The Patient – Episode 3 “Issues” Recap & Review

Issues

Episode 3 of The Patient picks up where it last left off: A cane-holding figure slowly descends the stairs to be greeted by Alan.

She introduces herself as Sam’s mother, Candace, and reveals that this is her home. Sam moved in after he and Mary split up (Alan, ever the professional therapist, is not at liberty to discuss this with her).

Candace reveals she’s a fan of his books; she suggested Sam get therapy, in fact. But when Alan begs her to call the police, she refuses. Candace doesn’t support Sam in this, but she can’t turn him in. She can see he’s trying to stop. “I know this isn’t right.” she says. “But you have to help him. He’s my baby.”

Sam later returns with food. Totally transparent, Alan admits he met his mother. Of course, her existence was surprising to him, given the fact that Sam had told him she was dead.

Sam says he lied because therapy tends to be all about mothers, and his mother isn’t his problem. Alan takes this in quietly, but we can see the wheels turning in his mind, doubting the validity of Sam’s claims.

Fantasizing about attacking Sam, Alan begs again to be unchained, to no avail. So, he brings up Sam’s parents. Sam reveals that his dad left them when he was 14. Before, his dad hit him and Candace, whom he insists is a good mom to him.

Alan meditates later, thinking back to his son’s wedding, which was officiated by a rabbi of Orthodox Judaism. The rabbi protested when Alan’s wife went to the stage to sing to Ezra, claiming they don’t allow women to sing. Ezra also appeared uncomfortable, implying a rift in religious beliefs within Alan’s family.

Alan later persuades Sam to do some family therapy with his mother. They all try a session together, in which Candace talks about how she and Sam “took refuge in each other” during the hard times involving Sam’s father.

Alan says Sam’s love for Candace can help him. He urges Sam to think of protecting his mother when he’s trying to squash his dark impulses.

“Will you do that for me, Sam?” Candace asks. Sam doesn’t respond.

One night, Sam comes home to reveal to Alan that he’s just returned from the restaurant where he did the inspection. He watched the man and imagined killing him in his head. But he didn’t do anything, however much he deserved it.

Alan asks if he always feels that his victims need to be taught a lesson. Sam confirms this is true. He feels they all deserved their fate.

When he’s alone, Alan calls for Candace, but she doesn’t respond. Alan recalls again his wife singing at the wedding. She faltered when she realized half the attendees were leaving. Alan stared down an uncomfortable Ezra while she sang.

He then remembers his wife’s cancer-ridden body. In this memory, Alan’s daughter held his hand. Ezra wasn’t present.

Later, Alan wakes up to Sam dragging a man (alive) into the house. He locks him up in the room next to Alan’s.


The Episode Review

The Patient is intensely enjoyable when viewed less as a thriller and more as a drama about the practice of therapy. Speaking with Newsweek, creators Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields revealed the inspiration behind the show to be their own experiences with therapy as something extremely fascinating and important to them. 

Every interaction between Alan and Sam plays out like a regular therapy session, albeit amplified by an unusual context. In the grand (and chilling) scheme of things, The Patient is about a serial killer who has chained a man to a floor. And yet at its heart, it’s about what many viewers have actually gone through themselves: a process of seeking change–of desperately wanting to and not knowing how.

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