"In Treatment" Withdrawal Syndrome

May is the new August for those of us who've been abruptly abandoned by Dr. Paul Weston and the patients we've become attached to, leaving us in free fall. For me, this is far more stressful than two weeks in August without Dr. Pearlman. Despite all the hours on his couch, I didn't buy into the concept of transference until there was Gabriel Byrne.

I'm a television writer and understand the value of creating a cliffhanger final episode to compel an audience to return. But this goes way beyond gentle teasing. It borders on viewer abuse. How can we enjoy bluefish in the Hamptons, lobsters in Maine or cherries in the city when we're agonizing over Paul, April, Walter, Mia, Oliver, Luke and Bess, each of whom we left in crisis?

Shouldn't the American Psychiatric Association compel HBO to provide an emergency number we can call when we're too distressed to deal with our own financial and personal problems because of "In Treatment" separation anxiety? Making old episodes available On Demand is of little value. Watching shows we've seen has all the allure of eating day-old sushi.

My preferred coping mechanism is denial. The only way I can get through the summer is to convince myself that April's tumor will respond to the chemo and she'll rethink her decision to terminate with Paul, a headhunter will recruit Walter and he'll decline an offer to be a CEO, Alex's father will go to a retreat and forgive Paul, Oliver will get into basketball, lose weight and feel less alienated, and Mia will develop self-esteem, at least temporarily, as a result of being named one of New York's top lawyers in New York Magazine. Oh sure, that will lead to her getting a stalker, but we can deal with that next season.

As for Paul, I'll take over where Gina has failed by rescuing him when I spot him at the Brooklyn Fairway about to head into the organic produce department, where I've just seen his client, April, and her mother.

The scene, as I imagine it:

FADE IN:

EXT. BROOKLYN FAIRWAY - DAY

A magnificent, sunny, spring day. With the water in the b.g. Paul and Sybil are sitting at a table, drinking iced coffee. He has stubble and is low spirited.

SYBIL
...no, the woman with April was definitely her mother. She was
putting pesticide-free broccoli into the cart and rubbing April's back.

PAUL
I'm so grateful that you diverted me. Running into her would have been awkward.
It's one of the professional hazards for a therapist who lives near the office.

SYBIL
You weren't exactly trying to avoid it.

Paul reflects on this. After a beat:

PAUL
I'm not sure I know what you mean by that.

SYBIL
You never heard of Fresh Direct?

Paul laughs.

SYBIL (CONT.)
You can get your food delivered.

Paul nods.

SYBIL (CONT.)
I'm not the therapist here, but could it be that you want to
run into your patients?

Paul looks at her, clearly impressed by her insight.

SYBIL (CONT.)
Gina hasn't brought this up, but you seem lonely. You've made no effort
to create any kind of social life in New York.

Paul's reaction reveals he knows this is true.

SYBIL (CONT.)
When you asked Kate to get back together, was that what you really
wanted, or was it just easier than starting over?

Paul mulls this over.

SYBIL
It's understandable that you don't want patients seeing your profile on
Match.com.

Paul nods.

SYBIL (CONT.)
I have a friend I'd like you to meet. She's...

PAUL
(interrupts)
That's very...

SYBIL
(interrupts)
Not a blind date. You'll come to dinner at our house. I'll invite some
other people too. This woman is terrific. And age appropriate. What
have you got to lose?

Despite his initial knee-jerk hesitation, he's warming to the idea.

SYBIL (CONT.)
You look better without the stubble. Shave before you come.

Paul smiles, touches his chin.

SYBIL (CONT.)
I'll make sure she shaves too.

They laugh.

FADE OUT.