‘In Treatment’: Season 3 DVD boxset review

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It seems to happen way too often that quality TV shows are axed by money-minded suits before they’ve ever been given a chance to reach their full potential.

After the third season of this acclaimed HBO series there were rumours circulating that a punishing schedule along with less than spectacular viewing figures had pushed In Treatment onto the scrapheap. Unfortunately, those rumours proved to be true and this third batch of half-hour episodes delving into the lives of the patients of Dr Paul Weston (Gabriel Byrne) will be the last.

Season 3 picks up with Paul still running his practice from his Brooklyn home, though he now has his youngest son, Max (Alex Wolff), living with him after his divorce from Max’s mother, Kate (Michelle Forbes).

Paul, still dour yet charming, struggles to connect with his son, has a much younger girlfriend he doesn’t open up to and no longer sees his therapist from the first two seasons. His father has recently died of Parkinson’s Disease, and Paul, with some hand tremors becoming noticeable, fears he is slowly developing the condition himself.

The season has a slightly different format, only following sessions with three of Paul’s patients (to the previous four) and his appointments with his own therapist, Adele (The Wire’s Amy Ryan), who replaces old therapist Gina.

As ever the characters prove fascinating, infuriating and compelling in equal measure, and all in some way reflect aspects of Paul’s character.

Bereaved Indian immigrant Sunil (Irfan Khan), who is having trouble settling into his new life in the US, is somewhat proud, a quality regularly exhibited by Paul; ageing actress Frances (Debra Winger) perhaps embodies some of the vanity touched upon in previous seasons, whilst the difficulty he finds in relating to adopted gay teen Jesse (Dane DeHaan) could parallel his own relationship with his son.

All of this is then analysed in gleeful detail in the season’s highpoints; Paul’s sessions with younger new therapist Adele, who stubbornly refuses the request to just write a few sleeping pills, in favour of actually getting to know him a little first.

These double-bills are fascinating, hugely entertaining and utterly engaging. Seeing the therapist’s opinions on those he treats whilst peeking into his own issues still feels like a totally guilty pleasure, with the talented Amy Ryan adding another great role to her already glittering CV as a feisty, thoughtful adversary to Paul’s cynicism about his own treatment.

The quality of writing and direction is self-evident, though In Treatment’s real strength (in its theatrical style) is the depth of acting talent recruited. Byrne is quietly magnificent as the serious man contemplating others’ problems, who then goes on to let that man’s neuroses flow flamboyantly to the fore.

Likewise, Khan, Winger and DeHaan hold up their ends brilliantly; particularly DeHaan, the star of new sci-fi movie Chronicle, who perfectly embodies the classic angry young man with a twist and looks to have a bright future.

A show as intelligent, subtle and slow-paced as In Treatment was never likely to be a huge ratings hit and to be fair, HBO aren’t the usual network to prematurely cancel such a show. Still, with its modest focus on analysis, self-analysis and great acting talent, it’s a poor reflection on audiences that a show so accomplished as this joins the ranks of the cancelled.

Released on DVD on Monday 6th February 2012 by HBO.

> Buy the box set on Amazon.

What did you think of Season 3? Let us know below…