Monday, June 21, 2021

REVIEW: 'In Treatment' - One Vitally Important Question Completely Unravels Brooke and Laila's Dynamic in 'Laila - Week 5'

HBO's In Treatment - Episode 4.19 "Laila - Week 5"

Torn up over the outside influences clouding her self-understanding, Laila is challenged by Brooke's unique therapy technique. But when Brooke asks Laila to take the exercise a step further, she receives a startling response.

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 5" was written by Jackie Sibblies Drury and directed by Karyn Kusama

Laila is a host of complications. That's how Brooke summarizes her patient to Adam. She is defined by plenty of contradictions. Brooke sees the necessity of time to unpack everything that dictates Laila's life. It still feels like she has only scratched the surface. And yet, she may have pushed her patient away for good. Brooke believes she is doing the responsible action mandated by law. But the trust that has grown between therapist and patient seemingly disappears over one question. It's a genuine concern. The audience has also probably picked up on the suicidal thoughts that Laila expresses. Brooke handles it bluntly and provokes Laila into storming out of the house. Brooke has long wanted her patient to remain grounded in the present. She is also trying to express that Laila should be grateful for asking these questions now instead of being plagued by these concerns later in life. Brooke has that perspective because of the work she does and just how difficult this self-examination can be with her other patients. But again, that sentiment isn't really helpful in this situation. Laila doesn't have that context. She sees herself as an adult. However, she is still just a teenager who has no idea of her place in the world. It's all daunting. She believes she has been set up to fail. She has always been trying to run away. She wants to climb the highest peaks she can find. She chases that euphoria that has been built up in her head. The fantasies provide purpose and guidance for her. Her mind is incredibly active. That is beneficial in so many ways. She exerts it as having mystical properties as well. It makes her special and unique. And yet, she still feels incredibly conflicted. Her internal turmoil is just as combustive as the first day she walked into therapy. She did so with reservations. And now, all of her fears about this environment may have been proven true. She sees Brooke as only adding more problems to her life. She doesn't need that. She runs away. That's her natural response. It's an understandable impulse. Brooke is trying to do her job. She sees her patient having emotional outbursts. She connects with the world. She has a firm understanding of culture and how societies have thrived over the centuries. She is worldly even though she hasn't gone anywhere. She aspires for so much more. But she also feels restricted by the responsibilities placed on her by her family. She loves them and wants to run away from them. Again, these contradictions are profound. They channel everything for her. Brooke can deduce that pretty succinctly. That doesn't offer much guidance though. Laila hopes for the best from these sessions. She continues to show up mostly out of obligation. It's the perception of it being helpful. The conversations that happen though actually have to follow through on that prospect. Otherwise, Brooke is only doing damage to those who trust her to care for them. And yes, she does force Laila to confront what she actually likes in life. She already has a firm understanding of herself. She doesn't need to place more pressure on her than she should. Brooke also sees even more patterns that are worthy of exploration. She sees all these various details that add up to more complexities of Laila's personality and identity. She doesn't have the time to mine through all of them. With time though, this work could be life-changing for Laila. It could affirm everything that matters to her while giving her the confidence with how she should lead in the world. That's the ideal. It's not what the situation is setting up though. Instead, it all suggests that Brooke and Laila are kindred spirits. Their internal turmoil is defined in the same way. As such, they have the potential to understand the other better than themselves. But that also prevents them from offering the clarity that produces meaningful change over the course of just a few weeks. It's a struggle for Brooke that highlights her own potential failings as a therapist. This work means so much to her. But now, Adam is moving in and her lawyer has tracked down her son. Those distractions consume her as well. Her patients suffer as a result because she yearns for more without the capacity to reflect on her own ability to handle all that she is now trying to embrace. It's too much because she is chasing satisfaction that has been fleeting since her father's death. That distraction produces erratic skills as a therapist. She still keeps her composure mostly. But it's a more nuanced situation than that. She is failing to see things objectively and recognize that her treatments may not be the best that she perceives them to be.