Big C, The – Season 3
This review considers that you have watched Season 2 because it sets up the beginning of Season 3.
When Season 2 began, Cathy (Linney) gained the ability of being able to see dead people. This came into play during the final scene when Cathy ran a marathon to honor her deceased cancer buddy Lee and made it to the finish line with everyone there.
Cathy: Everybody came!
Adam: Yeah, except dad’s not here yet.
With Season 2 ending in such a huge cliffhanger, Showtime teased the audience with the idea of a third season without Paul (Platt) among the living (but still there as a ghost), which was something that made want to watch The Big C badly just to see how Cathy and co. would deal with such a sad event. The show had proven itself as a watchable dramedy with a great cast and Season 3 includes Susan Sarandon, Allison Janney and Victor Garber among the guest stars. With “fear less” as its tagline, you would think that Season 3 could be fun.
3 minutes into Season 3, however, Paul is alive (albeit with a heart device installed) and kicking.
The choice of making Paul a living character is downright anticlimactic and it’s a big “jumping the shark” move. While it would have been painful for cancer-ridden Cathy and Adam (Basso) to live without him, The Big C wasn’t afraid of killing off characters that were very important to Cathy during the past seasons. Keeping Paul alive not only goes against that, but it puts the viewers (as well as Adam) in the position of watching two characters die, lessens Cathy’s cancer storyline (as well as the ongoing grief) and cheapens the value of the powerful Season 2 finale.
Speaking of Cathy’s cancer, Season 3 is all about remission: her tumors have decreased and she’s off to living the life again. The problem with the remission theme is that it made Season 3 pretty boring to watch despite Cathy develoving a new alter ego called Alexis, who drinks, flirts and parties (yet not so well explored). As if Paul being alive wasn’t bad enough, the writing on Season 3 made Cathy very unlikeable to the point where she almost matches Nancy Botwin (Weeds) in the unlikeability scale. Despite Laura Linney’s acting and delivery of lines, Cathy still came across as a very selfish and unlikeable character that was even worse than Platt’s Paul on Season 1, and that’s saying something. Season 3 had Cathy doing a lot of unlikeable and unfunny things, but the worst offender was that scene in which she derails Adam’s religious reunion (he turned to religion) for selfish reasons and undercuts the value of the show’s most powerful scene (Adam finding out about his mom’s cancer during the Season 1 finale).
Regarding the supporting characters, Adam deals with his newfound devotion to religion, Paul capitalizes on his survival experience and becomes a blogger, who later turns into a motivational speaker triggered by Susan Sarandon’s Joy (who deserved better), a cancer survivor who would annoy Cathy pretty badly. Meanwhile, Sean (Hickey) runs a gay sex phone line and Andrea (Sidibe, upgraded to series regular), now known as Ababou, does all to showcase her African roots. Only Hickey’s Sean remains likeable and funny to watch until the season finale, while Andrea got the cartoon character treatment, Adam’s storyline was fairly consistent while still keeping him as a douchebag and Platt’s Paul was hit and miss during this season.
The Big C gains a breath of fresh air near the end of the season when everyone goes to Puerto Rico thanks to Paul’s new gig and had two strong scenes in the penultimate episode. One of them was the argument between Cathy and Paul and the other one was seeing Cathy swiming in the ocean towards somewhere unknown, which mirrors her cancer’s fate and should have signalled the end of the season because Cathy also learns that her remission phase has ended. However, the season finale manages to destroy Andrea’s Ababou storyline with a single line, made Adam and Cathy’s storylines feel redundant and made Sean look like a big jerk.
Overall, Season 3 sucked. But I’ll still watch Season 4 — premiering on April 29, 2013 and lasting 4 1-hour episodes — because it’s the end of the show.