"The Big C" The Darkest Day (TV Episode 2011) - Plot Summary Poster

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  • Cathy, Paul and Adam are getting ready to head to Italy for the Christmas holidays using Paul's cut from the electronics store thefts. They still haven't found Sean, but they feel they need to focus on themselves as a family. They are also leaving behind Andrea who is in engaged bliss to Mykail, with who she will spend the holidays. Owen tells Paul about the imbalance in store inventory, which leads to a revelation from Mykail which could affect his relationship with Andrea. Adam spends time with Poppy before he leaves. But he also finds out some information about Poppy's reality, which ultimately makes him understand why she acts the way she does. And Dr. Sherman asks Cathy to be "show and tell" to one of his classes. She tries to make her reality and the students' reality a little closer together. And just before the Jamisons are ready to head to the airport, Cathy receives a telephone call from Lee, who has an important pre-Christmas request from her.



The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Cathy gets examined by Dr. Sherman, who asks her to come speak to one of his med student classes, to offer a patient's perspective. He hasn't heard from Lee, who he doesn't immediately remember.

    Back home, Cathy hands out early Christmas presents. She gives Adam "The Outsiders". Paul steals it for plane reading. There's a stack of presents left over for Sean, "when he gets back."

    Adam tries to prep for Italy by drinking red wine, but Cathy snatches it. She gives Andrea a portfolio for fashion school. She's not going to Italy, staying home to spend Christmas with her fiancé.

    Cathy tries calling Lee. She's pretty sure they're still not speaking, but tells him she has something for him if he calls her back.

    She finds Andrea upstairs making her own wedding dress. Cathy doesn't understand the rush to marry. "Girls graduate with babies and meth addictions, I can graduate with a hot husband," Andrea says. She says her parents are fine with it -- they got married after dating six weeks. They're planning a March wedding.

    Paul preps for a shift at Max Buy by doing a bump of coke in the bathroom. His manager Owen comes in to mention inventory shows stuff is missing. He thinks it's one of the foreigners. Paul promises to keep his eyes open.

    Paul goes to tell Mik, freaking out. Mik is worried about getting arrested, he confesses his student visa ran out in the summer and he's here illegally. Paul asks if he's marrying Andrea because he needs a green card. He yells at Mik, telling Mik to tell Andrea the truth or he will.

    Adam hangs out with Poppy. She's spending Christmas alone because her dad is too sick. She might go to the Nutcracker alone. Adam suggests she come to Italy with them.

    In front of Dr. Sherman's class, Cathy tries to crack a joke. "Not everybody gets to look inside my chest on the first date," she says. They stare at her blankly then start asking her strictly-medical questions.

    The students stare at their laptops and type furiously. Finally, one asks "As a cancer patient, what advice would you give young doctors?" She walks over and shuts his laptop. She tells them to look at their patients and speak in ways they can understand and not to look scared when their patients do. Cathy tells them to spend more than two minutes with patients and remember their names. She scolds Sherman for not remembering Lee.

    He tries to tell her to be more optimistic, but she shuts him down, saying they also shouldn't tell patients how to feel. They're dying, that's how they feel.

    Andrea walks down the hall after class and finds Mik waiting for her. He says he has something to tell her then professes his love, saying he doesn't want to wait to get married. He suggests they elope tomorrow. "What's your rush, anyway? You pregnant or something?" she asks.

    He suggests the Mall of America chapel, by the food court. She says she'll think about it.

    At home, Cathy looks at the cold weather and worries about Sean.

    Adam asks if Poppy can come to Italy. Cathy is again puzzled by his relationship with the 38 year old.

    Adam goes to the sandwich shop where Poppy said she works and asks for her. The manager says he fired her a year ago, a year after her dad died and she took too much time off.

    Back home, Cathy gets a call from Lee. He asks her to come over and she hops to. We see his end of the call, he's sitting ashen in bed, clearly not doing well.

    Paul worries they'll have time to get to the airport. Cathy goes.

    She gets there and sees he's dying. She wants to call someone. "I did call someone," he says, looking at her.

    Andrea walks downstairs in her wedding dress and runs into Paul. He asks if she talked to Mik. Paul takes a deep breath and tells her Mik is only marrying her to get a green card. She whacks him with her bouquet and says she doesn't believe him, so he tells her to call Mik. She gets as far as "Paul's here and he's saying..." when Mik swears and hangs up on her. She turns and screams at Paul, saying he ruined everything. Then she storms out.

    Cathy begs Lee to let him take her to the hospital. "This is the way I want to go. I'm excited, it's a new adventure," he croaks. He says he wanted to say good bye to his soul mate and forbids her from crying. He demands his gift, saying it's his dying wish. She opens it for him. It's a runner's watch. "For my marathon?" he asks. "Awkward." They laugh through tears.

    Cathy's phone rings and she goes in the hall to answer. Paul tells her it's not her job to watch him die. He yells at her, saying they're her family. She tells him if the trip matters so much, they should go without her.

    Paul gets off the phone, cursing. Then he does another bump of cocaine.

    Poppy comes over. Adam tells her he went to her sandwich shop. She tells him she didn't mean to lie, but for her it's like her dad is dying every day. She says bereavement groups bummed her out and Adam seemed like he got it. He tells her she's messed up. She says when his mom goes she'll go so fast it'll make his head spin, and she hopes she has a friend who can let him be messed up, because he'll need it. She wishes him Merry Christmas and leaves.

    Adam opens the present he gave her, it's a kaleidoscope.

    Cathy holds Lee's hand as he drifts in and out. He asks the date. It's December 21, the darkest day, but tomorrow will be brighter. He whispers that he thinks he might go now. "Really? OK. You travel safe," she reassures him. Lee drifts off.

    Andrea picks up a pay phone and dials 911 to report an illegal alien.

    Cathy kisses Lee's body good bye as paramedics pack up around him. She takes the runner's watch with her outside into the sun.

    At Max Buy, Owen thanks Paul for coming in to work, saying that Mik skipped town. Then he hands Paul a pee cup. Random drug test and it's his day.

    Cathy comes home to find Sean waiting and hugs him warmly.

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