Friday, November 23, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Kominsky Method' - Sandy and Norman Muse About Death on a Road Trip in 'Chapter 6: A Daughter Detoxes'

Netflix's The Kominsky Method - Episode 1.06 "Chapter 6: A Daughter Detoxes"

Norman and Sandy drive Phoebe to rehab, then spend the night at a casino. Sandy faces a financial quandary and learns he's angered Lisa.

In 2018, it makes no sense to provide full-length reviews of each individual episode for shows released all at once on the streaming services. Sure, there are some shows out there that value the power of the episode. They do make a point in differentiating each episode to ensure it's not just one big slog to the finish. However, the ability to watch the entire season at one's own viewing pace has largely changed the way we consume and discuss these shows. So, some brief summary thoughts are really all that's actually necessary with these seasons. As such, here are my latest thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's The Kominsky Method.

"Chapter 6: A Daughter Detoxes" was written by Chuck Lorre, Al Higgins & David Javerbaum and directed by Andy Tennant

As I've pointed out on numerous occasions so far, the show is at its absolute best when it's just Michael Douglas' Sandy and Alan Arkin's Norman interacting with each other. The parts of the show that distract from that bond haven't been as good or necessary. Here though, the episode is almost entirely Sandy and Norman. They are simply on a road trip together. Sure, it's to send Phoebe to yet another rehab for her to hopefully get better. It feels like nothing more than a routine at this point and the expected plot point to occur without anyone really being invested in whether or not Phoebe can get clean and sober. This is the first time it's even been mentioned that she has a husband and son. But they don't suddenly become important characters in this at all. Sandy is also facing difficulties in his personal life with Mindy informing him of his tax problems while Lisa is mad at him for already ignoring her after having sex. Both of those plot developments paint Sandy in an unflattering light because he simply doesn't understand how he could be at fault. Nor does he actually want to take the responsibility to remedy the situation. He would rather just pretend that everything is fine. He wants to present as the strong and sturdy companion that Norman needs right now. Norman certainly needs it too. He doesn't see anything being able to break the cycle that he and Phoebe are trapped in. They are perpetually going to go around and around with her overdosing and him paying for her rehab. This is the eighth time he has sent her away. It's the eighth time she's promised to get better. As such, he knows it's better to just drive off after she comes running out to escape with him and Sandy. But it's so depressing to Norman as well. He doesn't see anything worth living for anymore. He devoted his entire life to Eileen. It's perfectly normal to him that he continues to have conversations with her. They bring him comfort. But now, he only has Sandy to talk him off the ledge. They are able to have a deep conversation that pertains to suicide. That is so dark with it being handled in a very genuine but scary way. Sandy is right to be concerned about his best friend. He can't just let this be an idle joke. He needs to examine if it's how Norman actually feels. He wants Norman to know that he is loved and appreciated. In this moment, Sandy is aware enough not to burden Norman with his own problems. Norman can still offer sane advice. He knows that Sandy is the reason why Lisa ended their relationship. He knows that his friend frequently misbehaves and doesn't know how to develop into a well-meaning human being. But this episode also highlights how Sandy worries about his friend and needs to keep an eye on him. When he wakes up in the middle of the night and Norman isn't there, he searches the entire casino. There is ultimately no reason to worry. Norman is only musing about death. He is not actually driving a convertible off a cliff like the end of Thelma & Louise. But he also sees that as a way to go out while still soaring. His friendship with Sandy is the only thing he can really appreciate at the moment. He can articulate that into words as well. That's a huge step that shows he trusts this bond to be completely vulnerable and genuine. He trusts Sandy with these personal feelings even though Sandy is about to ask him for a huge favor. Sandy is the one who may actually put a price on this friendship. Norman has offered money all of the time to those he cares about. So, will he do the same for Sandy now? It is a lot of money he owes to the IRS after all.