Episode 5 of Apple TV+’s Shrinking teaches us that it’s ok to feel stuck, and that we can get better if we do the work and open up to those who care about us.
Last week, we left our favourite therapists and their friends and families dealing with new revelations to process and difficult choices to eventually face. This week, Shrinking gives us just that, as Episode 5 of the Apple TV+ series gives each character room to grow, learn from their mistakes, and do the right thing.
For Jimmy (Jason Segel, of How I Met Your Mother), this means not only trying to get back the patient he accidentally sent away, but also working on his relationship with Sean (Luke Tennie, of Players), who’s still not inclined to open up to him about his past in the military and unprocessed trauma. For Liz (Christa Miller, of Scrubs), it’s letting herself be more than Alice’s (Lukita Maxwell, of Generation) neighbour/caretaker, realising that she is more than just a wife to her husband Derek (Ted McGinley) and a mother to her son Connor (Gavin Lewis), and letting herself be carefree and have friends.
But that’s not all. Brian (Michael Urie, of Swan Song) is in the process of proposing to his boyfriend Charlie (Devin Kawaoka) for the millionth time, but, for some reason, he can’t get himself to buy the ring and pop the question. Paul (Harrison Ford, of Indiana Jones) has childishly decided to not be Jimmy’s mentor anymore after the latter lied to him about letting a patient live in his house. And Gaby (Jessica Williams, of Booksmart), perhaps projecting her own relationship issues onto the situation, is refusing to be Paul’s second choice when the therapist goes to her for advice instead of Jimmy.
Alice is the only character who’s actually getting better. Not only is Jimmy’s daughter starting to tell people how she feels, and therefore making progress with her dad, but she’s also having an impact on the people around her, starting with Sean. If last week we thought we were soon going to see Alice and Sean together, Episode 5 shifts our focus onto what really matters: Sean’s wellbeing. We realise that the boy is doing even worse than we thought, so much so that even Alice is freaked out by his behaviour. Eventually, Shrinking gives us a conversation in which we finally understand what’s going on, and not only is it the best part of the episode but it also gives us much insight into Paul’s thoughts.
Paul saves the day in Episode 5, giving Sean the kind of advice he needed and, at the same time, breaking our heart with his own self-awareness. It turns out that Paul, Sean, Jimmy and even Brian, Alice, Gaby, Liz, and possibly Shrinking‘s audience too, have quite a lot in common. Though each character is handling their fears in a different way – be it refusing to take risks, withholding vital information from their relatives, or quietly hating themselves for who they were in the past – they are all terrified to take that scary first step towards healing, and face their fears.
The best lesson we learn from Episode 5 of Shrinking is that self-love isn’t easy. Getting better is hard: it requires a lot of work and the support of those around you. Change can happen, but it’s not immediate: it’s a long journey, and, once you start believing in it, others will too. And so, we don’t need to be “heroes” to be good people, just like an illness or other people’s perceptions of us don’t define who we are. But if we allow ourselves to feel all our pain, grief and self-loathing, we’ll also start healing, and eventually find ourselves again.
Judging by Episode 5, Shrinking still has much to teach us in the coming weeks, and we can’t wait to find out more about our characters’ journeys.
Episode 5 of Shrinking is now available to watch on Apple TV+.