Saturday, February 16, 2013

In Treatment: Week Six (2.26 - 2.30)

It's interesting to see how your reaction to In Treatment can frequently differ from your reaction to other shows, primarily when it comes to character motivation. Almost every patient this show has ever explored has issues rooted in how they were brought up, their parents' neuroses generally invading their own psyches and turning them into these troubled, vulnerable adults. It's a theme repeated constantly. On any other show, the use of the same plot device could frustrate after a while, the writers traveling to the same emotional hub over and over again. But there's a specialness about In Treatment that allows you to forgive that. Because isn't it based so much on truth? I would assume in most cases that the way we were raised had a significant effect on our adult lives and how we conduct ourselves, more so than our environments or our experiences outside of the home. It's such a cliche in itself, but also so horribly real.

Mia - Monday 7:00am

Mia is still on the same journey as Paul, and this episode saw Paul essentially recreating his last session with Gina, Paul trying to deconstruct Mia's false memories of her childhood. It's one of those circumstances in which you try and create a certain narrative in your head to almost justify your personal feelings. With Mia, everything she remembers of her mother is negative, while the negative qualities her father once held have been repressed. Again, she's not totally reached that level of truth, but it's getting there.

The main thrust of this session, however, was Mia's revelation that she suffered a miscarriage in the past week, something that has devastated her. She talks about how happy and excited she was, and how it all turned out to be for nothing. What makes it even sadder, though, is that Paul's prodding eventually gets her to open up and reveal that she was never actually pregnant in the first place, only having assumed she was. This story is becoming more and more heartbreaking, Mia so desperate for escape that she's willing to completely buy into an untruth without even having any firm evidence for it.

April - Tuesday 12:00pm

Like always, there's a push and pull quality with April's episodes. It takes a while for you to entirely follow this week's angst, dialogue eventually revealing that April had another medical emergency and Paul contacted her mother in the process, but again you're left frustrated by her anger. In the hands of a lesser actress, though, April could become insufferable. But Allison Pill fully exploits the reasoning for her trauma, making her human and deserving of our sympathy.

There was also an enormous breakthrough here, with Paul realizing that April wants those closest to her to know about her personal life, but only via a second party. So it's about accidental discovery, and not something that could be perceived as attention-seeking. It's crazy, especially when it's about something as huge as a cancer diagnosis, but something that resonated with me. I've been there, I've done things like that: doing something secretly and only allowing people to find out after the fact, probably out of some selfish desire to be seen as thoughtful or whatever.

It's something so strong about this show, not only do the writing and the characters affect on a televisual level, but sometimes you relate to the stories so much that they can illuminate sometimes difficult areas of your own personality.

Oliver - Wednesday 4:00pm

So it happened, that final breakdown that Paul had been repressing for so long. This was the most overt Oliver episode in a while, Bess and Luke loudly exploding with their own respective dreams and aspirations, talk of Bess leaving the city casually treating Oliver like an object that will just mold to the circumstances. It took that for Paul to eventually blow up, telling these two exactly what everybody at home had been thinking for weeks.

But it's an important exploration into how much Paul has overstepped that mark, and how his emotional connection to Oliver has clouded a lot of his rational judgment. Because, in the end, Oliver begs to stay with Paul, offering to sleep on his couch and never bother him, but Paul knows that it's an impossible option. What's even worse is that it almost makes Paul complicit in all the emotional destruction Oliver has experienced of late, another adult who doesn't seem to fulfill their promises. It's heartbreaking.

Walter - Thursday 5:00pm

There were a lot of robot metaphors this week, Walter so often becoming this mechanical person doing what he feels needs to be done within the moment. It's why he's so accommodating to Paul as the session begins: give the man what he wants and he'll leave him alone. But therapy is vastly different to the world Walter generally occupies, and Paul sees right through it. There are so many issues here, Walter believing that he's not the kind of person allowed to malfunction and, like April, he has to be the one holding everybody together, and showcasing any kind of vulnerability on his end will only lead to further chaos.

But Paul eventually gets him to break down, that final moment crushing you with heartache. Walter is somebody who has adopted this other personality purely to get him through a shitty existence, desperately covering up the scared, fragile man underneath. And after so many weeks of anger and confrontation, John Mahoney just falls apart, in one of the most haunting, devastating scenes the show has ever depicted. He's been fantastic on this show.

Gina - Friday 6:00pm

No matter how many times I see it, it's still hard to get used to Paul exploding in therapy with Gina. He spends so much of the show listening and reasoning, and then all of a sudden he blows up with his own therapist, proving he's just as angry and troubled as many of his patients. One thing I really need to give the show credit for this season is how it's portrayed what has been essentially a slow-motion breakdown. It's been obvious that Paul has become needy and desperate for some kind of human connection, but here we begin to see just how sad he is. He reveals that he's contemplated suicide, and seems to push Gina so much here in order to almost prove that she, too, isn't a perfect therapist.

There's just a ton of self-hatred there, both in his confidence as a therapist, as well as in the way he's become so distracted by his failings as a father and a husband. I have no idea how they're going to wrap all of this up in just one additional week, but I absolutely trust the show to go all out. A

Mia Teleplay Jacquelyn Reingold Director Ryan Fleck
April Teleplay Sarah Treem Director Michael Pressman
Oliver Teleplay Keith Bunin Director Paris Barclay
Walter Teleplay Warren Leight Director Paris Barclay
Gina Teleplay Marsha Norman Director Richard Schiff

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