Monday, May 31, 2010

In Treatment: Week Four (1.16 - 1.20)

The show has become more of a soap opera, with certain story developments feeling more than a little contrived, but the general quality of the series is pretty much the same. Paul continues to be exposed as an idiot, and Sophie's storyline takes a dramatic (if lazy) turn.

Laura - Monday 9:00am
Paul and Laura are becoming more like a couple every week. His reaction to her ridiculously graphic descriptions of her time with Alex echoed his reaction to Kate's affair. He was suddenly "the jealous husband" in this relationship, completely crossing the line of where a therapist is supposed to stay. That look they both exchanged at the end was pretty embarrassing. What is the matter with this guy? In terms of Laura, we were told more about her self-hatred and her belief that sex equals a shortcut to happiness. She's incredibly damaged, and it continues to be uncomfortable to watch as she has this lengthy breakdown, with Paul completely unable to even see it.

Alex - Tuesday 10:00am
Like Laura, Alex is also incredibly damaged. He's also getting more enraged, exploding in anger when he wasn't allowed through to his old military base. You have to wonder if he was barred from the facility not because of his lack of I.D., but perhaps because of some kind of mental illness he's suffered since the bombing, something Paul is unaware of. It was interesting that Laura didn't tell Paul the previous day that she cried during sex. Maybe it's just too much vulnerability to divulge, or maybe she's simply waiting to use that particular nugget of information at a later date for maximum effect?

Sophie - Wednesday 4:00pm
This episode bothered me. For one, the outfit she was wearing and her tales of the previous night came across a little phony. Wouldn't she be a little more disheveled having had the night she'd just had, coupled with the morning nap? Or wouldn't she have at least changed her clothes before visiting Paul? I got the impression that either she was lying about the whole thing, or it was just clumsy writing; the show reaching for an effect rather than believability. The latter theory came up again with her suicide attempt. The major issue with this episode was that the writers seemed to be straining to create drama within the walls of Paul's office, as a reaction to the fact that the show is literally set within the walls of said office. I had assumed In Treatment had the confidence to create and develop drama through dialogue, not melodramatic "action" that actually occurs on the show. The fact that Paul had pills in his office bathroom was ridiculous, and it took me out of what should have been a powerful moment. It would have been far more effective if Sophie had attempted suicide off-screen, or even (if the source had to be Paul) stolen the pills for later. Outside of that, the episode was pretty effective, especially Sophie's "breakthrough" moment, her stomach pains and subsequent drug-induced rambling at the end. Sexual manipulation from those she trusts, as well as the weird sexualization of everyday things via her mother have seriously destroyed this girl.

Jake and Amy - Thursday 5:00pm
I still find these two ridiculously fascinating to watch. Amy is a complete sociopath, contriving elaborate lies about the origins her marriage, just like she did when she was discussing the abortion weeks ago. Jake, too, is a jealous lunatic, but it's now less surprising considering where they began as a couple. There's so much, nearly amusing, craziness with them, from Amy's physical violence to Jake's recordings of her rants, and I loved Amy's line "I'm gonna start some real lying to teach you a lesson", which pretty much sums up their entire marriage. I also love the way both actors play their characters, especially Embeth Davidtz. Sure, she's played the uptight and frigid wife before (see Junebug, for one), but her body language here is a marvel to watch, as Amy speaks to Jake without even looking at him or even acknowledging him with any physical movements.

Gina - Friday 7:00pm
I love that Paul is exposed as such an arrogant jackass in these sessions. I don't even find his character flawed anymore. Don Draper is flawed, so is Christian Troy. Paul Weston is a complete moron. His decision to visit Gina is still unusual, considering he has so much bitterness towards her going back to his college days, while his proclamation that some would consider him a greater therapist than her was pretty pathetic. Elsewhere, he revealed that he loves Laura, something I just can't understand. Yes, Melissa George is ridiculously gorgeous, but Laura is a complete nutcase. Unless Paul wants to save her or something, I just can't understand why he would risk everything to be in a relationship with somebody so damaged and calculating. It's a mystery to me. C+

Laura Teleplay Amy Lippman Director Christopher Misiano
Alex Teleplay Bryan Goluboff Director Christopher Misiano
Sophie Teleplay Sarah Treem Director Rodrigo Garcia
Jake and Amy Teleplay William Merritt Johnson Director Rodrigo Garcia
Gina Teleplay Davey Holmes Director Rodrigo Garcia

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