thoughts on pop culture

In Treatment Season 2 Week 4

This week brought us two great episodes, two okay episodes, and one that I felt just went through the motions. If it hasn’t been obvious based on my last couple posts, I’ve become very partial to both April and Oliver. I understand they are the two most sympathetic characters this season, so I guess liking them is a bit of an easy out–but I don’t care. My biggest surprise so far this year is Walter. Maybe it’s because I was excited about John Mahoney joining the cast, but I was expecting Walter to be a great character. This week I thought he fell flat. There’s still time to improve though, so I’m reserving final judgement for the time being.

Mia’s session was productive, but frustrating to watch. Immediately upon entering, she proceeds to force her way into the kitchen, violating the boundaries Paul has established. Then she take pleasure in describing her tawdry weekend in graphic detail, including both anonymous sexual partners. At first it seems she’s trying to make Paul jealous, but then we find out she’s just trying to convince herself how exciting her life is and how she can still “go on a spree” as if promiscuous sex is like buying designer shoes. The best moments of this session were the ones following Paul calling bullshit and saying Mia just likes to think she’s special, tying it to her relationship with her father. Just before the session ends, Mia has an honest moment and admits to Paul that she doesn’t want to be alone.

April arrived for her session early, looking worse than last week when she hadn’t slept in two days. Right away, she makes a point to give herself an out by saying her brother is going to call and she’ll have to leave early. She also tells Paul she never had the conversation with her mother from last week. Paul tells April directly that he doesn’t want to waste what little time they may have left due to her cancer. He pushes April to contact him when she’s feeling depressed–his scars from Sophie are still showing. After discussing her mother and brother, Paul broaches the topic of chemotherapy. Naturally this is when Daniel calls. After she makes a frenzied call on her brother’s behalf, April faints briefly. When she awakens, Paul launches into a lecture about how she simply cannot take over everything. This angers April and she tries to analyze Paul, but only ends up admitting all of her own fears about what the chemo would do to her and how she will eventually succumb to the cancer. Paul assures April that he won’t hate her for the pain she could cause him personally. After April talks to her mother on the phone, Paul presses her so he can understand what about his office gives her the strength to deal with things–see admits it’s him, so Paul offers to go with her to begin the chemotherapy process. As they left the office, I realized that Paul will blur the boundaries of the office when he feels it’s the best thing for the patient.

Oliver’s session this week broke my heart. I was angry that Bess took up so much of the session, especially since she made the classic mistake of thinking that last week’s session had solved all their problems. Once she left, Oliver came in and told Paul that he’s tired of being fat and he’s quit eating. Paul is visibly uncomfortable at hearing this, but doesn’t press the issue when Oliver says he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. They discuss the adoption that Bess and Luke didn’t go through with, and Oliver expresses his concerns that he may be adopted as well. As they continue to discuss it though, Oliver says he actually wishes they would give him away too, so he could be with those who really want him. Luke isn’t there at the end of the session, so Paul asks if Oliver is hungry and invites him into the kitchen for a sandwich. Paul was once again breaking his rules for a patient who really needed it. It’s just plain sad that neither of Oliver’s parents has a clue about what’s troubling their son.

Before Walter’s session, Paul gets a call about his father’s condition getting worse and really lets his emotions out. None of those emotions make it to Walter’s session though, where Paul seems overly detached. After being forced to resign, Walter explains that the experience makes him feel like an old man.  I noticed that this was really the first time Walter has looked like an old man too, complete with Mr. Rogers sweater and a complete lack of the drive he’s had in the previous three weeks. Walter makes it very clear that he thinks retirement is equivalent to death, then explains to Paul that he blames himself for his brother’s death. Paul confronts Walter about this, and this time when Walter leaves the session in a hurry, it has nothing to do with work and everything to do with a desire to avoid facing his real problems.

After a rough deposition, a tense meal with Tammy, and an unsatisfying meeting with his daughter, Paul is running late for his session with Gina.  I’m amazed at the different Paul we see in these sessions. We seem him as the rock all week and with Gina he behaves like a child. He says he hates his life and admits to trying to use his patients to meet his needs. He also talks about Mia for the first time and comes across as a horny teenager. Gina notices and Paul quickly says he’s not in love with Mia and won’t be going down the Laura road again. After Tammy is brought up, there is a brief exchange about old flames that I’m pretty sure ended with Paul expressing regret for never having slept with Gina. I didn’t get long to dwell on this though, because Gina seized the opening to confront Paul about his daddy issues. In the end, that was enough to cause Paul to go see his father after the session, ending with a tearful apology to his unconscious father for placing all the blame on him.

Lead Actor in a Drama is probably the most competitive category in the Emmys, but I think Gabriel Byrne has a real good shot at taking the trophy this year. He has already shown incredible range this season, and I’m sure the best is yet to come. It may not be great for Paul, but the move to Brooklyn may be just what Byrne needed to fill his mantle.


May 3, 2009 Posted by | Drama, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on In Treatment Season 2 Week 4

House Season 5 Episode 22: House Divided

Last week, when the episode ended with a vision of Amber (aka Cutthroat Bitch) greeting House at his apartment, I was not excited.  It seemed like a weak attempt to fill out the cast after the sudden departure of Kal Penn’s Dr. Kutner.  In addition, I really felt like we had already done the whole ‘vision of Amber’ thing back at the end of Season 4 when House was remembering the circumstances of the accident that caused in her death.

The opening of the episode was excellent.  While I have no experience being deaf, I felt like they did an outstanding job of recreating the experience from the patient’s perspective, especially the way they created the symptoms of Exploding Head Syndrome.

House’s greatest hits of the night:

  • Showing up with the giant 80’s style boombox and the hilarious sunglasses.
  • Calling imaginary Amber “Gazoo” (Flintstones reference for those who didn’t get it)
  • On Wilson helping plan the bachelor party – “What, there were no retired ministers available to plan it?”
  • About Dr. Cameron – “Says the soon-to-be second prettiest Dr. Chase.”
  • Wearing the bluetooth headset so he didn’t look like a crazy man talking to himself.
  • Adding chemical burns to the death certificate after his practice in the morgue went wrong.
  • Secretly throwing the bachelor party at Wilson’s apartment so he had no choice but to attend and end up wandering through the streets with no pants.

This was one of those great episodes of House that gave us both a great patient mystery and an outstanding non-patient story. Watching House go from dismissive of Imaginary Amber to completely reliant upon her was intriguing, but not nearly as interesting as the revelation that his subconscious thoughts were not to be trusted. It’s one thing to take advantage of the excellent recall of distant memory, but another to allow your base instincts to nearly cause the death of Dr. Chase.

Near the end of the episode, we also saw a rare vulnerable side of House, as he admitted to Cuddy that he had not been able to sleep since Kutner’s suicide. It’s rare to see this kind of honesty from House without it being immediately followed by a smart-ass remark. Then, as the episode closed and House awoke after a full night’s sleep, he is greeted by Imaginary Amber, who asks, “Sleep well?”

Far from a desperate attempt to fill the Kutner void, I think this may actually have been the best episode of the season.

May 3, 2009 Posted by | Drama, Science, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on House Season 5 Episode 22: House Divided