Friday, February 17, 2023

REVIEW: 'Shrinking' - Paul Helping Jimmy With Sean Provides Him With the Confidence to Be Honest With Meg in 'Woof'

AppleTV+'s Shrinking - Episode 1.05 "Woof"

When Jimmy hits a roadblock with Sean, he doesn't have Paul to consult for advice. Brian makes an announcement about his relationship.

"Woof" was written by Bill Posley and directed by James Ponsoldt

Sean shouldn't be living with Jimmy. For a brief moment, Jimmy understands that. He's furious when he pops over to Liz's house to tell her and Gaby they were right about Alice having a crush on Sean. And yet, Jimmy doesn't actually do anything about it. Instead, he's right back to treating Sean as his patient. He sees him struggling with something. So, he steps in to help. It's awkward. Sean still listens to him. He meets his dad. After that, he spirals. First, he wants to blame his father for trying to be present in his life despite kicking him out. And then, he's angry at Jimmy for convincing him to go. Neither of them are to blame for how Sean is feeling. Paul gets to the root of those issues. It was Sean's medals for his military service being celebrated that set him off. He doesn't feel like a hero for what he did overseas. Those items reaffirm his belief that he's a terrible person. He's not. He's absolutely being too hard on himself. Paul has treated many veterans throughout his career. He knows precisely how to get Sean to open up. He does so in a matter of minutes. That impresses both Sean and Jimmy. Paul is the much better therapist. He reaches out and conducts this impromptu session at Jimmy's home because he sees people needing his guidance. He needs to provide it as well. He can't be afraid of what needs to be done. That fear is actually quite immature for both him and Jimmy. Sure, it's still wildly inappropriate for Sean to be living with Jimmy. Paul continues to argue against it. That's not actually helping anyone. It still leads to Jimmy pleading with Sean to stay. Sean is determined to leave because he believes no one understands him. He has no backup plan. He's in a bad place. Alice is worried about him. Once again, she is taking care of the emotional well-being of people older than her. She should be focused on school. Instead, she's skipping class to help people deflect from their issues. It's scary though. Sean climbs a water tower mostly to exert his dominance. He dangles from it not really caring how it looks to Alice. Instead, he's amazed by the view. It's magical. It's a moment that can only be achieved by doing this dangerous thing. He encourages Alice to join him. She has enough self-awareness to know how destructive all of this is. That comes from her mom dying and her dad being emotionally absent for the past year. Everyone is doing their best. Sometimes that just isn't good enough. Sometimes people need to be told the harsh truth. It requires them to do the work that can hopefully make them better people afterwards. That's the advice Paul leaves for Sean. He expresses his complete support for Jimmy as a therapist. That may still be a mistake given how obsessed Jimmy is with his patients' lives. And yet, most of them are willing to come back because they believe he is genuinely engaged in their struggles. He is more than someone who complains behind-the-scenes and needs someone to listen to him vent.

It's not so easy for Paul to replace Jimmy with Gaby either. They all work in the same office. They share professional notes. They refer patients to one another. This is a thriving practice. Right now, Jimmy and Paul are arguing. Jimmy feels the constant need to impress his mentor. He needs to show him the progress his patients are making. Of course by doing so, it shows just how little he has actually changed. Paul's stubbornness gets him in plenty of trouble as well. He should confide in Gaby because he's genuinely interested in her opinion. She so desperately yearns for his approval because he's a helpful stand-in for every professional she has had to deal with throughout her career. This is the first episode where Gaby is also seen as a therapist. Most of the narrative has been spent shining a light on Jimmy and Paul's skills in the profession. Gaby has been important to a certain extent. However, the story has been more focused on her through her personal relationships with these characters. Now, she is seen helping a couple realize their dreams are where they now get to concoct the reasons to possibly walk away from their marriage. It's better to confront those issues directly. They can't be allowed to fester. They will only explode in a different context. Brian is ready to propose to Charlie. They love each other. They want to spend the rest of their lives together. However, Brian has built up a complex where things will always go his way so long as he doesn't take any major risks. He did so once simply by coming out to his parents. He's still waiting for them to accept him. He's living his authentic truth now. He has supportive friends who actively engage with his life. He deserves love and happiness. And yet, he can't commit because he fears rejection. He can't handle that again. He shouldn't believe it will happen. The fear always creeps in. It's only in discussing things with Gaby that he emerges on the other side ready to make this commitment. Again, she gets to the heart of the issue quickly. Some problems can't be resolved instantly. Or perhaps that's just another indictment of Jimmy's skills. His patients are the ones with ongoing drama. He should acknowledging his limitations in providing treatment. Jimmy hasn't arrived at that point. He's still clinging onto his patients for his own well-being. Paul also refused to share his Parkinson's diagnosis with Meg. He didn't want things to change. He hasn't always been a great father. They at least have a manageable relationship. He's happy with it. Things are changing though. That's the reality. He must confide in her because she's his family. She deserves the truth. He finally reaches out. That's an example of how helping others in a professional context actually helps the therapists sort out their own issues. It wasn't easy for Paul. He did the work. Jimmy is still a work-in-progress.