In the end, everyone’s afraid. Not in big, dramatic ways, but in small everyday ones. Rob, Sharon, and everyone they know are all aware that their lives aren’t quite right, and it scares them. Just a little bit. Just enough to worry.
Sharon is the first to express this fear in Catastrophe’s season finale. At her father’s funeral, she’s worried that she isn’t sad enough. Grief isn’t hitting her, so she wonders if she’s broken somehow. She’s actually relieved that Fran — who’s there along with Chris — is weeping in her stead, even if it’s mostly because Douglas dumped her. “I looked it up,” Fran says between sobs. “It’s called ghosting. It started in California.”
Then comes Dave, via a phone call from London. He tells Rob that after Catherine told him she was pregnant, he offered her money to not have the baby. Of course, she was furious at him, as Rob illustrates by saying, “You know how women don’t want men telling them you can’t have an abortion? I don’t think they’d like you to encourage them to have one either.”
Of course, Rob has continued to put off telling anyone other than Chris about his drinking, least of all his wife, whom he’s decided it’s best he just support at the moment. Especially since she’s really worked up about her inability to grieve. “I want to be sadder,” she tells him the night after the funeral. “You’re gonna unfold,” he assures her, sweetly. “You’re gonna spend time on the floor.”
A little less sweet, but much funnier, is Mia’s effort to cheer up Sharon’s mom. The late Carrie Fisher, in what may be her last non–Star Wars appearance, returns as Rob’s mom to make everyone hilariously uncomfortable, but none more than Sharon — especially when it looks like Mia will be staying with her mother for the time being while she and Rob return to London.
Also back in London: Fran and Chris. Furious at Douglas for breaking up with her when she felt they had a good thing going (though she mostly just liked giving him blow jobs), Fran finds him at his office and throws the things he left at her place in his face. Douglas seems indifferent, revealing the mutual dislike he shares with her son and Chris’s threatening visit at the bar, while also being cruelly pragmatic about her sexual attraction to him. “If it’s the sex you missed, go have it with someone else,” he says with a frankness that’ll make your head spin. “I don’t have a black belt in it.”
Later, after she knocks on Chris’s door just to punch him in the nose for ruining her dating life, Fran confesses to Sharon that she’s afraid, that she fears she has nothing left to offer as a 40-something woman. She says she’s done dating. She’s going to invest in a vibrator and just call it a wrap. “I’m so horny!” she sobs.
Considerably less horny is Dave, who has begun to accept the fact that Christina is having the baby and is trying to cope with the idea of a child inheriting his “bad genes.” During a dinner with Chris and Rob — who appears to have skipped an AA meeting for it — Dave frets about how he hopes nurture outweighs nature, since “the jury’s still out” on all that. “No, the jury’s in,” Chris says. “They both matter.”
The circle of friends Catastrophe has built around Rob and Sharon are a fascinating bunch, almost all constitutionally incapable of keeping a handle on their own lives but still regularly dispensing profound wisdom when called upon. Like Chris, who exudes his particular brand of stunning clarity after Dave admits to being totally scared about his kid being born. “Why shouldn’t you be scared?” he asks, stating the episode’s theme. “Who are you that you don’t need to be scared? If you’re alive, you should be scared sometimes.”
Rob, for one, is very scared. Just prior to this dinner, he confessed to his mother — who decided Ireland was too clammy for her to stay in, and that she’d rather crash at her son’s place in London — that he’s been drinking again. He knows he needs help. Mia responds by slapping him and comparing him to his abusive father. “You can’t drink!” she yells. “You know how my jaw clicks when I eat steak? It’s because your father broke it. That’s why I kicked him out […] You put a plug in the jug, mister, because if you ever hit Sharon, I’ll fucking kill you.”
It’s a stunning moment for both the audience and Rob, followed by a joke that almost seems like it might be a smidgen too far, if it weren’t already rooted in Mia’s well-established characterization. “Oh, please,” she scoffs, after Rob says he would never hit Sharon. “You being drunk and her being annoying as she is, you’re gonna hit her.”
When Rob gets home from dinner with the boys, he gets a drunk phone call from Sharon. She wants him to pick her up from the bar where she was drinking with Fran. She’s a drunken mess, but a happy one; there, in a scummy bar bathroom that was out of toilet paper, the grief finally hit her. While looking for something to use in lieu of toiler paper, she found an envelope that Fergal gave her before she left Ireland. Inside she finds a photo of herself as a baby with her father, and a note from Fergal: I know how dad felt about you because he talked about you all the time. I never told you because I’m an insecure prick, but now he’s gone and I should have. I love you. He loved you too.
“I’ve never lost anyone I’ve really loved before,” Sharon tells Rob after he picks her up. “Don’t ever leave me. Because I’m never gonna leave you. And it’s not even because I love you. I mean, I do, but there’s a working part missing now. You took it out or something. Now I just don’t work without you. I’m 100 percent reliant on you, okay?”
Catastrophe has had its characters express love in a lot of ways: in the slow, boring fashion that grievances and betrayals are smoothed over, in the mutual catharsis that comes from trashing other people in private, in the ways we’re willing to suffer to preserve the lives we’ve built for our families. It rarely outright articulates love in a manner so plain and forthright. But this is an earned moment, one that comes after six episodes of very funny chaos and very fraught uncertainty that’s part and parcel of the work that comes with love. It’s also a moment that’s close to being stolen from us, as Sharon — after spilling her guts to Rob and flirting with him — drunkenly makes him pull over so she can run through traffic and get pizza. (When the bus whizzed behind her, I nearly had a heart attack.)
And then Rob, driving away to look for a parking space, gets hit by a car. He’s bleeding yet conscious when Sharon gets to him. He asks if the cops are coming. “They’re gonna give me a breathalyzer,” he tells her. “I’m not gonna pass it. I’m sorry.”
The closing moment carries the weight of everything that’s come before. It’s a betrayal of trust of the sort Rob processed at the start of the season, one that threatened to destroy his family in an entirely different but no less thorough way. But things are different now. Sharon reaches through the window to hold her husband. Everyone’s scared, and that’s okay.