"Imposter Syndrome" Was The Twistiest 'Shrinking' Episode To Date, With A Cliffhanger That Should Tee Up A Fantastic Finish

Maarten De Boer. Getty Images.

Shrinking is just so damn good. Must-see TV every week. Now we're past the halfway point of the 10-episode first season — if there's no Season 2, we riot, Apple TV+ — and the fish is really beginning to hit the shan in earnest.

Spoilers ahead for the newest episode titled "Imposter Syndrome" and more from the show. If you haven't begun streaming this magical slice of streaming entertainment just yet, please read this as a hopefully-adequate introduction to the proceedings:



OK good enough. 

The whole setup of the episode is a party at main character Jimmy's house, which is meant to facilitate a surprise engagement for Jimmy's best friend, Brian (Michael Urie). He's a hilarious real estate lawyer who has a catchphrase of "Everything goes my way!" yet when it comes to one of the most important events of his entire life (proposing marriage), he's gotten cold feet countless times. It's to the point where Jason Segel's Jimmy and Jessica Williams' Gaby refuse to believe he'll ever follow through and react as such.

…But the inciting incident of all the Episode 6 drama is Brian finally buying the ring.

What a freaking setup, right? How could anything possibly go wrong for someone who says, "Everything goes my way!" at a best friend who's been grieving the untimely death of his wife for over a year?

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Meanwhile, we have a budding romance between Jimmy's daughter Alice (Lukita Maxwell) and Afghanistan military veteran/therapy patient of Jimmy's named Sean (Luke Tennie), who's now living in their house while he waits for VA housing to open up. More on this later. Put a pin in it.

But the subplot to the main plot that gets the most action in "Imposter Syndrome" is Harrison Ford's Dr. Paul Rhodes. The cliffhanger for the previous episode saw Paul finally face up to the fact that he needs to tell his daughter about his Parkinson's diagnosis. He failed to do so in person during their brief visit together, but now that she knows what's really up, she's about to handle everything related to his ongoing care and wellness.

As a means of escaping the grim reality of that whole situation, Paul takes some edible gummies given to him by Jimmy's next-door neighbor Liz, played by Christa Miller. Paul naturally gets overwhelmed by everything and ingests multiple potent gummies, and needs to be brought back to earth by Liz once he pulls up to the party stoned to the bone:

THEN…disaster strikes. Jimmy was reticent about hosting the party in the first place, because he hasn't opened up the house since his wife's untimely death. Alice convinces him to host, but it only triggers Jimmy. Everyone coming up to him wants to talk about how great he and his wife Tia were as a couple. We get some flashbacks that show how Jimmy and Tia were pulling away from each other toward the end, and Jimmy is convinced Tia had fallen out of love with him.

This leads to a sequence where Brian is counting on Jimmy to play the piano for a song he'll sing as part of his proposal. Everyone's gathered in the living room, Jimmy starts belting out the song in what is not meant to be a duet, aaaaaaaaand…

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Nah, not quite. Just projectile vomiting all over the top of the piano and off to the side for good measure.

Segel explained the genesis of the piano puke bit to GQ recently:

"It started with an idea in the room that was very light on the piano. And I've been doing comedy for a long time. So I know some of the stuff I can do well, maybe better than somebody else might. I was like, 'No, I can do this really, really, really funny.' And then I pitched throwing up on the piano.

"There are moments in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and I Love You, Man that I missed. I really, really missed doing scenes like that—that take a minute to unfold and then it's worse than you think it's going to be. 

"I think those movie moments work best when they are rooted in something that is really painful. This is what I've always felt like with comedy: it really works best when you feel like that is you. If you can create the sense, leading up to the moment of, 'Oh, in this moment, I'm that guy.' […] We're all the person who sets out with the best of intentions and isn't able to do it at that moment."

So to wrap up, Jimmy tells Alice he heard her profess her feelings for Sean in what she believed was a private moment. This forces her to retreat to her room. Sean follows her, and she tries to put the moves on him, which he REJECTS! I totally thought they were on course for a fling. Maybe Sean eventually comes around. That was a surprise reversal.

Not nearly as shocking as what happens at the end, though — JIMMY AND GABBY START HOOKING UP.

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Makes some sense since Gaby is struggling with her libido post-divorce — the "grease the peach" metaphor is hysterical, by the way — and Jimmy is of course in the midst of a breakdown, but still! WOW. 

I'm telling you, between the revelation of Alice's crush on Sean, the heartfelt phone call by Paul to his daughter and now this stunning twist, Shrinking is on a fucking insane run of cliffhangers each of the past three weeks. It's a wondrous achievement and an agonizing tease all at once. 

While I can grasp the concept of wanting to binge a TV show once all the episodes have dropped, if you don't start watching Shrinking now and catch up, you'll miss out on a month's worth of week-to-week suspense. That has been one of the joys of this show. Sometimes streaming shows with weekly 'sode release structures can be a downer, because you're always wary of a potential "filler" week that sets up something bigger.

It's a credit to Shrinking creators Bill Lawrence, Brett Goldstein, Segel and the writers room and everyone who had a hand in getting this project launched that there is zero loss of narrative propulsion week to week. That felt a little too fancily worded. Oh well I'm leaving it. Point is, there is no filler in this show. Shrinking is stacked with layers of comedy, drama and acting brilliance that leave you wanting more every time the end credits pop up.

Waaaaaaaaatch. Thiiiiiiiiiiiiiis. Showwwwwwwwww. Pleeeeeeeeease. SHRINKING. SHRINKING. SHRINKING. SHRINKING.

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