‘The Patient’: Alan Strauss Makes Grave Mistakes in Episodes 1 and 2

The Patient, the FX series streaming exclusively on Hulu starring Steve Carell and Domhnall Gleeson, premieres with two episodes on Aug. 30. Discover the critical moments from the first two episodes of The Patient, “Intake” and “Alan Learns to Meditate,” including the grave error Alan makes in episode 2.

[SPOILER ALERT: Spoilers ahead for The Patient Episodes 1 and 2, “Intake” and “Alan Learns to Meditate.”] 

Sam (Domhnall Gleeson) talks with Alan (Steve Carell) in the first episode of 'The Patient'
Domhnall Gleeson as Sam Fortner and Steve Carell as Alan Strauss | Suzanne Tenner/FX

Alan rejects all of the things signaling Gene isn’t who he says he is 

Dr. Alan Strauss (Carell) welcomes Gene, a new patient, in the premiere episode of The Patient. Throughout their sessions, of which there are many, Gene refuses to take his sunglasses off due to “eye sensitivity.” He distracts Alan with stories about the somewhat stereotypical abuse he suffered as a child and his love of country music. Eventually, Alan calls him out for performing this song and dance, but it’s already too late.

Dr. Alan Strauss (Steve Carell) in Hulu's 'The Patient'
Steve Carell as Alan Strauss | Suzanne Tenner/FX

Sam’s motive for kidnapping Alan are pure in ‘The Patient’

“You ever hear of the John Doe Killer?” Gene, who is really Sam, asks Alan in episode 2, “Alan Learns to Meditate.” In the fictional world of The Patient, Sam became known as the “John Doe Killer” because he always took his victim’s wallets and watches to prevent the police from identifying them. 

After attempting the “traditional” approach to therapy, Sam realizes he’s not like other patients. He requires unique treatment. 

“You said therapy can’t work if I’m not truthful,” Sam admits, detailing his compulsion to kill people. As any prisoner would do, Alan spends most of the first two episodes begging to be set free. “No,” Sam insists. “We already tried that. It didn’t work without me telling the truth.” By keeping Alan chained to the floor of his basement, Sam hopes the carefully vetted Dr. Strauss can break him of his murderous streak.

Alan Strauss’ Judaism might have more to do with the story 

After poring over countless books about therapy, Sam believes Dr. Strauss is the only one that can help him. “I met with three different Jewish therapists,” Sam tells Alan at the end of The Patient‘s first episode. “I chose you.”

Why Sam wants to see a therapist of Jewish faith remains unclear. But he wouldn’t point it out if it weren’t crucial to The Patient‘s narrative. 

Dr. Strauss loses Sam’s trust in ‘The Patient’ Episode 2 

Sam kidnapped Alan and is holding him hostage, but he’s not a total animal. He feeds and waters his prisoner daily with the finest ethnic foods — Sam’s penchant for these dishes and country music are key personality traits. 

Desperate to escape, Alan uses the plastic fork Sam left him with to try and pick the lock of his chains. Naturally, the fork tine breaks, leaving Alan frantically shaking the lock to remove it before Sam can notice. Despite his best efforts, Sam sees the broken fork when he clears Alan’s platter later in episode 2. 

Alan Strauss (Steve Carell) and Sam Fortner (Domhnall Gleeson) in Hulu's 'The Patient'
Steve Carell as Alan Strauss and Domhnall Gleeson as Sam Fortner | Suzanne Tenner/FX

Sam doesn’t say much about Alan’s attempt to escape. Instead, he brings Alan’s attention back to healing him. “I know you hate it, but if you’re not gonna be a part of the process, where is that going to leave us?” he asks his captive.

Throughout the rest of the episode, Alan seemingly commits to Sam’s recovery. In their sessions, Sam describes a restauranteur he’s considering killing. Still, there’s a general uneasiness to Sam’s demeanor that us thinking he won’t soon forget Alan’s escape attempt.

At this point, Alan has lost Sam’s trust and must work to regain it. Or will Alan give in to his fantasy about killing Sam, wherein he breaks a vase of water and stabs him repeatedly in the neck? There’s only one problem with that plan — someone else is in the house. 

Tune in Tuesdays to see how Alan and Sam’s story continues to play out. Watch The Patient on Hulu

RELATED: 4 Hulu Originals to Watch in September