"The Big C" Taking the Plunge (TV Episode 2010) - Plot Summary Poster

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  • Following Marlene's death, Cathy learns Marlene left her house. At first she's willing to let her daughters have it till she learns what their plans are. Dr. Miller wants her to try a different treatment which is risky. And she learns that Sean and Rebecca are expecting a baby.

  • In one of her more lucid moments before committing suicide, Marlene arranged her unorthodox funeral just the way she wanted it to be. In what her two somewhat estranged daughters, Lorna and Gina, Gina's partner Buttercup, and Cathy believe was one of Marlene's less lucid moments, Marlene legally changed her will to leave her house to Cathy. As the house has some strong family connotations, Cathy doesn't intend to keep the house but give it back to Lorna and Gina. Incidents with Lorna, Gina and Buttercup, and Adam's reaction to Marlene's death lead to Cathy making some decisions about her future, which includes what to do about Marlene's house. Meanwhile, Rebecca passes along some news to Sean, who has to decide what to do about it. And Adam is initially unaware of what an envelope in Cathy's purse means until he takes its contents one step further.



The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • At Marlene's graveside service, her daughter talks about getting a letter from her mom, saying she was worried she'd hurt someone. Marlene arranged the service herself. Cathy wears all white, enjoying the honest service.

    She muses to Paul about her own service, wondering if she should have a band.

    Marlene's daughter says her mom claimed to hate polka, saying "the only way to dance to it makes you look like an a--hole."

    There's polka and a buffet.

    A butler is offering scratch-off lottery tickets among the gravestones.

    Cathy finds Adam off texting. He says he fine, and asks to go to the movies with Mia later. Sean comes, all twitchy in a suit and v-neck. Cathy worries about Adam's non-reaction to the funeral.

    Sean sees Rebecca (Cynthia Nixon) is there and hides behind a gravestone. She tells Cathy she wanted to be there for her. People keep announcing they win on the scratch offs.

    Rebecca spies Sean but he blatantly runs away from her.

    Cathy introduces herself to the daughters, Lorna and Gina, and Gina's wife Buttercup. Cathy tells them their mom talked about them all the time. They bust Cathy on her pleasantry, with Gina saying her mom called her "bull dyke" and Lorna adding her mom called her Jewish husband "the white witch."

    They tell Cathy that Marlene changed her will and left her the house. Cathy's stunned, she knows their dad built it and says it should go to them. "Thank you," Gina says. "We were thinking she was a little confused."

    Back home, Cathy gets her mail -- there's a building permit for an in ground pool. She thanks Marlene to the heavens.

    Cathy meets with the pool guy again, but he tells her he's backed up for nine months. She tells him to wait by the phone.

    Rebecca continues stalking Sean, trying to talk to him. He says he's scared of her and keeps walking, but she gets close enough to smell him -- and promptly pukes in the bushes.

    "You're like the Exorcist -- you're so filled with evil you had to blow it out," he says.

    She announces she's pregnant and it's his. She admits she was lazy about taking the pill because once she was past 40 she figured it wouldn't happen.

    She thinks it's her last shot at a biological child. She's just letting him know and doesn't want or expect anything from him. She walks off.

    Dr. Mauer tells Paul the bee stings had no effect. There's a treatment Dr. Mauer wants her to try. It's very toxic, a lot of side effects. She doesn't want to do it. "I don't want to get sicker trying to get better and just die anyway," she says.

    She thinks there was something kind of beautiful about how Marlene just left.

    Paul agrees they'll wait six months for a clinical trial to open.

    Back home, Cathy finds Thomas the dog back at Marlene's. She tells him she won't force him, he can come when he's ready.

    Cathy brings Lorna and Gina lunch. They're packing up. They throw out a picture of their parents on their wedding day because they both have a copy. Then they tell her they're having the house torn down because it would cost too much to fix up. Cathy's upset and grabs Marlene's gloves before they can toss them.

    Cathy comes out to find Sean on her couch. He announces he's pregnant. He asks what she thinks and she goes crazy, hugging him and jumping for joy.

