Shrinking (Season 1), Episodes 1 & 2: Jason Segal has carved out the image of a warm, compassionate man with his career. He always reminds me of a genuinely sweet-natured friend you would always want to have by your side. The new Apple TV+ show – ‘Shrinking’, uses this very image while pairing him with the wise and grumpy character of Harrison Ford. Through its central character of a grieving therapist, this dramedy delves into the bittersweet moments from his professional and personal life. It just had its two-episode premiere that hints at another well-meaning comedy by the streaming service, much like its critically acclaimed Ted Lasso.

Shrinking (Season 1), Episodes 1 & 2 Recap:

Episode 1: Coin Flip

Liz (Christa Miller) wakes up in the middle of the night after hearing loud music from her neighbor’s place. She walks up to meet Jimmy (Jason Segal) to make it stop. He looks heavily intoxicated and can hardly understand what is happening around him. He seems to have succumbed to ennui, where the hookers he had over in his swimming pool appear to be his way of coping with his depression. His daughter, Alice (Lukita Maxwell), goes to her school on her own while calling him – bro. There is something off about the family dynamic, and the lack of a mother figure is evident.

After being insulted by Alice, he leaves his house depressed and discovers that his car is out of gas. So, he has no option but to head out on his bicycle. He goes to his workplace – the CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) center, where he is one of their therapists. In his office, patients start sharing their personal stories with him. Most of them expect a solution to their feeling of being stuck. Like every other day, Grace (Heidi Gardner) starts talking about her toxic husband. Jimmy suddenly bursts out to advise her to leave this ‘fugly’ man who makes her feel closeted in their relationship for some reason. He also gives her an ultimatum that he is done with being her therapist if she disagrees.

Frustrated by it, he goes up to his colleagues, his spirited friend – Gaby (Jessica Williams), and a seasoned therapist – Paul (Harrison Ford). He opens up about hitting the wall with all these patients who only seek validation for their pain but does not wish to act, even when the answer is right in front of their eyes. With his several years of experience, Paul sees how futile it is to expect their patients to enthusiastically follow a piece of advice, even when it is worthwhile. Jimmy then decides to leave the office. But Gaby persuades him to take on his new patient, which makes him stay back.

He meets this new patient – Sean (Luke Tennie), a war veteran who struggles with PTSD. He shares an incident where he burst out at someone for an inconsequential reason. Jimmy yawns when he starts telling similar recurring incidents because he did not get enough sleep the night before. Sean takes it as an insult and Jimmy’s lack of interest in following his case. While Sean abruptly leaves, Jimmy speaks with Gaby about a new approach he plans to use in therapy. While dealing with his mental health patients, he has not still recovered from the grief o losing his wife, Tia (Lilan Bowden).

He does not find Alice back at home and peeks into Liz’s place for her. After embarrassing himself, the father-daughter returns home. The following day, he makes omelets for her as a way to break the ice. But as told by Paul, his forced attempt to connect with her fails. In his office, Sean reluctantly comes for his next session despite considering Jimmy hopeless. Suddenly Jimmy’s phone starts ringing, and he picks it up. From the other side, Grace tells him that she accepted his advice and moved out of her place to her sister’s. He cheers with joy, considering it a success of his new, erratic approach to therapy.

He decides to tell Sean to build trust in himself. In the past, he had trouble controlling his anger and kept hitting a person repeatedly. Jimmy decides to get to the root of Sean’s behavior. So, he takes him out to a boxing academy. According to Carl Jung, what you resist, persists. Following it as his guideline, Jimmy guides Sean to use his rage and have a better outlet for the trauma and violence he experienced overseas.

Back at the office, Gaby gives Jimmy a reality check about this unorthodox experiment, where he took a black man out to get into a fight. Jimmy still stands by it. Nevertheless, she is happy to see him as enthusiastic about his work as he once was. Sean returns home with a broken nose, leading his father to call their office. So, Paul tries to get Jimmy back his senses for why he is implementing such chaotic methods. While it is clear that this method comes from his own experience, he keeps deflecting from speaking about his core problem and defends the approach.

Shrinking Season 1 Episodes 1 2 Recap (1)

Later, Sean shares his fear about his lost time in the past. Then, Jimmy opens up about his struggles with grief over his late wife. Since he is not supposed to share his personal issues, they both share a laugh. Back at home, he keeps making attempts to reconcile with Alice. But his small attempts to persuade her do not work. In the past, he left her to deal with Tia’s loss on her own while wallowing in sadness. It seems like he is trying to compensate for the lost time, just like his new patient.

Meanwhile, a man bumps Sean’s shoulder. Instead of getting unreasonably angry about it, he just let it go and walked past it. Jimmy gets overjoyed, seeing it as a success of his work. They both reach the next step in their journeys. Along with Sean, he then goes to Alice’s soccer game instead of being miserable about their emotional distance. After getting halted by heavy traffic, they finally make it.

Unfortunately, Grace’s fugly husband arrives there to confront him about his advice. He starts beating up Jimmy, and Sean pitches in to save Jimmy. At the same time, the police take Sean with them; Alice thanks Jimmy for coming to the game. He apologizes for being late and then gets emotional while telling her she reminds him strongly of Tia. There is a teeny-tiny moment of bonding that they share.

