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Thetan-tastic: Alan Arkin and Michael Douglas skewer Scientology on ‘The Kominsky Method’

Scientology has been belittled, parodied, and jabbed by so many television shows in recent years, we long ago lost count. And we very rarely say anything about these in-jokes and throwaway lines for a number of reasons that bore us to go into. But once in a while we feel compelled to pay attention to a Scientology skewering, and this is one of those times.

Primarily, we have to say, because it involves two of the very best of all time, Alan Arkin and Michael Douglas, and also because we know we’re going to be getting a lot of emails about this one so what the hell.

We’re talking about episode sixteen of The Kominsky Method, now releasing its second season at Netflix. And to set it up, all you really need to know is that Norman Newlander, played by Arkin, is thinking of selling his Hollywood agency and going on a spiritual quest, which his friend, acting coach Sandy Kominsky, played by Douglas, scoffs at. In a previous episode, it had been mentioned that Norman’s grandson, Robbie, was involved in Scientology and had disconnected from the family. But now, surprise, Robbie is back (played by Haley Joel Osment). Here are the relevant scenes from the episode, which was written by Chuck Lorre and Al Higgins, and directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller.



Robbie: Hi, Grandpa.
Norman: Robbie!
Robbie: It’s so good to see you.
Norman: Good to see you, too. What are you doing here?
Robbie: I came to visit.
Norman: I thought I was persona non grata.
Robbie: You were. And so was Mom. Which is why I left the church.
Norman: Really? You quit the Scientology?
Robbie: Yep. I decided I no longer wanted to be part of an organization that would keep me from you guys.
Phoebe (Norman’s daughter and Robbie’s mom, played by Lisa Edelstein): Isn’t it great, Daddy? We’re a family again.
Norman: Yeah, it’s — it’s wonderful. Uh, your father was OK with you quitting?
Robbie: Oh, you didn’t hear? He dropped his body a few months ago.

Norman: He dropped what?
Phoebe: He passed away, Daddy.
Norman: Oh, that’s horrible. I’m — I’m so sorry.
Robbie: No, it’s OK. His work in the MEST universe was done.
Norman: I’m sorry, uh, ‘MEST’?
Robbie: Oh. Matter, energy, space and time.
Norman: Ah.
Robbie: We call it MEST.
Norman: Ah.
Robbie: But there’s no reason to be griefy. Greg is a fully exteriorized Operating Thetan. If anything, his meat body was holding him back from fully mocking up his postulates.
Norman: Are you following any of this?
Phoebe: Greg’s dead. Robbie’s home.




Robbie: So you are not your body or your mind. Those are things that you have, but they’re not who you are.
Norman: So who am I?
Robbie: You are pure thought. Spirit. In Scientology, we use the word ‘theta,’ which is the Greek symbol for life.
Norman: Theta?
Robbie: Right. And you are a thetan.
Norman: Thetan. Well, I’ve been called worse.
Phoebe: OK. Um, I’ve gotta get to work. You guys gonna be OK?
Norman: We will be fine.
Phoebe: Good. I can’t believe my little boy is home.
Robbie: Love you, Mom.
Phoebe: I love you, too. I’ll see you later.
Robbie: OK.

Norman: You know, your mom’s doing great. You should be very proud of her.
Robbie: I am. She made amends to me. It’s one of the reasons I’m home.
Norman: Good. So explain something to me. You say you quit Scientology, but it sounds like you still buy into it.
Robbie: Oh, I do. The technology developed by LRH is amazing.
Norman: LRH?
Robbie: Uh, L. Ron Hubbard.
Norman: Yeah, of course, like LBJ.
Robbie: Right. It’s the organization that I walked away from. They’ve uh, they’ve gotten off purpose.
Norman: I get that. That’s why I quit the Elks Club.
Robbie: Grandpa, what if I were to tell you that you could be free of all your past pain? All of your loss and suffering that weigh you down and colors how you see the world?
Norman: I would say, ‘What’s the catch?’ Because there’s always a catch.
Robbie: And you would be right to be cynical. But what if it’s true? What if, freed of our past trauma, our full potential as spiritual beings is restored? What if we discovered the truth of who we are? Immortal beings who are smarter, wiser, more joyful, more loving than anything we could have imagined?
Norman: That sounds pretty good.
Robbie: It’s better than pretty good. It’s fan-fucking-tastic! And I know this because I experienced it myself. And that is the only test for truth. Is it real for you?
Norman: You’re really a terrific salesman.
Robbie: I have a terrific product.
[phone rings]
Norman: Excuse me. [on the phone] Sandy, can I call you back?
Sandy: Mindy is using my health as some kind of lame excuse to take my studio away from me.
Norman: What? That’s terrible. Listen, I’m a little busy right now. My grandson’s turning me into a Scientologist.
Sandy: What?
Norman: Yeah. I think maybe he’s the teacher.
Sandy: Norman, don’t do anything stupid. That’s a brainwashing thing.
Norman: Well, maybe my brain needs washing. I’ll talk to you later. [to Robbie] Now, as an immortal spirit, would I have any dietary restrictions?
Robbie: What do you mean?
Norman: Well, can a thetan eat pastrami? ‘Cause I miss it so much.




