The Patient season 1, episode 9 recap – “Auschwitz”

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: October 18, 2022 (Last updated: February 17, 2024)
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The Patient season 1, episode 9 recap - "Auschwitz"


Another expertly-crafted episode toys with genre and tone to great effect.

This recap of The Patient season 1, episode 9, “Auschwitz”, contains spoilers.

Throughout many of the previous episodes of The Patient, Alan has dreamed about Auschwitz. It wasn’t clear why, initially. The Hulu series has been deliberately cagey with backstory, only letting it peek out in flashbacks between therapy sessions and murders. But in The Patient episode 8, we learned more about Alan’s son, Ezra, his adherence to Orthodox Judaism, and how his beliefs challenged Alan’s own — both those about parenting, and about faith. In that context, the Auschwitz thing could be about trying to see himself among the Jews who were persecuted for their beliefs, trying to find, amongst that depth of despair, a way to reconnect with his own religious convictions.

The Patient season 1, episode 9 recap

“Auschwitz” begins in that titular concentration camp, and the Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl is there, as he was for a time in real life, and Alan wakes him up, which one isn’t supposed to do to the founder of logotherapy. With Charlie, Alan postulates why he might have done that. Perhaps there’s a deep-seated psychological reason. Perhaps, though, it’s more closely related to the cream tube that Alan keeps methodically sharpening. The end is coming, and sooner rather than later, Alan is going to have to violate at least one of his core beliefs. He’s going to have to kill. Perhaps more to the point, he’s going to have to kill a patient.

Alan tells Sam about Viktor Frankl. His whole thing was meaning, after all, and the deepest kind of meaning is found in relationships, which Sam has very few of. Beyond his mother, the only significant person in his life is Mary, so that’s where Alan starts, suggesting that perhaps if Sam were to have a girlfriend now when he’s trying so hard to change, the connection he’d feel for her might replace his darker obsessions. Neither Sam nor Alan are under any illusions — this is a way to delay the inevitable, but if it works in the meantime, then why not try?

Alan’s idea is for Sam to invite Mary over for brunch so that he can observe their interactions via a nanny cam. He’s not actually expecting it to work, really, but he reckons Mary being in the house would provide a good opportunity to shank Sam with his foot cream tube and cry for help. Assuming Candace doesn’t subsequently crack Mary over the head with a frying pan, of course. It is, as Charlie puts it, “A Hail Mary with Mary.”

The episode puts a surprisingly comedic slant on all of this. Sam is utterly childlike in his interactions with others; his panic before, his complete inability to hold a conversation, his embarrassing butchering of Alan’s joke about the Englishman, the Frenchman, and the Jew who were sentenced to death, and his desperate desire to be coached through the entire brunch by Alan. There’s one moment, a slice of real tension out of nowhere, when it looks very much like Alan is going to make his move. But he doesn’t. He hears Charlie’s voice tell him he’s going to get Mary killed. He remembers he can only do one push-up. And he lets Sam head back upstairs to make the situation even more awkward by talking about his father beating him up. Alan, defeated, puts the cream tube away.

For a brief moment, it seems like the conversation is going well, and I’m sure I even saw Alan smile a little.

Sam doesn’t know how to feel about the whole thing. It was disastrous, really, and only cemented the idea that he and Mary are never getting back together. But his unprompted mention of his father’s abuse gives Alan another idea; he explains how Sam must address those feelings more concretely since his murderous tendencies are undoubtedly rooted in that relationship. When he’s killing other people, he’s really trying to kill his father over and over again.

And this backfires considerably. It reminds Sam of Edmund Kemper, the so-called “Co-ed Killer” who murdered six college students and eventually his abusive mother. “He f*cked her skull,” Sam adds without any emotion. The idea, though, is that for Kemper, the killing stopped when he addressed the source of the problem. Sam thinks that Alan is suggesting he do the same. So, he heads out to kill, decapitate, and skull-f*ck his dad. While he assures Alan he’s joking about the last bit, I wouldn’t be so sure.

You can stream The Patient season 1, episode 9, “Auschwitz”, exclusively on Hulu.

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