Sunday, June 27, 2010

In Treatment: Week Eight (1.36 - 1.40)

An important part of this week's episodes was the assumptions we make as people, and the realities we either don't know, or aren't willing to find out. Paul questions his own methods, especially when he actually encounters the people who he had so far only "constructed" in his head. Elsewhere, we have Alex's father, and his own assumptions of both therapy and parenting. And then there's Gina. Fiction vs. reality made for the most interesting theme this week.

Monday 10:00am
So Alex has died. The tone to this episode, as well as the fact it was the first one set outside of either Paul or Gina's office, made the whole thing so affective and disturbing. I'm happy that the show treated a major death with naturalism, not contrived drama, like Alex dying in therapy or something. His death was sudden, unexpected and off-camera, and the fact that we as an audience have been forced to make sense of something so shocking juxtaposed well with what the characters are experiencing. However, as effective as the funeral was (and Paul's interaction with Alex's son), Laura's appearance bugged me like crazy. For one, what the hell was Paul thinking when he seemed surprised that Laura was hesitant about attending? She was a brief fling, nothing more. Inviting her to parade around in front of his widow and mourning family was just tacky. It was pretty clear that Paul only invited her to come in an attempt to see her again. It also frustrated me that he seemed so captivated by her, instead of distracted by Alex's funeral. When Laura mentioned that she was scared of flying, Paul was completely enraptured by her. Ugh. He's such an asshole.

Tuesday 10:00am
One of the major points raised in Friday's episode this week is how Paul creates his own interpretations of the "characters" that his patients reference in therapy. In terms of Alex, we only ever knew his father, Michaela and his son as 'names', nothing more. And for both Paul and admittedly me, the image of Alex's father that had been created by Alex was one of true venom and madness. He sounded like a monster. In this episode, we actually meet the man, and while he showed some aspects that reflected Alex's own dialogue about him, the one emotion that overpowered him was guilt. Glynn Turman was stunning in this episode, not only through his conveying of so much bewilderment and anguish, but in his mannerisms and speech patterns, both so similar to Blair Underwood's. What this episode did, while not entirely redeeming Alex Sr., was humanize the monster we thought we knew. He treated Alex badly, but you understood his reasoning and his fear. Now he has two deaths on his conscience, and I can't imagine the pain that must create.

Sophie - Wednesday 4:00pm
I was overwhelmingly happy that this episode concluded with some form of breakthrough between Sophie and her mother. Olivia's stunned expression as her daughter initiated coffee was heartbreaking, a woman finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Sophie's initial hatred towards her mother and juxtaposed devotion for her father was interesting, but understandable. Her dad is never there and their relationship isn't strong enough for any tension to be developed, whereas Sophie is always around her mom, giving her constant ammunition to attack her with. Elsewhere, Sophie lifting her up her shirt was an unexpected moment. Was it yet another test to see if Paul was taking advantage of her? Aren't we passed that now?

Jake and Amy - Thursday 5:00pm
It was a great decision to allow Jake and Amy to have their own separate sessions over the last couple of weeks, as it gave particular insight into both of them. Jake has been the greater enigma of the two since the season began, but this episode finally allowed us to see how his mind works. There's an undeniable sadness to his character, starting with his own belief that he needs to constantly play down his own intelligence ("If this was a movie -- if this were a movie"): a side effect of his oppressive father. He's almost allowed history to repeat itself, marrying a woman similar in feeling to his own dad. It seems like both Jake and Amy are punishing themselves by being in their marriage, so full of self-doubt and self-disappointment that they're staying together to make themselves even more miserable. But, unlike Amy, Jake's heart seems to be in the right place. He's displayed feelings of compassion, which have so far eluded Amy. On the subject of the blackout, my interpretation of it was that it likely worked to help Jake be more open. It's easier to be honest in the dark, instead of in a place with bright lights in your face. Stunning work by Josh Charles here.

Gina - Friday 7:00pm
While I was disappointed that Kate announced that she wasn't going to attend any more sessions with Gina, this episode was another outstanding half-hour. Paul always has a patronizing tone and demeanor in these sessions, and it was a hallelujah moment when Gina finally called him out on it. As previously mentioned, Paul is struggling in his own sessions with his patients, worrying that he is either unable to help them at all (see Jake and Amy), or not doing enough to help them (see Alex). For weeks, there has been a tension between both Paul and Gina, and I loved that we actually got the full story of what happened. Dianne Wiest stole the show with her monologue about her own marriage, her decision not to be unfaithful despite her own husband's cheating, and her criticism of Paul's assumptions. Gina's choices may not be especially relatable to a lot of people, but you understood it, and her reasoning behind it. One of the greatest accomplishments of In Treatment has been its ability to create characters that we understand, even if we may not necessarily like them. A

Monday Teleplay Amy Lippman Director Paris Barclay
Tuesday Teleplay Bryan Goluboff Director Paris Barclay
Sophie Teleplay Sarah Treem Director Paris Barclay
Jake and Amy Teleplay William Merritt Johnson Director Paris Barclay
Gina Teleplay Davey Holmes Director Rodrigo Garcia

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