Robbie: Now this is called TR 0, and its purpose is to teach you how to be comfortable in front of another person without doing anything. That means no twitching, scratching, thinking, talking. Just sitting and being.
Norman: Sitting I can do. I don’t know about the being.
Robbie: Well, that’s what this is for. It’s to train us how to be comfortable in any situation, without getting caught up in our thoughts.
Norman: Makes sense.
Robbie: All right. So, we’re gonna do this for five minutes and we’re gonna see how it goes.
Norman: Eyes closed like in meditation?
Robbie: Eyes open, like in life. All right, ready? Start.
Norman: I’m uncomfortable.
Robbie: That’s OK. Just continue.
Norman: I hate this.
Robbie: Not unusual. Just continue.
[doorbell rings]

Norman: Thank God.


[At Norman’s door, it’s a couple of Scientology’s goons, perhaps from its Office of Special Affairs]

OSA 1: Sorry to bother you, but we’re looking for Robbie Schumacher.
Norman: And who may I say is calling?
OSA 1: Uh, we’re with the Church of Scientology.
Norman: I see. And what do you want with my grandson?
OSA 2: He took something that doesn’t belong to him and we want it back.
OSA 1: Ted.
OSA 2: Please.
Norman: OK, well, Robbie’s not here.
OSA 2: Come on!

OSA 1: Ted.
OSA 2: Where do you think the lad might be?
Norman: How would I know? He hasn’t spoken to me in years because according to you guys, I’m a suppressive person.
OSA 1: Well, if you happen to hear from him. [hands Norman his card]
Norman: Oh, you bet. Anything to help the people who tore my family apart!
[closes the door]
Robbie: What’d they want?
Norman: Frick and Frack? You tell me.
Robbie: OK. First of all, I didn’t take anything that wasn’t owed to me.
Norman: And what was it that was owed to you?
[Robbie empties out a bag with cash.]
Norman: Oh God. How much?
Robbie: Nine hundred grand, give or take.
Norman: How much are we giving or taking?
Robbie: All right, it’s 1.3 million.
Norman: Oh, Robbie.
Robbie: Look, I worked for them for nothing for ten years. Fourteen, 15 hours a day. This is my back pay.
Norman: Jesus. You are your mother’s son.

[Sandy arrives]

Norman: Not a good time, Sandy.
Sandy: Aw, let me in! What —
Norman: Anybody else out there?
Sandy: No, there’s nobody here.
Norman: Come in, come in.
Sandy: What the hell’s going on?
Norman: Come here.



[looking at the pile of cash]
Sandy: Holy shit!
Robbie: Pretty cool, right?
Norman: No, it’s not cool. We have to give it back.
Robbie: Why? They won’t go to the police. We could split it.
Sandy: Three ways?
Norman: Sandy! Because it’s the ethical thing to do.
Robbie: No, it’s my money. I’m keeping it.
Norman: Robbie, listen to me. You don’t need this money, and I’m gonna tell you why. You have a God-given talent. You’re a born salesman.
Robbie: Yeah, I know. I was the head registrar at Flag for eight years.
Norman: Listen. Do you realize how rare and wonderful that talent is? You almost sold me on that cockamamie religion.
Robbie: I could see that you are a seeker.
Norman: Look at him! He’s still selling. Robbie, this money here is chump change compared to what you could make as a Hollywood talent agent.

