While the show dexterously and busily deconstructs its own premise -- at just the right time -- Cathy's too busy realizing she has cut herself off from anyone who could possibly enjoy her company. Husband's gone, kid Adam is just getting angrier, Precious is weirded out by her emotional needs, even the awesome brother is busy with his horrible Prius girlfriend. So she drives a tandem bicycle around, mostly on her own, plans a sure-to-be disastrous dinner party, and wanders into a cancer support group.
At which point the whole show flips over beautifully, as Cathy realizes the whole Getting Her Groove Back trip is worse than unhealthy: It's a total clichÃ©. Hounded by fellow patients and Thomas the Teleporting Dog, goaded by Adam's easy friendship with Precious and the fact that even her crazy homeless brother can maintain a relationship, and struck with fresh pain by Oliver Platt's latest protestations of love, Cathy finally stops moving... Just long enough to tell off the support group for pretending cancer doesn't suck in every way possible.
Back home, Thomas -- who has managed to find her in every scene and every location throughout the episode -- ends up behind the van and thence in emergency care. Marlene appears (after a fistfight with Precious that is both awesome and racist) and immediately puts her finger on the cause of Thomas's obsession with Cathy: He's a smeller of cancer, of course. Relaxing with mai tai's on a fanciful indoor beach created by the wacky husband, Cathy and the old bitch finally reach a dÃ©tente: They may not be friends, but they're certainly the only People either of them has really got.
Once again, the show defies logic in a soft and likeable way, finding a middle ground between every possible extreme: Medical positivity has a downside while anger is deemed "excellent"; the fierce protectiveness between Cathy and Precious may end up being the key that brings Adam home. And while the twee bicycle antics at first appear part of the show's feared-incipient Ephronitis, it's bought and paid for -- as usual -- by Precious's hilarious and cynical insights into race and the fact that, no matter how queer Cathy gets sometimes in her desperation, she's still way too snarky to join in the creepy support group fun outright.
Next: Old and young join forces to annoy; the bike is replaced by a midlife-crisismobile.
Cathy Jamison has uncovered a new memory: The summer she and Adam rode a tandem bicycle down for soft-serve what seemed like every day. She finally manages to wheel it out of the garage just as her husband Paul is pulling up on his Vespa. Angry and whining as usual, jerking his sock drawer out of the bureau so hard that he topples over. For Cathy this is nothing new but he's a man on a mission, Paul. He's starting to feel emasculated without answers, and so he needs his socks.
"Angela says you're holding me emotionally hostage," Paul says, as though it will cut his wife to the bone. And who is Angela? The therapist. The one Cathy Jamison walked out on, after only five minutes, leaving her husband's face as open as a cabinet door. "Tell Angela she's kind of a bitch," says the terrorist, and Paul says they have that in common; in the stairwell he takes a framed picture from the wall, once a birthday gift, snapping at his wife as he goes. He drives away again on the scooter, narrowly missing the yard across the street, dropping socks as he goes, like breadcrumbs.
At Cathy's feet is Thomas, the neighbor Marlene's beagle. He appears, now, whenever she needs him. Or when she doesn't need him. Or any time at all. He's trying to tell her something but all she can see is that he dogs her like her loneliness. Hounds her. Hunched over and across the street, back to Marlene, who complains happily about Paul's driving and wonders if he's losing his marbles. He's losing more than that, is Paul Jamison, but he doesn't know it yet. Only Thomas knows for now.
Adam Jamison comes hopping angrily out of the house as his mother returns, asking after his father, hatefully brushing past. She stops him, steers him, turns him back around: The tandem bicycle, built for two, ready for the summer. She says the word chillax and she knows she's already lost him. But it was built for two.
"Then you shouldn't have kicked Dad out of the house, because you're high if you think I'm riding that with you. I'd rather die." It strikes her, chilling, his syntax. Don't say you'd rather die. You have no idea what it means. He tells her not to say "chillax," he says that it's "gay," and she tells him not to use that word either. He's gone. She boards the bicycle herself, wobbling off down the road. She was built for two, at least.
Paul is gone, in a cloud of Vespa fumes and angry socks. Marlene and Adam are angry for reasons they barely understand. It was built for two, so Cathy rides it to a shambles, a palace of garbage in which her brother Sean sits in a throne, like a king. Sitting in the sun, the terrible angry summer sun, like a king.