Sunday, March 2, 2008

In Treatment 5: Paul's Greatest Strength

A great week 5 of In Treatment on HBO, with things getting worse for almost everyone - but that's what makes a serial therapy story top-notch...

Laura's as beautiful and manipulative and needy and insightful - about herself and Paul - as ever, and, yeah, she says she's leaving treatment. This of course would be just what Paul should want, if he didn't love her. But of course he does love her, and that's precisely why he desperately doesn't want her out of his life, professional or otherwise, even though he should want her out of his life, because as Gina has made crystal clear and Paul knows full well, he can never sleep with Laura, let alone be romantically involved, at least according to the applicable canon of ethics...

But, not to worry too much about this vicious circle, we all know Laura will not be out of Paul's life.

Laura says she's through with Alex, but he may not be through with her, and Alex has one of his best episodes (I can't recall which one wasn't his best) as he goads and taunts Paul, to the point of calling Laura a slut, which elicits from Paul not only a "you prick" but an actual shoving of Alex against the wall. Interestingly, Alex seems a little chastised by this - he doesn't react violently - which suggests that that shove may be just the thing he needed.

My favorite session of this past week was Sophie's, superbly portrayed by Mia Wasikowska. I can't recall if I said this before - but if I did, it's worth repeating - which is, I think that Paul's clearly at his best when Sophie's in his therapy. He's not in love her (Paul's problem with Laura), threatened by her (Paul's problem with Alex), reminded of his own marital problems (Paul's problem with Jake and Amy), so Paul can make use of his full, non-conflicted, considerable talents as a therapist.

The other salient point about Sophie is her case is really, literally, a matter of life and death, with suicide never too far from the surface. And Paul has been dealing with this masterfully. On Wednesday's episode, he handles Sophie's mother, who accompanies her to the session, very well, and, even more impressively, extracts a commitment from Sophie not to use the threat of suicide as weapon in their sessions. Powerful and perfectly rendered.

Jake shows some humanity, finally, in his session with Amy - as a songwriter, he should have at least a little sensitivity (I've been known to write a few myself - see my MySpace music page, and my Wikipedia entry). And the Friday session with Gina was one of the best between these two, enhanced by Paul's wife joining the treatment.

In Treatment is one of the best shows ever on HBO, and, for that matter, on television. There's been nothing else like it, and I'm looking forward to more.

See also In Treatment on HBO ... 2. Scalding ... 3. Triangle ... 4. Love and Death ... 6. Paul's Boat ... 7. Alex in the Sky with Diamonds ... 8. A Princely Performance ... In Treatment Concludes: For Now

The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

more about The Plot to Save Socrates... good reading if you're in a doctor's office...

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