Wednesday, May 29, 2013

In Treatment: Week Six (3.21 - 3.24)

Something that's always impressed me about In Treatment is that it's never exactly been a ringing endorsement for therapy. There have been obvious success stories along the way, patients coming into their own and recognizing and fixing their problems, but there's frequently an open ending to most of these people's stories: the promise that things will get better, even if there's little tangible evidence that things actually are. This week frequently came back to the idea of therapy as a subject and whether or not it's at all useful, Paul insisting that his sessions with Sunil are greatly improving his well-being, something other characters respectfully disagree with, followed by Jesse wondering if his sessions have at all benefited him. It's a curious position for the show to take, but something that feeds into Paul's general drifting -- he's always seemed to wonder if he's doing any real good.

Sunil - Monday 3:00pm

It's easier to side with Julia here, as she arrives in session telling Paul that she and her husband are ending Sunil's therapy. It's horribly apparent that this man is damaged in one way or another, that he's potentially dangerous, and it seems unreasonable that Paul wouldn't initiate some kind of emergency action. There's a lot of action to sift through here, including Paul's growing worry that something in the milk ain't clean when it comes to Malini's apparent death, but you can understand Paul's desperation to save his patient -- probably because Sunil is such a puzzle. He's like a ticking bomb, not only in terms of this show and what he does to the narrative, but also because Sunil keeps stating things in such a way that Paul can't help but see him as an emergency challenge: "You have one final chance to help me".

But there's also an element to Sunil that makes me wonder if he's fully aware of all of this. There's something about his statements over the last two weeks that read almost phony, especially the obvious dream metaphor last episode and this week his commentary on the cricket bat -- along the lines of "it's old, broken, but isn't it worth keeping around?" He's become so overt with the threats that you can't help but wonder whether or not he's doing all of this intentionally. I don't know why, but I guess it just adds another level of intrigue to what has already become a ridiculously complex character.

Frances - Tuesday 10:00am

This was the week in which Frances finally made some kind of a decision regarding her sister, abandoning her play before the curtain call and rushing to Tricia's side. And there's a lot to love with all of this, Frances talking about spending time with her and trying to make her last days somewhat bearable. There's the silly banter, the gossip about an old school teacher who left her husband for another woman -- that kind of thing. It's not particularly dramatic, but still pretty absorbing nonetheless.

But I think it's the lack of drama that has made Frances' episodes the weakest this season, and it's probably the show itself that is to blame, rather than Debra Winger or whoever. In Treatment has consciously increased the drama this year in its other stories, Sunil working like a twist-filled murder mystery of sorts, Jesse so volatile at the best of times, and Paul's anger linking together three of the four episodes per week. Meanwhile, Frances is left adrift, stuck in her own bubble with pretty mundane problems, at least compared to the others on the show. And whenever writer Alison Tatlock tries to instigate drama, such as Frances angrily storming out of session time and time again, it only reads as annoying more than anything else, since so many of Frances' problems remain ambiguous and denied. Blah.

Jesse - Wednesday 4:00pm

And the fallout begins. It's not hard to sympathize with Jesse this week, arriving with the news that his birth parents wrote him suggesting that they communicate again sometime in the future, and that it was probably a mistake to initiate things at this point in time. That's pretty harsh, right? So this clearly vulnerable and depressive kid is left alone again, wondering what he did to deserve such rejection and seeking some kind of solace.

The greatest moment here was in that wonderful exchange in which Jesse describes a school friend with a large nose, and how he's never let this particular thing bother him because of the unconscious validation given to him by his father, who also has a large nose. It's such a great concept, discussing how much of our confidence and perspective comes from just being around our parents and seeing how they live their lives -- and it suddenly becomes really awful to realize that Jesse has never really had that, because there was always that lure of the 'other adults', the ones he never sees but who could be the answer to everything. I really want this guy to have a happy ending.

Adele - Friday 5:00pm

Can I ask what Paul is actually doing? Yes, Adele's early-morning phone call was surprisingly intimate and could imply that she's been thinking about him in bed and that in itself could open up a whole can of worms, but his creepy fixation on the two of them potentially forming a relationship is at a point where you can only read it as almost stalker-ish. Hilariously, though, Adele once again shuts things entirely down -- revealing that she's pregnant. It's such a badass twist, something that rattles Paul immeasurably as he realizes that she probably hasn't been fantasizing about him for weeks considering she's been sleeping with somebody else all along and is content enough with them to actually have their baby.

At the same time, Adele is also proving to be a far better therapist than Paul, inquiring why he handled Julia and Sunil separately and suggesting that he hasn't been treating Sunil appropriately. She also made some interesting points about the parallels between both Paul and Sunil, how they're both drifting through life and experiencing a midlife crisis -- and how Paul's insistence that Sunil is being helped works as a metaphor for how Paul insists that he himself can be helped in some way, if somehow people try hard enough. It's a powerful statement to end the week, and makes you wonder how they'll bring Paul Weston as a character to a close in next week's final run. A-

Sunil Writer Adam Rapp Director Paris Barclay
Frances Writer Alison Tatlock Director Ali Selim
Jesse Writer Sarah Treem Director Jim McKay
Adele Writers Anya Epstein, Dan Futterman Director Paris Barclay

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