Paul is singing along with loud rock (which my Expert in All Music©, aka my husband, tells me is “Firework” by Animal Collective) as he finishes the dishes. Max tells him to stop. Max is looking at a map online about someplace they are going when Max discovers Paul’s Parkinson’s searches. He looks stricken.
Paul is in Adele’s office rubbing his temples. He wants aspirin or something and she says she has none. Paul is annoyed. She says he feels she is denying him. Why would she do that? He says — Cruelty? Power? Control? Youthful clinging to protocol? He says his father did that, would never write out a prescription. Adele asks about headaches. Paul says that is a symptom of Parkinson’s. She observes he has been researching and he says yes, online but he stopped. He is determined that he has Parkinson’s. He won’t accept any other explanations for his headaches. She asks how are things at home?
Paul says Jesse showed up with a black eye and got suspended. Adele asks why he brought up Jesse when she asked about home? He defends again saying he is worried he is the wrong person to be seeing him and maybe he should refer Jesse to her. Adele reminds him that he said Max was the reason he returned to therapy. Paul gets up and asks if she has been reading Gina’s book because she said he got invested in his patients at the expense of his family. Paul says he took Max last night to see his favorite band. He says he will make the connection with Jesse if she lets him finish and tells her what happened yesterday. Paul says Jesse was right — he took the mother’s side. He explains to adele that he felt for Marissa — that Kate’s fiance is swooping in and trying to take his kids like Karen is with Jesse. Paul wonders if she thinks he is losing his objectivity. Adele says what he is asking is one for a supervisor which was common with Gina but she is not Gina. She says he is having trouble connecting with Max and she asks about Steve. Max says he is a warlock and a Republican, an opinion Paul seems to share. As soon as Kate got engaged, Steve wanted everyone to move into his house which was far from Max’s school. Kate and Steve are not happy with where Max is going to school in Brooklyn and want to send him to an expensive private school. He says sarcastically that maybe he should let Steve raise his kids and he can retire tomorrow. Adele asks if he wants to retire and he says sometimes and that he has been trying to talk with her about failing with patients. But she makes it clear that she doesn’t want to discuss it. She says she thinks he is afraid he is failing Max too. Adele points out that unlike Jesse with his parents, Max has not rejected Paul but moved closer. Paul says all he does is draw and sleep. He can’t connect with him. She asks about last night — he asks if she knows Animal Collective, Max’s favorite band. Paul saw that they were playing in NY so he got tickets. Other kids were excited. Max stayed pinned to his side and would come back to check Paul when he pushed him to go closer. Adele asks why it was hard for Paul to watch him do that — she asks what it felt like to watch him? Why does he think Max did that, check on him. Paul refers to Sunil — how Sunil would see it. Adele says surely he was not the only parent standing uncomfortably in the back. Paul looks upset. Then he says that he let Max use his computer and that he hadn’t clear the history and Max saw the searches he had done for various Parkinson’s sites. Max asked him if he was sick. Adele asks what he said — Paul said no, that he was searching for a patient. But Max is bright and catches lies. Max looked at him and he thought Max is scared and felt it important they go to the concert. Paul had been worried about how to tell Max and then it happened that way. They hadn’t spoken about it again. Paul tells her when they got home, he had several drinks and didn’t wake up until Max called him for school. Paul says now she knows why the headache. Adele picks up that Paul slept through. She asks about the dream? She asks if it is the first time he slept in months? She asks if Max usually wakes him up — Paul gets very defensive. Paul asks if she thinks he intentionally left the history there.
She suggests they talk about the effects of Max finding out has on him. She asks if that reminds him of how he had to take care of his mother and now Max taking care of him. Paul says he wishes he could tell her to go fuck herself. He wonders what she must think of him. Paul says he is subjecting his son to what he went through and getting some comfort in it. She says when she looks at him she sees a man concerned about his son. He has to pick Max up to get him to the train to visit Kate. He is afraid of looking at Max — Max will pretend everything is fine when he knows he is worrying Paul is dying. He is afraid Max is afraid Paul is unfit to be his father. She asks if he is. She points out that Paul has tried to get her to take care of him the whole hour. She says she is beginning to understand how the dynamic with Gina developed — supervisor, therapist, mentor, mother. She wonders if maybe he convinced Gina he was incapable as he is trying to convince himself too. Why would I do that he wonders? Paul is sobered. She says she will see him next week.
Adele does a good job of holding her ground with Paul despite his repeated efforts to get her to gratify his needs and wishes. Paul sees this and seems to resent it, but I suspect he comes back exactly because he cannot seduce her into blurring boundaries and acting out as he did with Gina.
Notice that Paul gets up and does what Jesse did with him last week when he responds to Adele’s pushing him by getting up and going to the shelves and fingering things on the shelf. He is angry but reins it in with more skill and control than Jesse but the basic action is the same. Jesse did it with Paul when Paul suggested he might be envious of Max and now Paul does it with Adele when she interrupts his attempt to talk about Jesse and turns the talk to Max and Paul’s feelings. Adele doesn’t know about this symmetry but we can see in it that the direction she took was exactly the right one.
It will be interesting to see if Adele is able to help Paul see why he is so invested in having Parkinson’s. We can begin to wonder if he needs it in order to justify what on some level he wants to do, which is to stop doing therapy. Because after all if he is on a downward slope, he cannot be expected to continue to do this kind of work — or so he may believe.
And there is much for us to learn about his relationship with Max and his feelings about having him there with him. As much as he complains about Kate and Steve displacing him, he does not seem to be able to connect with his son, who came to be with him, wants him. And how does all of this relate to his unmet desire for and anger at his own father?
My Expert in All Music© noted that despite what Paul says about the concert and feeling awkward and out of place there, in the opening of the episode he had the music cranked up pretty loud and he was singing to one of their songs which apparently he knew and seemed to enjoy doing so.