With The Patient, however, Alan Strauss is missing (I will locate you, Sam) because of his insider knowledge of the therapeutic process. And he’ll need every bit of his considerable expertise to get it through this. There are a plethora of horror tales revolving around a nasty captor trying to get information out of a prisoner. Storylines like that often take the form of cat-and-mouse games, in which the prisoner has a significant disadvantage since they aren’t familiar with the rules of the game.
Several elements from Stephen King‘s novel Misery have started to appear in the show. In the narrative, the protagonist’s favorite romance author is kidnapped by a crazy fan who demands he change the conclusion of his most recent book. The author uses his considerable literary talents to improve his chances of survival, but he also has to learn to negotiate the complex and perplexing mind of his captor as he spends day after day in a small, confining cell.
The author in Misery manages to break free. But I’m not optimistic about Alan’s future with Sam.
Alan is doing Sam’s experiment on pure reflexes and muscle memory after agreeing to do it very grudgingly. Alan admits to a client in the pilot that he has been a therapist for a long time and that, despite his best efforts, he sometimes feels like he’s simply going through the motions. I can see why they would do it. The dude seems utterly stunned.
With more time on his hands as he adjusts to his new surroundings, Alan may think deeply about his situation. During the day, he has two separate memories surface involving his late wife. First, he thinks back to when he and his friend were meditating together.
The Patient: Thriller Series to Release on August 30 on Hulu
As for the second recollection, it’s a little more difficult. After Sam gives Alan a plastic fork with his breakfast, Alan starts thinking back to when his son Ezra and his wife came over to visit. Alan’s wife is trying to use a plastic knife to cut a cake-like loaf that is resting on a paper plate. Although I am not well-versed in Jewish customs, I gather from the incident with the paper plates that Ezra and his wife adhere to a very stringent style of Orthodox Judaism.
Alan’s wife’s eyes light up like a fireworks display when Ezra’s wife mentions a “genuine knife.” She’s lost her mind. Seriously enraged. The next day, she throws the bread against the wall, and Alan remarks how delicious it would be to eat. He attempts to reassure her that this is normal behavior for children and that Ezra is only going through a phase.
Alan has his problems, but he’s too busy caring about Sam to address them. Sam’s plan B after Alan refuses to become his therapy pet is to bring out stolen stuff from his victims. Sam’s handling of the box and delving through it hint at countless stolen lives.
Sam may not feel a lot of guilt about his actions, but he does want to quit. Sam asks Alan, “If you’re not going to be a part of the process, then where is that going to leave us?” in an implied threat as Alan persists in resisting counseling. It soon becomes obvious that Alan is trapped. He brings his chair to the coffee table and heaves himself up from the bed with a moan of exhaustion. Sam’s face lights up with a grin of glee, almost reminiscent of a child’s, as he realizes he’s finally receiving what he’s been hoping for.
First, Alan tries to assert control over the situation by using a contraction approach. Sam is asked to promise not to injure anybody without Alan’s permission. Contracts and contracting have a checkered track record as a kind of therapy, but they’re all Alan has down here in the basement. By having Sam sign off on a list of ground rules before they begin, he can seem in charge at all times. Sam’s word is all Alan can hope for, so they start.
Sam eventually gets back that evening, carrying a huge cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. Is Dunkin’ as important to serial murderers as it is to Ben Affleck? Possibly because Sam is unusually chatty. He tells Alan that he’s had a fixation on this one individual for months, but he’s trying to resist the urge to murder him.
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The first step in treatment or 12-step programs is acknowledging that you have a problem. Sam recognizes that he has psychopathic tendencies and is aggressive, but he also recognizes that his need to murder is a problem. It appears to bother him and he knows it’s wrong. He began dating Alan about the time he developed an unhealthy fixation on this individual.
Even though Sam seems to want to participate in treatment, he is actively resisting it. Sam denies that his issues might be the same as anybody else’s when Alan makes comparisons to other customers who also suffer from uncontrolled compulsions.
This prompts Alan to attempt a strategy change. He begins to empathize with Sam’s situation, mirroring it back to Sam with compassion and empathy. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be effective either.
But with the dawn comes the possibility of a new day of optimism. Alan starts screaming after Sam goes to work. At first, he assumes it’s another hostage and checks on them to see whether they’re doing OK. This guy has a way with people. On the other hand, we see a fireplace poker stumbling down the flight of steps. No way is this individual a hostage. Could it be…who exactly?
I look forward to continuing this discussion with you at our next scheduled meeting.