Home Box Office’s programming is renowned for its groundbreaking original series. The conclusion of the premium cable network’s The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, HBO Boxing, and the now more respected The Wire, have often lead audiences and critics to remark “this is the end of an era”. Many at HBOWatch believe that the best still lies ahead for HBO, yet it is acutely apparent that the recommissioning of previous series is also a part of HBO’s vision. Any Game of Thrones spinoffs are the most anticipated perhaps, yet another gem from the past is getting a revival. In Treatment returned on May 23, 2021, with four episodes for its first “week” of new stories.
The first season and seasons two and three took place in Baltimore and Brooklyn, respectively. Season 4 uses sunny Los Angeles for its backdrop; however, the mood is cloudy for the patients and their therapist. Our new doctor is Brooke Taylor (Uzo Aduba), and she is a protégé of Dr. Paul Weston (Gabriel Byrne: Seasons 1-3). Unlike her mentor, Taylor is a Ph.D. and not MD, therefore cannot prescribe medication without a psychiatrist or medication manager in the loop but you can count on her assessments to be effective nevertheless.
ELADIO – Week 1
We meet Dr. Taylor’s young male patient Eladio (Anthony Ramos), via teleconference; but this is an impromptu call from Eladio late in the evening. It is unknown if this is the patient’s preference, but COVID-19 is a factor in this fictional setting. Eladio is from a financially sound background, for he is relaying a disturbing dream to his therapist from a posh backyard; outfitted with a near Olympic-sized pool. Eladio’s dream is the product of thoughts from his relationship with a brilliant video game programmer. The relationship ended abruptly due to his lover’s addiction and sudden disappearance. Dr. Taylor believes this experience is a contributing factor to Eladio’s insomnia. The restless young man asks Dr. Taylor for an inspirational quote and the good Dr. juxtaposes and paraphrases two quotes from pioneering psychiatrist Carl Jung:
“There is not coming into consciousness without pain”
Dr. Taylor’s interpretation of Jung’s words is that Eladio (and others) must directly acknowledge and address the issues that they face. Side-stepping problems only exacerbate the problem. Yet we later find that Taylor is sidestepping her own issues. The session concludes with Eladio asking Taylor to be an integral part of his life, something beyond the patient-doctor relationship. Eladio sees Taylor as a mother figure, and this level of regard is in conflict with normal patient-doctor protocols and Taylor’s own unresolved issues with her parents. Eladio’s expectations of Taylor may become problematic as this season progresses.
COLIN – Week 1
Brooke begins working with her first pro bono client, Colin (John Benjamin Hickey), who proves evasive despite his alleged enthusiasm for therapy. Colin’s free therapy is not indicative of his financial situation. This wire fraud millionaire has been ordered by a California court to attend four therapy sessions. Dr. Taylor’s assessment will be instrumental in the court’s course of correction for the white-collar fraudster.
Awkward silence blankets the beginning of the session. Eventually, Colin repeatedly insists he is open and ready to communicate; conjuring up distractive conversations to avoid talking about his issues. Taylor and Colin shoot the sh** about the changing social demographics of Los Angeles boroughs, leading to Colin insisting that he believes in the Black Lives Matter movement. HBO never sidesteps political and social issues, but this is rather on-the-nose for premium cable, and more seen in network television. Seasons 1 and 2 of In Treatment addressed race and social class through superb metaphors and fictionalized situations, in lieu of the easy route of piggybacking off real-world events. Yet, maybe the post-COVID-19 world will be a suitable platform for integrating nonfiction into fictionalized media.
Colin is the biggest enigma thus far, and week 2 cannot come sooner to learn about this character.
LAILA – Week 1
Laila (Quintessa Swindell), Dr. Taylor’s youngest and only female patient, is directed to therapy by her self-righteous grandmother (Charlayne Woodard). The grandmother believes that being gay, black, and female is too much of a burden, and indirectly suggests Laila should be heterosexual. Laila lives with her father, but he is only monetarily present; choosing to shower Laila with gifts, rather than spend quality time together.
On the surface, Laila appears to be the typical rebellious and self-assessed misunderstood teenager. At one point, Laila goes on a tangent about Generation Y’s (Dr. Taylor’s age group) abuse of crack and lack of care for the environment. This summation of an entire generation’s childhood and adolescence is a deflection of Laila’s lack of world experience to know how to begin to address issues.
Before the session concludes, Taylor uncovers that Laila is seeing a young girl. Although Laila’s sexuality is an issue for her conservative grandmother, this is not even a nominal issue for the therapist. However, the age of Laila’s girlfriend alarms Taylor. The 18-year-old is in a relationship with a 14-year-old and does not see the problem; Laila is under the false assumption that the lawful age of consent is nullified if both parties are teenagers. Dr. Taylor will have an ethically slippery slope to navigate to help Laila, yet Laila’s grandmother may be the biggest obstacle.
BROOKE (Dr. Taylor) – Week 1
Dr. Paul Weston’s personal issues gradually unfolded throughout the seasons but, with his former understudy, we are immediately thrust into her personal dealings. We know of Weston and Taylor’s relationship through the header of an unread email, which is a nice way to connect the series’ professionals. Rita (Liza Colón-Zayas, Taylor’s longtime friend (pictured), drops by one day before Taylor expected her arrival. Rita all but berates our lead protagonist for missing an important event. Taylor’s father died just a week ago; this combined with her unexpected interaction with Eladio, causes the Dr. to have a very emotional moment with Rita.
Brooke relays that she was caught off guard by Eladio’s unexpected call and his mentioning of a troubling dream. Analogous to Eladio’s situation, Taylor, who had an abortion at 15, has a recurring dream about her unborn son. Much to the chagrin of Rita, Taylor’s on-again/off-again boyfriend arrives. He is Adam, played by Joel Kinnaman. Not much is known about their relationship, other than it is about as predictable as the state of the cryptocurrency market.
Although the format is a tad dated, Season 4 of In Treatment is a worthy continuation of the superb Season 1-3. The doctor is in again and we are in for the full 24-episode of Dr. Taylor’s sessions. Are you? What brought you here?
About The Author
Travlis is a government contractor, Naval reservist, and aficionado of film, premium television, and literature. A viewer of HBO for nearly three decades, Travlis just completed the first draft an outline and script for a documentary titled "On a Dark and Stormy Night". The intentionally cliché’ title serves as a double entendre’. For Home Box Office aired its first wave of programming on November 8, 1972, during a thunderstorm, and the premium cable giant‘s nearly five decade run of quality programming is anything but cliché’.