A phlegmatic therapist. An agitated patient. A none-too-sunny room. Three to four cameras. And an unwavering exploration of the human mind via memories, impressions and emotions. Has television ever been so compelling?
After watching three seasons of In Treatment almost non-stop, I'm willing to swear that the Israelis know how to create drama using minimalism. And I feel grateful that the Americans adapted this Israeli television series, put an intense Irish actor at the centre of it and made the concept sing.
Throughout the week, Dr Paul Weston (portrayed by Daniel Byrne) plays the dutiful therapist, concerned with the welfare of each of his patients, struggling to understand their motivations, aching to help them find happiness. But if any of his patients try to find out who he is, he becomes obtuse. If that doesn't work, he deflects their questions. That's when the viewer realizes that not all is well in the inner world of Dr Weston. And when he visits his own therapist over the weekend, the viewer realizes that he is a veritable mess. He has neither resolved his past nor considered his future. He is completely lost, just like most of us. But that doesn't stop him from practising his profession with the utmost sincerity. And one feels for his situation. He must combat an unhappy childhood and address his pugnacious attitude towards his parents. Moreover, he must come to terms with a failed marriage, a disastrous love affair and partial alienation from his own children. Paul Weston is as lonely as a human being can be. But Dr Weston is an engaging professional. And as he helps his patients come to terms with themselves, as he helps them close their loops, one cannot but feel admiration for the man behind the mask.
It's a pity this series is being aborted by the studio. Why can't we see Paul Weston complete his journey of self-realization and evolution? Can't we leave him in a state of contentment?
Perhaps some loops are meant to be interpreted and closed by ourselves, in a proactive manner. The ultimate lesson of In Treatment is that, perhaps, we must find our own joyous resolutions.