his Mom and slowly sits on the ground and burys his hands over his eyes while he burst into full tears. He looks up again at all of the items in the room and he can't bear to look at them any longer so he covers his face again and continues crying. The realization that his Mom may not be around for significant moments is his life is now realized.
The song that is playing during this scene is entitled 'Lullaby/Buttons" by Sia.

November 17 2010 at 6:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The song was Lullaby by Sia. The Big C is currently the best show on TV. Nothing can top it. The emotion, even in episodes in which it's kept to a minimum, is so powerful. The actor who plays Adam should get nominated for an Emmy because when he starter crying everyone started to.

November 16 2010 at 4:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What was the last song played during the Big C's final episode? I'd love to buy it for my nano. Great show!

November 16 2010 at 3:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Help? Who was the female artist and song name in the last episode (#13) near the end when the son discovers the storage unit??? Been Lookin everywhere?????

November 16 2010 at 3:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Ava's comment

The song at the end of the show is "Lullabye" by Sia - its off a terrific album, too! PERFECT background music for one of the most powerful scenes of a TV show!

November 16 2010 at 7:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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