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In Treatment Season 2 Week 2

Season two is starting to take shape after a second round of session this week on In Treatment.

Note – My day references are based on the session days within the continuity of the show, not the days in real life on which the shows aired.

On Monday, Mia came to Paul’s office for a session, and proceeded to blame Paul for everything in her life that hadn’t worked out in the twenty years since she was last his patient. It became obvious quickly that Mia’s doubts about her own choices were leading her to question Paul’s skills as a therapist. The session culminated with Mia making a point to mention how much money she makes, right before telling Paul he owes her a child for convincing her to get an abortion when she was 22. Mia’s position is absurd, but Hope Davis is doing an excellent job of portraying her. An actor has to be on top of their game on this show, and Davis really sets the standard. With the story told mainly through extended close-ups, extreme control over their emotional displays is key, right down to subtle facial expressions that often tell the story.

Tuesday brought another session with April, the cancer-stricken grad student. I thought this session really let us see Paul’s skills at work. Paul quickly addressed April’s hesitance to share anything at the start of the session, and then her emotions started pouring out. I liked the way Paul initially withheld the use of the phone, and then subtly gave April the phone as a reward after she started sharing. At the end of the session, we got a look at a nervous Paul insisting April not harm herself–it certainly showed us that Paul is still stinging from Sophie’s attempted suicide last year.

Oliver’s session on Wednesday was unfortunately dominated by his bickering parents Bess and Luke. Their exchange was pretty stereotypical, and was surpassed by the conversation in the early part of the session between Paul and Oliver. At first, Oliver’s talk about being fat was actually pretty hilarious, but it quickly turned heartbreaking as he shared what he had heard from the kids at school and even his own parents. Maybe it’s the young fat boy and child of divorce inside me talking, but Aaron Shaw delivered a very real performance this week.

Thursday began with Paul finishing up a visit with his daughter Rosie. She shared a spot-on observation about how Paul’s dedication to his patients (and the confidentiality required) are the cause of Paul’s lack of connection with his family and his resulting loneliness. Later on, Walter had a session where he mentioned several times that he mainly thinks of himself as a poor substitute for his older brother who died as a young man. As Walter insisted on paying at the end of his session, Paul’s frustration was palpable. I wasn’t surprised when it came up during his session with Gina the next day.

Paul’s session with Gina actually began with an ambush from ex-wife Kate that appeared to be nothing more than an excuse to get a couple digs in at his expense. Of course, it also allowed an awkward moment when high school sweetheart Tammy emerged from her session before Kate left. Once Paul went inside, Gina expertly maneuvered Paul into changing his mind completely about his need to go into treatment with her. One of my favorite things about the show is how Gina is the one person that Paul will fully open up with. He hides his vulnerability all week long, not just from patients but from his children and even his wife when he still had one. That doesn’t work with Gina though, and that is what makes this the perfect way to close the week. I think Paul needs his sessions with Gina if he wants to have any chance at succeeding with his own patients. It’s the only way he can get his own baggage out of the way. Speaking of, he certainly didn’t waste any time calling Tammy once he finished with Gina.

I really thought Hope Davis (Mia) and Gabriel Byrne (Paul) gave the stand out performances this week. As I mentioned before, Davis used a subtlety this week that allowed Mia’s true feelings to betray her false front through a series of expertly-executed movements and facial expressions. Byrne on the other hand, showed us a full range of emotions through this weeks episodes, from concern for April’s safety to disdain for Walter’s lack of respect for his skill as a therapist. I’m sure each character will take the spotlight at some point during the season, and getting a chance to see those performances is a big part of what keeps me coming back for more.

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April 18, 2009 - Posted by | Drama, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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