Episode four of The Shrink Next Door begins with a dramatic beat that shows just how deep the claws of Dr. Ike (Paul Rudd) are in Marty (Will Ferrell). As Phyllis (Kathryn Hahn) struggles with whether to reach out to her brother, it seems Marty, serving as a proxy of Dr. Ike, is ending his relationship with his loyal sister. Opening a birthday card, Phyllis is met with a bunch of copies of her face cut out of family photos. However, as Dr. Ike urges Marty to make his circle smaller, Dr. Ike’s is growing as his wife gives birth to twins.
Manipulation is the prevailing theme of The Shrink Next Door so far. Dr. Ike uses his power over Marty as his psychiatrist to plant seeds in his head. It explores the notion of legacy as Dr. Ike manipulates Marty to use his considerable wealth to begin a charitable foundation. However, while Dr. Ike uses keywords like “toxic” and “violations” to describe Phyllis, one could describe his motivations for using Marty’s money with that exact verbiage.
Rudd and Ferrell display a masterclass of chemistry as these two men are desperate to better themselves. Marty is vulnerable and gullible, while Ike is domineering and charismatic. Using over $60,000 of Marty’s money to build a foundation is simply Ike’s way of expanding his social status. While Ike offers a much smaller sum, Marty, out of his trust and loyalty to Ike, allows the foundation to become a 50/50 partnership. Moreover, the addition of Hannah (Christina Vidal) as a potential love interest for Marty gives Ike even more fuel to manipulate his prey.
What makes the series feel special so far is the slow burn towards Marty’s realization of what is truly going on. However, right now, it’s clear that Marty feels his mental, emotional, and societal growth is all because of his friendship with Dr. Ike. Marty is feeling confident and stronger and Ferrell is able to depict that through his adorably clumsy performance. The viewer cannot help but root for Marty all the while knowing he is truly the victim of this story, not the hero he so obviously thinks himself to be.
Meanwhile, Dr. Ike’s new consultant position at Marty’s business causes a rift with other trusted confidants in Marty’s life. Ike’s tactic is clear: everybody else in Marty’s life is problematic and only Ike is to be trusted. Unfortunately, Marty is unable to see what is happening right before his eyes. Ike spends thousands of Marty’s money on a Mickey Mantle baseball he always dreamed of having at a big, swanky gala.
Moreover, he uses Marty’s money and status at work to gain further status. The way the world views Ike is is the most important thing in this man’s life and he does not care who suffers in his wake because he is able to justify it in his own mind. Dr. Ike’s wife (Casey Wilson) says it best as she explains that she “hates who Marty becomes at those functions. Someone who does not know when enough is enough.”
So far, The Shrink Next Door is a lovely character study of two men feeling as if they are lacking in something in their lives. One with everything but cares for none of it and another with nothing who craves nothing but more. Actors typically known for their light-hearted comedy are able to bring out new sides of their abilities and tell a dramatic story filled with charm and poise. Episode four continues the path towards that moment where it all becomes clear to Marty. However, the obstacles he faces during the latest installment will likely pale in comparison to what he will go through to get to the light at the end of the tunnel. – Christian Hubbard
New episodes of The Shrink Next Door will stream Fridays on Apple TV+.
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