'The Big C' recap: Camel Toe & All

laura-linney-the-big-c-320.jpgOn "The Big C," homeless Sean is scared of the dentist, so he throws around a bunch of self-righteous claptrap and spends the entire day trying to get surgery on the cheap in weird ways: After refusing Cathy's offer of free dental work, he hands a pair of pliers to her son Adam, and when that goes poorly, he sets off to goad her husband Paul into punching him, which does the job.

Adam gets a PSP or something from his dad, which Cathy immediately takes away because her mission this week is for him to get a job. He tries to steal a replacement from Walmart, and ends up with bacon saved by neighbor Marlene, who blackmails him into doing manual labor around her house.

Paul is back playing rugby despite his infirmity, and flirting with the idea of boning "Rugby Slut," a.k.a. Tina, a groupie from the old days who tries her best to Mean Girl Cathy and gets no traction at all. Because Cathy Jamison is having a very great, very drunk day:

She cashes in her 401K for roughly half its eventual worth, takes a cheap shot at Suze Orman, bites a strange man's breakfast pastry, buys a convertible and pricey champagne, takes her oncologist to lunch, liberates a live lobster, and eventually/drunkenly accompanies Dr. M to an appointment with his realtor, Melinda Mickens, where they pretend to be a young hot couple. In the end, Cathy and the doctor are heartbreaking as usual. She reiterates her desire to fix the million wrong things with Adam, locks the cute new car in a storage unit for him 15 years hence, and walks home in the rain, swinging her purse.

As usual, Sean is a delight and the many thoughts sliding across Cathy's face -- from totally compassionate to hilariously judgmental -- are a joy to watch. Maybe a little thin on plot -- and heavier on wistful meaningness than we've gotten used to -- but all in all a fun little outing. Very down with this theme of Cathy trying various coping strategies/clichés and eventually realizing how they are bullshit, because it's hilarious and instructive and relatable and a story that we're going to have to keep telling each other. But in this case it's tough, because eventually she's going to run out of tricks, and it's getting harder to not think about that.

Next week: Idris Elba heatin' up the joint, depilatory adventures, teen masturbation and -- God willing -- the return of Andrea.

Photo credit: Showtime