'I Know This Much is True' Episode 4: Thomas' passive-aggressive move to get Dominic's support is eerily dark
Episode 4 portrays Thomas' passive-aggressive methods to get Dominic to support him while the two are in college and it quite discomforting to watch
What is the reality of living with a mental illness? Through twins Dominic and Thomas (Mark Ruffalo), 'I Know This Much is True' tries to portray the reality of how familial relationships mature and grow over the years in unexpected forms. Thomas is a schizophrenic while Dominic is a former professor and a divorcee who now runs a construction business.
It all started with Thomas chopping off his right hand at a public library, which lands him in a maximum-security psychiatric facility. As Dominic attempts to save his brother from the harsh environment of such a place, we see how the brothers grew up while being shackled and confined within the expectations of one another. In episode 4, one of the things that is really discomforting to watch is how Thomas' passive-aggressive behavior affects Dominic.
The two are in a toxic relationship. While Dominic uses force to control Thomas' frequent outbursts when he doesn't get his way, Thomas manipulates Dominic into feeling guilty about not supporting his brother as much. We saw how he got Dominic to room with him during the first year of college by putting his foot down in the past episodes.
In this episode, we see Thomas get Ray to support him by lending tuition fees after his mother convinced and begged Ray to spend some dollars one last time. Thomas promises that he will not fall back on assignments anymore and will wake up early among other things. In the past year, he had received a lot of help from his brother Dominic, and Dominic knows this too.
Which he tries to change by applying to room with his close friend Leo. He wants to spend his time with his girlfriend Dessa and try to draw a line between himself and his brother. They are two different people and he doesn't want to be associated with Thomas because he is worried that he might be misunderstood for being the same as Thomas. In fact, after one of his outbursts — when Thomas calls Dominic a traitor for dropping him for Leo — Thomas traumatized Dominic by repeatedly claiming that Dominic is Thomas. He says, "You are me" and this scares Dominic more than anything.
In fact, one of the nightmares that Dominic has in the present under the influence of morphine is about turning into his brother. It is powerful and dark because we see a role reversal here. Dominic in college seemed to be under pressure, more than his brother, to be a good brother.
When Thomas is under pressure to perform well in college because he was drafted to serve in the army during the war having been born six minutes before Dominic and on a different day; things turn nasty between the brothers. Thomas knocks on Dominic's door to tell him that he dropped out of college one early morning and this disturbs Dominic greatly because he is aware that this would put Thomas in line to be drafted.
With his condition in mind, serving in the army is not possible, but unless the family decides to commit him to a care facility, Thomas cannot escape serving. At this point, a scary incident occurs. Thomas hears voices and believes that someone had programmed chips in his mouth that messes up with his brain. He believes this is what is wrong with him and tries to damage the chips by drinking hot cocoa. When that doesn't work, he decides to pluck the (non-real) chips out with pliers after locking himself up in the washroom.
Thomas and Dominic's mother makes a call to Dominic who hurries home to find blood everywhere and it is the most disturbing sight. It is this that convinces the family that Thomas needs more help than they can give, but by now Thomas has done enough damage to Dominic. While he doesn't let it show, it surfaces at times when Dominic is stressed and this jump into the past shakes us up with how dark and discomforting it is to watch two brothers in a toxic relationship try to be together and support each other.
'I Know This Much Is True' airs on Sundays at 9 pm ET on HBO.