“Shrinking,” a show about fictional therapists unavoidably runs the risk of its volatile messages being treated as gospel. It really isn’t an unexpected phenomenon that people may quote it or even practice whatever they think the show is preaching. In a world where the most reckless anecdotes pertaining to crowd-favorite pop-culture characters can slither around social media as chic words of wisdom, free therapy (the Apple TV subscription aside) is too intriguing to miss out on. And if you’re reading this and wondering if this may be a critique of the show’s devil-may-care MO, allow me to further clarify what I really mean by all this. Once a show is done restating that its characters are, in fact, fictional, your takeaway from it or to what end you allow it to penetrate your personal life becomes your own responsibility. So, proceed with caution as you witness these superbly dysfunctional shrinks destruct and refurbish their methods. And no matter how enticing the 15-minute grieving idea may seem, if what you’re dealing with is severe trauma, you would be better off speaking to an actual professional. Now, let’s get on with the episode.
Jimmy, a therapist who should, at this point, be chased with a butterfly net and tranquilizer, hasn’t even come close to giving up his rogue mode. Remember his obnoxious patient, Alan? Yes, the loser (and the other word, we’re all thinking) who, for the lack of a smidge of self-awareness, believes that he is an absolute blessing and is too good for any woman he comes across. Alan is bungling up a date when his super-therapist Jimmy pops up to give him one-on-one dating advice. Seriously, Jimmy? Sure, you have a responsibility toward bettering your patient’s well-being, but why not do an unsuspecting woman a solid? As expected and only naturally, Alice has a hard time getting comfortable with Sean living in her home. He doesn’t quite make a good impression when his OCD cleaning ends with Tia’s dead orchid being tossed in the waste bin. To calm a peeved Alice, Sean scours the bin for the orchid, only to be harassed by an average neighborhood racist. Saving him from the bothersome “Karen” is Liz, who isn’t particularly thrilled about Jimmy sheltering his patient and lets her feelings be known. Hopeless Jimmy, once again being absolutely devoid of common sense, doesn’t see the problem with harboring a stranger in the same house as his daughter, who is already struggling.
Gasping to hike up the park, Jimmy maintains the show’s obsession with weird games and agrees to join Brian and Gaby for a game of Cornhole. Saying a tense goodbye to her husband Nico, Gaby struts her way to her brand-new Tesla and sings her way to work. Too bad for her new car, “Deborah”, Paul bumps its rear with his car right after the doctor reassures him that Parkinson’s hasn’t taken away his motor skills. The well-meaning employees try in vain to convince Paul to carpool with either one of them. As is echoed in a tete-a-tete with Jimmy, Paul usually thrashes around a little bit before accepting the obvious. His denial (which I don’t hold against him) lasts at least up to his secret meeting with Alice, who seems to be getting close to giving her father a shot. To the young girl overpowered by a staggering amount of grief, Paul imparts a therapeutic wisdom he follows himself. She goes home to vehemently grieve her loss for 15 minutes, after which she is to go about her day as though nothing is wrong. A stupefied Jimmy finds his daughter howling to a song. But for what it’s worth, she does end up feeling better and joins her father for dinner. Sharing a burning hot pizza with his daughter, Jimmy tries and somewhat succeeds in keeping his cool throughout.
Jimmy doesn’t know what to make of it when he spots Gaby kissing another man and cheating on Nico. Obviously projecting his own issues onto someone else’s business, Jimmy pretty much attacks Gaby with an aggressive accusation without first asking her to make her case. Patient with all that is unpleasant about her friend; Gaby clears the air by telling him that she is about to divorce her husband, Nico. We also get a somewhat indirect reference that acknowledges Nico’s struggles with alcoholism. While it has now been established that Gaby wasn’t cheating on her husband, caught up in his own mind, Jimmy labors to digest that Gaby isn’t particularly broken up about her divorce. For a man who can self-diagnose it as a case of the scrimmage in his mind being projected, it takes Jimmy quite a while and a conversation with Paul to come to terms with the fact that everyone grieves differently. He is almost relieved to find Gaby sulking while her unreasonable guilt manipulates her into giving it a second thought. Thankfully, she mentions how badly she misses her best friend, Tia. It is the reminder of the unabashed wholesomeness that was there that makes Jimmy do the right thing and support Gaby’s decision with reassurance.
‘Shrinking’ Episode 3: Ending Explained – Is Jimmy’s New Method Working?
Every other character that exists around Jimmy has a particular redeeming quality in common—they recognize when they have gone too far, and they change their ways as needed. After his characteristic fight with the inevitable, Paul takes another trip to his physician to substantiate that he doesn’t require help for day-to-day activities. The test coming back with satisfactory results still doesn’t stand in the way of Paul demolishing his stubbornness and asking for help from Gaby. Liz has addressed her issues with overstepping her bounds and not only apologized to Jimmy but has already started showing signs of reformed behavior. Even Alice has begun her journey toward a more hopeful future, despite the ugly and frankly incredibly valid emotions she still harbors for her father.
Having several exemplary instances of change all around him does nothing to make Jimmy self-aware. Sure, he has moved on from the personally destructive and hedonistic coping mechanisms. But as Paul’s competent mind scrupulously points out, Jimmy has only replaced one bad habit with another. His intense urge to follow his own unhinged method of therapy is only validated further when Alan sends a picture of him and the girl he was on a date with. Consumed entirely by his weird obsession with helping others, Jimmy hardly has the time to pay attention to his daughter. The feeling of betraying her deceased mother’s memory if she so much as laughs at something funny makes it difficult for Alice to get on with her life. When she shares her suffocating feelings with Sean in their first moment of forming a genuine bond, Liz takes it the wrong way and assumes that Sean’s intentions are untoward, to say the least. She takes her concerns to Paul, who is shocked to find out that Jimmy has opened his door to his patient. Whatever Sean’s intentions may be, Jimmy’s progressively harmful instincts have become a constant topic of worry for Paul. Feeling let down by Jimmy’s nonchalance when Paul calls him out on his asinine tendencies, Paul decides to ghost him for the time being. But Jimmy isn’t bothered by it in the least. After all, his chaotic design has been showing positive results in his patients, or so he thinks. On his way to hike up the park, Jimmy is met with the shock of a lifetime. Grace has gotten back in touch with her abusive husband and is practically fleeing after spotting Jimmy. Will Jimmy finally admit that his method doesn’t work? As much as I would like to hope so, chances are, it will take him a while longer.