The Big C: Joy in the Time of Susan Sarandon

The Big C S03E03: “Bundle of Joy”

Cathy tagged the living room. And that's “tagged” as in "completely defiled the walls with more profanity than I’ve seen in some dive bar restrooms." We get it, Cathy, you’re edgy. You’re a rebel. I think the living room’s new paint job, and the rationale behind it, became even more entertaining when Cathy made Sean some heart-shaped pancakes for Valentine’s Day and he asked her if they were supposed to be “scrotum-shaped pancakes.”

Apparently, it’s perfectly fine to scrawl everyone’s favorite four-letter F-word all over the living room walls, but as soon as someone mentions male anatomy and breakfast food in the same sentence, it’s time to be scandalized.

Paul agonized over his pitiful Twitter following. Cathy surprised him with a Valentine’s Day gift, a weekend trip to a self-help workshop headed by Joy Kleinman, professional cancer survivor. Susan Sarandon guest-starred as the slightly psychotic Kleinman. I loved the monologue about her fabulous red shoes.

Having never attended the sort of seminar that Joy’s program was supposed to emulate, I’m assuming it was a humorous take on the practice, with backpacks full of rocks, potato-sack races, and random dancing (with your bag-o-rocks firmly attached, of course). Paul very quickly embraced the program, and was helped, I’m sure, by Joy telling him that she read and enjoyed his blog. Cathy, however, was having none of it, dejectedly attempted to break into the locked mini-bar in their hotel room.

Back in Minneapolis, awkward non-romance was in the air when Adam blew off Mia to attend a Christian rock show with Jess and Sean and Andrea/Ababu went on a not-date to celebrate “Lonely People Day.” Sean and Andrea are quickly becoming the most delightful part of this season for me; their not-date (and please, please, writers, don’t ever send them on an actual date, it would ruin everything) was twisted and cute, ending with a fake wedding proposal. Sean has such a unique way with words, doesn’t he?

After Cathy convinced Paul to assist in breaking into the mini-bar, the dynamic duo got down to some foreplay and Paul spotted Cathy’s new C tattoo. The ink has already grown on me. It’s important that the C was drawn in red—a scarlet letter, like a more permanent version of Hester Prynne’s. It’s telling, considering Cathy’s past, and the permanence of the ink, the color, and the location is affirmation that Cathy's owning and accepting her past, good and bad.

Cathy implored Paul not to be “provincial” and freak out about it, and quite the opposite happened: He was turned on. An empowered Cathy attended the next session with Joy and ditched her backpack, told Joy her program was stupid and...absolutely delighted the self-help guru, who told Cathy that she finally “got it.” The bag-o-rocks represented past baggage, and Cathy could not move forward until she refused to carry it anymore. Whether or not Cathy has actually let her baggage go is debatable, considering the implications of the new tattoo, but for the time being, she can enjoy this victory.

Now everybody think about a moment of pure joy in their lives!

I was delighted that Cathy’s moment of joy was Adam. It went a long way toward repairing my less-than-enthusiastic view of her relationship with him and I sincerely thought it might have symbolized a turning point for this season...until Cathy revealed to Paul that she wants to have another baby.

That, my friends, is the sound of me repeatedly banging my head against the wall asking “Why? Why? Why?”

What did you think of the episode? How are you feeling about Season 3 so far?

Comments (5)
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I really loved seeing Susan Sarandon, shes magnificent.

Like you, I was also touched to see that Cathys moment of joy was Adam. That scene actually made me cry, because I was reminded of my mother and of how difficult our relationship can be sometimes.....

But on the rest of the episode, I could honestly pass without the "did you burp at my mouth?" line.....
So far I'm really digging the new episodes and am waiting to see how they are going to incorporate Susan Sarandon's character into the fold. Andrea/Ababu and Sean are absolutely my favorites this year (especially enjoying Sean's new career, LOL) don't you dare screw that up for me show!
It's kind of weird--Cathy isn't exactly the greatest mom in the whole world. But it's an interesting choice. I don't think it'll come to fruition. Isn't the show supposed to run four seasons--one each for a season in the final year of Cathy's life? Maybe they discarded that idea, but I don't think so. I'm interested to see where they go with it, in any case.

I loved this episode. Susan Sarandon is so brilliant, and her character is fascinating. I also love how they're keeping the character progression going. Now that Cathy has more time and the show isn't quite as much about whether or not she'll *literally* live, they're immediately finding a new place to go, asking, will she live *metaphorically*. The storytelling was really sloppy in the second season, with Mik and Posie's character thrown into the mix kind of quickly, and Paul's job storyline also felt rushed. Here I feel like they're making up for it, with Sean and Andrea meditating heavily on past events while their plotlines still move forward, so that while everything felt very rushed in season two, their still fleshing it out retroactively.
Where did you read this, about the show only having four seasons? ;)
Hmm, I can't even remember anymore. It might not be true. Still, it sounds like a good idea, doesn't it? The creator has said in multiple interviews they *do* at least base the seasons off of the stages in grief. One, denial. Two, anger. We're at three, bargaining. If that's true, the show can't run more than five.

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