Episode 2: Fortress of Solitude

Even after a year has passed since her death, Jimmy has not healthily gotten over Tia. While he imagines her standing near the door, Alice comes in and talks about his spooky behavior of sitting in the dark on his own. He makes a Gary Oldman impression from Bram Stoker’s Dracula just to mask his embarrassment. It ends up in an awkwardly funny interaction. While he needs to get Sean out of jail for beating up Grace’s husband, he also needs to meet Alice’s school counselor.

Since that strange incident showed Jimmy making an effort, there is lesser emotional distance between them. Still, he cannot get to have dinner with her that night since she has already planned a Taco night with Liz. When Jimmy was beaten down, Liz provided her with emotional support. So, the connection between them is hard to break that easily.

Jimmy then calls Paul, upset by Alice denying having dinner with him. He seeks advice from the old man, who sarcastically calls out his stupidity. He tells him he cannot have Alice whenever he wants after being checked out for over a year.

Jimmy then bails Sean out of jail, who asks if he knows any lawyer. So, he calls Brian (Michael Urie), with whom he had not spoken for a while. In his office, he lies to Paul about the wound on his eye. He says it is because of falling off his slippery shoes. He then diverts the conversation to Paul’s anti-social way of living. Paul bounces back by defending his resolve to be a private person. When asked about his daughter, the only detail he shares is that she lives in Connecticut.

Jimmy continues his session with Grace, who is at her sister’s place. But he refuses to show her his wounded face. His patient, Dan (Mike C. Nelson), continues his rants about needing to make small talk with the barista. Jimmy then calls out his ‘I hate everyone’ approach, which would lead him to have a lonely life. His advice comes from a place of understanding he has reached by now in his life. To implement his new method, Jimmy immediately takes him to the same café and makes him try out the same small talk without getting needlessly enraged.

He suddenly realizes that he is late for the counselor’s appointment at school and starts running toward the school. Liz is already there and has been subbing for him for the past couple of sessions. Their interaction reveals how little he knows about Alice’s recent progress in school. That’s where Liz comes in support and shares the necessary details.

Back at his office, he discusses Liz’s increasing involvement in Alice’s life, which troubles him. It makes him feel like he is being replaced. Paul advises treating his daughter with the same level of love and respect that he would treat an adult. Gabby gives him a pep talk to reclaim his position as Alice’s Mama Bear!

Brian comes along with Sean and Jimmy for the trial. He passionately argues for his client while claiming the emotional toll Donny’s beating took on both of them. Jimmy heightens the drama of his injury, which makes Sean laugh. Alas, they win the case, and Brian starts jumping with joy. He gets an adrenaline rush by fighting for someone instead of his regular humdrum job as a State Attorney. He continues cheering enthusiastically, fueled by his mantra – Everything goes my way. While he asks to go do something together, Jimmy awkwardly parts his way with an excuse. Brian is unsure why his old friend has been like this for a while.

Shrinking Season 1 Episodes 1 2 Recap (2)

Alice gets invited by a friend to drink under a bridge at her school. She is just as concerned about her getting out of her bubble. She does not accept the proposal right then and goes to meet Paul. Alice calls out the immaturity of her classmates in such silly activities. Paul mentions that they are teenagers who have not experienced a tragedy like her. He suggests she empathetically treat them. He then suggests she cut Jimmy some slack and make an effort from her side to get emotionally closer to him.

Jimmy speaks with a patient who occasionally controls her breath, thinking it will miraculously cure her. While he tries to talk some sense into her, Brian barges in and confronts him about distancing himself. Once his rant is over, he returns by the same door.

Derek is concerned for Liz, who spends most of her time with Alice. It feels to him that she is prioritizing her over their family. Suddenly, Gabby shows up at her door and starts chatting with her. She eventually questions Liz about her increased involvement in Alice’s life. Gabby advises giving Jimmy a chance by backing off from replacing him. She also calls Liz’s concern for Alice an indication of filling up space for her kids, who have moved out (the empty nest syndrome).

In the office, Paul takes a class with Jimmy to not jeopardize his relationship with Alice due to his professional life. At Sean’s parents’ place, they ask him to move out. They also offer him some money, but he refuses to take anything from them. Later at night, Alice shows up at Liz’s door but cancels her plan. While Liz has made massive preparations for their Taco night, she does not let Alice be concerned about it.

Shrinking (Season 1), Episodes 2 Ending, Explained:

Alice goes back home with two sandwiches, as suggested by Paul. It is just a means for them (her and Jimmy) to bond over with. However, since she had canceled the dinner plan, Jimmy had decided to make another one. She still does not let him feel bad about it while hiding her true feelings of disappointment.

He goes to meet Brian and confronts his toxic positivity. He was not in the mood to hang out with a guy who kept shouting, ‘Everything goes my way’ right after his wife’s death. It clears the air between them and opens a way to form a healthy friendship afresh.

Alice, meanwhile, goes to Paul’s place to have those sandwiches with him. It is simultaneously her last resort and her place of comfort. She asks about the family picture she sees next to his couch. He hides it and refuses to speak about it. She later returns home to find Sean having a meal in their kitchen. Jimmy mentions that he will be crashing at their place. Now that there are three of them under a roof, the process of ‘opening up’ will gain even more emotional levity.

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Watch Shrinking (Season 1) Trailer

Shrinking (Season 1) Episodes 1 & 2 Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
Shrinking (Season 1) Episodes 1 & 2 Cast: Jason Segel, Harrison Ford, Jessica Williams, Lukita Maxwell, Luke Tennie, Michael Urie
Where to watch Shrinking

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