Monday, April 20, 2009
In Treatment, Season 2, Episodes 3, 4 & 5
Paul is videochatting with his son. The boy is animated, but Paul stops him for an inquisition about that C in writing. The doorbell rings and Paul has to go-- yup, it's Oliver's mom, here to collect the forgotten Turtle (and ClinkShrink does indeed like turtles).
Family therapy session with the dissolving family: Oliver had a great time staying with his dad, Luke, and we discover that Luke is dating Nina. Oh, and Nina is Oliver's former teacher, and she's 23. This doesn't sit well with Bess, and Paul takes Oliver out into the waiting room where the two of them talk while Bess and Luke fight it out in the main office. We hear how Oliver feels alone, doesn't feel at home anywhere, and how he thinks Paul has a son. He assumes Paul is divorced, that his son lives with his mom, and Oliver wants to meet Paul's son. Paul must be a good dad because he listens, and I'm struck by the poignance of the moment. Paul listens so much better to Oliver than he does to his own child. When Oliver talks about missing his mom, you can almost feel Paul missing his son and at the same time missing his own long-dead mother. Family parallels are everywhere. We also hear about the adoption of a sibling for Oliver-- a process started but never finished.
Back in the office, Bess and Paul are still alive. I'm not sure I would have left them alone given the hostility between them at this time.
Cashmere Walter is beside himself about a recall at work. He's 2 hours late, he tries to give money to Paul, and he's all worked up. Paul tries to interrupt Walter, but he can't be redirected. He's wired, the phones/blackberries/iPhones are ringing out Walter's pockets; he's too busy to drink water. Paul suggests they reschedule after the crisis. Walter calms down, turns the gadgets off, and drinks some water.
So Walter has just returned from a trip to Rwanda to get his daughter. She cut her hair (Paul can relate-- "that's what daughters do.") Walter fights with his daughter, he tells her she's coming home with him, and she curses him out. "She broke my heart." "It turns out that I'm domineering, obsessive, the cause of all her problems...I'm ruining her only chance to free herself from me....Now you know why I went over there."
Paul points out to Walter how uncomfortable he is when he's not in control. Paul points out how hard it is for Walter to let his daughter go. Walter jumps up and takes a Xanax. He talks about a panic attack he had in Rwanda where he woke up thinking he was in his brother's room--the one who died as a teenager. Paul draws a comparison between Walter's loss of his brother and his feared loss of his daughter. Walter doesn't want to hear it. The man has a overwhelming need to be indispensible.
Paul wakes up with a woman-- ah, he's been sleeping with Tammy Kent and he'd promised Gina he wouldn't. Paul's daughter Rosie calls, she's worried about her grandfather, Paul's dad, and he dismisses her concerns. Rosie hangs up on him. Later same day, now in Maryland instead of Brooklyn, and Tammy and Paul bump into each other in Gina's waiting room.
Paul announces that his dad is very sick and Gina says, "I'm so sorry to hear, Paul." Paul responds, "That's so easy to say." I cringe a little, because when anyone tells me about something troubling that's happened, I tend to say, "I'm sorry." Not as an apology, but as a statement of regret. What should Gina say? Paul goes on to talk about his sick father in a nursing home. "He was never present in my life."
Paul tells Gina he met with Tammy to discuss his memories of the Christmas Eve when his mother tried to commit suicide. Tammy had different memories...she says that his dad was there, and Gina begins to question Paul's memories and his description of the past. "We're constantly altering our memories so that the past is consistant with the present." Paul has a script of what happens where he ascribes intent to his father's actions-- Gina suggests that the father's intentions might have been different. Gina draws parallels between Paul's father and Paul's current situation, and this angers him. "No wonder my patients complain about this. Will you stop repeating everything I say!" They talk about the events of the past, of how Paul's mother had bipolar disorder. Paul talks about wanting to save his little patient, Oliver, and how he relates to Oliver's difficulty being with his father. Paul talks about how he should go see his father, and how he should talk to his own kids.
Generations of parallels, his patients', his own, and all that isn't being said about how Paul betrayed Gina's trust by sleeping with another patient when he promised he wouldn't. Gina has her own doorknob moment. "And next week, we'll talk about Tammy."