The Shrink Next Door Episode 5: Bromance in “The Family Tree”

Marty (Will Ferrell) talks to Ike (Paul Rudd) by the poolside.

The following contains spoilers for The Shrink Next Door, Episode 5, “The Family Tree” (written by Georgia Pritchett and Catherine Shepherd and directed by Jesse Peretz)

Do you remember how back in 2005 teenage girls and hopeless romantic women went entirely nuts for the love story that was The Notebook? Everyone thought Noah threatening to let go of the Ferris wheel unless Allie agreed to go on a date with him was such a hopeless romantic act and rooted for him by asking how she could say no to begin with. I’ll admit that I was one of those people, completely blinded by the story put forth. I wanted a romance as of epic as Allie and Noah’s. It wasn’t until I was older had I began to second guess that moment. That scene between Noah and Allie wasn’t romantic, it was actually very problematic. What he did to her was a form of manipulation and it’s also a similar tactic that Doctor Ike Herschkopf (Paul Rudd) pulls on his patient Marty Markowitz (Will Ferrell) in Episode 5 of Apple TV+’s The Shrink Next Door.

Between Episode 4 and Episode 5, we get to discover a lot of what motivates Ike. In this episode, Ike’s father passes away and in this, we see the extent of Ike’s issues with him. Ike is the son that his father could never love because he had lost his first during the Holocaust. He’s spent his life trying to strive for the best in hopes that it would make him proud. It’s because of this that Ike has let his own illusion overtake him.

When Marty suggests that the Herschkopfs stay inside the master bedroom of his beach house, Ike’s wife Bonnie (Casey Wilson) is quick to say how outlandish it is, while Ike doesn’t fight him on it. Instead, he suggests that it’s a good idea. Later, when Ike is staying with Marty on his own to write his novel, Ike is the one that attempts to form bonds with the neighbors. He’s also the one to suggest they remodel the house. He asserts himself into having Marty take his family photos down and replace them with Ike’s.

Ike feels as though he wants more property and tries to get Marty to move into the house next door. When that doesn’t work he then coaxes him into buying it and extending his property. Ike knows that it’s Marty’s money, but he doesn’t care because it’s going to be his face at the front of everything. It was his face and name on the front of the foundation they established in Episode 4 when they went to the gala. He was the one everyone was socializing with. As long as he looked and played the part the illusion that his father would accept him remained alive.

Ike (Paul Rudd) talks with wife Bonnie (Casey Wilson)
Paul Rudd and Casey Wilson in The Shrink Next Door now streaming on Apple TV+

With his death, Ike is left incomplete. We never stop trying to gain our family’s approval, I could certainly tell you that. We live in their shadows until we take our own last breath and then the cycle continues with the next generation. Ike was raised to strive for more, to be more, and he refuses to acknowledge that it’s because of his father. His death only makes Ike fall deeper and harder into making his illusion of the “perfect” life reality because pleasing his father is all he’s known. Episode 4 showed Ike preparing for a son by ordering the food for a bris. Instead, he’s given twin girls which he believes is a failure to his father. Even in this episode with his eulogy to his father, he never once speaks of his own time with him; instead, Ike talks about the loss of the first family.

Near the end of Episode 5, Ike asks his mother why his father never made any acknowledgment of him. She explains it wasn’t him but that he represents the son he lost and could never get back. Even with this revelation, Ike continues down his path of using people for his own prosperity because it’s what he’s done for all his life. It’s been ingrained into his DNA.

Besides giving us a glimpse into Ike’s motivations, this episode really plays up how Marty and Ike create this bromance that is on Brokeback Mountain levels. I absolutely thrive on the fact that writers Georgia Pritchett and Catherine Shepherd, and director Jesse Peretz littered this episode with visuals that viewers often find in romance films, making Marty and Ike’s relationship more homoerotic.

There is a moment when Ike and Marty go to paint the walls of the beach house and Boy Meets Girl’s “Waiting for a Star to Fall” begins to play. What could easily be dismissed as a bonding scene between the two turns into something straight out of a romantic comedy. The one that pops into my mind is the Dance Dance Revolution scene from Imagine Me and You. Both scenes radiate the same energy as you slowly watch this bond between these two people cross over from friendship to romance, and although Marty and Ike’s relationship never fully becomes romantic it still gets to the point where Marty is willing to surrender himself completely. 

Ike (Paul Rudd) comforts Marty (Will Ferrell)
Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell in The Shrink Next Door, now streaming on Apple TV+.

Throughout “The Family Tree,” Ike is hanging over Marty the fact that his beach house is more of a shrine to his parents. Marty doesn’t mind the repainting and he is even willing to shrug off the fact Ike takes a sledgehammer to what was his parent’s bathroom. It becomes frustrating for both of them when it comes to the cherry blossom tree in the backyard. 

For Marty, it symbolizes his history with the property. His mother had planted it when their family first bought the house and it was there throughout their childhood. He has memories specific to the tree. To Ike, it symbolizes his lack of control over Marty. The tree is “the other woman” or “the ex-wife”. It’s also reminding Ike how different their childhoods were. Marty has all these positive thoughts but any time something comes up about Ike’s childhood he completely shuts down.

Back in Episode 2 Bonnie brought up the bar mitzvah and how for her there was a massive party and Ike told her they couldn’t afford it. Seeing Marty joyful when it comes to this plant makes him jealous, and so in order to get rid of it, he pressures Marty into cutting it down. When suggestions don’t work he bullies Marty with taunts and even threatens to leave because Marty isn’t putting in the work. 

Usually, ultimatums can be a good thing. Go to rehab or you can’t live in this house. Clean your room or you won’t be able to play video games. Giving an ultimatum because you are jealous of a tree and want to flex your influence over someone is not one of those times. It’s abuse, and it’s disgusting, and while watching I wished Marty was stronger to have seen at that moment that Ike wasn’t his friend. He wasn’t doing him any favors by trapping him in this decision. Really what he should have done was think, “What would Phyllis do?,” but if Marty thought that way from the beginning there wouldn’t be a podcast and I wouldn’t be here writing this. Instead, we have to painfully watch as Marty takes an ax and chops down his childhood, basically rendering himself completely over to Ike.

That moment of tree cutting was hard to watch, and I wish I could say that it could get better from here but there are still three episodes left. Marty has finally lost himself to Ike and now we are entering the reign of how far Ike can push Marty. How long can he continue to suck Marty dry until he is no more?

Written by Katie Bienvenue

Katie is a writer, cosplayer, craftswoman, and Barista. When she isn't talking about Chainmaille she is usually found discussing some television series, film, or how to properly make one's latte.

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