‘Shrinking’ Episode 5: Recap And Ending, Explained: How Does Paul Help Sean Open Up?

Wouldn’t it be nice to be surrounded by people who would not only call you out on your dysfunctional tendencies but also really be able to help you work on them? If the root of the issues and the prolonged process of breaking out of them must be dovetailed, you might as well be in the company of people who can help you effectively identify the former and expertly guide you through the latter. And that is what episode 5 of the Apple TV comedy preoccupies itself with. It’s a steady, bolstering process to be there for someone, especially when it’s unpleasant to some extent. Because that is when they need your support the most. The curiously endearing style of “Shrinking” has firmed up its intentions on the gallant grounds of being heartfelt and hearty at the same time, and so far, it’s doing a darn good job.

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Spoilers Ahead


Dads Being Dads

Liz and Gaby are practically euphoric now that their prediction about Alice being attracted to Sean has proved to be on point. Grouchy Jimmy is clearly not on the same page as he is delivering the news to his “I told you so” friends. There are one too many people ghosting Jimmy when he’s striving to keep his cool. Neither his patient Grace nor his mentor/father figure Paul would return his calls or texts. It does come as a pretty jaw-dropping moment when Jimmy doesn’t lose his cool at the sight of his teenage daughter and the patient he’s sheltering sharing a laugh over a picture. But don’t start your celebrations yet. He does find a way to prove that he isn’t quite the “cool dad” that he wishes to be when he butchers the moment with his awkward jokes. Can we get a side of dad jokes along with Jimmy’s uncomfortable sense of humor, please? No? Okay. 

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It’s Paul’s grandson’s birthday, and the best gift idea he can come up with is cash. I’m not saying that kids hate cash, but maybe opt for a more personal approach, Paul. He’s still apprehensive about coming clean about his Parkinson’s condition to Meg, who is evidently concerned to hear that his coworker drives him to work. Paul compartmentalizes how lonely he really feels and remains steadfast in his decision not to help Jimmy, even when he comes begging for advice. However much it makes Jimmy uncomfortable to pester Paul into mending their relationship, he needs to practice what he preaches to Sean about fixing his relationship with his father. Throwing a ball around with his little brother while his father watches with a smile on his face is a significantly better reunion than Sean could’ve expected. But as it has to be with mind-numbingly ludicrous efforts made by well-meaning fathers, Sean’s father gives him a frame that showcases the medals he had earned in Afghanistan. Now, why would you do that to a PTSD-afflicted war vet?


Issues All-Around

All dressed up in a coat and a cartoonish bowtie; Brian has big plans for the day. He has set his mind to getting down on one knee to his boyfriend Charlie–a piece of news that doesn’t particularly enthuse Jimmy and Gaby. Don’t blame them yet. Brian’s friends have been stuck in the hamster wheel of him deciding to propose and then taking a step back. Despite Brian’s steady declaration that this time he will overcome the block and do what he wants to do, Jimmy and Gaby seem to be in no rush to put down a deposit with a wedding planner.

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Gaby’s new patients, a married couple named Donna and Mark, are troubled enough to put you off the idea of ever walking down the aisle. Stepping into a catfight between a wife who is mad because her husband dream-cheated on her and a husband who calls his wife “crazy,” Gaby introduces a whole new method anybody in a healthy relationship should already know—communication. When asked if she is good at communicating her issues in her own marriage, Gaby panics her way to a “you betcha.” Venting to Paul about her embarrassment only results in a very relevant but not quite sensitive lecture on the problematic institution of marriage.


Hope? Is That You?

Surprise, surprise! Brian has bailed on buying the engagement ring. Moreover, he is noticeably defensive when Gaby attempts to psychoanalyze him on their hike. But he does come to his senses, and he does go back for a session with his friend/therapist with a cup of coffee as an offering. Their laid-back couch conversation reveals a vulnerable side to the man who yells, “everything goes my way,” when he can’t even get himself to take the smallest of risks. Gaby’s marriage has admittedly been a train wreck. But she sees no reason why Brian would let the fear of failure control his every move. Sure, Charlie can say no. Their marriage can even hit an indestructible brick wall. But, as Gaby believes, love is always worth the risk.

