In Shrinking ‘s Episode 3, the Apple TV+ series delivers another witty, fun but also heartwrenching episode, with more meddling and growth for our protagonists.
Last week, Shrinking set the tone for a series that promised to be not only fun and witty, but meaningful. This week, that’s exactly what it delivered. We’re only 3 episodes into the Apple TV+ series, and we’ve already seen its characters grow a great deal, and realised that every single one of them is going through something and finding their own way to process the pain and survive the loneliness.
Last week’s episode introduced us to therapist Jimmy (Jason Segel, of How I Met Your Mother), who has just embraced what his colleague Paul (Harrison Ford, of Indiana Jones) calls a “psychological vigilante” approach – that is, making his patients do what he thinks is right for them instead of letting them figure it out in their own time. We know from last week that his approach is flawed at best, as it hasn’t exactly worked with everyone. But we also know that Jimmy’s reasons for being overly involved in his patients’ lives have to do more with his attempt to avoid processing his own grief than with a genuine desire to help his patients. Episode 3 confirms it, as more boundaries are broken and lines are crossed. But most of our characters also start to become aware of their own unhappiness, and to open up with each other.
This week is also when Shrinking approaches the topic of Paul’s health in more depth. In Episode 1, his Parkinson’s diagnosis came as a shocking twist we didn’t see coming, and that choice paid off. While films and series usually approach big reveals by cluing in the audience first and letting us anticipate the moment when the other characters will find out, Shrinking cleverly takes the opposite route. Here, everyone already knows a lot more than we do. We’re given just enough time to process what we’ve just learned – with a quietly heartwrenching scene where Harrison Ford conveys all of Paul’s despair and loneliness – before we “let [ourselves] grieve for 15 minutes and get the f*ck on with [our] life,” just like Paul does.
Shrinking ‘s episode 3 tackles heavy, complex themes, but they also reflect what real life is ultimately about. It’s not easy to deal with issues we cannot control, and, at the end of the day, the only way to prevent despair from taking over is to force ourselves out of this loop, and find strategies to cope. Denial is one of those strategies, and episode 3 gives us more of that, not only with Jimmy – who’s now gone so far as to move his patient Sean (Luke Tennie, of Players) into his own house – but also with Gaby (Jessica Williams, of Booksmart), whose larger than life personality and positive attitude also conceal some fears and isolation of her own.
Jimmy’s daughter Alice (Lukita Maxwell, of Generation) also grows a lot in episode 3, when the sudden loss of her “zombie orchid” forces her to face some of her grief. Partly thanks to Gaby and Paul’s own meddling with Jimmy’s life – the former by talking with Jimmy’s neighbour about her presence in Alice’s life and the latter by secretly giving Alice advice – but also to the refreshingly honest Sean, our grieving teenager is also finally able to open up with the people around her, including her father.
Speaking of Jimmy, his conversations with Paul are quickly becoming a highlight of the series. Each episode delivers more hilarious lines and meaningful moments of honesty in a refreshingly matter of fact way. In episode 3, not only do we learn that Paul knows that he’s in denial about his own issues, but Jimmy is also made aware of his own mental state. “Who knows how you grieve? You haven’t even begun.“ Paul tells him, in what may very well be the beginning of a whole new journey for our protagonist.
Co-writers and showrunners Bill Lawrence, Jason Segel and Brett Goldstein deliver another thought-provoking, meaningful episode, in a series that continues to call for parallels with Ted Lasso. Just like the beloved Apple TV+ show, Shrinking gives us healthy portrayals of masculinity, avoids dramatising scenarios for the sake of storytelling, shows us positive resolutions of conflicts and promotes empathy, all while remaining witty, emotionally affecting and entertaining. Episode 3 ends with another hilarious twist, and we can’t wait to find out what awaits us next week.
Episode 3 of Shrinking is now available to watch on Apple TV+.