The Patient season 1, episode 8 recap – “Ezra”

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: October 11, 2022 (Last updated: January 27, 2024)
View all
The Patient season 1, episode 8 recap - "Ezra"


Perhaps it’s just me, but “Ezra” is a profound and oddly moving bit of television that showcases a standard of writing and acting that The Patient doesn’t seem to be getting credit for.

This recap of The Patient season 1, episode 8, “Ezra”, contains spoilers.

A thought occurred to me in the opening scene of “Ezra”, which takes place in Sam’s office, where he’s getting worried about employees suddenly being sent back to re-inspect restaurants they’ve already inspected with seemingly no regard for the standard Lincoln County re-inspection wait times. Like most serial killers, Sam likes routine, and deviations from it panic him. But his specific shtick is that he kills people who’re rude to him, or at least who he perceives to have been rude to him. His boss here qualifies. And the thought was, wouldn’t he have already killed basically any authority figure in his life?

The Patient season 1, episode 8 recap

A few scenes later I’m proved right, essentially, when Sam and his boss leave the office at the same time and Sam begins following him. And that’s a nice dramatic turn — but it’s just for our benefit. Sam has worked there for how long? And this is the first time his boss has ever snapped at him, when the cameras happened to be rolling? I’m not saying this constitutes a plot hole, but it raises some interesting questions about how much Sam is willing to tolerate, and how capable he is of making exceptions, that don’t necessarily match up with what we’ve seen of him thus far.

Anyway, Ezra. He’s the title of the episode and the subject of Alan’s thoughts as he frantically sharpens the bottom of a tube of cream and rants to Charlie, though really himself, about his son’s obstinacy. He took a compliment about his wife’s steak as an insult. He perceived a donation to his yeshiva in Jerusalem to be insufficient. He refused to hold his mother’s hand while she was dying. But as Charlie counters, Alan always knew how Ezra was, since childhood. And he always thought he was similar to Beth — perhaps too similar. Was he subconsciously goading him? Was the steak comment a little backhanded, and was the donation maybe a lot less than he could afford, and perhaps had already spent on other, similar matters?

When we see Ezra in the present day, we see him distracted from his prayers and recitations and stapling missing posters all over the place. He’s looking for his father.

The more Alan thinks about it, the more he realizes. He was the obstinate one. He looked down on Ezra’s religious choices with contempt. He realizes, suddenly and visibly, that he has shown more patience and compassion for Sam, a serial killer, than he ever did for his own son. The way Carell staggers over his words when Charlie presses him about what he’d say to Ezra given the chance — “I’d say why didn’t you-“, “Why couldn’t you-“, before finally settling on, “I’d say I’m sorry.” — is painful, and Carell wears that pain on his face, letting it settle damply in his eyes. It’s a wonderful moment of both acting and writing.

But what Alan also realizes is that he needs to say this to Ezra himself, and he may never get the opportunity given his present circumstances. This is suddenly his motivation to stay alive. Perhaps, even, to fight back.

Andrew Leeds plays Ezra, and he’s fantastically understated here, saying almost nothing but letting the depth of his worry come through in his trembling hands, vacant expression, and sad-sack hangdog expression. It’s obvious simply from his demeanor that he’s lost; devoid of options, of a meaningful connection with his father. When his son cries, presumably over his grandfather being missing, we see Ezra sit beside him, not saying anything or touching him, unsure of what to do to help himself or his son or his father. I was immediately thankful the episode was content to have him say almost nothing.

Meanwhile, Sam continues to follow his boss, eventually luring him behind some dumpsters on the pretense of a restaurant poorly maintaining them, and frantically strangles the man to death after accusing him of taking bribes. He looks slightly guilty afterward, but he also kneels by the body and makes a half-hearted attempt at reciting the Kaddish, turning Alan’s faith, not his own, into a gross perversion, almost an excuse to kill so he can trial the efficacy of a cultural mourning process. From the setup of The Patient, it might have seemed like the show’s intention was to humanize or even exonerate Sam, but it has consistently condemned him further and further.

The odd meta-effect of this approach is that it’s kind of turning me as a viewer into a version of Sam who can’t help but hope this terrible man dies sooner rather than later. But I did, admittedly, find all my emotions strangely heightened in “Ezra”. When the title character visits Alan’s empty, still house, he pulls a guitar from its case and plays an acoustic version of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” which surprisingly moved me. Leeds seems to have a nice voice if it’s him singing, but it was more than that, a depth of feeling I wasn’t expecting. The Patient hasn’t been as twisty and turny and soapy as its premise suggested it might be, and I’m thankful for that.

When Sam finally returns home, he wakes Alan to challenge him to a game of ping pong, which is surely a weird opener even in this context, but he’s building to something. He tells Alan he has killed again — the second victim in just three days (I did a double take at this timeframe — The Patient, for all its considerable good qualities, is really bad at depicting the passage of time), which is unprecedented for him. The therapy isn’t working. So, he has employed a new therapist, his old high school psychologist, and the sessions start next week. He likes Alan, he says, and doesn’t want to kill him, but on the off-chance he has to, how would Alan like to go?

Alan tells a joke about an Englishman, a Frenchman, and a Jew who’re all sentenced to death and asked to choose their means of execution. The Jew chooses old age, but it seems like Alan won’t get that luxury. When the episode fades to black, we hear him once again sharpening that tube.

You can stream The Patient season 1, episode 8, “Ezra” exclusively on Hulu.

Additional reading:

Hulu, Streaming Service, TV, Weekly TV
View all