Shrinking – Season 1 Episode 2 “Fortress of Solitude” Recap & Review

Fortress of Solitude

In Shrinking Season 1 Episode 2, Jimmy bemoans to Paul the fact that Alice won’t have dinner with him. The reason, of course, is a bit obvious to Paul. He can’t force Alice to come to him when he checked out of her life for a year. She’ll have dinner with him when she’s ready.

So Jimmy treks on with his life. Curiously, even after the soccer game fight, Jimmy is still all-in on his method of telling his clients what to do. He even escorts one of his clients to a coffee shop so he can confront his issues with the chatty barista head-on. Being lonely sucks, he notes to this client. He knows this personally. So why would anyone want to live like that?

Jimmy knows this, but it doesn’t mean he’s solved all his personal problems around loneliness. He begrudgingly gives his best friend a call, though they haven’t spoken for a year. Brian is a lawyer, and helps out by representing Sean–but when he tries to reconnect with Jimmy with a game of pickleball, his former friend refuses.

Jimmy at least tries to be there for Alice by going to see her guidance counselor. Since Liz has been filling in for Jimmy in his absence, she has a lot more information about Alice for the counselor than he does. It’s incredibly helpful of her–but it also upsets Jimmy. At work, Gaby encourages him to set boundaries with Liz. After all, she’s not Alice’s mother.

Apparently, Gaby feels the right to confront Liz herself about it. She tells her Jimmy wants to start showing up for Alice again and implies not only that Liz should back off, but that she just wants to fill a hole in her life because her boys are gone. Understandably, Liz doesn’t take kingly to Gaby’s interference.

Meanwhile, Alice’s friend Summer tries to convince her to go to Drinks Under a Bridge, but it’s not exactly Alice’s kind of scene. She complains to Paul (with whom she has occasional and unofficial “therapy” sessions) that her friends are so immature.

Paul notes that they haven’t been through what she has. But you can let your grief drown you or face it and come through the other side. And while she may think no one understands her, Jimmy does. Alice can’t just start pretending everything is okay with her dad, but Paul encourages her to play the part. Have dinner with him and then go to the bridge.

Still, Paul has some choice words for Jimmy about keeping his personal and professional life separate. Alice should be the most important person in his life right now, and he can’t jeopardize that relationship. Jimmy promises he won’t.

Alice decides Paul was right. She cancels Taco Tuesday with Liz to have dinner with Jimmy. This crushes the neighbor, though she pretends it’s all right with her. You can see the doubt in Liz’s eyes. Has she been over-involved in Alice’s life?

But since Alice had already refused his dinner invitation, Jimmy prepares to go play pickleball with Brian, who earlier had a few choice words for him. So the sandwiches Alice bought for Jimmy go to her and Paul instead.

After pickleball, Brian confronts Jimmy about ghosting him for a year even though he tried to be there for his friend. Jimmy admits that being around him was too hard. He had to be too cheerful and light and couldn’t let him be miserable. Brian apologizes and lets Jimmy off the hook when he has to go.

Meanwhile, Sean’s parents tell him he can’t stay at their house after he spent the night in jail. When Alice gets home, Sean is there waiting because Jimmy offered him a place to crash. I guess Jimmy won’t be listening to Paul’s advice after all.

The Episode Review

Hey, did you know that pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America? Just kidding, of course you did. I love that the fact that Brian plays pickleball is supposed to tell us everything we need to know about him. I myself was once bitten by the pickleball bug (I know, the embarrassment!), and I genuinely crack up at mentions of the cheerfully obnoxious community built around the sport.

Now, for something I don’t get: Doesn’t Jimmy understand that when Harrison Ford gives you advice, you listen? I’m a bit taken aback by how, after two beatings occurred as a result from his new therapy practices (and in front of Alice, no less), Jimmy doesn’t wrestle at all with his new methods. It’s almost like he’s becoming his own Brian, playing pickleball and believing everything will go his way. (I don’t think things aren’t going to go his way. Neither does Harrison Ford.) 

I do love the subtle integration in this episode of Liz’s own struggles here. An empty nester expected to move on from her motherly ways pull back from someone who’s become like a daughter to her? She’s a lovely, empathetic, witty and wry character I hope we see more of.

Overall, episode 2 of Shrinking sets us up for more delightfully cringeworthy screw-ups. I just really hope these lovable characters each find their way.

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You can read our season 1 review of Shrinking here!


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1 thought on “Shrinking – Season 1 Episode 2 “Fortress of Solitude” Recap & Review”

  1. Why would Alice take her sandwiches to have with Paul, especially since the next episode we learn that Paul lives way out of the way of Jimmy’s house. My first thought was, what the heck is she doing there, beyond a scene with Harrison Ford.

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