After watching and loving The Americans, I was intrigued to see what series creators Joel Fields and Joseph Weisburg would do next.
So, when ads started cropping up for their new series, The Patient, I was intrigued. Now, three episodes into the miniseries and I am firmly on the hook, ready to see this all will lead. Like The Americans, The Patient offers a unique premise from which to begin its storytelling.
Alan Strauss, played by Steve Carrell (another selling point) is a successful therapist and best-selling self-help book author. Alan senses that one of his patients, Sam, isn’t being entirely honest with him, thus hindering the therapeutic process. Alan challenges him to dig deeper, resulting in Alan waking up, chained to the floor in Sam’s basement with Sam asking Alan to help him curb a violent impulse – one that has resulted in Sam’s being a wanted serial killer known as the John Doe killer.
Despite his early protestations, Alan realizes he has little choice but to try and help Sam if he wants to be released or escape.
Interspersed with scenes from Alan’s life pre-captivity, we find out that Alan is recently widowed and possibly estranged from his son. This does answer an early, niggling question of why no one might miss Alan when he suddenly vanishes.
So far, each episode has ended on a tension point, designed to ensure you’ll want to come back next week. The second installment ended with someone coming down the stairs to the basement while the third ended with Sam bringing back someone to the basement and the sound of duct tape being used to bind that person (it could be the next victim Sam desperately wants to kill but hasn’t yet because there is a connection to him that could be traced).
Again, this is a premise that requires a bit of willing suspension of disbelief, but it’s working so far. Part of that is the strength of Alan as a character – from his backstory to his growing reluctance to engage in therapy with Sam and later his mother (who is the person who comes downstairs. The mother, in fact, refuses to help Alan because Sam needs him so much). So far, the only things we know about Sam are limited, though I expect we’ll see these filled in later. He apparently is a bit of a foodie, bringing Alan various dishes each evening to share together and raving about them and he’s also got a dark side that can be pushed. So far, he hasn’t physically hurt Alan, though he does seem a powder-keg ready to blow at any moment.
Three episodes in and the show is a compelling one – a lot of that credit going to Carrell, showing a flare for the dramatic. I do wonder if we will find out more about the process Sam used to select Alan for this radical therapy process as the series goes along.
Each episode is under a half-hour, feeling like just enough without overstaying its welcome. Again, I’m hooked and intrigued to see where this all goes.