Saturday, February 2, 2013

In Treatment: Week Two (2.6 - 2.10)

Week Two lacked the immediacy of last week's premiere episodes, but you can already see certain ideas and themes that are being generated through each session. There's a harsher, meaner vibe to the stories this year, and it's arguably far more incestuous than the already frantic bending of confidentiality last season, with Paul intimately involved with the far majority of his patients. Whether its Mia and their history, his connection with April or the turtle hanging around in his office, he's allowing himself to be far more attached to these people than is probably good.

Mia - Monday 7:00am

While the tables have turned since their last meeting, Mia now being a patient, the relationship between Mia and Paul remains something of a power play. There's uncomfortable intimacy here, Mia asking personal questions about Paul's private life and appearing ignorant of the necessary void between professionalism and flirtation. This episode was incredibly awkward, but you can already see where Mia's anger is grounded. She's experiencing those emotions where she's obviously infatuated with Paul, not only out of lust, but also out of deep-seated resentment. She's grown to believe that every lousy development in her life stems from his initial rejection of her all those years ago, and her final epiphany is that, supposedly, Paul owes her a child.

Mia is deeply troubled, her relationships with men always about being subservient and disrespected (besides one encounter with an armed robber as a child), though so much of her own personality is stereotypically masculine. It's an ironic distinction, but I'm not sure it's wise for Paul to keep treating her. There are too many crossed lines here.

April - Tuesday 12:00pm

April's episode was also about male-female intimacy, this time more of an analysis of her relationship with her ex-boyfriend Kyle, a relationship that she intentionally sabotaged, despite the depth of feeling between them. Even though Kyle is now engaged, April is bitter and resentful over it, despite engineering their break-up in the first place. Again, it's about projection of feelings. April is very much a passive-aggressive. She likes to shake things up despite not actually knowing her reasoning, and is far too weak-willed as a person to actually end her life, despite outwardly seeming like she wants to.

Paul's final resolution, that April is intentionally killing herself, only very, very slowly, suddenly adds a real element of danger to their sessions. It's not only about a fragile young woman struggling through a disease, but about a ticking time-bomb refusing the help that she desperately requires.

Oliver - Wednesday 4:00pm

I don't know if it's Oliver's age that is creating the block here. Paul is great with young patients, and I liked the compassion he expressed when they were talking together, but there's that nagging sense that Oliver's problems are too familiar to be hugely interesting. Of course, this is only his second episode, but nothing particularly new is explored this week. It mostly comes down to Oliver experiencing the emotional side effects of his parent's angst, as well as his teasing at school. Aaron Shaw is really strong here, but I haven't been entirely absorbed by the character just yet.

His parents, too, remain stock archetypes. I guess it added something of a twist that Bess angled towards keeping their marriage intact to see if they'd eventually just get over their issues, but they so far lack that 'edge' that makes the rest of the show's patients that much more interesting. Even further, the symbolism with the turtle felt a little heavy-handed. Eh. But I'm sure this will improve.

Walter - Thursday 5:00pm

Gosh, this guy is a closed book. We've seen it before, but he's totally the guy who wants and expects the 'quick fix'. It's also interesting that Paul has to really pull revelations from him, since it almost appears that Walter doesn't care about his past and how it could ever have shaped him. He's actually more fearful of the future, constantly bringing up the threat of corporate scandal that could break his entire industry. He just seems like such a tragic figure, especially when Paul unearths the story about the death of his brother. Not only has he spent his entire life trying to live up to his brother's promise, but he's still ignorant of the fact that he's even done that. This will take a lot of work.

Gina - Friday 6:00pm

Like last week, there's still this combative aggression from Paul's end, directed straight at Gina and making her disinterested in pursuing therapy with him. More than ever, Paul is unraveling at the seams, and all the emotional baggage of the past year is consuming his every thought. Being such a strong therapist, though, Gina is able to gently ease Paul into discussion. There's a lot of talk dedicated to Paul's childhood this week, particularly his first sexual experience immediately preceding his mother's suicide, and how the one time he couldn't save his mom from herself was the one time he allowed himself to be distracted by others. It's an arresting statement, and could say a lot about his relationships with women in general -- that every piece of happiness is somehow a momentary distraction from inevitable tragedy.

I'm also happy that Tammy Kent seems to be more of a plot device than something actually legit as a story. While the episode does end with Paul calling her for a date, it appears like the show is using Tammy's presence as a means to uncover Paul's own flaws. B

Mia Teleplay Jacquelyn Reingold Director Paris Barclay
April Teleplay Sarah Treem Director Hagai Levi
Oliver Teleplay Keith Bunin Director Ryan Fleck
Walter Teleplay Pat Healy Director Hagai Levi
Gina Teleplay Marsha Norman Director Terry George

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