Recap: Shrinking – 1×09 – “Moving Forward”

An upbeat opening set to Eddie Vedder’s “The Dark” has three patients waiting and pairing off with Paul, Gaby and Jimmy. Jimmy takes his on an excursion to scatter his mother’s ashes at the Rose Bowl. They end up being chased out by security as they entered the stadium illegally. (It’s a humorous scene, but I am still wondering if Jimmy will ever have to face the music about his unethical behavior?)

“You helped people all your life. You deserve to be celebrated for a minute.”

Paul’s patient has been seeing him for 22 years, and encourages him to accept the career achievement award he is being given by the APA. Of course he thinks it’s basically a death sentence, instead of seeing it as an honor; he clearly struggles to accept praise. The patient is played by Neil Flynn, perhaps best known as the Janitor on Scrubs, yet another member of the Bill Lawrence Extended Universe (BLEU). Flynn also starred in The Fugitive with Harrison Ford, something Scrubs even addressed in a very meta way – definitely one of my favorite jokes on the show ever. Flynn also was a guest on Films to Be Buried With, where he talked about his lesbian aunt, a story that stuck with me and that I once wrote a Twitter thread about. Anyway, that’s enough shameless plugs and trivia, but it’s very nice to see him here.

Gaby’s patient and her discuss the importance of her seeing a Black therapist. As we learn, it’s also Gaby’s motivation to apply for a professorship: she wants to teach other future Black therapists. Look, I know fiction can take some licenses, and I legitimately don’t know if psychology/medicine is different in this regard, but it would likely be very difficult for anyone who (presumably) hasn’t held any academic posts before. And her saying she has the bandwidth on top of her patients??? Girl. All I am saying is: Paul is very right, academia IS the fifth circle of hell. Trust me. Why do you think I’m in therapy? (Someone get me a gif of Harrison Ford saying this though, please, I will use it daily. I am going back to work after next week).

Derek, who was notably absent last week, is now finally retiring, and everyone toasts him. He’s planning a big party with over 200 people – it turns out he’s really the social butterfly amongst all of them. To be fair, he is hilarious. Liz is still terrified of him being home; I can see why, Derek wants to walk with her to the mailbox and talks about how beautiful trees are. The writers room, or this week’s writer, Sofi Selig, definitely keep enjoying poking some fun at Bill Lawrence. His wife Christa Miller meanwhile has all the one liners this week, her Waldorf-and-Statlering Brian and Jimmy while munching blueberries is easily the funniest scene.

“This whole fortress of solitude thing, it’s getting old. Sometimes you gotta put yourself out there.”

Paul is finally dating his doctor!!! I have been waiting for this, as you all know, and I am so thrilled it’s happening. Old age romance on screen is so important, or as Gaby puts it: “this is really inspiring, I didn’t think I’d be able to have sex when I get old, but I’m gonna fuck forever!” Paul even ends up taking Julie on the weekend trip – but not to Vegas for his award ceremony (and to gamble and whore with or without his grandson), but more importantly, to his grandson’s school musical, finally making up with Meg for good, and prioritizing family over work.

He isn’t the only one hooking up this week: Gaby meets her ex, but instead of sleeping with him, she ends up in bed with Jimmy again! We’ll see how long this remains “safe – working class???-  dick”; it’s definitely good for both of them in terms of moving forward, but I still smell trouble. (Or love, but when is love ever not trouble?)

Meanwhile, Sean has started a job at his Dad’s accounting firm and is miserable, but Alice encourages him to actually get started on White Guilt Catering, the idea he and Liz had thrown around. Derek and Liz are ready to invest in it, even though Liz is clearly sad about not being more actively involved. But that might change, given she never keeps out of anyone’s business, figuratively or literally.

Everyone is moving forward, as the episode title says: Jimmy is starting to clean out Tia’s clothes and other things. He finds a scrapbook she kept with memories of their marriage. When he gets to the last, blank, pages, it’s such a simple, yet heartbreaking moment. “That’s all we get”, he says through tears, in possibly the softest scene Jason Segel has had all season; he tends to paint in broader strokes usually. I am not quite sure if Jimmy is legitimately moving forward or trying to trick himself into it, but at the end of the day, moving forward often actually just means tricking yourself into it. Fake it till you make it. It’s also put in question by the fact Jimmy can’t even say the word “marriage” without tearing up; Brian has reinstated him as his wedding officiant. Brian also asks his father to be his best man, who declines, leaving him visibly deflated. Let’s see how that final episode will shape up, as predicted, it will all culminate with the ceremony, and there are so many things that would potentially go wrong. Especially as everything largely seemed to go everyone’s way this week.

The last scene has Jimmy and Alice bonding over music, also taking steps forward in their relationship by reviving old rituals. (Don’t knock the Goo Goo Dolls! Youths!). He had also asked her to visit her Mom’s grave with him for her birthday – but it’s only then she realizes the date passed, and immediately feels guilty. Grief. Crafty little fucker.

Final Note: Stop making fun of Paul’s hat. Rebecca on Ted Lasso has that hat. I have that hat.  Clearly only people with taste have that hat.