Monday, May 24, 2021

REVIEW: 'In Treatment' - Laila Is Forced to Attend Therapy But Brooke Deduces Separate Issues Altogether in 'Laila - Week 1'

HBO's In Treatment - Episode 4.03 "Laila - Week 1"

Brooke struggles to draw genuine answers out of her newest patient Laila, who's been dragged to therapy by her concerned grandmother over recent "life choices," before switching gears and empowering the 18-year-old to seize her agency.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of HBO's In Treatment.

"Laila - Week 1" was written by Jackie Sibblies Drury and directed by Michelle MacLaren

No one can force Laila to attend therapy. She has agency and control over her own life. Her grandmother sees the urgency of these sessions with Brooke. She wants this therapist to tell Laila just how much more difficult the world will be because she is gay. Rhonda sees all the other barriers to entry stacked against her granddaughter. She doesn't want one more to prevent her from having the happy and fulfilling life that she deserves. But again, it's a situation dominated by control. That's the true essence of the conversation Brooke and Laila have throughout this first session. Brooke hopes that her patients open up to her right away. They are honest about their issues. She can offer insight and guidance as to how to address their behavior moving forward. Laila is different because this wasn't her choice. She can certainly keep Brooke entertained with stories. The conversation is lively and eventful. However, it's not authentic. Brooke picks up on that continuously. She sees moments where Laila is trying to be honest with her. Instead, she reverts back to believing yet another person in her life is judging her. That seems like the burden that has always been forced onto her. Her sexual identity really isn't an issue at all. Laila has complete clarity about her herself in that regard. Brooke sees no problem whatsoever. She can assure Rhonda that she has nothing to be worried about. All of that can be determined in one session. Rhonda didn't even know how long it would take to find a quick fix to something she labels an issue. She was hoping for brevity. She doesn't want this anymore than her granddaughter does. And yet, Brooke also senses something more going on with Laila. Something she wants to talk about. She is cut off before confirming that suspicion. As such, it's completely unknown if this patient will come back seeking more help. Of course, the audience knows that will happen because that's the basic function of the series. Laila is a central patient just like El and Colin are. Her story is just as valid and pivotal as theirs to the overall story of the season. And so, it's inevitable that she will return. As such, the uncertainty of this particular ending doesn't really feel earned. It may be truthful to the moment. Brooke can't force her patients to open up. She can't expect them to trust her right away. In fact, Rhonda's first impression of Brooke is detailing the many ways in which she already knows everything about her. That already signals a closeness between them that alienates Laila. It's not because of anything that Brooke does. That barrier is suddenly formed. Brooke has to break that down and build up trust with Laila. A change of setting is necessary in that regard. And yet, she doesn't find anything too worrying with this teenager. Sure, it's concerning that she is having a sexual relationship with a younger student. She is walking a very precarious line in that regard. She is blurring the limits and control of consent. That's potentially dangerous. It further signals a quest for control. She can detail her life as defined through experiences. She knows exactly how to summarize her grandmother, father and mother. She knows their places in this world. Some of them are present. Some are not. She sees the path laid out for her. It's not her choice whatsoever. She works hard to please others and maintain this story. She has her own unique journey as well. She has already explored her sexual identity. She is also quick to judge others simply because of their age and astrological sign. She tacks meaning onto those perceptions. She too wants to quickly determine what kind of person Brooke is. After three sessions, the audience is trying to do that as well. We are still getting our bearings in determining how effective she is. She already states that she shares too much personal information with her patients. She may give too much. She is putting things off in her personal life as well. The viewer sees that peak behind the curtain. Her central role is still in trying to help these patients. Brooke's time in the spotlight hasn't occurred just yet. Instead, she wants to get to Laila's truth. But alas, it remains elusive - though with the certainty that further exploration will occur simply because that's how the show functions. As such, the show is carefully trying to thread the needle of this story in a way that is more blatantly obvious than what was depicted in El and Colin's first sessions with Brooke.