Would it be totally inappropriate of me to suggest that Oliver Platt deserves an Emmy nomination for this season of The Big C? He was very good last season, even when the show wasn’t as good as he was, but this season I’m starting to see Paul as a more nuanced, believable character and tonight I think Platt stole the episode.
It was an episode about how relationships aren’t always what they appear on the surface. At the doctor’s office, Cathy’s told that she has high blood pressure, so she follows Lee’s advice to try acupuncture. As Lee enters the room to check on Cathy during her appointment, the acupuncturist notices that Cathy’s blood pressure goes down and declares the two of them symbiotic soul mates.
Back at home, Cathy mocks the idea of soul mates (we saw the elusive Sarcastic Cathy), declaring that Paul isn’t hers because they don’t exist. Paul’s not on-board yet with the idea of liking Lee, so he asks “You guys are best friends now?” when he comes home from work, crabby because he threw out his back trying to help get a TV for a former colleague (the dismayed look on Platt’s face as he hugged his old co-worker was just one of Platt’s great little moments in the episode. I also loved the sarcastic scrunched up look on his face when Cathy tells him Lee is her "mole-mate." Platt’s adorable, basically.)
Lee tells Paul that not only is he gay but Paul’s his type: he’s a bear-chaser. “Does that make you uncomfortable?” Lee asks. “No. Yes. I don’t know,” Paul says. Enticed, however, by the prospect of cheap beer, Paul agrees to accompany Cathy and Lee to the local bear bar. Far from being squicked out, Paul is enchanted by a world in which he’s the physical ideal. “Look! It’s me making out with myself!” he exclaims. I loved Paul’s childlike thrill when the guys checked him out. I wonder how believable Paul’s attitude would be with another actor portraying him, but Platt has this innocence to him that made me believe it and like it. Not every straight Midwest married guy would feel comfortable admitting that he finds it sexy that a dude can pick up and have sex with another dude in a bar. My only problem with the scene was when Paul gets his back adjusted by the guy in the chaps and he yelled “Is it in?” when lifted up from behind. That was a little much, but overall I enjoyed the sequence. “You are a little bit hard to figure out, but you’re fun,” he tells Lee, which was a wonderfully honest, plainly-written line that I really liked.
So, Cathy knows Lee’s gay but still doesn’t mind letting him turn her on. Later that night they chat on the phone (they really are best friends now, huh?) while she’s in the tub. He attempts to lead her in a meditation exercise but she takes that as her cue to masturbate to the sound of his voice saying “In, out, in, out” (sorry guys, but saying that to a woman does not typically bring her to ecstasy.) After she and Lee hang up, Cathy discovers Marlene (who’s been away for a long time!) in her tub. They discuss various connections between people until Marlene advises Cathy to get out of the tub, since her hands are pruning. I loved this next scene: Paul enters with a candle, to brighten up Cathy’s tub experience, to find his wife smiling with her eyes wet: while looking at her hands she discovers that one of her fingernails has fallen off, which is a sign that her treatment is working so far. “Bear hug!” Paul proclaims.
This episode is an example of why Cathy and Paul need to be together. Their characters are so much better when they act as a team and when they’re friends, not just because I like Cathy and want her to be happy, but also because Laura Linney and Oliver Platt have a much enjoyable chemistry when they’re playing happy instead of angry.
Not too much else happened tonight with the other characters. Adam sulks over Mia dumping him while Sean, always with the straight-talk, tells him to get his head out of his ass and stop treating everyone else around him like shit. And Andrea and Myk go on their first date and have their first kiss, which was adorable, although I see trouble on the horizon in the form of a giant TV in Myk’s trunk.
—Cathy’s acupuncture room looks eerily like the place I had acupuncture a few times. Is there a rule they need to be decorated with wicker? And Lee is right: acupuncture is “A really expensive nap.”
—“I’m a dyke! With awesome new friends!”
—Do we think there will be future semi-erotic encounters between Cathy and Lee or that was it?
—Okay, we got more Marlene…now where’s Thomas?