Sandy: Being an agent is ethical?
Norman: [to Sandy] Shush! [to Robbie] Trust me. I can train you. You could become a real power broker in this town. And when you’re ready, you could take over my agency.
Sandy: I thought you were selling the agency.
Norman: [to Sandy] You really need to shush! [to Robbie] What do you say? You and me, peddling and packaging thetans to suppressive corporations.
Sandy: What’s a thetan?
Norman: I will tell you later!
Robbie: OK, say we were to return it. How would that go?
Norman: I might know a guy.


[On the phone]
Norman: Hey, Tom. Norman Newlander. First of all, congrats on that last impossible mission. Riveting. Thrill a minute. And just so you know, ten dollars of your domestic box office came from me. Yeah! Yeah, I got the senior discount. Ha! Yeah, so listen… [trying to get a word in edgewise] give me a minute, Tom. So listen, kiddo. I need a favor.

[later, on the porch]

Norman: If you exteriorize from the situation, you’d see we’re both very, very lucky.
Sandy: Exteriorize?
Norman: Yeah. Pop out of your head and see the situation from the vantage point of an immortal spirit.
Sandy: A thetan.
Norman: Now you’re getting it.

Now that was lots of fun. When Haley Joel Osment used the word “griefy,” it reminded us of when we first heard the term, which is not the most common of Scientology jargon: It was our 2013 story about what was in the folders of Laura DeCrescenzo, which she had to go to the US Supreme Court to pry away from the Church of Scientology.

And surely, the chef’s kiss here went to Alan Arkin saying that there’s always a catch. Loved the twinkle in his eye.


Bonus items from our tipsters

Another “Ideal Mission” coming. Usually, Miscavige doesn’t show up for these ceremonies. Actual caption: “Ok are you ready? We will be having a GRAND OPENING on either the weekend of 23rd or 30th November!! This is SUPER EXCITING. Lots to do still. Roads to close, painting to finish, partition doors to build…but we are onto it! Please keep your diary free as we would LOVE you to be here!! I will keep you posted. Xxx”


Meanwhile, in Canada…



Source Code

“The condemnation of science is long overdue and, what do you know, has already occurred on the European continent and has occurred even in a more advanced state in England. Today the word science is so bad that when I started calling what we’re doing Scientology I got in to a minor revolution. It wasn’t anything but the fact that the English people today believe that science has let them down but thoroughly. And anything with science connected with it is something they rather smile sarcastically about. It’s not that they’re interested in humanity. They just know science doesn’t work. And what do you know, they’re drawing right back out of science. They are not following scientific method worth a nickel.” — L. Ron Hubbard, October 28, 1953


Overheard in the FreeZone

“The Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) is in accordance to the fundametals of LRH ethics tech. It handles PTSes and SPs and that is the main points of ethics in society or groups or the Sea Org and in composite cases. And remember, the Sea Org is not a Shan-gri-la paradise for diletantes.”


Random Howdy

“Being an old school punk/junkie I wish I had a buck for every bad thing I’ve ever heard said, written or depicted about people of my ‘ilk.’ Never mind all the verbal and physical assaults me and my friends had to endure back in the day from the supposedly ‘normal’ people. It goes with the territory called ‘freak.’ Get use to it. Wear it as a badge of experience.”


Scientology’s celebrities, ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and more!

[Alanna Masterson, Terry Jastrow, and Marisol Nichols]

We’ve been building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them. Head on over and help us with links and photos and comments.

Scientology’s celebrities, from A to Z! Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Scientology’s ‘Ideal Orgs,’ from one end of the planet to the other! Help us build up pages about each these worldwide locations!

Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society!

Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in our weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] Scientology so desperate for Narconon patients, new offer drops all pretense of separation
[TWO years ago] Ray Emmons, 1942-2017: Clearwater’s cop who sniffed out Scientology’s secrets
[THREE years ago] Talking with Tiponi Grey, who quit her Scientology job and announced it on YouTube
[FOUR years ago] Troublemakers: The women who won’t keep quiet about Scientology
[FIVE years ago] Finally, Scientology has an answer for last year’s Super Bowl power outage
[SIX years ago] Scientology’s Trust Issues: A Possible Garcia Legal Strategy?
[SEVEN years ago] Sunday Funnies: Scientology Price Increase!


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,611 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,740 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,244 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,764 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 784 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 675 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,982 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,850 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,624 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,398 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,744 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,310 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,229 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,397 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,978 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,239 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,278 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,990 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,516 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,042 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,605 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,745 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,065 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,921 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,040 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,395 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,698 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,804 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,206 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,078 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,661 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,156 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,410 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,519 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on October 28, 2019 at 07:00

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