When Alan Strauss (Steve Carell) wakes up in an odd basement, chained to the ground, within the first episode of The Patient, he isn’t there as a result of serial killer Sam Fortner (Domhnall Gleeson) plans to homicide him. He’s Sam’s therapist, and Sam actually, actually desires to get higher in order that he’ll cease killing individuals. After months of periods in Alan’s workplace, with Sam giving a faux identify and pretend particulars about his life, Sam has determined that the one method he can really be sincere and start to heal is to kidnap Alan and maintain him prisoner. From that primary set-up, The Patient delves into the psyches of each males, remaining gripping at the same time as nearly all of the scenes happen in a single room.
Sam stays pretty apologetic and accommodating at the same time as he topics Alan to growing horrors. As considered one of Sam’s former academics tells him in a later episode, residing with a therapist is just not psychologically helpful, even for serial killers. The prospect of Sam overcoming his homicide dependancy is doubtful, though his need to reside a extra regular life is usually convincing. There’s a contrived factor to The Patient that by no means fairly goes away, though Carell and Gleeson give such dedicated, plausible performances that the implausibility is comparatively simple to disregard.
It looks like The Patient‘s premise can be fairly restricted, and creators Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg generally pressure to fill out the 10-episode season. The episodes, which vary from 21 to 46 minutes and largely run beneath half an hour, are unusually brief for a darkish drama, and that helps with the pacing, breaking apart the same interactions and developments in order that The Patient would not really feel repetitive. Alan by no means leaves the basement, however The Patient offers him loads of flashbacks in addition to imagined periods together with his personal therapist (David Alan Grier) to discover his household background.
Sam stays a bit extra inscrutable, though, as Alan quickly discovers, Sam’s mom Candace (Linda Emond) additionally lives in the home, and he or she gives some perception into Sam’s background and character. Mostly, the viewers learns about Sam as Alan does. Both viewers and this skilled, famend therapist battle to know Sam in the identical method. As frightened as Alan could also be, Carell conveys the sense of hubris that comes from such a singular alternative: to be the therapist who truly “cured” a serial killer. Alan is horrified by a few of Sam’s actions, however he at all times comes again to his facade of understanding and compassion, gently steering Sam within the course of higher conduct.
Carell tones down any doable comedic vitality to play the melancholy Alan, who’s nonetheless grieving the lack of his spouse Beth (Laura Niemi) and is conflicted over his relationship together with his grownup son Ezra (Andrew Leeds), who’s transformed to Orthodox Judaism. There’s a surprisingly intensive exploration of Jewish identification in The Patient, and in an early episode, Sam explains that he was particularly in search of a Jewish therapist, though he’s not Jewish himself. Some questionable Holocaust imagery apart, Fields and Weisberg carry nuance and sensitivity to their portrayal of Judaism, which is as important to Alan’s character and sense of self as his coaching as a therapist.
Gleeson has to provide a extra contained efficiency with a view to maintain Sam’s plans and motivations mysterious, no less than for some time, however he efficiently balances the psychotic and the sympathetic. Sam by no means comes off like Hannibal Lecter or Jigsaw, however he is additionally at all times clearly harmful, only one flawed transfer away from deciding to do away with Alan as an alternative of listening to his recommendation. Sam is not as charismatic as some film serial killers, however his blandness makes him scarier in a method. Hannibal Lecter’s refined pursuits in music and artwork set him other than different individuals, whereas Sam’s best ardour, other than homicide, is the music of nation singer Kenny Chesney, which is in some way extra unsettling in its averageness.
Weisberg and Fields are greatest often called the creator and showrunner, respectively, of espionage drama, The Americans, and The Patient would not have the complexity or scope of that good, epic collection. There are minor surprises in The Patient, however this is not a present constructed on stunning plot twists or suspenseful set items. Alan typically fantasizes about killing Sam and escaping or concerning the police mounting a daring rescue, however these are transient flashes in an in any other case monotonous expertise for Alan in captivity.
That monotony can generally creep into the present itself, and even with its brief episodes, The Patient may need been simpler as a single characteristic movie. Still, Carell and Gleeson maintain it compelling by way of any gradual spots, proving that these characters locked in a room collectively can proceed to seek out newly fascinating methods to work together.
The first two episodes of The Patient premiere Tuesday, Aug. 30, on Hulu, with subsequent episodes debuting on Tuesdays.