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‘In Treatment’: Sophie on the Sofa

IntreatmentsophieIt was peculiar of “In Treatment” to do a third episode operating on a similar premise as the second – namely, a patient coming in for an initial visit wanting an immediate evaluation, rather than having the intention of actually engaging in therapy. 

Like Blair Underwood’s Alex, Mia Wasikowska’s Sophie, an Olympic hopeful in gymnastics, is a high achiever, albeit younger and more insecure. And as with Alex, a traumatic event has pushed Sophie toward Dr. Paul ever so reluctantly. I guess they like going to that well.

There wasn’t much fun in Sophie’s debut – not that fun was the goal. Disarming a resistant patient, filled with anger, is not a pretty thing.  Still, the notion that Sophie’s mother was trying to push her away from competition, like a Little League parent in reverse, and the questionable relationship Sophie has with her coach (who drew a picture of an amply endowed mermaid on Sophie’s arm casts, without, say, the usual long hair draped over the nipples) give Paul a lot to address, and Sophie’s baggage doesn’t end there.

My favorite moment in the episode was when Paul told Sophie that everyone thinks about death – that her thinking about death wasn’t a sign of anything in and of itself. It’s the kind of quiet insight that actually speaks volumes.

“In Treatment” isn’t going to worry about making its characters likable.  That’s going to make it tough to retain some viewers, even if they’re willing to make the big time commitment to the show.  I can’t say I like Laura, Alex or Sophie so far. But I’m interested in their stories, almost despite themselves.  And I do like Paul.

By the way, this will expose me as a total TV nerd, but I spent half the episode wondering who Wasikowska reminded me of, before I came up with Crystal McKellar, who played Becky Slater on “The Wonder Years” (and is the sister of math whiz Danica McKellar, who played Winnie Cooper).  Becky was the girl who punched Kevin after he broke up with her.

– Jon Weisman