Episode 8 of Apple TV+’s Shrinking is the series at its most psychologically compelling. Our vigilantes reclaim their own selves and “boop” what comes in their way.
This review contains minor spoilers for episode 8 of Apple TV+’s Shrinking.
Last week’s episode of Apple TV+’s Shrinking absolutely broke us, giving us not one but two devastatingly human moments that felt like the start of a new phase for more than one character. The first was Paul’s (Harrison Ford) Parkinson’s Disease standing in the way of his relationship with his daughter, preventing him from running after her. The second was a poignant conversation between Jimmy (Jason Segel) and his dead wife Tia (Lilan Bowden), interrupted by their daughter Alice (Lukita Maxwell) at the exact right moment.
Episode 8 deals with the aftermath of last week’s events: more growth is in order for our “psychological vigilantes” and it comes with Shrinking ‘s usual blend of sarcasm, wit, and heart.
Episode 8 starts by taking us back to the beginning of the series. Jimmy once again listens to his patient Grace (Heidi Gardner) complain about her abusive, coffee-obsessed husband, whom she had left in the series’ premiere. And, though they’re now back together, Grace is just as unhappy as she used to be. “Sometimes, all I want to do is ‘boop‘ him, and push his coffee off the table,” she tells Jimmy, mimicking the action with her hand.
Jimmy encourages her to go for it, explaining that what she’s describing is called a “pattern interrupt” – a way to get out of bad habits and prevent the same situations from happening over and over again. “Nobody changes bad behaviour without consequences,” he tells his patient. Little does he know that he, too, will soon have to listen to his own advice.
As usual, most of Shrinking ‘s wisdom comes from Paul, who returns to his role of mentor to both Alice and Jimmy, and has plenty of advice for both. In episode 8, Jimmy and Gaby (Jessica Williams) decide to tell Alice about the night they spent together, and Alice does exactly what any teenager would do: she makes some snarky remarks about her “hatred” for both Jimmy and Gaby, she closes herself off to the world, and she complains to Paul about the adults in her life.
“It’s not all about you, you know? Your dad’s going through some sh*t!,” the therapist tells her, projecting his own unresolved issues with his daughter onto the girl. But this makes Alice’s reaction even worse, and ultimately leads to Jimmy, Paul and Brian – who also has some news to break – teaming up and saving the day.
Meanwhile, Gaby convinces Liz (Christa Miller) and Sean (Luke Tennie) to accompany her to her ex husband Nico’s (Adam Foster Ballard) art show, fully aware that seeing him again won’t be good for her mental health but determined to keep ignoring the evidence for a little while longer.
And so, all of our characters are given difficult situations to handle in episode 8, and learn a little something about themselves in the process – or maybe they had known it all along. But what we learn from Shrinking this week is that our past mistakes don’t deprive us of the right to be upset at others when they wrong us.
Jimmy has grown so accustomed to watching his own life go by, and numbed himself to the pain, that he has gotten used to letting things happen to him in a passive way. It’s easy to lose sight of who you are when you’re grieving and in denial, but getting your self-esteem back is an important step to recovery, and Jimmy is learning to do just that in this episode. Sometimes, this means making unpopular decisions, even more so since Jimmy is also a father, but that is also healthy behaviour that can alter patterns and bring some much-needed balance into the lives of both.
Episode 8 of Shrinking is one of the most psychologically compelling yet, but that doesn’t mean it’s not as funny as the others. Harrison Ford is once again our main source of comic relief, whether he’s scaring young men or taking care of unlikely animals, but Jessica Williams and Christa Miller also delight us at the art show, their chemistry growing with each episode. And then, of course, there’s Jimmy himself, who entertains us with hilarious one-liners and the right amont of awkwardness, as Jason Segel’s confidence in his character’s shoes grows even more each week.
Shrinking still hasn’t dealt with Paul’s situation in depth, as the therapist has been wisely giving advice to others but avoided really looking within himself, and I have a feeling that much more is going on benath the surface. With only two episodes left, it’s safe to assume that the series will start exploring Paul’s state of mind, and knowing what he’s dealing with, we might be in for more heartbreak and grief. Alice and Jimmy’s relationship is also bound to change after this episode’s events, and Gaby still has her own share of sadness to face too. Since Shrinking keeps getting better with each episode, we absolutely can’t wait for next week.
Episode 8 of Shrinking is now available to watch on Apple TV+.