Tuesday, October 11, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Patient' - Alan and Ezra Shift Their Perspectives to Better Understand Each Other Within Their Family in 'Ezra'

FX's The Patient - Episode 1.08 "Ezra"

Dr. Strauss is honest with himself about his failures, past and present. A revelation about his relationship with Ezra leads him back to the urgency of escape. Sam loses faith in his doctor.

"Ezra" was written by Joel Fields & Joe Weisberg and directed by Chris Long

Under extreme duress, Alan has shown more empathy and understanding to a serial killer than his own son. That's the massive breakthrough he makes during his imaginary sessions with his therapist, Charlie. He has so much time to think. Sam is away from home even longer than usual too. Alan has now imagined this environment where he can return to therapy and continue to work on himself. It's cathartic and helpful. He hopes to apply the wisdom to the current situation he is in. However, the conversations always pivot back to his family. His life was in despair before Sam abducted him and chained him up in his basement. The killer wants this to work. It hasn't. Alan has always had that clarity. And yet, he was seduced by the premise as well. Doing the work was thrilling. It provided him with the opportunity to prolong death for as long as possible. He has always assumed that's how all of this will end. Sam will kill him. He will never let him go. Alan has limited resources to alert the world to his suffering. He desperately wants his children to know how much he loves them. It all remains an internal burden. That's true for his son, Ezra, too. Alan has shown nothing but contempt for Ezra. He blames him for being the destruction of their family. His actions were the betrayal that prevented them from ever being happy again. Alan has always been distant from Ezra. He rationalized it as saying he was close with Shoshanna while Beth and Ezra had the stronger bond. However, Ezra carries equal parts of his parents. His behavior was learned from both of them. Alan is just as stubborn and set in his ways. He convinced himself that he was the rational one who could always remove himself from a situation to see someone else's perspective. He shares that trait with his daughter. It's not true. Instead, Alan and Ezra are both full of rage. They want to be in control. The world laughs at their attempts to exert this influence. They both search for meaning. Ezra found it in Orthodox Judaism. Alan found it working as a therapist. Those pursuits could only protect them for so long. They provided meaningful paths for them to pursue. However, they also left them detached from addressing the true situation. Those once certain notions are now facing greater scrutiny. Ezra fears his faith was driven by rebellion against his father. He needed a way to offer his own stance in the world. He's just as desperate for answers and clarity. He wants his father to know how much he loves him. They frustrate each other. They remain family. Those bonds transcend everything else. Alan may not get the opportunity to confess how he feels. He admits to his shortcomings. It remains internal pressure because he continues to see this situation as impossible to escape. As such, that's how Charlie deflects the conversation back to him.

The stakes of this world are only intensifying too. These have been the worst three days in Sam's life. He makes that declaration when he's firing Alan as his therapist. He wants a quick solution to his problem. He doesn't want to behave this way. And yet, he kills his boss because he also showed a disregard for the rules. The procedures weren't followed once more. That reveals how Sam changed very little from killing Elias. Instead, he only inflicted pain onto his family who don't know what happened to him. His body will never be found. Alan's message won't save him either. No one is coming to break him free of these constraints. That responsibility remains solely on his shoulders. Time is running out. This isn't working. Sam only shows restraint because he likes Alan. He doesn't kill people he likes. That would go against the pattern he has established. However, he is already in uncharted territory. Previously, he was able to calm these urges by killing someone. He became fixated on a person because of a perceived slight. Their death would allow him to function as a normal person again. It would then be awhile before he felt personally insulted again and the cycle would repeat. That cooling off period doesn't last this time. He doesn't alert Alan to his feelings either. He has already accepted that he needs a different therapist to continue this treatment. He has made those arrangements too. It's not the process starting over either. Instead, he reaches out to someone who already knows him. He hopes returning to a high school perspective will provide him with the insight into what led him down this path. It is still going to take time. Sam doesn't want to accept that. Alan doesn't have any remaining either. Those are the certainties in this story. It's all about delaying that inevitable conclusion for as long as possible. That's somewhat agonizing as the pacing has to be deliberate to make it work effectively. Here, the insights into Alan's life are powerful. They showcase how his family is still functional and loving despite their shortcomings. Meanwhile, the action comes from Sam hunting down and killing his next target. It's all part of the escalatory nature of the storytelling. Things need to intensify as the show builds to its climax. The threats are very apparent. They have never lurked in the shadows. It's all focused on the willingness to act. Alan fixates on certain ideas. Some are more justified and rational than others. That's how his mind works. He hopes to die of old age. That's the parable he recites to Sam once he makes his feelings known. Alan may not receive that grace. This situation was never going to work. Sam sees that now. That makes him more dangerous even though he professes to feeling bad about what he seemingly has to do to Alan next. That won't solve anything. It will only allow the suffering and agony to continue. He may see that. That isn't guaranteed though.