‘Shrinking’ Episode 4: Recap And Ending, Explained: Can Something Happen Between Alice And Sean?

Wildly expressive bouts of neurotic eccentricities are a better fit for absurdist comedies. Growing out of (and thankfully so) clownish humor has elevated the style of sitcoms that are now compelled to derive laughter organically. The news has sadly reached the Apple TV production rooms pretty darn late. While watching episode four of “Shrinking” and actually cracking up a few times, I was happy to get on board with the “better late than never” angle. Writing characters with at least a couple of redeemable qualities is an absolute must for sitcoms if they ever wish to truly make the audience care for their show. After all, barring the “literally me” antiheroes in dark comedies, all we’re looking for in sitcoms is a wholesome refuge with people to root for. In “Potatoes,” the three central characters are met with a sympathetic gaze for the first time. Like most of us who form an opinion at first sight and get familiar with it later, “Shrinking” is discovering the real people underneath their slightly repulsive surface personalities, and we are enjoying the process so far.


Spoilers Ahead

It’s Not Working Out, Jimmy!

Those of us who have sought help have sometimes been guilty of ghosting the one helping. While I can’t say if our therapists have taken it personally, Jimmy is certainly beating himself up over not getting a response from Grace. Turning his focus toward Sean isn’t working out either, as he clearly isn’t ready to open up yet. A pretty ineffective mental health professional, if not a harmful one, Jimmy drags Sean to his chamber and goes on one of his long-drawn “professional” tirades to get him to talk about his time in Afghanistan. Sean asserts his unwillingness to mess with his current, pleasant state of mind and walks out of Jimmy’s office. Jimmy walks into the common area to ask for advice pertaining to the sort of things any licensed shrink should not be a stranger to. All he gets are the extra spuds that Paul has received from his grocer. Acting not unlike an ape in a science experiment, Jimmy takes a passive-aggressive bite out of a raw potato and struts away. Since not worsening an already bad situation isn’t one of Jimmy’s traits, his second, albeit failed, attempt at making Sean open up is tainted with manipulative guilt-tripping.


Paul Needs Therapy

Keeping everyone at arm’s length may be a relatively innoxious coping mechanism for Paul, but a deeper probe into his character provides a far darker picture of an otherwise functional therapist. With Paul’s mostly estranged daughter Meg about to visit, Brian shows up to review his legal documents. He is advised to assign Meg the responsibility of being his medical power of attorney, but the reason Paul hasn’t proceeded with it yet comes as a bitter realization of what he struggles with. Paul hasn’t made Meg privy to his serious health condition. Brian’s incessant inquiries make him open up to the best of his abilities. Ever since the end of his marriage, Paul hasn’t quite made an effort to be in Meg’s life. Now that he is encouraged to ask for her help, he agrees to give it a thought. When Meg does show up at his workplace, however, all Paul can get himself to do is share lukewarm pleasantries and continue to lie about his physical well-being. Exuding notes of unfamiliarity and discomfort with every word they exchange, Paul and Meg appear to be the kind of father and daughter whose bond has rusted away. Finding out that he hasn’t gotten the documents signed doesn’t rattle the attorney, who has seen too many of his elderly clients doing the same. But Brian’s surmisal regarding Paul’s predicament doesn’t particularly have a varied backing. Paul may not say it out loud, but the reason why he is reluctant to ask for help from his daughter can be rooted in the guilt he feels for not being there for her as much as he should’ve been.

Jimmy Looks Back In Anger

Liz has clearly encroached on Jimmy’s business by telling Paul about Sean’s questionable living situation. But in her defense, Liz wasn’t aware of the extent of Paul’s knowledge regarding the happenings in Jimmy’s life. She makes a heartfelt apology to Jimmy, who does forgive her but not without saying just how difficult she made it for him. Alice sees right through Gaby’s overtly polite niceties toward Liz and picks up on the mutual dislike between the two. Now that spending time with Alice isn’t a welcome intrusion, Liz distracts herself with the homecoming of her college-goer son Connor. Finding an unprejudiced ear in Gaby, Alice opens up about her first sexual adventure, which Connor happened to take part in. In an ingeniously orchestrated situation for which Gaby deserves full credit, Jimmy finds out about Alice’s first intimate experience and is made to not have an enraged explosion so as to maintain his “cool dad” stature. Poor Liz epitomizes “wrong place, wrong time” by being the punching bag for Jimmy to ferociously lash out on. Lamenting Liz’s misery after Jimmy’s violent outburst, Gaby makes an effort to apologize to Liz for judging her unfairly.


‘Shrinking’ Episode 4: Ending Explained – Can Something Happen Between Alice And Sean?

Jimmy’s ill-treatment of Liz serves as an eye-opener for Gaby, who was too quick to judge her. Seeing Liz play the part of a mother to Alice stabbed Gaby with the constant reminder of her deceased best friend. When she does decide to give Liz a fair shot, she sees that her actions have not at all been outrageous enough to warrant such hatred. With Connor back and already receiving an “I know what you did last summer”-esque threat from Jimmy, the boy is too jittery to text Alice, someone who means more to him than a one-night stand. Jimmy having a hard time dealing with the idea of Alice sleeping with a college boy is somewhat understandable for a dad who isn’t ready to see his daughter as a grown-up yet. As he makes peace with the aching thought of the time he has wasted not being there for his daughter, Jimmy strives to be comfortable with Connor, who is now being ghosted by Alice.

Joining Gaby and Liz for a mid-evening tipsy hang, Jimmy is bombarded with their concerns about Alice and Sean. Having been sexually active teenage girls back in their days, Liz and Gaby aren’t strangers to the kind of shenanigans girls of Alice’s age engage in. It’s no surprise that Jimmy isn’t ready to think of his daughter as someone with valid sexual agency. He is even more reluctant to think of Sean as the kind of “beautiful” man his teenage daughter would be attracted to. He does barter his ego for the validation of applauding his own self-awareness and apologizes to Sean for putting pressure on him. The peaceful Jimmy is woken up in the middle of the night by something that comes off as more of a nightmare than an actual nightmare. Alice has paid Sean a visit and, finding him asleep; she has left. But not before whining out just how “beautiful” he is and giving her father the fright of a lifetime. There’s no doubt regarding the chaotic spiral of Jimmy, which is to faithfully follow Alice’s intentions toward Sean. But for now, the possibilities of Sean reciprocating or rejecting her advances are essentially 50/50.


Lopamudra Mukherjee
Lopamudra Mukherjeehttps://muckrack.com/lopamudra-mukherjee
Lopamudra nerds out about baking whenever she’s not busy looking for new additions to the horror genre. Nothing makes her happier than finding a long-running show with characters that embrace her as their own. Writing has become the perfect mode of communicating all that she feels for the loving world of motion pictures.

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