Dr. Alan Strauss (Steve Carell) has his work cut out for him as he tries to distract a serial killer while keeping a second hostage calm on the latest episode of ‘The Patient.’
While “Company” doesn’t have the same surprising subversion as last week’s episode “Issues,” it’s a thrilling half hour of TV nonetheless. That’s a testament to Carell, who is mostly acting against himself for the duration of the episode as he works with Sam (Domhnall Gleeson)’s latest hostage – the Greek restaurant guy – while trying to keep the killer distracted.
Everything in this episode feels like a ticking clock. From the moment that Alan wakes up from PTSD flashbacks of his sessions with Sam through to the moment that Elias (Alex Rich) finally introduces himself by name before the credits, there’s a sense of doom hanging over the proceedings. One wrong move and Sam will barge into the room where Elias is being kept and murder him in cold blood.
While Elias’ presence is felt throughout the entire episode, he’s only glimpsed in the final moments which means that Carell is basically only acting against a voice. There’s a lot of layers as the therapist simultaneously keeps the younger man calm, while also discovering common ground in their respective sick family members (Elias’ mother vs Alan’s deceased wife). There’s even an emotional sing along when things get really tense, which includes Alan fighting to keep his voice from breaking as he strives to remain in control of the situation. It’s good stuff!
Gleeson also gets some good material as Joel Fields and Joseph Weisberg’s script takes the action outside of the basement for an extended period of time. It’s interesting to watch Sam try to keep his composure as he distractedly makes his way through an average work day. Gleeson has had to keep his anger and his menace bottled up under the surface, but his rage and frustration throughout the episode – evident in Sam’s pacing, his inability to keep the cup of pens upright and his spiteful dialogue – are all excellent.
And so Alan manages to keep Elias alive for an episode. I’m a bit surprised that he didn’t try to humanize the young man to Sam in the same way he played on Sam’s emotions with his mom last week. Instead Alan adopts a list-oriented approach, complete with barked orders when Sam threatens to stray from his commands. Providing concrete goals that keeps Sam a physical distance from his victim has worked so far, but for how long?
- We meet Sam’s boss, Kyle (Tim Ransom) and co-worker Jeanette (Cassandra Relynn) and learn that (unsurprisingly) Sam is a great employee whose nickname is Mr. Efficiency. Anyone who follows True Crime knows that it’s often the nice guys you’d suspect last that are the cold blooded murderers, so…this tracks.
- Sam mentions that he’s a fan of Kenny Chesney’s “No Shoes Nation,” which is an interesting addition. As a character detail, we now know that Sam likes music and concerts, but there’s also something undeniably ironic about his insistence that “love” is an integral part of that community. How much love can you have without empathy for your fellow man?
- More insight into the Judaism as we’re reminded that the source of the rift between Alan’s son Ezra (Andrew Leeds) and his wife Beth (Laura Niemi) is that Ezra is an Orthodox Jew, so he is extremely religious and would take issue with his mom’s less strict approach (hence the disapproving look at her singing at the wedding last week, and at the sweets for dessert in this episode).
- Finally: I’m aghast it’s taken me this long to mention but in every episode so far there’s been long scenes of Alan listening to Sam urinate. It could be comedic effect, or a byproduct of Sam’s penchant for Big Gulps, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s also a clue to something important?
‘The Patient’ airs Tuesdays on Hulu (in the US) and Disney+ (in Canada)