Shrinking “Moving Forward” Review: An Emotionally Packed Season Penultimate

Paul and Alice in Shrinking 1x09 "Moving Forward"
©Apple TV+

Shrinking “Moving Forward” Spoilers Ahead

Shrinking Season 1, Episode 9, “Moving Forward,” is aptly titled as the penultimate of this arc. It’s an episode that loudly and quietly explores the perils of grief through moments that demand to be felt. While the show is far from over, with a renewal announcement that thankfully came last week, there are stepping stones here that equate to healing.

Where Derek retires, Paul makes a significant decision regarding his relationship with Meg, and Jimmy takes time to grieve again while celebrating Tia’s birthday. But the thing about grief and life and humanity is that even when all three intermingle, they do so apart from each other. One cannot exist without the other, but they don’t all work together either, setting human beings on different trajectories as they move on, taking everything day by day. In the grieving process, we’re all told that one day at a time is the best way to go, but sometimes amid that, our complexities force us to forget things. Our humanity becomes the problem, making an even bigger mess of things before we clean them up.

Moving Forward

Jimmy and Alice in Shrinking "Moving Forward"
Screenshot via ©Apple TV+

Shrinking features several heartbreaking moments thus far, but the moment Alice realizes she forgot her mom’s birthday might just be the most gut-wrenching to watch. Lukita Maxwell repeatedly holds her own exquisitely amongst renowned stars, but she excels at this moment through an honest, raw embodiment of heartbreaking emotions.

The process of moving forward never equates to forgetting—anyone who’s ever lost someone will confirm it’s impossible. But human beings carry so much that our momentary focus could hinder something we must remember. No one purposely forgets to answer a text when they tell themselves, “I’ll respond to this when I’m done with this thing.” And no person who remembers someone’s birthday (if they’re even good at it because dates are hard) forgets on purpose. The point is, Shrinking’s “Moving Forward” accurately showcases that in the process of trying to live again, some details can slip by. It’s not that Alice forgot her mom’s birthday, but more so that she didn’t realize what the day was.

Alice and Sean and Liz in Shrinking "Moving Forward"
©Apple TV+

And in a sense, that’s okay because Tia would want her daughter to be in a place where she could live again, accompanying others in their conflicts than having issues of her own. She’d love to see Alice seeking Liz’s investment in Sean’s catering company. The beautiful thing about Alice’s character is that without uttering the words, it’s evident she consistently carries her mother with her. Tia is with Alice during this walk of life, and forgetting her birthday isn’t a sign that she’s failing her mother, but it means she’s moving forward without grief being her sole focus. And the final few moments before she looks at her phone and processes the date make for one of the show’s most wholesome scenes.

While Jimmy’s in a reflective mood earlier in the day, he tells Alice that he misses the days when she’d lay at the foot of their bed and play a song for her parents. She insults his music taste but notes the memory, coming to him later to play a song she’s currently obsessed with. She tells him that it’s one they listen to a lot on the bus while on their way to games, allowing the scene to give father and daughter a quiet moment to be in the present—to live, despite the heartache they both carry. Ultimately, a moment like this authenticates what it means to find balance while allowing characters to look inward.

Jason Segel in Shrinking Season 1 Episode 9 "Moving Forward"
©Apple TV+

Shrinking’s “Moving Forward” doesn’t just do this with Alice, but it takes Jimmy through an emotional time capsule, with an Up like scrapbook moment that had me holding my breath and choking sobs. Jason Segel is fantastic throughout the show’s run, but this is the moment where he goes from a good performer to a great one—Segal’s chops have often been strong, but his embodiment of Jimmy is on another level, letting him bring organic, nuanced performances to our screen in moments of quiet, awkward vulnerability. But while he’s moving forward, he can’t even begin to talk about marriage without crying, resulting in some of the most appropriately timed comedic scenes that juxtapose the heartaches with great balance. There are memories of Tia everywhere, and it’s going to take time still.

In every way that it matters, the episode proves that the art of moving forward isn’t a linear path. Despite a road with a destination set, there are unexpected detours and hurdles to cross before getting to a place where more of the grief makes sense. We don’t get over grief—we go through it, live with it, grow around it, and experiencing every little probe it delivers is how we get to a place where we honor those who’ve passed without losing ourselves in the process. Much of this is only the beginning of healing, so it’s imperative to understand that one step forward and two steps back aren’t a means of failure.

The Next Step

Meg and Paul and Julie in Shrinking "Moving Forward"
Screenshot via ©Apple TV+

After “Apology Tour,” Harrison Ford’s Paul Rhodes is still trying to get through to Meg to show her that he isn’t putting his job above his family. Sure, he starts with an invitation to Vegas so she can be there when he accepts the award he doesn’t even want, but his intentions here matter. When Meg rejects the offer, telling him that Mason has a school play, Paul decides to turn down Vegas to surprise his family instead. And he does this with his lady friend, Doctor Baram—or Julie, the one who isn’t with him.

How the scene then evolves into something so profoundly personal and wholesome with the family finding a way to reconnect is how the show marinates in presenting the idea of grief and agency together. Jimmy doesn’t get a second chance with Tia, and Alice doesn’t either. But here we have a moment where Meg realizes that her father is putting in the effort she’s always wanted to see him, and she reciprocates with an accepting smile that tells us they’re now officially on the road to patching up their broken relationship. Plus, one kid holding their parent’s hand, while another won’t have a similar chance makes for the kind of melancholy scene that reiterates why life sucks in beautiful ways at times.

It’s also incredible that Shrinking’s “Moving Forward” allows the characters to come to realizations that feel earned. It isn’t shocking that after the progress made, Alice would take Jimmy up on the music session. It isn’t surprising that after his second attempt doesn’t work, Paul gets up and proves to his daughter with actions that he’s serious about restoring their relationship. And the latter works incredibly well because, for the first time, Jimmy is right—Paul’s in the wrong here, and he needed to do better. As a penultimate episode, everything works impressively to show where these characters are headed with their progress, reaffirming that crooked paths are still a form of healing.

Stray Thoughts

  • “Don’t be judgmental.” Oh, okay, we see you, Ted Lasso. “What is a Goo Goo Doll?”—this HURTS ME.
  • Brian: “Because I’m a kind and benevolent prince.”
  • Let it be known that I called Paul and the lady doctor.
  • Gaby, re. Paul’s relationship: “This is so inspiring!”
  • “You want me to walk with you to the end of the driveway?” / “And back.” / “Kill me.” Liz and Derek are the weirdest marriage goals ever and I’m here for it.
  • Jimmy not being able to move forward beyond the word is “marriage” is me, and all my fictional ships.
  • Brian to Liz“You grammar witch!” 
  • Academia is the fifth circle of hell.” Can confirm, it’s why I’m a journalist.
  • Gasp! Gaby hasn’t earned a rock yet.
  • Song: Dermot (see yourself in my eyes) by Fred again., Dermot Kennedy – this is another excellent song choice! This show never misses.

Now streaming on Apple TV Plus: What are your thoughts on Shrinking “Moving Forward?” Let us know in the comments below.


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