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Meanwhile, Jimmy has done something erratic again. There’s no big surprise there. He has assumed a fake identity to show up at a house showing to meet his patient realtor, Grace. He admits to having crossed a line when he gave her a superbly problematic ultimatum and offers to see her at his office again. One of Paul’s patients has fallen prey to a wrong prescription given by his psychiatrist. When Paul seeks Gaby’s advice regarding the same, Gaby sees right through his agenda. She is not about to become Paul’s afterthought now that he is not on speaking terms with Jimmy and can’t run to him for advice.


What’s Going On Between Alice And Sean?

Back from a triggering meeting with his dad, Sean hits up Alice and asks her to join him for a walk. It is a pretty legit cause for concern when a grown man relies on a high schooler for emotional support to the extent of having her cut class. Alice’s friend, however, is thrilled to see that she is venturing out and trying to recover from the engulfing trauma of losing her mother. Alice is more than happy to ditch school and spend time with the guy she has a crush on. No bond is stronger than the one made over a shared disdain for fathers. As they walk and chew over the issues they have with their dads, Sean lays his eyes on a water tower and gets this uncontrollable urge to climb it.

Paying no heed to frantic Alice’s warnings, Sean not only climbs the dangerous height but hangs from a bar with his legs flailing in the air. Back at home, Jimmy puts on his responsible dad hat and inquires after the reason why Alice played hooky. Putting him back in his place by mentioning the times she had to clean up cocaine from several surfaces in the house, Alice shuts down Jimmy, who is clearly in way over his head. She communicates her concerns about Sean’s erratic behavior. When Jimmy addresses Sean as he is chilling in the hot tub with a grumpy face, the therapist is again met with a failure to get his patient to open up.


‘Shrinking’ Episode 5: Ending Explained – How Does Paul Help Sean Open Up?

Sean’s decision to move out of the house doesn’t please Alice, who not only has feelings for him but is worried about his emotional well-being. Taking the blame for the bitter turn of events is Paul. In the pre-scheduled meeting outside of her school, Alice chides Paul for his disapproval of Jimmy allowing his patient to live in his house. According to Alice, it is Paul’s spite that is keeping Jimmy from urging Sean not to move out. Alice has been through a lot more than her fair share of trauma. Paul clearly doesn’t want to be the person to cause her even more pain. Surprisingly, Jimmy, the expert therapist, shows up at his house to sit down with him and Sean. This is the first time we see Paul ostensibly validating Jimmy’s proficiency as a therapist. To make Sean comfortable enough to revisit the triggers around the framed medals, Paul chooses to blur the lines of healthy therapeutic conduct. He proceeds to open up about what keeps him from coming clean to his daughter about his progressive disease. He doesn’t want his Parkinson’s to affect the way Meg sees him. He doesn’t want to be just an old man who needs help to go about his day.

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In a way, the longer he can keep his condition from becoming Meg’s knowledge, the longer his denial about it will last. Seeing the strikingly vulnerable side of a shrink he respects, Sean speaks up about his scarring experiences in Afghanistan. He was compelled to brutalize people, break into homes, and hold a gun to innocents during his dehumanizing time in the war. 21-year-old Sean certainly didn’t feel like a hero when he was made to do things he shivered to look back at. Paul advises Sean to treat himself with more empathy. His actions may not be justifiable or even easy to come to terms with, but he was also a wide-eyed 21-year-old who did what he was asked to do. When Paul leaves Jimmy and Sean alone, the two are flabbergasted at just how easy it is for Paul to do in a matter of minutes what they have been struggling to do for quite a while. Drawing inspiration from Sean’s brave attempt at being vulnerable, Paul finally decides to call Meg up and tell her about his Parkinson’s. The multiple endearing breakthroughs aside, whatever is developing between Alice and Sean remains a questionable business that Jimmy should be keeping an eye on.


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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