Monday, May 24, 2021

REVIEW: 'In Treatment' - Rita Details How Brooke May Be Projecting Her Issues Onto Her New Patients in 'Brooke - Week 1'

HBO's In Treatment - Episode 4.04 "Brooke - Week 1"

After failing to honor a commitment, Brooke receives an unexpected visit from her friend Rita. Worried that Brooke is teetering on the edge of a bad decision, Rita illuminates an unexpected connection between Brooke's personal and professional lives.

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.

"Brooke - Week 1" was written by Joshua Allen and directed by Michelle MacLaren

This season follows the basic structure of depicting three therapy sessions with patients before spending a spotlight episode on Brooke's internal life. It's similar to the structure of the original series. Previously though, Paul spent his episode talking with his own therapist. Here, Brooke has a conversation with her sponsor. It's a unique way to change the format while depicting a different story altogether. And yet, this episode feels more stilted than the previous three have. That comes from the dialogue forcefully introducing this character while she is talking with someone she has apparently been friends with for a decade. At this point in knowing each other, Rita should already know about Brooke's past history. Her mother died while she was in college and she didn't make it home in time to say goodbye. She started seeking comfort from alcohol because of the overbearing pressure forced onto her by her father. She gave up her child for adoption after she got pregnant at 15. All of these details are central to Brooke's life. They are revealed for the first time to the audience. But it doesn't come across in a natural way. While conducting her sessions, Brooke is trying to get these intimate and central details out of her patients in their first interactions. Rita doesn't fulfill that same role. In fact, Brooke even questions whether or not her friend is trying to do these various techniques on her right now. She is skeptical of Rita's motives. She questions the friendship. She lashes out. She feels she has a right to do so because she is all alone in the world now. Her father has died. He kept plenty of secrets from her. She isn't mad at him. Instead, she is mad at the world for leaving her all alone. All of this context helps the audience better understand her interactions with her patients over the last week. Her isolation and loneliness in the middle of the night serves as an explanation for picking up the phone when El called simply to talk about a dream. In fact, El is positioned as the most pivotal case she has to work on at the moment. She may be using him as a stand-in for her own son. Her father forced her to give him away. She has never interacted with him since. She imagines what life could have been. Rita tries to get her to see the successful path she found despite the dysfunction along the way. She wants to highlight the human failings of those around her who were just trying to do their best in times of struggle and hard choices. Brooke can't see things in her life as clearly as she does with her patients. And yet, she views El as a kindred spirit. Someone who is so giving to others. He has no one to care for him. As such, she provides therapy while he provides a source of inspiration and intrigue. Brooke wants to be friends with her son. El even stated that he wanted Brooke to be like family. Brooke insists that she monitors the situation closely. Rita outlines her concerns. She shares the same opinion about Adam. He was in Brooke's life when she was in the throes of addiction. He could serve as a trigger for her. That connection to her past could make it even more likely that she makes a bad decision that starts the cycle all over again. And yet, the audience already saw Brooke pour herself a drink. She did so after her difficult session with Colin. As such, the temptation was already present long before Rita and Adam entered her life once more. Brooke insists that she is fine. She can handle everything happening in her life. It's emotional talking about all of this with Rita. She is grateful to have her in her life. She is combative and destructive as well. That shades our understanding of Brooke. She has the tools to offer insight to others. She makes plenty of chaotic choices herself. That could impact her work. Lines could be crossed. But again, this episode serves as the introduction of all these potential conflicts in an obvious way. It's genuine when Brooke breaks down about being alone. The story closes on the hopefulness of Brooke and Adam embracing once more. Everyone instinctively trusts Brooke to be honest. And yet, dread has very much entered the proceedings as well. That may make everyone question every comment she makes as she holds the fragile emotional states of her patients in her hands. That uncertainty may create a wild ride for the rest of the season as her triggers are now laid bare for all to see and experience.