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TV Review: The Big C – “Thin Ice”

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Showtime’s The Big C begins its third season with “Thin Ice.” Cathy (Laura Linney) gets some great news from Dr. Sherman (Alan Alda), in that her tumors have shrunk considerably. But it’s hard to completely give in to her joy when she is worried about Paul’s (Oliver Platt) fragile health, so Cathy starts a second, secret life, going by the name Alexis. She also arranges for Sean (John Benjamin Hickey) to serve as guardian to Adam (Gabriel Basso), should something happen to her and Paul.

It’s quite a relief that The Big C did not kill off Paul. Yes, he is dead briefly, but his recovery is a welcome one for audiences, who don’t want to see Cathy drowning in sorrow. If she loses her positive attitude, she may loose her battle with cancer, too. So Paul is back, as bumbling as ever, and far less concerned with his own mortality than Cathy is.

Which is kind of a bad thing for Cathy. After all, had Paul died, at least she wouldn’t have to worry about him anymore. Instead, not only does she have to concern herself with her caner, and who will take care of Adam, and Sean’s lack of heat in his house, but also Paul, who is self-destructive. It’s a lot for anyone to handle, and so it isn’t a big surprise that she needs some outlet away from all of these headaches. In fact, the only surprise is that it’s taken her so long to come to that realization.

But Cathy’s new persona gets her into trouble. While hanging out at a bar, she signs up for a broom ball team. Practicing at home on her filled-in pool hole, she tumbles through the ice and almost drowns. Is this a sign to Cathy that she needs to back out of her fantasy? Maybe find some healthier, less stealthy way to relax and escape from her responsibilities? One where a family member can watch over her?

Cathy’s fall also awakens a new idea about death to her family. Prior to this, they worry about cancer and bad hearts. But Cathy’s brush with dying in “Thin Ice” shows that accidents happen, and one’s life can end at any time. Hopefully this will sober Paul up a bit, and help him to take his situation more seriously.

Sean has been maturing a lot, and this continues in “Thin Ice.” Still upset at losing the baby and Rebecca (Cynthia Nixon) leaving him, he takes his role as guardian to Adam very seriously. Even though Adam is nearly grown, and Cathy and Paul are still kicking, Sean wants to be a caring adult to his nephew. It’s gratifying to see this change in him, and a sort of stability suits the formerly homeless man.

Also, Andrea (Gabourey Sidibe) returns home from Africa, clad in ritual garb and wanting to go by a new tribal name. Likely, this is more a way to cope with her betrayal by Myk (Boyd Holbrook) than a true commitment to heritage, and will not last long. But whatever helps Andrea and makes her feel better is certainly worth doing.

Watch The Big C Sundays at 9:30 p.m. ET on Showtime.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
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