I’ve been complaining for a while now about how Sean’s character on The Big C is one of the show’s greater weaknesses, but it seems tonight that (possibly) the writers are slowly working their way towards giving him greater depth and pathos. Who would have thought that sane Sean would (maybe) be more interesting and complex than crazy Sean?
I think part of the reason is that as written, off-his-meds Sean didn’t come off as particularly complicated or unbalanced—just unpleasant, with a bit of a caricature of an old hippie thrown it. Aside from familial bonds, it was never clear why Cathy stuck so loyally by his side, or why anybody even wanted to sleep with him.
Tonight though, Sean explores life on meds but without the “Gee, everything is swell!” tone we got last week. More of his mental anguish is revealed, even if the scenario itself was a little unbelievable. With Rebecca out of town, Sean attempts to straighten up the house and his life, making Marlene’s spooky old home more appealing to trick-or-treaters on Halloween. But then he hears a thumping in the attic.
“It’s a bird,” I thought to myself, but Sean is convinced the thumping is a figment of his imagination. He asks Andrea for some help, but she, for some reason, doesn’t take the common sense route either—she makes him think the noise possibly Marlene’s ghost. Of course, the “ghost” ends up being a bird (Harry Potter’s white owl, in fact). I was a little frustrated by how silly it was that Sean didn’t just check the attic right away, but I liked the scene of him begging Marlene for his sanity—it reminded me a bit of Robin Williams begging the red knight in The Fisher King.
It being Halloween and all, there were other horrors in store for Cathy’s family. Like fetal-pig-dissection day for Adam at school. Meanwhile, excited to start her clinical trial, Cathy sends Paul to the office to tend to some work matters. However, she discovers she needs him to help her sort through the mire of insurance just as he learns that he’s being laid off. Perhaps most frustratingly, Cathy meets a jackass at the clinic who likes messing with her (Hugh Dancy). He pretends that she hits him with her car in the parking lot and then riles her up by telling her to relax, man, and be cool. It’s just cancer! I hate characters like that. Dancy is signed up to have a multi-episode arc on the show: I hope he turns out to be more than Cool Deep Buddhist Cancer Guy, because I’m afraid to say that that’ll mean I’ll hope his character dies.
—Things continue to spiral downward for Adam at school, this time with him getting in trouble for fighting and being a jerk to the girl he slept with. Where’s this all going to lead for him?
—"The next time you fire someone on Halloween, you might want to take off your pointy fucking ears first.”
—I liked Oliver Platt’s big-fat-mollified-baby-coming-down-from-a-temper-tantrum expression as he opened his mini Butterfinger.