Tuesday, October 4, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Patient' - Alan Hopes His Final Day of Imprisonment Is Upon Him as Sam Looks Elsewhere for Relief in 'Kaddish'

FX's The Patient - Episode 1.07 "Kaddish"

Both Dr. Strauss and Sam try to make new connections in their pursuit of an elusive peace.

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

This is suppose to be the final day of this twisted and insidious experiment. Alan will be saved after the police discover the note he left in Elias' mouth or Sam will return home to kill him after finding the note himself. As time agonizingly drags on, nothing changes. It's all the same. That's completely crushing. Alan remains fixated on the idea that armed officers will crash through the sliding door at any moment. That simply doesn't happen. Sam doesn't return eager for a confrontation either. Instead, he is easily persuaded by Alan. His therapist doesn't wish to engage after a long day and night. He simply wants to relax and accept whatever fate awaits him. He will either be saved or killed. Those are the options. It's a passive journey for him no matter what happens. He continually portrays himself as weak and old. He's incapable of fighting back. He found the courage to act though. He wrote the note and hopefully placed it within Elias so that it wouldn't be found by Sam. He still had to trust that Sam would behave exactly how he was told. That can never be guaranteed. Sam yearns for understanding about himself. He believes Alan should have all the answers. He has the tools to fix him. He has failed so far. Sam has killed once more. He is determined to act with more empathy. That doesn't immediately chart a path to a better life. Instead, it only leaves him reflecting on the past. Is this what he was always destined to become? Could people see that from their first interactions? Was everything else completely pointless? He contemplates these ideas. It's not because he's furious over the betrayal of his therapist. Instead, it's centered around his own personal failings. That could very well lead to more lethal actions soon. Elias' body won't ever be found. His family won't receive that closure. Alan will never escape. He will ultimately have to decide his own fate. Right now, he continues to linger over how broken his family became after Beth's death. He lambasts his son for his childish behavior. Ezra is selfish and sanctimonious. He became Orthodox Jewish as a rebellion against his mother. He made his family feel as if their relationship with God wasn't good enough. They turned their backs on their creator. That's a heinous thing to say given how prominent faith has been to them. The relationships are different. It fuels so much of their personal understanding of the world. It's the way in which Alan mourns his wife. Saying the Kaddish is the way to connect to her. She wanted things to end on her own terms. Alan saw that peace. He sought comfort in it while Ezra was the disruptor. All of this is Alan projecting his feelings onto the situation. It's a very one-sided argument that may not reflect the true complexity of the relationship. Everything he complains about his son could apply to him as well. That's startling and may get at what Charlie is hoping Alan can finally address now that he has all this time to think.

Alan doesn't want to engage in therapy. It's his chosen professional. He knows the various methods to address behavioral problems. He envisions a life where he writes a book about his experience being chained in Sam's basement. However, he deflects when Charlie confronts him about his stubbornness as well as his learned helplessness. It's clear Alan yearns to fight. It's not even good enough for the police to come to the rescue. He needs to kill Sam in that scenario as well. That's bleak and showcases the depths of darkness within his own soul. That's the outcome he wants. It needs to be as vicious and brutal as possible. Alan judged Sam for that behavior. He indulges in it as well. It's a fantasy that consumes his thoughts. That may be the only way for him to escape. That confrontation simply may have to occur in order to change the status quo. It doesn't matter that Sam acts with empathy towards his therapist for the first time. He brings home a computer in order to help him recite the prayer in his wife's honor. Sam listens behind the door as Alan's world is completely devastated once more. It's all an emotional expression. Alan wants to help Sam navigate these uncertain emotions. He can only do so if he is prepared for what comes next. Alan has built up a whole narrative in his head. And yet, Sam didn't listen. Instead, he improvised. He couldn't allow his freedom to be compromised in any way. That was the outcome Alan wanted. Sam states it all matter-of-factly. The change had to occur. Any hope for a different outcome was fruitless. Instead, Alan remains trapped in a situation that mirrors the suffering his ancestors faced in the Holocaust. Alan sees how obvious the metaphor is. It's easy to equate the suffering. He sees the parallels within his own life. He seeks comfort in how others suffered knowing that death was coming for them. He knows this relationship can't last for much longer. And yet, everything still persists exactly the same. That could be absolutely frustrating. It could reveal a narrative with no momentum. The opposite is actually true. The show digs deep into character to reveal what they desperately want more than anything else. It's then combustive when those expectations are destroyed. Sam returns home with no greater clarity than before. He remains a free man. Meanwhile, Alan is trapped. He's unable to alter his life in any significant way. All he can do is seek comfort in prayer. That may provide a greater understanding towards his son and the choices he made eventually. However, he must be willing to break down those barriers and address his own shortcomings. He's running out of time to do so. At the moment, it's simply about appeasing Sam for as long as possible. That's fleeting given he is already looking elsewhere for validation and clarity. He genuinely believes treatment is out there for him. Alan may not be the person to provide it. He doesn't act to change the situation. The thoughts linger in his head as Alan's perspective becomes less connected to what Sam has actually done.