Sunday, April 12, 2009

In Treatment Season 2

I am very happy to have HBO's In Treatment return this past Sunday. Intrigued by the premise, I was a bit hesitant after watching the pilot last year but by the third episode I was absolutely hooked. I was working graveyard shift at that time, so I would race the sun home each morning, breathlessly awaiting twenty-something more minutes of sometimes brutal, sometimes cringe-worthy, sometimes tear-inducing drama, all dumped in the lap of poor Dr. Paul.

Warning: Spoiler alert if you haven't started watching Season 2 yet!

I was a bit confused for the first few seconds of episode 1, but then greatly surprised to learn Paul had moved! Obviously there were new patients on the way, but of course they had to create some drama to get things kick started! I'm not sure if such story lines make their way into the Israeli original, but I'm glad they toss em into the U.S. version. I don't think enough people would watch, otherwise.

Upon realizing Paul was now in Brooklyn I panicked for a minute or two. Granted Alex was dead and there was no way Paul could possibly treat Laura any longer, but I would have liked to see Jake and Amy merge from couples counseling to post-divorce solo sessions and what had become of Sophie? I wanted to see how she would mature, face her high school graduation, et al.

After calming down, though, I realized that this opened a whole new avenue for the show. I gripped the remote tight and hunkered down to bear witness to Paul's new punishing lineup. First came Mia, a sick of life power attorney with a link to his past. It didn't take more than a few minutes to start seeing the similarities between Amy and Mia. Then we were introduced to sickly, overly defensive April and things started to click. While being a wholly other person, I felt as if I was watching Sophie five years in the future. Who would have a thought a well publicised 60-something corporate CEO (Walter) would remind us of an African American pilot half his age (Alex)? Of course, this seasons divorcing couple (Luke and Bess) will mimic and vary from last seasons (Jake and Amy), but throwing in their 12 year old child (innocent, guilt ridden Oliver) this time could lead to some great situations.

The patients and situations had changed but the neurosis and personality traits were all still there. Was it a comment on society? Is the whole world really suffering the same inflictions? Is it possible that nature really does reign over nurture? According to the writers: yes. Our pain may seem like our own, but it's really shared by all. Or something like that.

And let's not forget the returning characters. There's grieving, pissed-off Alex Sr.. Do you think he's right to sue Paul, or just flailing around in the dark for someone other than his own deceased son to blame? And Gina. I'm looking forward to her caring but challenging approach to treating Paul again.

Finally, I was very surprised at the locations. Throughout the entirety of season 1 they managed to not let the location be known, other than it was in the northeast somewhere. In one episode they made mention of some areas in upstate in New York when talking about real estate, which lead an early draft of the shows wikipedia entry to speculate they were based somewhere just north of New York City, perhaps the northern Hudson Valley or White Plains areas.

In the very first episode of season two, though, we are immediately informed (and then reminded numerous times) that Paul has moved to Brooklyn. A bit later we learn he's relocated from Maryland! This fact then plays a part in the show. Quite a shift on the writers part.

The new format of two episodes Sunday and three Monday is pretty great, too. It's a little less interesting than the five nights a week idea put forth in Israel and season one in the states, but it means less waiting, so I'm all for it.

In Treatment on iTunes.

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