The Patient builds an excellent sense of tension in “Company” as three becomes a crowd and Sam’s impulses threaten to take over.
This recap of The Patient season 1, episode 4, “Company”, contains spoilers.
Two’s company, three’s a crowd, or at least so the saying goes. But it’s three people who dominate this episode of The Patient, even though one of them – Sam’s latest potential victim, Elias – remains almost entirely off-screen. Somehow, that decision to keep the half-hour’s biggest dramatic element behind closed doors makes the whole thing even more tense, as the essential question becomes whether Alan can talk Sam out of opening that door and submitting to his baser instincts.
The Patient season 1, episode 4 recap
For the first time in “Company”, we get to see Sam out of the house in brief snippets of his working life. His colleagues poke fun at him for forgetting donuts since he’s usually so organized, and his being exceptional at his job is a subject of some light ribbing since a letter sent by a restaurant owner extolling his virtues is often read aloud by his boss as a motivator for the rest of the team. Nobody realizes quite how lucky that restauranteur really is.
We get to see Sam at work because his being there forms an essential component of his therapy. By Alan’s logic, if he can go to work and act as normal, he’s one step closer to distancing himself from the impulse to kill. The longer he can delay the deed, the more he realizes he has a choice in the matter. That’s the theory, anyway – one gets the sense that Alan is just saying anything he can to buy time since he knows that Sam will take any suggestion as an expert opinion and not a desperate man sending him on red herrings.
But Alan is becoming desperate. Who wouldn’t be? Sam doesn’t seem to be listening, and Candace isn’t proving to be an ally he can exploit. She floats into the episode just to facilitate an emergency phone call between Sam and Alan when he’s breaking down at work, and while she implores him to listen to the doctor, she doesn’t strike me as the kind of mother who would ever turn on her son. For that matter, it isn’t even entirely clear if she knows Elias is in the adjoining room.
But he’s there, and it’s through his whispered conversations with Alan that we learn a little more about our protagonist – that his wife, Beth, died recently of cancer, and that his son had a strained relationship with her ever since taking up very orthodox Judaism. There are flashbacks that are as deliberately unclear as always, but there’s a hint of menace to who I assume is Alan’s son. There’s more to unpack here, certainly.
Ultimately Alan is able to delay what seems like the inevitable by insisting quite forcefully that Sam goes to see his ex-wife – the idea is that since he had a genuine emotional relationship with her, the shock of seeing her again might jolt him into a different headspace and buy Elias more time. That remains to be seen, but until then, The Patient continues to be an increasingly taut and endlessly intriguing bit of work.
You can stream The Patient season 1, episode 4, “Company”, exclusively on FX on Hulu.