When Idris finds a metastatic lump on Cathy's backside, she slides into magical thinking and assumes that her cancer is a punishment for screwing around and generally being an asshole. She makes an elective appointment to take it off and starts doing good deeds so that her karma will right itself: Marlene gets a nasty white folks snack, Sean (beat to hell by other homeless and somehow looking hotter than ever, despite his various contusions) comes to live in the yard, and Paul is pretty much invited back home.
What Cathy doesn't know is that Andrea is onto her game with Idris -- right around the time Cathy's breaking up with him -- and feels not only jealous but seriously betrayed. She's given up on the whole lose weight/stop smoking thing as a result, and is super mean to Cathy. It's sort of devastating to watch Andrea fall apart, to the extent that she is capable of falling apart -- although I guess once you've starred in Precious Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire it's all relative. Could be worse.
Also devastating: Seeing what a warm and wonderful couple Paul and Cathy could be, if they both weren't such huge dicks. Inspired by a charity bathtub race brochure, and humbled by her sluttiness, Cathy breaks up with Idris and gets the whole family together: Marlene, Sean, Paul and Adam. Later, at their victory party, she makes her third honest effort to tell Paul what's really going on. And of course Paul interrupts, this time to tell her about an over-the-trousers handjob from Rugby Slut. Everything falls apart again.
While Sean eats worms out of her front yard, Cathy heads off to her surgery and continues lying to Dr. Todd about having told Paul the truth. When Marlene doesn't show, Cathy gets very worried about her. And she should be: Marlene's losing time and putting her slippers in the fridge. When Marlene dies we are going to fucking lose it, aren't we? Well, maybe she'll go down in a hail of bullets. That would be nice.
Adam runs to Andrea but, given the chance, she still doesn't tell him about his mom's extramarital affair. She does, however, deface the Idris mural once it's complete. Maybe it's to keep him around, maybe it's just because she's freaking out. Either way, Cathy's good deeds are all going rancid. Which is what happens when you start carbon-trading for karma, guaranteed, every time.
Left alone and terrified, without even Dr. Todd's puppydog eyes able to force a confession, Cathy calls Idris and tells him to take her wherever he wants to go, meaning once again we get Cathy on the run, having tried and disposed of her seventh method of coping. These seasons are a season long, which means it takes her as long to live through them as it takes us to watch them. Makes you think, especially at this halfway point, when everything's finally threatening to tip over. Might she just... Actually get medical help for her illness? Is that an insane thing to wonder?
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"Do you want to learn about history?"
Cathy produces from her backpack a treasure trove of inappropriate VHS tapes. At home, there isn't even a machine to play them on; her husband Paul cared more about the technological curve, clearly, than the AV department at school. The best toys. Here, there's a machine to play them all. They're a part of history; they are history. Relegated.
One day there will be no machines left that can play them. The earth's electromagnetic field itself will wash them clean, like river rocks. And anybody who sees their cover will wonder but they won't really understand. They might hear stories or watch on DVD or whatever they'll make up later, but these particular tapes are history. Entire stories nobody will never really watch.
"I didn't know how many of these dinosaurs I had sitting on my bookshelf," Cathy chuckles. Now those shelves are clean, she can dust them and put whatever she likes on them. Some of the other shelves were getting cluttered and sometimes when she'd look at them -- to be honest, sometimes when she was in another room entirely -- she'd wonder what to do about it. How to clear it up. Many of the books were gifts. Most of the books are hers. Adam might read them, one day. Climb inside her stories.
"Fatal Attraction. Is Michael Douglas an innocent victim, or is boiling the bunny his just reward for a cheap, illicit, extramarital affair?"
One of the girls complains that she's spoiled the ending, but her mind is elsewhere. Counting her bunnies, one by one, making sure none of them are being boiled for her cheap, illicit affair. Wondering if death balances everything out. Thinking about a spree.
Andrea's noticed, when she's not staring out the window at her painter, just how often Mrs. Jamison leaves the room these days. To make copies, she says, "I'm going to go make some photocopies," always. Cathy doesn't deny it.
"I've got things to duplicate. You're missing the credits."
Behind the school stage, among costumes and dropped-away props. Detritus and flotsam of a million years of pretending, behind the curtain where everything happens. Where people like Cathy belong.
"What's this?" says Lenny, caressing her.
"My lower backside," Cathy laughs, but he inclines his gaze.
"Ah. No, you have a... You have this little bump?"
She pulls his hand away, so gently he doesn't realize it; she yanks at one of the many skirts she's bought recently. Here, behind the scenes, behind the curtain. It found her. "I get these little skin cysts sometimes, it's like hereditary, actually, so I'll make sure I get it checked out. I realize this all isn't very sexy..."
She's shivering. "I find everything about you sexy," he says. They get back to work.
Dr. Mauer makes fun of Cathy for meeting him in such a plebian place as his medical offices, given their history. Given Amanda Montgomery.
"I would have expected to see you next in a hot-air balloon, or midair on a trapeze!"