“In Treatment” recap: Finally, some sexual tension

Week 4: Jesse reflects on his biological parents while Adele rouses Paul's passions

Topics: In Treatment, HBO, Television,

"In Treatment" recap: Finally, some sexual tensionAmy Ryan in "In Treatment"

It’s raining hard outside Paul’s office. Real hard. 

Poor Jesse. He’s been working so steadily on getting everyone to abandon him and now he’s practically drowning in love. Roberto’s been helping him with his math homework (like Paul helped Max earlier in the week). Marissa’s gone into a depression at the possibility of losing him to Karen. Kevin, Jesse’s birth father, has written him a letter explaining the circumstances of his adoption. His birth parents were teenagers when they gave him up, but eventually they married. He is not working in Africa. She is not a crack addict. It looks like Jesse has a brand-new set of middle-class parents hoping for nothing more than to reenter his life.

Even Paul wants him. At first Jesse plans to reject Kevin and Karen out of loyalty to Roberto and Marissa who have put up all these years with what he sees as his unlovabilty. “Would you want me as a son?” Jesse says, intending this as a rhetorical question. But Paul says yes.

Dane DeHaan is an astonishing actor. Despite his obvious charisma, and the fact that he’s clearly the next Leonardo DiCaprio (I’m giving him about a year as a teen idol before becoming a regular denizen of red carpets everywhere), DeHaan has clamped  his skinny shoulders into a chronic hunch and stayed committed to a character who is nearly impossible to like. This week he’s still the same mercurial, irritating Jesse who can barely hold a thought in his head for longer than 10 seconds, but I can hardly remember two weeks ago when I thought he was beyond help.  The rain seems to be dousing Jesse’s usual provocative default mode. The new and improved Jesse is empathizing with his adoptive parents, getting a B in algebra, and writing overly formal letters to protect the ”inhabitants” of his house. This is someone even I can imagine wanting as a son.

If this were television (OK, it is, but “In Treatment” somehow actually never feels like television), he would simply assume his rightful place with his birth parents, fulfill his genetic destiny as a spoiled middle-class brat, finally go to the art school his adoptive parents can’t afford, and everything would end happily ever after. 



But Jesse has been the one character I’ve depended on for unpredictability. I think it’s possible that he could have two sets of parents (like Max probably will), but I wonder if Jesse might be right, and that his birth parents might be “kinda assholes.” What makes them feel entitled to entirely ignore the fact that he’s a minor with parents who raised him when they couldn’t, and who still deserve the respect of being contacted? Then there’s Jesse’s ominous response to Paul’s claim that he would want him as a son. ”Give Max another year or so.” Something tells me the next three weeks will not be about Jesse’s snag-free path to recovery.


Everything’s sunny and bright in Adele’s office before things start getting hot. Real hot. (There’s a reason I’m echoing this sentence structure. Bear with me.) 

Paul also has one father too many in his life. And I’m not talking about Steve, Max’s stepfather whose shared passion for drawing Paul finds so threatening. There’s that extra father from Paul’s past that he must now let go. The one who robbed him of his childhood and dragged him out of the only place he was ever happy (a boarding school in Northern England), then “forced” him to take care of his manic depressive mother by falling in love with someone else. It’s time for Paul to meet his new father, the one who may, through example, have taught his son that he was entitled to happiness.  

Adele has a crazy good memory, and draws out details from Paul’s dream two weeks ago to paint a new picture of Paul as a kid who chose to take care of his mother as a way of continuing an already established pattern of avoiding life. She encourages him to stop holding back on his passions. Paul, as we know, is always much better at indulging his passions when they’re never going to go anywhere, as in the case of Laura. So he goes for it,  revealing that he’s not only been googling Adele, but thinking of her when he’s having sex with Wendy.

Gulp. Gabriel Byrne flicks on the high beam seduction eyes. We can practically see Adele’s heart bobbing up and down in her throat as she strains to return his steady gaze. I’m having one of those mystical television moments where I feel intimately connected to the collective decision being made by several thousand women to rewatch everything Byrne’s ever been in. And then the moment is gone and Paul’s back to his usual off-putting psychobabble about erotic transference.

Fortunately, Adele has not put those sexy boots on for nothing. The session ends with her encouraging Paul to continue nurturing this tiny seed of passion, ostensibly by describing all his sexual fantasies about her, hopefully in a lot of detail. Yes! The “In Treatment” that hooked us with the first episode is back (remember when Laura taunted Paul with that highly descriptive bathroom encounter).

No more middle-aged people complaining about their crappy sex lives! More hot actors talking about what they want to do to each other! More, I say! Note to producers, if HBO renews “In Treatment,” despite the steadily decreasing ratings, this should perhaps be the note you start on next season. Learn from Adele. Erotic transference is a healthy process, ideally experienced vicariously by the viewer, not endlessly talked about and over analyzed. More frontal honesty, less boring digging. 

Never forget, if we actually wanted therapy, we’d be in therapy, not watching television about it.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
    Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
    Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Here by Richard McGuire
    A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
    The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
    This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
    For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Over Easy by Mimi Pond
    When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
    You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Shoplifter by Michael Cho
    Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>