Oliver: As in “Twist”
Paul finds Luke and Bess’s manipulative bickering as irritating as we do. Or is it personal for him? Bess has a job offer upstate. Luke accuses her of stealing Oliver — but, no, she wants him to stay with Luke. She says she’s been too possessive; he says that left alone, they’ll kill each other. Maybe literally. No one wants the kid. They work out a compromise — but Paul insists they’ll regret this and need to think it over. We’re as unconvinced as the happy couple: Oliver hates his life in Brooklyn, and since when do kids dictate this sort of decision? They’re firm; Oliver balks, Paul sympathizes. Oliver wants to live with Paul, but Paul has to reject him, too. Paul tries to apologize and assure him that they can always talk, that everyone needs help sometimes — but Oliver isn’t having it. He speculates that the world would be better off without him, and Paul is convinced that he has failed.
Walter: As in “Mitty”
Walter hates the hospital. This man of industry can’t handle all that time to think, so he tries to butter Paul up so he’ll sign him out. When that doesn’t work, he makes a reversal, mentioning that the hospital shrink says Paul was reckless in opening a Pandora’s box at Walter’s low point. Paul finally calls bullshit, and tries to convince Walter that a period of contemplation is just what he needs, that for the first time in his adult life he doesn’t have a crisis to battle and can get back in touch with the little boy who lost his childhood when his brother died. Walter doesn’t want to free the part of him that crumbled when things got tough; Paul says this boy is the part of him that wants to live. Walter is moved to tears — and what Paul will reveal to Gina in the next episode will make this all the more poignant.
Gina: Might Makes Write
Paul wrote the letter Alex’s father wanted; oddly, he offers to let Gina proofread it. He considers becoming a life coach, to advise his clients rather than just watching as they try to treat him as a parent, a child, a husband. He says therapists are afraid of responsibility, especially Gina. A fight ensues (April’s was the only session where he didn’t lose his temper this week). Again, she’s the domineering parent, he’s the victim. She calls him an asshole — and a good therapist. That works: He opens up and recounts telling Walter that he needs to stick around and see what his third act will bring … but it’s just old age and death. Paul’s talking about his life, but he promises Gina that he won’t hurt his children by killing himself. She’ll keep the letter until their next session, setting up the season’s cliff-hanger: Paul has one week to accept that he can’t save his patients and to see that he really is helping them.