Tuesday, October 25, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Patient' - Alan Makes a Choice That Concludes His Captivity in Sam's Basement in 'The Cantor's Husband'

FX's The Patient - Episode 1.10 "The Cantor's Husband"

For Sam, an unexpected decision shows progress towards his goals, but Dr. Strauss demands even more.

"The Cantor's Husband" was written by Joel Fields & Joe Weisberg and directed by Chris Long

Alan has dreamed about returning home to his family every day of his captivity. It was always unlikely that he would achieve that goal. He could delay the inevitable outcome for as long as possible. He just couldn't do it any longer. As such, he makes a choice. He does so clear-headed and completely in control. It doesn't end well for him. However, his actions still have a lasting impact. People still desperately try to preserve their happiness no matter what. The therapy may have done enough for Sam to provide closure for those who desperately need it. Alan went along with the basic premise of continuing as Sam's therapist while chained in the basement because it kept him alive. He was always thinking of ways he could escape. He wanted Sam to make the choices that would lead to that conclusion. Sam took it seriously every step of the way. He suffered from major setbacks. His drastic actions only further cemented the lethal outcome awaiting everyone. He also saw an improvement. He was ready to give up on therapy. He made the arrangements to start elsewhere for his treatment. Alan knows that the only way to stop Sam from killing is to physically constrain him. He won't stop unless he is forced to do so. He talks up the breakthrough of Sam not killing his father. That shows progress. It's Sam curbing his impulses. He wants to kill his father for the abuse inflicted upon him during his childhood. He has his father pinned to the ground ready to take another life. He doesn't follow through. Sam sees that as a reason to remain hopeful about therapy. He is willing to do whatever it takes to make Alan more comfortable in this environment. Alan pleads to be released. He can return to his family. He promises not to go to the police to detail the crimes Sam has committed. Sam can't let that happen. Instead, he hopes a couch and a mini-fridge will be enough. They aren't. A television isn't either. Alan doesn't want to spend the next decade of his life in this basement. His own life has been disrupted in order to cater to Sam. He has done a lot of thinking during his confinement. He too has made massive realizations about his own fraught relationships. He was to blame for pushing Ezra away. He refused to lead with empathy and understanding. He was more focused on his career and his worldview. He couldn't see how Ezra's perspective was different. Instead, that only forced a divide within the family. That ensured Beth's death couldn't happen according to her terms. Others let their egos get in the way. Alan doesn't want history to repeat in that way. And yet, it's destined to regardless of what he does. He knows what happens to him will have a lasting impact on his children. He hopes a message can be delivered. That still won't be enough to help them grapple with this heinous thing done to further destroy their family.

In trying to escape a monster, Alan has to become one himself. He threatens to kill Candace unless Sam turns himself in to the police. That's yet another action Sam won't do. He perpetually feels pushed into a corner. He's forced to make these lethal choices because of others. They made him do it. He wants to blame them for his misfortune. And yet, he carries total responsibility for everything that happened. No one else can be blamed for it. He knows that. That's why he works hard to deceive the police. They can't find any trace of evidence incriminating him. He can't turn himself in and provide closure to the families of those he's killed. He felt righteous in killing them. They deserved to die. He couldn't contain these impulses. It's simply something he had to do. No one was coming to save Alan either. It was completely up to him how this situation ended. He delivers his ultimatum. He tells Sam the truth. He knows he will provoke a dangerous response. That's the only way to get through to Sam. That's the only way for him to genuinely see the severity of the situation. This is all completely untenable. It's not professional. It's not healthy. It's a situation Alan is trapped in. He must make this confrontation. All season long, Alan has believed he couldn't physically overpower Sam. He couldn't kill the man who abducted him. Even in a vulnerable moment, Alan couldn't make that move. Instead, he opts for Candace. He lures her in so Sam once again gets to make a choice. Alan was ultimately right about not being able to kill. Instead, he is the one who ends up dead. A grave has already been dug. Sam could cover all of this up without anyone knowing what happened. Sam liked Alan though. He didn't want to kill him. It was unavoidable. Alan knew that. Sam accepts that eventually. He's furious that it had to happen. And now, Alan is the therapist who haunts his dreams. Alan relied on that imagination to cope with his captivity. He sees both joy and horror upon facing death. He dies just like so many Jewish people have before him. It's a horrifying experience that further extends the generational trauma. The family will never get to enjoy happiness together around the dinner table. That's what Alan wanted. It couldn't happen. The best was providing the note to his children. Ezra acknowledges his own shortcomings even if he's reluctant to fully embrace the help he needs. Therapy is the right step for him. He makes that choice. Meanwhile, Sam locks himself up in the basement. Control still firmly resides within him. That never ends. It's simply proof that he listened to Alan when he made this dying declaration. It extends beyond the legal and moral consequences of this world. Instead, it resides within the personal dysfunction and the inability to process how another person truly feels. Sam replaces Alan hoping to find a similar journey chained to the bed. Ezra is the patient needing guidance from a therapist. Alan dies but his body is provided to hopefully allow his family to grieve. Those journeys are interwoven. They have powerful connections. So much changes yet so much was devastatingly destined to occur all along.