Tuesday, September 20, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Patient' - Alan Employs Many Therapeutic Tactics to Stop Sam's Insistence on Killing Elias in 'Pastitsio'

FX's The Patient - Episode 1.05 "Pastitsio"

Sam reaches out to a woman from his past. Trials loom for Dr. Strauss, Sam and Elias.

"Pastitsio" was written by Joel Fields & Joe Weisberg and directed by Kevin Bray

The intensity of the entire proceedings was amplified the moment Sam dragged Elias into the basement. Alan has always known this imprisonment could lead to his death. He continues his sessions with Sam in the hopes of delaying the inevitable. He believes his daughter must have noticed he has disappeared. Sam was careful to ensure no personal details about himself were mentioned in his initial therapy sessions. He didn't want the police to easily identify him from his therapist's notes. That reveals how this has always been Sam's plan. He could only reveal himself truly when he had complete control over every possible element. That's what he needs in order to thrive. He grows enraged by people who refuse to conform to his mentality. Alan makes that connection between Sam and his abusive father. Sam notes how his father hurt him for not doing what he was told fast enough. He is aware that his father didn't need a reason in order to beat him as a child. Sam believes he is better because he is targeting people who deserve this lethal punishment. That's entirely based on his own opinion. It's all about some personal slight against him. It's not because these people are doing something heinous to the public at large. It's all about perceived actions that fail to give Sam the appropriate credit and respect he deserves. It's noteworthy that he hasn't killed Elias. He has thought about doing so for months. Alan recognizes there must be a reason for that. Sam opted to enact this crazy plan instead of doing what he has successfully done before. Alan wants to dig deeper. Sam wants that truth as well. He wants to understand himself and why he does these things. It's difficult to do so because he becomes overwhelmed by these urges. He could delay things to a certain extent. Alan pursues beneficial therapy tactics in the hopes of making a difference. However, everything shifts the moment Alan brings Elias into the session. The prisoners agreed to the plan. They saw it as a way to potentially lead to salvation for one of them. They spend time preparing for death. They want the other to deliver messages of love to their families. They don't know how this situation will end. It could very well amount to death for both of them. Alan may not make any progress in treating Sam. Even if he does, it may not produce any kind of visible proof that can lead to Alan living an ordinary life once more. Everyone is trapped. Sam wields that power. Alan has the tools to convince Sam not to kill in specific moments. Sam remains in a vulnerable place. He is certainly susceptible to suggestion. He goes to his ex-wife, Mary, because Alan told him to do so. He can't think of one thing to talk to her about. She still has an impact on his life. He reclaims the recliner that she still had. That's all this meeting amounted to. The emotional shock wasn't enough to prevent the inevitable from occurring for Elias.

And yes, all of this plays out as being destined. This had to occur. There was no way to escape that fact. The creative team painted themselves into a corner and fully enacted what they promised to do. That takes true conviction because so many storytellers are reluctant to embrace the true darkness of their premises. Here, the narrative is all about Sam as a killer. Alan knows that fact. He knows his life is in Sam's hands. Sam doesn't want to kill his therapist. He doesn't feel the overwhelming urge to do that. He may never feel that way. That possibility always remains. Alan argues that it doesn't matter what people do to Sam. It's all about how he is feeling in a specific moment in time. When he falls into this headspace, he becomes fixated on one individual. He reads into things that aren't there. Sam could feel betrayed by his therapist for merely talking to Elias. Alan and Elias bonded as victims in proximity to one another. That intimacy could only go so far. Alan hoped to showcase Elias' humanity. Sam kept Elias confined and unable to present as himself. Instead, he is nothing more than the man he must punish. He doesn't want to hear anything from his eventual victim. He did everything Alan told him to do. He refused to kill until he talked to Alan first. He went to work to escape the physical proximity to the temptation. He saw his ex-wife to be flooded with new emotions. He listened to his mother when she was called down. He even brings Elias into the therapy session. Nothing ultimately worked. Sam still strangles Elias to death. Alan is a horrified witness to it all. He is powerless to stop it. No one could sleep comfortably throughout this entire process. Alan was once struck with boredom because he had a lot of empty time confined in the basement. He is now in an overwhelming sense of dread over every possible word and action. He helps Sam avoid the worst possible outcome. A lot of terrible things still happen. Alan wants nothing more than to escape. He may only bring Elias into the session because they formulated the plan together. It wasn't enough to escape. Sam can still easily overpower anyone else. He wields that even though he is awkward in many average settings. He doesn't want to hear the details of how Elias inspired a dish on the menu of his family's restaurant. He just wants to kill. He wants any opportunity to do that. He can't avoid it any longer. Alan isn't responsible for that action. His whole being is still informed by what Sam does. That dictates the life he can have at the moment. He doesn't have the freedom of disassociating from it like Candace does. She can't sleep either. She can choose whether or not to respond to the horrors happening in the basement. Alan can look away. He can't avoid the harsh truth. Elias is dead. These feelings will only bubble up in Sam once more. Now, a threshold has simply been burned to confirm how little progress has been made. Alan can't offer the help he is so often skilled at producing because no trust or respect is offered. It's all about Sam and appeasing his mentality. He's so destructive and everyone lives in fear of that. It's all absolutely warranted as well.