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August 29, 2015

In Treatment: Paul and Gina-Week One

by Jason Hughes, posted Feb 2nd 2008 9:35PM
Dianne Wiest(S01E05) "I think this was a mistake coming here today." - Paul Weston

Now this is what I was waiting for. Sure, it was still essentially a single therapy session in real time for thirty minutes, but it was Gabriel Byrne on the patient side and the always brilliant Dianne Wiest as his therapist Gina. Only it's been nearly ten years since he's seen her due to some kind of bad history, and their professional relationship was more complicated than simply patient/therapist. So out of the blue he called her and she agreed to see him, but was he wanting to see her as a friend, a colleague, a therapist? Gina had no idea what Paul wanted, and I don't think Paul did either.

As I expected, the Friday episodes will be the fulcrum on which the entire series balances, and if this episode is any indication, I officially think the series is going to be amazing. So much of the history of these two characters and the bad blood was hinted at, but thank god we weren't spoon fed information through awkward dialogue, and the acting on both sides to capture all those buried feelings bubbling near the surface was stellar.
In the time since they've seen one another, Gina has retired her practice, and Paul's son was conceived and born. All that we're given about the end of their relationship is that it ended when David died. Based on dialogue, David could have been Gina's husband, child; she referred to how she "came back home without him"? Paul didn't go to the funeral and they lost touch. At that time Gina acted as Paul's supervisor and they had a falling out when she felt she needed to step in over something, though we're not given what happened there either. The bottom line was their was some professional friction, and it looks like Paul shut her out and hasn't spoken to her since.

So it's understandable how apprehensive she was when he called, but she agreed to see him. Through their conversation, you can see Gina uncomfortable as to what to do. Should she try and help him work through the issues he's bringing up as a therapist, advise him professionally regarding how to handle his patients, be a friend for him to lean on? But no matter what she tried she kept hitting a wall of anger and resistance from Paul.

Especially when he talked about the frictions at home and the revelation of erotic transference with Laura that happened in his Monday session. Gina thinks that incredibly significant, and now that we know more about how he's struggling in his own marriage with issues of trust, she may be right. So what was originally the least interesting session of the bunch now may just be the most compelling, but not because of anything Laura says or does but due to how Paul will react to it.

It was very interesting to see the other side of the earlier sessions. For example, in the "Jake and Amy" episode, when Jake badgered Paul to make a decision on whether or not they should have an abortion, Paul said that yes they should. He then went on to explain that Jake had pushed him into a corner so the only answer he could give was what Jake least wanted to hear. He used it to correlate how Jake pushes Amy and she reacts in the same way, as if his answer had been a calculated step in getting to that point.

Now we learn that Jake really had pissed him off and he'd finally caved and given an answer. "Were you insulted when you were called a murderer." Gina asked him. "Yes. I know I'm a good therapist." Paul's been getting anxious before sessions and more frustrated with his patients than he should be. And as for Laura, he's been seeing her for a year now, but suddenly the erotic transference is the only issue that they're discussing.

When Gina told him she thought he'd called due to home issues, he said he hadn't and then proceeded to go into detail about his home life, his lack of trust when his wife is at the gym but her gym clothes and shows are at the office, his sex life, or lack thereof. His main point of contention is in how Kate, his wife, is going behind his back to get their son, Max, enrolled in gifted programs and classes which he is against on principal. Kate's mani ponit of contention is that he has no perspective in their marriage and she feels he doesn't love her any more.

When she started to ask him about Kate, trying to bring out more information, Paul got extremely defensive but then started talking about her again. Gina again focused on the erotic transference issue with Laura and Paul accuses her: "You twist everything into your preconceived notion." Gina asks, "Was there physical contact?" "No." But he hesitated before answering so her suspicion grew. But while Gina thinks the issue with Laura may be the central issue bothering Paul, he thinks it's not a big deal. She also advised him to come right out and ask Kate if she was having an affair.

Paul leaves abruptly and we don't know if he'll come back. Okay, well of course we know because we know this is the Friday sessions, but within the show he doesn't even know. But I think given some distance he'll come to realize that Gina was right on a lot of things. Personally, given the additional background we've just been given, I think it would be interesting to go back and watch the first four episodes again. And it definitely sets up some interesting background thoughts for his upcoming sessions as well. Particularly Laura's session on Monday.

In Treatment started out as a pretty different experiment on television that piquied my curiosity. As the week progressed I saw some potential in it but wondered how it would all hold together. After this episode, it's set up to be a fanastic run and I'm looking forward to every episode now.

How will you watch In Treatmen?
Every episode134 (81.7%)
Only follow the sessions that interest me14 (8.5%)
Monday nights only (Laura)1 (0.6%)
Tuesday nights only (Alex)2 (1.2%)
Wednesday nights only (Sophie)2 (1.2%)
Thursday nights only (Jake and Amy)1 (0.6%)
Friday nights only (Paul and Gina)9 (5.5%)
I won't be watching anymore1 (0.6%)

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I'm not pretending that I watch it for the art, though it actually has potential in that regard. But other people's therapy is somehow fascinating--like reading someone else's diary or hearing a quarrel you aren't supposed to hear. You don't want to do it, mostly I can hold my voyeurstic impulses in check, but sometimes it's just too juicy. Beyond the peurile, I think we must be learning somethin about ourselves. The acting is very good. I hope that as it unfolds it becomes more introspective and not so showy. Therapy is a pretty lonely, quiet process.

February 03 2008 at 10:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm enjoying this show, but my only real complaint (if it's even that) is how combative most of the characters are. Well, more than half, I suppose. Certainly Alex is and Jake and Amy are and now we find that outside of his practice, Paul is, too.

I know that therapy can bring out some painful and frustrating insights into oneself, but none of these people seem like they actually want any help. I found that all of the characters, with the possible exception of Laura, are there to be told what they want to hear and then they can go about their way.

Perhaps in later episodes, the patients will come to realize that they actually need and desire help with their issues instead and that's how the series will progress and show growth.

Regardless, I'll be sticking around to find out.

February 03 2008 at 1:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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