It's About To Be A Long, Painful Wait For More 'Shrinking' After A Wonderful Season 1 Finale With A DARK Closing Scene
Similar in some ways to Bill Lawrence's other ingenious Apple TV+ hit dramedy series Ted Lasso, I feel like Shrinking is going to find an even bigger audience now that the first season has ended. Positive word of mouth was a huge reason behind Ted Lasso's explosion into the international pop culture zeitgeist. While it's overly optimistic to expect Shrinking to blow up quite to that degree, it's not too early to say that it'll be an awards season darling in 2024.
Over the last two episodes of Shrinking's first season, we saw some groundwork being laid for future relationships, namely between Jason Segel's Jimmy and Jessica Williams' Gaby. The classic coworker romance, complicated by the fact that Gaby was best friends with Jimmy's wife, whose offscreen death in a car accident is the inciting incident of the entire show. Then, you have Harrison Ford's Dr. Paul Rhoades showing that, in his words, he's "still got it" in a fling with Dr. Julie Branam (Wendie Malick), a neurologist who's helping treat Paul's Parkinson's Disease.
All the tension and estrangement between Jimmy and his daughter Alice (Lukita Maxwell) pretty much dissipates for the time being when Jimmy makes a tear-jerking speech at the wedding of his best friend Brian (Michael Urie). Jimmy came a long way from puking all over the piano during Brian's surprise proposal — and seems ready to move forward with his complicated life.
And as Derek (Ted McGinley) hits retirement, his wife Liz (Christa Miller) starts to embrace him being around more while also forging ahead on her own independent track as a partner in a catering business masterminded by Sean (Luke Tennie).
I'm name checking everyone in the cast when I can, sorry if that's annoying, because everyone just kills it in this show. They all deserve all the flowers. Before I get into more specific spoilers teased in the blog headline, check out my initial write-up, which is a good starting point if you're just about to binge watch Shrinking (jealous of those of you who get to experience it this way):
The final episode of Season 1 is titled "Closure", and while you might infer from reading the above paragraphs of summary that everything is rosy for everyone and all the character arcs are neatly tied up...well...
Among the patients Jimmy has enacted psychological vigilantism on is Grace (Heidi Gardner). She's in a toxic relationship and has tried to leave this douche canoe named Donny (Tilky Jones) multiple times. In the first episode, Grace's boo gets word that Jimmy advised her to leave him, culminating in a fist fight in which military vet Sean winds up being the fuck out of Donny.
While Grace said she bailed to Vancouver to stay with her sister, Jimmy quickly finds out this isn't the case. By "Closure", Grace has a session with Jimmy to specify how she's applying therapy in the relationship. Doesn't sound terribly promising, yet you have some hope they'll move forward, or at least come to a civilized parting of ways eventually.
OH BUT NO. Jimmy is having a great time at the wedding reception, thinking his radical methods won't catch up to him. Dancing with Alice. Calling back to the final line of the pilot when he tells her, "You look so much like your mom!" It's emotional and beautiful. We get a wide shot of everyone dancing, having a great time…
Cut to! Donny being a piece of shit, putting Grace on blast during a hike, and then going to admire the view from a cliff…only for Grace to PUSH HIM OFF THE EDGE.
I don't know if Donny is dead. At best he is seriously injured. Either way, everything threatens to unravel with this wild move from Grace. Paul's entire practice and legacy are potentially in jeopardy, not to mention the improving relationship he has with his family. Gaby's constant warnings to Jimmy about his therapy tactics are going to cause some serious conflict between them in the wake of Grace's "BOOP" to Donny. Any goodwill Jimmy built up with Alice likely goes out the window now. Liz's business with Sean, a client of Jimmy's who lives with him, is likely to be in a complicated spot to say the least.
In a darkly hilarious way, Grace gets capital-C "Closure" of her own in the finale. However, it might come at the expense of all the main characters we've come to love. It's a brilliant twist ending, and in a series I've gassed up for its epic cliffhangers, this was the literal edge of a cliff that resident dickhole Donny was shoved off of.
The way this show played out, it seems like the creators knew they had a quality hit on their hands. So much groundwork is laid for Season 2. Now we wait. Let's hope it's not too long, because Shrinking is off to a cracking start.