‘In Treatment’: Week five in review

As usual, we’re reviewing all four episodes of “In Treatment” this week in one shot, coming up just as soon as I say the name “Amar’e Stoudemire”…

Last week was a good one for Paul, as he made notable breakthroughs with all three patients, and then let Adele uncover some truths for him in their session before he went off the rails with the transference. This week? Not so good. Sunil’s rage is getting out of control, Frances isn’t comforted in the slightest by her good medical news, Jesse sabotaged himself, Max goes back to Kate and Steve and Adele reads Paul the riot act.

But if none of the characters are in a good emotional place, the season continues to build strength as it goes along.


“A man can only be pushed so far!” -Sunil

Last week, I assumed Paul’s warning to Sunil at the end was about suicide. Several of you suggested he’s concerned for the safety of Julia, and it becomes clear that this is the big issue – that whether he felt lust for Julia, or jealousy that Arun had the marriage he couldn’t, or anything else, his feelings for her are now pure, concentrated hate. Everything in Sunil’s life has been taken from him – his wife, his career, his country (even his childhood hometown is being ravaged by monsoons), the name he gave his son – and he has chosen to place the blame for that squarely on his alien daughter-in-law, and in a way that suggests a real potential for violence.

Great as Irrfan Khan was again in this one, I was most fascinated to watch Gabriel Byrne – to see Paul trying very hard to keep this jagged, alarming conversation on track, and trying not to let his patient see just how horrified he is by all this talk of Julia being smothered or disappearing.

And now I do wonder if there’s more to the tale of his first love than he’s let on so far. Last week, he mentioned the embarrassment of being questioned by police, and here he seems particularly sensitive to the suggestion that the woman he wanted to hurt in his dream could have been her. “In Treatment” doesn’t seem the sort of show where Paul would realize halfway through that one of his patients is a murderer who got away with it, but there’s clearly the potential for something very ugly to happen soon if Paul can’t get Sunil to recognize and deal with his anger.


“You need to see your sister before she dies.” -Paul

Paul wasn’t as horrified by Frances as he was by Sunil, but there was definitely a sense of discomfort to this session, both in her story of a carefree one-night stand with her much younger co-star, and then in Frances’ stubborn refusal to see her sister one more time.

There are two weeks left in this season, and there’s now a ticking clock element to this particular story. As with April last year, there’s a point at which a mental health problem becomes much less important than a physical health one. Paul had to get April to the oncologist more than he needed to address her troubled childhood, and here Paul knows that if Frances doesn’t visit Tricia again, soon, then that failure will hang over her for decades just like the similar dynamic with her mother has. And then all the psychiatry in the world will only be able to do so much, because Paul won’t also be able to offer Frances a time machine to go back and correct this particular mistake.

Still, there was good news here in the form of her test results – that whole sequence with the envelope was just so well-played by Debra Winger – and another hint of some interesting developments with Paul and Frances’ sister 18 years ago. It’s easy to imagine that Trish just developed a one-sided crush, a bit of transference, but we also know that Paul’s not a saint, and that he’s often felt closer to his patients and his family, and they were last seeing each other while Kate was pregnant and then in the early days of Rosie’s life, so it’s eminently possible the feelings were reciprocated, even a little. If the season were longer, or if the show had the ability to occasionally do longer episodes, it might be interesting to get an episode-length flashback to one of Paul and Trish’s sessions, to maybe hear Trish’s feelings about her sister in the same way we at various points have gotten sessions with Alex’s dad and both of Oliver’s parents. For the most part, the point of the show is to give us the patient’s perspective, but in a situation where Paul has heard the other side of things, it seems only fair that we know what he does.  


“They washed it, Paul.” -Jesse

Thanks to Dane DeHaan’s performance and the calamitous events of the day and night that Jesse either describes or we get to witness, this was probably the week’s strongest episode (and unsurprisingly had Paris Barclay behind the camera), but I also have the least to say about it.

This was a pretty straightforward one. Jesse’s an unreliable narrator, but Paul seemed to spot the holes or misinterpretations in his story almost immediately, and was able to point out the reasons Jesse shouldn’t be so miserable to know they kept other kids (including a disabled one) but not him.

Still, a really strong, painful installment of the show, and I hope Paul can help the kid figure some things out before we’re done.


“I don’t think you realize how paralyzed you’ve become.” -Adele

The patient stories are always designed to mirror some aspect of Paul’s life, and that’s rarely been more obvious than in this half-session(*). Like Sunil, he’s constantly changing the subject whenever Adele gets too close, he refuses her offer to have more frequent sessions, and we learn that he’s even lingered outside her office the way Sunil so often lurks around Julia. Like Frances, he’s in denial about good news in his life, and paralyzed from doing anything about the people he cares for in his life. And like Jesse, he seems determined to sabotage all his relationships – up to and including the professional one with Adele – so he can feel justified in his own misery.

(*) One of the problems of compressing a 50-minute session into 20-odd minutes is that when we’re told a session like this one is going to be abbreviated, it can still run just as long as the regular ones. (And that’s even factoring in that everybody ran away early from Paul this week.)

In particular, I have rarely seen Paul be as full of his own BS as he is in the sequence where he denies that he’s been thinking about her for the past week. I like that the show is brave enough to (usually) make the central character so kind and sympathetic when he’s with his patients, and such an insufferable prick when he’s with his own shrink, and this was a particularly ugly side of Paul – one who was all but begging for the emotional smackdown Adele delivered through the sessions’s closing moments. (A woman can also only be pushed so far, right? Great stuff from Amy Ryan.)

Given all the chaos in Paul’s life of late, this is another episode that could have stood to be longer, but I understand that the format is the format, and the abruptness of the end helped drive home how frustrated Paul was that Adele was kicking him out rather than joining in on his self-pity party.

What did everybody else think?

#mc_embed_signup fieldset {position: relative;}
#mc_embed_signup legend {position: absolute; top: -1em; left: .2em;}

.mc-field-group {overflow:visible;}

http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.2.6/jquery.min.js http://downloads.mailchimp.com/js/jquery.validate.js http://downloads.mailchimp.com/js/jquery.form.js

Get Instant Alerts – Latest Posts from What’s Alan Watching

By subscribing to this e-alert, you agree to HitFix Terms of Service, Privacy Policy and to occasionally receive promotional emails from HitFix.

Follow Alan Sepinwall and Whats Alan Watching on

RSS Facebook Twitter