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'In Treatment': Pregnancy, cancer, death

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Who’s watching In Treatment? Now in week five, HBO’s five irresistible half-hours per week are increasing in roiling emotions and intensity. This week: star Gabriel Byrne’s father has died! He had to cancel a week’s-worth of sessions with his patients, and, boy, are they steamed and even more neurotic!

On Sunday, soon after we saw Byrne’s Dr. Paul Weston going through some of his recently-deceased father’s possessions and strapping on Dad’s old watch. Then it was time for him to adjust his grieving features and put on the mask of impartial-therapist to deal with the onslaught.

First up: Mia — Hope Davis doing her usual extraordinary job of making a panicked but arrogant professional (her character’s a lawyer) both poignant and just sympathetic enough to keep you from throwing a shoe at the screen. More news: Mia’s pregnant! From what she calls with typical self-loathing, her “sex spree without using protection.” This single woman is hoping the father is “guitar-boy and not the middle-aged cop.” Sheesh: one feels for the this fetus already.

Then: April — Allison Pill is building an unprecedented character-study as a 23 year-old woman coping with recently-diagnosed cancer as well as crushing family responsibilities. Having finally agreed to chemotherapy, April, thus far a tough cookie, showed her most vulnerable side. I was surprised at Paul’s interpretation of April’s abrupt revelation that she has a best friend, Leah, which is that April chooses friends who’ll remain fiercely loyal to her. He’s making a connection — between April’s own fierceness and the characters of those around her — that was a theraputic leap I wasn’t prepared for. What did you think of that?

Be sure to watch the next three Monday episodes; you’ll really want to see Paul’s own session with his therapist, Gina (all hail Dianne Wiest), to see how he’s coping with his own grief.

Are you watching In Treatment? What do you think of the season so far? Do you watch the episodes as HBO reruns them, all in a row? Let me know; thanks.