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THE PATIENT: An Intimate Push And Pull Of Psychopathy

THE PATIENT: An Intimate Push And Pull Of Psychopathy

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THE PATIENT: An Intimate Push And Pull Of Psychopathy

The Patient beats with the slow ticking of a clock, the conscientious hand guiding through therapy, where you know your time is limited and that each second breathes with it a level of importance. There is also a steady heart rate, rising and falling, as we see a thrilling, tense, but a private dance between patient and client. Only, in this miniseries, the client is a serial killer, and the other… a hostage.

Sam Fortner (Domhnall Gleeson) is looking for help and after reading Alan Strauss’s work (Steve Carell) he feels he might be the best fit for his particular issue. At first, it is in his office, a respectful space, but then one day Alan wakes up, chained in the basement of his recent client. He is hoping he can deter him from his psychotic desires. From here we start a back and forth, a fight for survival, and a degree of understanding of how they each be able to make it out of this, alive.

I Need Help

The greatest gift we receive from this 10-episode series (often short, specifically coordinated lengths that represent a session) is the dynamic delivered by our two transfixing leads. On one end we have Sam (Domhnall Gleeson), scared and terrifying, yet intimidating and desperate for change. On the other, (Steve Carell) a talented therapist who is often a troubled individual himself, with grief and the disconnection from family as his foe. However, now, he’s chained in the basement, forced to fix a man that kills for thrills. All the while, trying to find a way to escape. Can he do it? It’s a horrifying dilemma.

THE PATIENT: An Intimate Push And Pull Of Psychopathy
source: Hulu

Alan is dealing with his own grief from the loss of his wife and the estranged feeling from his children. We see him work through the possibilities, playing out in memories, imaginary conversations with his own therapist, and his intuition and read of his captor. He’s an intelligent man with a life of experience, but who can prepare for something like this?

Sam is quite forward in admittance of his crimes hoping to find clarity and a solution. For a while, there is a sense of empathy for both as they each navigate these treacherous waters. The interactions are all done in a confined basement, making most of the series slow-paced cat-and-mouse with one in complete restraints. Alan’s chance relies on his wit and knowledge, but even then his tolerance and sanity is waning.

This series will undoubtedly test many with their own sense of time, intrigued but also conflicted with the feeling of sitting through therapy sessions. Sam is quite the foody, and some of his most curious points are how much he pays attention to detail when it comes to delivering his captor delicious takeout. It’s an almost humorous, yet specific play that makes this intriguing.

The writing and dialogue are significantly improved by the acting, which is phenomenal. Where the show lacks is potentially in its conclusion, which for some, will leave viewers feeling agnostic. There is a lot of heart in Steve Carell’s performance, and it reminds me just how amazing he can be. Gleeson is also impeccable, as a character we both root for and against, but remains an enigma we want to solve.

THE PATIENT: An Intimate Push And Pull Of Psychopathy
source: Hulu

We see many sessions between the two, and each show a new side of the characters that we didn’t know before. Like any good therapist, Alan tries to dissolute any of Sam’s assumptions while keying in on what is workable. All the time he is terrified, reliving his own taunting memories, and trying to find a way that he can live to see the next dawn.

These pocket sized episodes feel as if we are seeing an entry into these personal moments. As the series goes on more twists and history are built between these two, but the rub is really the anticipation of what will/may happen.

Because the acting is so prolific, it becomes a challenge as a viewer to direct empathy. Does anyone no matter their previous behavior deserve help? It is a thought-provoking exercise in joint trauma.

Conclusion: The Patient

This is a series that is really elevated in its dialogue and writing but is sold by amazing performances from Domhnall Gleeson and Steve Carell. The acting chops of two of the most talented in the industry going head to head make The Patient a spellbinding, but uncomfortable back-and-forth that dispels any dissatisfaction within the tale’s unwinding.

What did you think of this miniseries? Were the performances and writing enough? Let us know in the comments below!

All episodes of The Patient are currently streaming on Hulu.

Watch The Patient


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