'The Big C' recap: Squeeze Out A Smile

laura-linney-the-big-c-320.jpgOn "The Big C": While the show dexterously and busily deconstructs its own premise -- at just the right time -- Cathy's too busy realizing she has cut herself off from anyone who could possibly enjoy her company. Husband's gone, kid Adam is just getting angrier, Precious is weirded out by her emotional needs, even the awesome brother is busy with his horrible Prius girlfriend. So she drives a tandem bicycle around, mostly on her own, plans a sure-to-be disastrous dinner party, and wanders into a cancer support group.

At which point the whole show flips over beautifully, as Cathy realizes the whole Getting Her Groove Back trip is worse than unhealthy: It's a total cliché. Hounded by fellow patients and Thomas the Teleporting Dog, goaded by Adam's easy friendship with Precious and the fact that even her crazy homeless brother can maintain a relationship, and struck with fresh pain by Oliver Platt's latest protestations of love, Cathy finally stops moving... Just long enough to tell off the support group for pretending cancer doesn't suck in every way possible.

Back home, Thomas -- who has managed to find her in every scene and every location throughout the episode -- ends up behind the van and thence in emergency care. Marlene appears (after a fistfight with Precious that is both awesome and racist) and immediately puts her finger on the cause of Thomas's obsession with Cathy: He's a smeller of cancer, of course. Relaxing with mai tai's on a fanciful indoor beach created by the wacky husband, Cathy and the old bitch finally reach a détente: They may not be friends, but they're certainly the only People either of them has really got.

Once again, the show defies logic in a soft and likeable way ...

Photo credit: Showtime