Review: ‘In Treatment’ Thinks You Could Use a Session, America

Eladio, bright and well-read, cares deeply about the disabled young man whose parents pay him, but he’s knows that he’s both “indispensable” and as replaceable as a “Hefty bag.” Money also hangs over his therapy itself. What good is it, he asks Brooke, for him to realize how he’s being taken advantage of if he can’t afford to act on it? It’s easy to say that self-insight is priceless; honesty requires recognizing how it can also be ruinous.

Eladio’s sessions also best intersect with Brooke’s story, in part because she develops a maternal interest in him that tempts her to cross professional boundaries. And his work parallels hers as well: It’s a job of caring that demands emotional investment, but in the end, it’s still work (and psychologically taxing work at that).

Brooke’s conflicts, managing professional boundaries while her personal life is quietly collapsing, are of a kind with the earlier seasons. But she’s a different person from the tweedy, priestly Paul, and Aduba a different performer from Byrne. “In Treatment” uses those differences smartly. Brooke is more firm and controlled, yet Aduba is adept and versatile enough to let us see her professional shield slip — in different, tiny ways with each patient, and dramatically in her off-hours.

For all its plot-to-plot unevenness (which it shares with the earlier seasons) this “In Treatment” has great timing. It is precision targeted to this hopeful-fraught moment when a society is stepping out bleary-eyed from its storm shelter and surveying the debris. You can quantify deaths, but as Ed Yong recently wrote in The Atlantic about late-pandemic trauma, “Mental health is harder to measure, and so easier to ignore.”

Not for Brooke, on the job or off. Late in the season, her boyfriend, Adam (Joel Kinnaman), who is both a grounding and destabilizing influence, tries to talk her into a night out. “The world is opening up again,” he says. “Don’t you want to rejoin the living?”

They stay in. Her closing line of the episode is, “I’m so tired.” A therapist is not a psychic, but she’s reading a lot of people’s minds there.

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