I Know This Much Is True episode 4 finds Dom at an unfortunate standstill as Thomas’s fate is sealed.
This recap of I Know This Much Is True season 1, episode 4, “Four”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
The heaviest of heavy dramas continues on HBO, and I Know This Much Is True episode 4 continues to be a fine showcase for the varied talents of its star Mark Ruffalo and a moving examination of responsibility, trauma, forgiveness – of oneself and others – and in many ways love, though not necessarily in its most conventional form.
Narrative parallels continue to be drawn from the past to the present, too, exploring how Dominick and Thomas’s relationship has evolved over the years – or perhaps how it hasn’t. The specter of domestic abuse hangs over these flashback interactions, but the same pattern of Thomas launching into explosive outbursts whenever something happens that he doesn’t like is something that has apparently never changed and perhaps never will (you’ll recall that the season opened on such an outburst — imagine how Dom feels.) That Thomas can go ballistic and brandish a knife over something so comparatively mundane as who Dom is sharing a room with is a powerful reminder of how much Dom’s life has been controlled, in one way or another, by his brother.
In the present, Dom is in perpetual motion. He’s constantly heading from one place to another, attempting to juggle too many things at once. I Know This Much Is True episode 4 finally gives him a reprieve, though perhaps not in the manner he’d have chosen. But an injury finds him badly hurt and bedbound, with freeing access to a drip-feed of morphine that sends him pleasantly adrift, however temporarily disconnected from his responsibilities, from his memories, from his brother.
But his brother doesn’t fare well at the hearing in Dom’s absence – perhaps he wouldn’t have anyway, but you can imagine how it’s tough for Dom to see it that way, no matter what Sheffer claims to the contrary. We see snippets from the hearing in flashback as Dom reads through the transcript, so we see Thomas read scripture, and explain that lopping off his own hand was atonement for American’s sins, and declare that he would kill in the name of Jesus, and oops, he’s incarcerated for at least another year.
It’s an awful outcome, but one that’s nobody’s fault. It’s a difficult thing to accept, especially for Dom, who is holding onto so much emotion that his bitterness and anger are eating him alive. The morphine javelining through his system leads him to stiller, but no less harmful emotional territories: Self-pity, despair. He confesses to Joy that he’s sterile, that the baby can’t be his. He wallows. He dreams.
The power of I Know This Much Is True episode 4, which is less emotionally rigorous than previous episodes, is in seeing Dom finally let go. It isn’t even necessarily by choice; he ceases to be overcome by those lingering feelings of anger and resentment to make room for new guilt stemming from Thomas’s fate being sealed. In allowing himself an easy drug-induced release, he fell to his lowest point. And where is there to go from there?