Monday, June 7, 2021

REVIEW: 'In Treatment' - Laila Details Her Urges to Runaway and the Consequences for When She Does in 'Laila - Week 3'

HBO's In Treatment - Episode 4.11 "Laila - Week 3"

As Laila details an elaborate getaway plan, a skeptical Brooke learns that her patient's desire to escape dates back to her earliest memories - and has only been accelerated by societal injustice and the impossible expectations thrust upon her.

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 3" was written by Jackie Sibblies Drury and directed by Uta Briesewitz

Laila doesn't believe she will ever be happy in life. She will either be trapped in a system set up for her to fail or be yet another statistic of a life taken far too soon in our overly militaristic and racist world. Those are the only options she sees for her future. It's an incredibly depressing worldview. One that doesn't seem productive to building anything stable in her life moving forward. Brooke deduces a pattern of running away. It's not just Laila trying to escape her family and the high expectations always forced onto her. She is trying to escape the world that wishes to condemn and abuse her no matter what. She is conditioned into believing that that is the only rational response because the world doesn't care about her body or agency. Her grandmother fulfills the same role. She uses corporeal punishment over and over again. Laila sees the benefits of being spanked. She believes her peers would have improved their lives if they were disciplined in that way. And yes, it's huge that Rhonda has opted to respond to Laila's chaotic life by embracing therapy at this particular point in time. She still expects immediate results. She needs to trust that her granddaughter can be a reliable member of society. She wants a young woman capable of taking responsibility for her life and not depend on her family to do everything for her. Of course, Laila is capable of making these grand and extravagant plans. Brooke has already noted her vivid imagination and frequent need to fantasize about a different, unique world. Here, the planning is much more tangible. Laila felt dismissed by Brooke in the previous session. As such, she spent the last week making plans so it seemed like a serious threat. Of course, Brooke doubts that Cara had any input whatsoever in this decision. It seems like Laila is leading the charge. She is picking activities and destinations that appeal to her. That informs a great deal about her though. She seeks refuge in Cara. That relationship is special to Laila. However, the balance of power remains off. Laila knows so much about the majestic nature of the world. She wants to experience that. She wants her life to be full of more than stories about Black people being abused in every aspect of society. She engages with the viral nature of life in the social media age. It provides comfort to her. But it may all be a distraction as well. Her family doesn't want to reckon with the idea that she won't follow the typical path of what they have planned for her life. Rhonda wants her daughter to be excellent. That pressure is unbearable though. Laila exposes more of that here. That comes from a sense of her appreciating the freedom Brooke gives to her in these sessions. Rhonda has her expectations. Brooke defends Laila though. She appreciates the perspective she has on the world. She feels challenged by her young patient. They experience a bit of a breakthrough in this session. And yet, Laila shuts down afterwards as well. It's important for her to retreat to Cara. That relationship makes her feel safe and protected. Of course, she has never felt like that even when she was that age. She has always yearned for a greater understanding of the world. She has thrived in pursuing perfection. Her body is abused when she can't achieve those impossible standards. People don't care to understand her perspective. She remains stable in certain aspects of her life. They may not line up with what Rhonda wants. Brooke sees nothing wrong with that. But she also sees a young woman in turmoil because she can't connect with a world that seemingly doesn't want her and has already ruined the planet for her future. As such, it's hard for Laila to engage fully with the idea that her chasing success will be any more beneficial to her life than the generations before her. She is stuck in this pattern. Brooke provides some guidance. She is going through her own turmoil at the moment as well. That breakdown is significant. It will shape how she helps her patients throughout the week. She feels compelled to drink after this session. It's frustrating and private. This is a comfort she takes within her own home despite the people trying to invade and ruin her own world. She wants the chance to pursue so much more. But she is confined too. She may relate to Laila. In fact, she may have thematic connections with all her patients. That will surely help some while condemning others to even more dysfunction. That is the pattern of the season. The barriers are coming down. The conversations are getting more raw. As such, it's important to test these bonds to see just how far everyone is willing to go to addressing their own fates and what has come of their lives leading to this moment.