    But he says he doesn't even know if he'll be a part of the kid's life. So she says he should stay out of it, that Rebecca will do great, buying it designer clothes. It has the proper motivational effect.

    At home, Cathy and Paul sob like crazy on the couch after "Where the Red Fern Grows." Adam is unmoved by the story that ends with two dogs dying.

    Adam asks for money for lunch and Paul says no.

    Cathy goes across the street to find Marlene's tank of fish dumped out on the lawn, leaving the fish to flop to death. Inside, the daughters say they felt bad, but didn't know what else to do with them. They took Thomas to the shelter.

    Cathy pauses for a minute to collect her rage and then tells them to get out. "On behalf of Thomas and myself, get the f--- out of our house!"

    She says maybe their mom didn't give them the house to teach them a lesson or maybe she didn't give it to them because they're just mean. They can take whatever else they want, but then they have to go.

    Cathy comes home with Thomas in tow.

    Paul greets her, saying they should go live in Italy while they wait for the clinical trial. Cathy announces she wants to do the treatment Dr. Mauer recommended.

    Paul doesn't -- he read about it and it sounded awful. Cathy says it was wrong for Marlene to check out early.

    Maybe Marlene didn't feel like she had enough support, but Cathy does. If Adam's not ready to grieve, she's not ready to go. She wants to see Sean's baby and she loves how things are with Paul. She doesn't care what the treatment does to her.

    "I'm going to hang on as long as I can and I'm going out ugly," she says.

    "It will never be hard for me to look at you," Paul says, hugging her.

    Cathy comes home from the grocery store to find Sean dripping wet -- but clean. He's refusing to use a towel because Cathy would have to use energy to clean it.

    He's planning to talk to Rebecca.

    Cathy has something for him. She gives him the keys to Marlene's house.

    He says no, claiming he won't change his whole life for a kid. She dares him not to, then starts to pick up the keys. He takes them, saying he wants to think about it.

    Later, Cathy and Paul sit with Adam, telling him about the treatment she's going to try (after, presumably, telling him for the first time about her cancer). She'll be in the hospital for five days this round. She puts a happy spin on it, talking about lying in bed. She tells Adam she'll look a little weird.

    Adam's totally calm and seems unmoved, saying he hopes she'll be ok. He says he loves her and gives her a hug, then he asks to go to Mia's.

    Cathy gives him flower in a vase to give to Mia. He asks for money again. They say no. He leaves.

    "I guess crying skips a generation," Paul says.

    The next day, Cathy sits with Thomas by the hole in her back yard. Paul comes to take her for her treatment.

    In the waiting room, Dr. Mauer comes and checks on Paul before Cathy's procedure. He reassures him Cathy has good care and he'll be there. Paul apologizes for giving him a hard time, saying he knows he's been really important to her.

    Clean Sean knocks on Rebecca's door. She answers.

    He says they have two options: "Either you can have this baby and leave it on the steps of the firehouse for someone more qualified to raise it, or I can help you f--- it up. But you're not going to raise this baby by yourself and f--- it up alone. If we're going to f--- it up, we're going to f--- it up together."

    He tells her he has a house now.

    He asks what she has to say about that. "You smell good," she tells him.

    In the hospital, Paul sits with Cathy as she gets her drugs. She nods off.

    Sean looks around Marlene's empty house, trying to get comfortable. He lies down on her couch.

    At home, Adam sees his mom's purse and takes a $20 out. He finds an envelope that says "Don't Open til I'm Gone." It's a key to a self storage unit.

    Adam goes there.

    Sean takes a blanket outside to sleep in his yard under the stars.

    Adam opens the storage locker to find a shiny new red convertible and boxes and boxes of wrapped presents with bows on them. He looks at the cards. Each one is for a different birthday and Christmas in the future, or high school graduation or college. There's a picture of him with his mom on the wall. He breaks down crying -- finally.

    Paul holds Cathy's hand in the hospital. She dreams about diving into her pool in her backyard. She sees Marlene dancing the polka. She's happy.

See also

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