Shrinking Season 1 Episode 1 Recap – why is Jimmy mentally unstable?

By Adam Lock
Published: January 27, 2023 (Last updated: March 11, 2023)
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Shrinking gets off to a cracking start, quickly establishing a smart premise that looks set to be both comical and heart-breaking in equal amounts. Segel is perfectly cast as the rogue therapist with his own personal problems to work through. A promising opener from the Ted Lasso creatives.

We recap the Apple TV+ series Shrinking Season 1 Episode 1, “Coin Flip,” which contains spoilers.

You know you are in safe hands with this Apple Original series, just from a quick glance at the talent involved in front of the camera and the creatives credited behind the scenes. Shrinking is co-created by Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso), Bill Lawrence (Ted Lasso and Scrubs), and Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother). Segel takes the starring role as well, alongside a cast that includes Hollywood royalty, Harrison Ford (you might have heard of him), and rising star Jessica Williams.

Shrinking Season 1 Episode 1 Recap

The comedy series opens with a rather sad pool party, Jimmy (played by Segel) is blasting music at three in the morning, while two young ladies swim in his pool. Neighbor Liz (Christa Miller) comes round to complain, noticing pills on the table and the hookers swimming in the water beside an unstable Jimmy. The man’s a total mess, but he apologizes respectfully and listens to the neighbor’s demands. The next morning, a hungover Jimmy is blanked by his daughter and drenched by his sprinklers on the front lawn as he waves off the party guests. To make matters worse, his car won’t start.

Jimmy rushes to the local therapy center and enters a calming office. Inside, a suited man waits for Jimmy, asking if he’s all right on his arrival. You’d think Jimmy is the one late for the therapy session, but in fact, he’s the therapist. It’s an ironic setup that perfectly illustrates the premise of the show. We are dealing with a therapist that is possibly more broken than his patients.

What causes Jimmy to snap?

This notion is hammered home with a fun little montage. Jimmy’s patients complain about their usual issues and the therapist responds with the same tired cliches. The monotony and relentlessness of this montage cause Jimmy to snap and he rants at one of his poor patients. His first target, Grace is in an emotionally abusive relationship and Jimmy finally just loses his cool and tells her to leave her husband. He threatens to stop being her therapist if she doesn’t leave the man and Grace, surprisingly, agrees. It’s highly unprofessional, but it may actually be effective.

Sensing the guilt of what he has just done, Jimmy tests the waters with his fellow therapists in the break room. Here, we are introduced to Gaby (Jessica Williams) and Paul (Harrison Ford). Jimmy doesn’t exactly admit to his wrongdoings but brings up the topic in conversation. Paul summarizes Jimmy is feeling compassion fatigue. The patients aren’t changing and Jimmy just wants to give them some hard truths, to make them do the right thing. Paul calls this psychological vigilantism, commenting on how Jimmy would be robbing the patient of a chance to help themselves. Clearly, they don’t agree with his process, but it is far too late for pointers now.

READ: Will there be a Shrinking Season 2?

On his way home, Gaby asks Jimmy to take her last patient of the day as a favor. Jimmy begrudgingly accepts. His new patient is Sean, a soldier, traumatized by the sights he has seen overseas. Sean keeps getting into bar fights due to his pent-up anger and has been sent for therapy. Jimmy makes the mistake of yawning during Sean’s session and he storms off, offended. Jimmy returns home, where he relives a lovely memory, one he shared with his now-deceased wife Tia. It would appear that Jimmy’s fragile mental state and unprofessional outlook are spurred on by grief.

How does Jimmy help Sean?

Jimmy attempts to repair his broken relationship with his daughter Alice and continues to stick with Sean at work. Jimmy yawned at Sean during their first session and then his phone goes off in the second. Grace is calling, she’s left her husband and wants to thank Jimmy for the help. Jimmy is re-energized by this early success and decides to throw caution to the wind. He takes Sean to an MMA (mixed martial arts) training center, allowing the soldier to let out his anger in an appropriate setting.

The rogue therapist tells Gaby about his latest scheme. Gaby thinks it’s unethical, although she understands that Jimmy needs a win and she hugs her colleague anyway. She’s happy to see Jimmy get his spark back. A further montage shows Jimmy trying to reconnect with his daughter, whilst Sean improves at his sparring skills. Of course, this uplifting, cute segment has to be upended, and Paul meets with Jimmy, to burst his bubble.

Shrinking Season 1 Episode 1 Ending

Paul is shocked to hear that Sean has broken a tooth while cage fighting, then Jimmy confesses to persuading Grace to leave her husband too. Jimmy knows he’s doing wrong, but he thinks it may actually work in the long term. Paul’s worried about his friend and co-worker though. Jimmy might destroy his own career and bring Paul down with him. The meeting acts as a warning, but Jimmy isn’t giving up just yet.

He continues the cage fighting with Sean and refuses to change Grace’s mind with regard to the separation. Both of these trials seem to be going well though. He just needs to win over Alice for a full house. Alice is grateful for Jimmy’s support but believes it’s not enough. His daughter was left to grieve on her own and she doesn’t forgive her father just yet.

Meanwhile, Sean is provoked by a stranger on the streets and calls Jimmy for assistance. By the time Jimmy arrives, the ordeal is over. Sean did the right thing and walked away from the situation. Jimmy is ecstatic and jumps up in the air in celebration. Sean is progressing, even if he doesn’t know it. They decide to go to Alice’s soccer game to celebrate. Cue a comical mad dash across the city to the game. They make it just in time and Alice scores, but this high is quickly concluded.

A man marches over to Jimmy and punches him square in the face, it’s Grace’s husband. These wild changes have consequences and Jimmy is paying for Grace’s bold move. Sean goes to defend Jimmy and he is attacked as well. Sean sees red and goes crazy, beating Grace’s husband to a pulp. Jimmy tries to stop him, but it is too late. Sean is arrested and it seems as if everything is falling apart once again. Alice thanks her dad for showing up and he admits that he’s struggled to connect with Alice, because she looks so much like his wife, Tia. It’s a sad, but honest observation that will hopefully help the two to repair their relationship going forward.

What did you think of Shrinking Season 1 Episode 1? Comment below.

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