Tuesday, September 27, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Patient' - Alan Disassociates From His Confinement in the Hopes of Gaining New Perspective in 'Charlie'

FX's The Patient - Episode 1.06 "Charlie"

Dr. Strauss struggles with the reality he finds himself in. Sam is consumed with practical necessities, but agrees to his therapist's advice to make different choices.

"Charlie" was written by Joel Fields & Joe Weisberg and directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton

Sam is in complete control. He listens to Alan's advice because he wants to get better. However, he still does whatever he wants. Alan can't approach this like a normal therapy session. He has convinced himself he has to behave that way to survive. He wants to prolong death for as long as possible. He knows he will be killed if he strikes back. He believes he can't beat Sam and escape to freedom. He is powerless. And now, he's disassociating from the entire experience. He is broken because Sam killed Elias right in front of him. He couldn't escape from those horrors. As such, it's up to his mind to deliver him to a new setting. He envisions a place where he can feel safe. He has long found comfort in helping people. He helped them become more attuned with empathy. Sam presents as such a daunting task because he's starting with nothing. Even then, it's not a convincing argument because Alan sees hope within his patient. He wants to believe Sam is capable of doing better. That makes it more devastating when he experiences this major setback. It's what Sam planned on doing. He couldn't fight the urge any more. Alan couldn't stop him. He could only look away and scream in horror. It shouldn't exactly be seen as compliance. Instead, that label can be directed towards Candace. She wants Sam to know just how disappointed in him she is. She was on the verge of calling 911. She didn't though. She doesn't want anything bad to happen to him. She's protective. She doesn't care what happens to anyone else. As such, she mirrors his lack of emotions too. She is only focused on one thing. She becomes attached to the idea that therapy can work. This can't be taken seriously though. Alan is held against his will. Even when Sam frees him from his chains, it's futile for Alan to fight back. That could be a moment of opportunity. Instead, it only perpetrates the cycle of trauma. Alan connects to his ancestors who have endured their own hardships across the years. He sees those parallels clearly as well. To Sam, it's just a job that has to be done. It's something Alan made him do because his therapist failed to prevent this from happening. Now, Sam is even more of a stereotypical killer. He intends on burying a body beneath his mother's basement. It makes no sense for him to suffer. Instead, it's better to place blame onto Alan and make him do all the hard work. That's how he's thinking. He is lashing out because there hasn't been any immediate progress. Alan failed. The therapist feels that pressure as well. He's reaching for any solution that can possibly help. The only relief that comes is from reframing the narrative of what this environment truly is.

This isn't a typical relationship between a patient and their therapist. Alan is Sam's prisoner. Every thought should be focused on escape. Alan has embraced those natural instincts to a certain extent. He screamed for help when he woke up in this confinement. He tried reasoning with Candace to free him. He plotted with Elias about how to overpower Sam. Nothing has worked so far. It's not for lack of trying. That shouldn't stop Alan from continuing to think like this. He can't hide that from himself either. It's so easy to fall into a dark, depressing mindset. Alan fears this could be the end. This is all the life he can look forward to. Time is slowly fading away. He has run out of foot cream. His prescription will only last for so long. Sam can replace one much more easily than the other. None of this means Alan should just give in and accept whatever Sam wants. His mind still has to constantly drift to the thought of freedom. Charlie picks up on that detail right away. Alan is always tempted by picking up an object and attacking Sam. He tells himself he wouldn't prevail. That's not the only way in which he can fight back. He still has the power of persuasion. He can make Sam listen to him when he wants. Right now, it's easier to bury Elias so his body is never found. Meanwhile, Alan crafts the argument that it's respectful to embrace a different path. He must let the police find the body because it will provide closure for the family. It's all in service to Alan's mission to create empathy within Sam. Alan wants Sam to think about the family left behind. He can't exactly relate to the emotional situations of other people. Alan wants Sam to try. As such, it's beneficial that Candace told Sam not to give up on therapy. However, all of this is a ruse so Alan can smuggle a message to the outside world. He must move quickly to get that note in Elias' mouth before Sam notices. That creates so much tension as the body gets dragged out of the basement. Alan reaches for hope. He's then left powerless as he dreads how Sam will react if he didn't do good enough. Right now, that's all that he can hope for. It's just as important to declare his love for his children as it is to notify the police as to who is responsible for this heinous act. Alan worries any detail will be noticed by his abductor. That doesn't happen. It very well could. Alan can only control so much. He's simply more focused on this mission because the regular therapy broke down in such a significant way. Alan may not recover from that. He can't be defeated quite yet even though Sam has so many resources protecting him. Those ultimately encourage his behavior much more than anything Alan can do now in this very contained environment. Nothing will change until Sam addresses all the ways in which he has never been challenged to behave any differently. That can't be the main focus. It still lingers in Alan's mind though because he has devoted his life to this profession after all.