The Big C aired its season finale last night, and if you thought it couldn't get much more emotional than Marlene (Phyllis Somerville) offing herself without even giving Cathy (Laura Linney) a chance to say good-bye, well, you obviously don't know this show that well! My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture is not ashamed to say we cried. Take that, fourth grade Mean Girl who called me a robot for not crying during Bambi in school assembly!
Uh...anyway, in the vein of full disclosure, it wasn't the gentle tear slipping down a cheek crying, either: it was the sloppy, heaving, streaming, wild hair, leaves-you-a-hot-mess kind. There's a reason I watch this show in the dark, with a bag of Dove dark chocolate squares on my lap, after all!
But for those reasons, the episode hit me that much harder. Adam (Gabriel Basso) finally found out the truth about his mom and was saddled with the weight of potentially having to care for her when she came home. All right after dealing with the death of someone who was becoming a friend, even if still somewhat at a distance. For twelve episodes and an additional twenty-something minutes, he was the typical, somewhat bratty, teenager: he didn't care about much other than his friends, girls, and getting money so he could go out with his friends and girls. He kept all of his emotions within, and he even seemed to be somewhat in denial; he assumed that everything would always be okay because everything always was. He was a middle class kid living with parents who actually split up and then got back together. Nothing too terrible would befall him.
Until perhaps it was too late.
If Showtime hadn't picked The Big C up for a second season, last night's finale would have made the perfect series ender. The moment when Cathy closes her eyes and we then see her finally jumping into the pool for which she has so longed, greeted by a dancing and youthful Marlene was poignant and freeing in many ways. Viewers will get out of it whatever they put in. If it was the end of the series, to me it would have meant that Cathy had passed away on the table; the procedure that was supposed to cure her cancer had ended up killing her faster than the disease even could. A thought-provoking, if not somewhat controversial, way to go out.
But even more than that, seeing Adam open that storage space's metal gate and marvel in all of the material possessions that were meant for him was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. As an audience we realize that all along, Cathy has been adding to it, planning for a future she knows will never be hers. And now it is time for Adam to understand and deal with, if not accept, all of that. It's a heavy load for a teenager, and watching him lose it, we get our first real glimpse of hope for him. He finally understands the gravity of the situation and realizes none of the stuff really even matters.
The show thus far has very much been about Cathy coming to terms with her diagnosis, grieving for herself (in her own ways), and deciding how she wants to move on. But she didn't allow her family to take the journey with her from the beginning, so they are just trying to catch up now. And after seeing Adam finally break down but still do it all alone, I can't wait to see how he moves forward, if he confides in anyone, and how ultimately, everyone comes together.
Season two can't come fast enough!