In its second episode, I Know This Much Is True painfully examines the idea of being shackled to another person, and how trying it can be — no matter how much you love them, or even how far away they are.
This recap of I Know This Much Is True episode 2, “Two”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Where the premiere of I Know This Much Is True was a bleak and heartrending depiction of a trying brotherhood that couldn’t be broken, the second episode, fittingly titled “Two”, is a bleak and heartrending depiction of brotherhood that continues to feel all-encompassing and trapping even when one brother isn’t present.
Focusing on Dominick, I Know This Much Is True explores, painfully and effectively, what being inseparable from someone means on the level of the individual. Since Dominick and Thomas, largely unseen but perpetually felt, are twins, the idea of them being considered as a single entity is easier to imagine. Dominick isn’t just responsible for his brother but he looks just like him; since they were kids on a school trip to New York, responsibility for Thomas’s actions has fallen to Dominick. For all intents and purposes, Thomas is Dominick, and vice versa.
You can trace the lingering frustration and resentment all the way from that trip to the here and now, and comparisons to prisons, to an overwhelming and inescapable closeness, are unavoidable. But once the brothers are separated, which on some level is what Dominick wants, you can sense his annoyance in being told by others – reporters, social workers, guards, doctors – what is best for Thomas. Will a minimum of 15 days in the hospital be best? Will a longer period, up to a year if things “get worse”, be best? It’s hard to imagine that it would be.
Dr. Patel (Archie Panjabi, having quite a year on HBO) ostensibly has the best understanding of Thomas’s mental health, but it’s hard to imagine anyone having a better grasp than Dominick, who has lived in the long shadow of his brother’s schizophrenia for his whole life. I Know This Much Is True episode 2 hones in on the isolation of never being alone, a feeling mimicked in the cinematography, which continues to make liberal use of extreme, lingering close-up, other than to emphasize the crushing sense of tragedy and loss experienced by Dominick.
As ever, that sense of one awful thing after another besetting the brothers will be too much for some; even as we visit chapters in their youth or earlier life, the power is cumulative – they might as well be happening within a few minutes of each other. That feeling of everything happening at once is reflected in an odd way in Thomas always being there in Dominick’s thoughts, even when he isn’t present physically. The responsibility of his care is all-consuming. Almost nothing that Dominick does is for Dominick, and so even his most personal losses feel as though they’re somehow the responsibility of his brother.
This is, perhaps, why Dominick refers to his brother as a curse, why he frames things in terms of how they’ve been ruined by him. It would be easier for Dominick to transfer the blame for everything to Thomas, even those things that were his own fault, or nobody’s at all. Rarely is a show this bleak in its outlook, this uncomfortable in its closeness, or this raw in its emotion. As hard as it is to watch, though, it’s undeniably worth doing so.
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