The Patient, the review: Steve Carell and Domnhall Gleeson for a (dark) binge watching series

The Patient review: a psychological thriller that investigates the human meanders of a killer and his analyst. Theatrical system, great screenplay. Ten episodes streaming on Disney+.

A ten-episode face-to-face, the archetype of a conscience that becomes a listener, while the tense rhythm of a thriller rises – little by little – which, in its sense, is very psychological. Below, a question winds its way: what would we be willing to do to annihilate the demons that afflict us? Also because it is clear: once you have passed the zenith it is practically impossible to go back. On the one hand, then, the stream of consciousness of an insane cry for help, on the other there is the amazed look of someone who should find a solution, of someone who should draw up a sort of diagnosis. Patient and doctor, an osmosis so intimate as to be shrouded in professional secrecy. But, judging by the show put together by Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg (the same as The Americans), words are just the tip of the iceberg. Below, in the dark meanders there is the truth, inescapable and shocking.

The Patient Steve Carell

The Patient: Steve Carell in one scene

From here, and borrowing a theatrical staging, it begins The PatientTV series by FX on Hulu (in Italy streaming on Disney+) which plays precisely on appearances, on words, on the human distortions that we could encounter. No one is really safe, the series seems to tell us. Neither safe from others nor safe from themselves. Thoughts get bulky, the weight of remorse leaves no way out. There is an underlying vulnerability that makes us connected to each other, so as to confuse and swap roles. The victim and the executioner, a countermelody that uses an excellent script to become a da show binge watchingfacilitated by the short duration of each episode (twenty/twenty-five minutes) and, above all, by the incredible connection between the two protagonists: Steve Carell and Domhnall Gleeson.

Face to face

The storyline of The Patient, in fact, can be defined as a sort of face to face: the therapist Alan Strauss (Steve Carell) is kidnapped and held prisoner (complete with an emblematic chain at his foot) by Sam Fortner (Domhnall Gleeson), his patient and serial killer. The request is direct: Sam asks Alan for help, he wants to curb his homicidal instincts. The only way to really make yourself heard is to keep your analyst in segregation. A direct, disturbing, desperate confrontation. The tension rises, the room in which the two characters joust becomes smaller and more stringent. Alan needs a way out, and the most direct one seems to be Sam. He will try in every way to free his mind, but the man does not seem to want to cooperate to the end.

Gleeson And Carell In The Patient Wide 2Fb8Fd33113A3E16D0C003D7671381E31C44629C

The Patient: Domhnall Gleeson with Steve Carell in a scene from the series

Not only that, during his imprisonment Alan will come to terms with his past, crushed by the problems he wanted to suppress: the death of his wife Beth (Laura Niemi) and the estrangement of his son Ezra (Andrew Leeds). The days will get longer for him as he immerses himself in Sam’s homicidal compulsion. A tense duel, a nightmare from which it is impossible to wake up. With a certainty that begins to invade Alan’s thoughts: what if he were Sam’s next victim?

A serial exercise

The Patient Steve Carell

The Patient: Steve Carell in an image from the series

Like the human mind, made up of secret rooms and hidden passageways, The Patient it is a chinese box. Within the main frame (represented by the room in which Alan is imprisoned) there are another hundred, despite the screenplay, albeit measured, tends to stretch more than necessary. A prison, a confession and an escape, that of the analyst, impossible to accomplish until the whole skein is untangled. For this reason, each episode of the series adds small and essential pieces (such as the presence of Candace, Sam’s mother, played by Linda Emond), which will make the vision lively despite the visual static – obviously only apparent static.

The Patient Tv Series Review

The Patient: Steve Carell and Domhnall Gleeson in a scene from the series

In addition to the performances of Steve Carell And Domhnall Gleeson, who constantly duet on the edge of the abyss, to make everything more three-dimensional is the asphyxiating structure, like a human thriller (especially after a precise moment that coincides with Strauss’ backstory) that resonates in the soundtrack by Nathan Barr and Justin Burnett to then reflect on the gray and then amber tones of the photograph. The same nuances that link the current narrative time (the series takes place almost entirely “on the spot”) to Alan’s flashbacks. After all, in the protagonist’s life there is something clearly unresolved, which sharpens the terror experienced and relates it to the inexorable flow of time. A perception that will put him in contrast with the more stereotypical figure of the psychopathic killer, which could represent a sort of narrative device. On one side is the victim (and the doctor), on the other is the perpetrator (and the patient), a thin line and the darkness that swallows the last glimmers of empathy. More simply The Patient, a successful narrative exercise in a serial format.


It is not easy to delve into the mind of a serial killer without being discounted, so – as if it were a serial exercise – the show offers a good degree of introspection combined with psychological thriller entertainment. As already written in our review of The Patient, the series is in fact suitable for binge watching, thanks to the short duration of the episodes. Two great protagonists Steve Carell and Domnhall Gleeson, grappling with a super actor duet.

Because we like it

  • Steve Carell and Domnhall Gleeson.
  • The plant and the theatrical impact.
  • The music.
  • Several twists.

What’s wrong

  • The figure of the killer is decidedly stereotyped.
  • The episodes don’t last long, but ten are perhaps too many.

The Patient, the review: Steve Carell and Domnhall Gleeson for a (dark) binge watching series