Sunday, April 12, 2009

In Treatment 2.1-2: Fathers and Daughters

Two splendid sessions on In Treatment tonight -

1. Mia comes to see Paul - not as his almost-lawyer, but his erstwhile patient. This was an episode which, as a professor (not a therapist) I could thoroughly identify with. There's a profound asymmetry in the way profs remember students, and students remember professors, for the basic reason that students have been taught by far fewer professors than professors have taught students. I've taught thousands of students, and each of my students has been taught by probably not much more than a hundred professors, if that many. The numericals of therapists and patients are no doubt much smaller, but the same asymmetry applies.

So ... Mia remembers Paul far better than he remembers her. And the specialness of their relationship, from her point of view, is apparently not that they had an affair, but that she thinks he talked her out of having a baby - into having an abortion. This is looming larger than ever in Mia's life now, because she realizes that her child-bearing years are concluding. (This must be a concern of every therapist - to be contacted by a patient 20 years later, and find he or she holds you responsible for something they did or didn't do in their lives.)

Mia's relationship with her father (of course) also figures in her current situation. She relays a recollection of how her father made her feel grown-up when she was a little girl, by giving her coffee (mostly milk) in his shop. There's something about fathers and daughters which the writer of this episode keenly understands. I remember taking my daughter to a science fiction convention when she was a little girl, and letting her order an adult cut of steak. She was really happy, not just because she liked steak, but because she loved being treated like an adult.

2. April's session with Paul was even more intrinsically father and daughter. Paul's goal is to get April to an oncologist, so her cancer can be treated. He has to tread very carefully, and make sure his pressure doesn't drive April away. He seems to be navigating these dire straits almost perfectly, but the clock continues to tick...

As I mentioned last week, it's a pleasure to see Paul with teenagers and people in their early 20s - he's a professional completely in control of his emotions and strategies. In contrast, Paul's conversation with Mia is riddled, understandably, with personal responses, and it's often difficult to tell the difference between them and his professional responses. Kudos to Gabriel Byrne for a razor-sharp, satisfying rendition of these different states. He's played some great roles in movies, but his performance in these sessions is in class of its own.

And I'll be back late tomorrow or some time on Tuesday with my review of 2.3-5...

See also: Back in Treatment on HBO ... Back in Treatment: Three More Fine Times

And Season One reviews: In Treatment on HBO ... 2. Scalding ... 3. Triangle ... 4. Love and Death ... 6. Paul's Greatest Strength ... 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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