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The Ending Of The Shrink Next Door Explained

Over the course of 27 years, a therapist wormed his way into a patient's life, drained the man's finances, separated him from his family, and threw weekly, lavish parties at his home in the Hamptons. It wasn't until 2010 that Martin "Marty" Markowitz realized he'd been the victim of narcissistic usury and severed ties with Dr. Isaac "Ike" Herschkopf.

It was around that time when veteran Bloomberg journalist Joe Nocera, who lived next door to Markowitz in the Hamptons, realized something was askew. For decades, he'd watched Dr. Herschkopf host sprawling parties in the neighboring yard. He'd seen the doctor's name on the mailbox, and he'd witnessed Markowitz sleep in the guest house. Naturally, he'd always assumed the home belonged to Herschkopf, so when he woke one day to find the doctor absent and Markowitz living in the house, he decided to do what his journalistic instincts had primed him for. He investigated.

What he found was astonishing, and Nocera turned his investigation into a hit podcast unraveling the true story of the manipulation Markowitz suffered at his therapist's hands. Entitled "The Shrink Next Door," Apple quickly bought the rights for the podcast, adapting it into an 8-episode limited series by the same name for Apple TV+. Starring Will Ferrell as Markowitz, Paul Rudd as Herschkopf, and Kathryn Hahn as Markowitz's long-suffering sister Phyllis, the series follows the story until the present day.

Now that the entire series is streaming on Apple TV+, it's time to explain the ending of "The Shrink Next Door."

A tour de force for Rudd, Ferrell, and Hahn

What strikes one from the beginning about "The Shrink Next Door" is that Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd are acting their tuchases off. Rudd is perhaps one of the most beloved actors in the business, but he plays against type here to wonderful effect, embodying the character of Ike Herschkopf with a manic ferocity. In an unbelievable story, Rudd grounds the proceedings and makes for a deliciously despicable villain, the kind of person who makes your blood boil with every moment he's onscreen. 

Ferrell, too, is doing some of the best acting of his career as Marty, and it's fascinating to watch him in a more serious role than usual. Watching his nebbish body language and listening to his meek patterns of speech, one begins to understand how a man might allow himself to be completely subsumed by another. It is impossible not to feel pity for him, even as you wish he would push back against Dr. Ike at least once.

However, while Ferrell is no slouch, it is Kathryn Hahn whose presence as Marty's sister, Phyllis, gives Marty real form. Without her, Marty is a one-note character, agreeing to Dr. Ike's every whim without a hint of resistance. Her role is sadly limited, as Dr. Ike quickly convinces Marty to cut her out of his life when she dares to challenge his invasive advances into her sibling's life. When she returns for the final episode, it is a breath of fresh air.

A duplicitous doctor's devilish dealings

At the end of Episode 7, Marty realizes at long last that he has been the victim of a narcissistic abuser, and begins to sever ties with Dr. Ike. For the bulk of the season, we watch as Ike tests the limits of Marty's compliance, even convincing Marty to have a second bar mitzvah at age 40 to make up for the one he didn't enjoy as a kid. But as we soon realize, the party is really for Ike, who grew up in poverty and did not get a bar mitzvah of his own.

Phyllis pushes back against the party idea, and in response, Ike convinces Marty to cut her out of his life, robbing him of his only remaining family and isolating him. From there, it's off to the races. Ike convinces Marty to start a joint charity, though all the money comes from Marty's trust fund. He then begins to run Marty's fabrics business and cuts Marty out of the decision-making process. Before long, he's spending every weekend at Marty's home and hosting wild parties on his patient's dime, relegating Marty to sleeping in the guest house.

Finally, Marty comes to his senses when he is hospitalized for a hernia and Ike never comes to visit. When Marty leaves the hospital prematurely to confront the doctor, he finds Ike hosting yet another party. The final domino falls when Marty discovers that one of his beloved koi fish has died because of Ike's negligence, shattering the mirage of friendship the doctor has constructed.

Marty breaks free of Dr. Ike

After finding his favorite koi fish floating face-up in the backyard pond, Marty has had enough. He relocates his business to New Jersey (which Ike had been opposed to) and when the doctor finally finds the new warehouse, Marty fires him on the spot. 

Marty is still willing to be Ike's patient, however, until he makes one last damning discovery: In the early stages of their supposed friendship, Ike cut off Marty's potential romantic interest who got wise to the psychiatrist's abuse. Marty changes the locks on the Hampton house and when the doctor comes calling, he tells him in no uncertain terms that their friendship is over and files a complaint for malpractice.

The show then skips 10 years into the future to 2021, when the case finally settles. Until the bitter end, Ike never ceases in his attempts to manipulate Marty back to his corner, but in their final confrontation, he refuses to accept any blame or to apologize. Marty shakes his head and leaves, but not before using the words Ike has said to him so many times before: "We're out of time."

A series of text blocks inform us that the real-life Dr. Ike Herschkopf did indeed lose his license to practice at the beginning of 2021. His comeuppance is a day late and a dollar short. Marty reintegrates himself into the family he severed ties with, but he can never truly make amends to them. Justice, however unsatisfying, was served in the end.