Being Erica – Physician, Heal Thyself – Episode review

I want to begin this episode with a minor grumble about [[Being Erica (TV Series)|Being Erica]]. It’s been three weeks since Samantha Strange (Joanna Douglas) caught her mother and father naked and post-coital on the living room floor. And yet, it has barely been remarked upon until this episode. Even now, I’m not sure if Barb and Gary are back together, and I can only assume that Erica doesn’t know yet.

It’s a feature of this show that it sows the seeds of future storylines early on so that they don’t come out of the blue and look totally implausible. You can’t have missed Judith’s (Vinessa Antoine) increasing references to her marriage going off the boil. And a possible co-adulterer. The Being Erica team (hi there!) are very deft in their build-up to certain storylines, but considering how important the death of Leo Strange and Erica’s parents’ subsequent divorce was, them getting back together is big news!!! We need answers!

Physician, Heal Thyself was perhaps one of the busiest Being Erica episodes in a long time. We had Dr. Tom (Michael Riley) going postal and having another enraged rant at Erica (Erin Karpluk). Those are always horrible, uncomfortable moments. Fair dues to Michael Riley, who plays Tom in these instances with a raw intensity of a man who’s been bottling up his emotions for years and suddenly letting them explode. I always imagine that Dr. Tom has some kind of special fondness for Erica that transcends the normal therapist/patient relationship.

Anyway, Tom’s daughter Sarah returns after being missing for years. It’s not like she was ever going to turn up on the doorstep, well adjusted in a career or with a bunch of bouncing kids. No, Sarah took the crack whore route – getting hooked on heroin and selling herself to fund the drug habit.

During Tom’s past encounters with his family, we’ve seen the angry, abusive man he once was. But this time, he reins in the aggression and is more his therapist self. I love the quote he dropped, “Whatever your past has been, you have a spotless future,” which applies as much to Tom as it does to his daughter.

The addition of Dr. Arthur adds new levels of mystery to the process – he’s got deep insights into Tom’s character. Doesn’t it make sense that Dr. Tom has thrown himself into his work to escape the guilt over his old life? Doesn’t it make sense that his rage surfaces because he’s got no balance between his vocation and his life?

Erica’s romantic options…

Moving on, there’s a curious little love triangle between Kai (who returns this week for his predicted tryst with Erica), Adam and Erica. There’s a little bit of questioning how flexible the timeline is, and if Erica must sleep with Kai to fulfil some kind of destiny or if she can simply change it as the patients often do with their regrets.

The more interesting development is a little bit of jealousy from Adam, who doesn’t ‘see’ Erica ‘that way’, but seems to be upset when the idea of Kai getting into her pants comes up. However, Erica’s sworn off guys for a while, so Adam may have to wait a while before he makes his move.

Incidentally, it was a masterstroke giving Kai a song to sing to Erica which references their time traveling secret in a room full of people. Seriously, I got chills. 

Sam and the Janitor

In smaller news, Sam’s still coming to terms with her relationship with Lenin. He’s clearly a chilled out guy, while she’s hung up on his status – but she’s swung from being embarrassed about what he does, to fiercely protective of him. She almost rips apart a resident at the hospital for being abrupt with her broom-pushing boyfriend.

Naturally, this doesn’t go down too well with Lenin – not because he’s insecure as a man or anything – but because his job doesn’t define him. I always find this line interesting though – it really only works if you’re not invested in your job. Does Sam’s job as a surgeon define her? Does Erica’s job as a publisher define her? Dr. Tom is so invested in his job that he’s almost erased the rest of his life.

I’m not sure if that was an intentional aspect of Physician, Heal Thyself or not – showing Lenin as someone who works to live as a contrast to Dr. Tom’s compulsive working as a means to block out his life.

Apologies

After storming into Erica’s apartment and yelling at her – which Erica handled quite well considering the circumstances – Dr. Tom finally tracks her down and apologises,

This scene between the two main characters served to emphasise – I think – their inate fondness for each other. I believe that Dr. Tom sees Erica differently to the other members of his therapy group. There’s a different kind of relationship. And I believe Erica is the only one beyond Arthur (Graham Greene) and Naadiah (Joanne Vannicola) who has seen the manic side of Tom’s personality and knows about his troubles with his daughter.

It was lovely that Erica not only forgave him, but offered to help in any way she could. It would be so interesting to see their lives outside of therapy converge, and my guess is that Erica may be able to help with his daughter in the end. I can’t help wondering though – now that we’ve established that Tom needs to have more balance in his life – will we see more of him in everyday situations?

I’m going to do something thoroughly confusing next and review the previous episode, Jenny From The Block. Sorry I’m out of synch here, but my reviewing has become erratic over the last few weeks!

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