“Time flies, people change… There are times to move forward and places to let go.” Does that thought hold true for everyone? Hannah Fidell’s ‘A Teacher’ — based on her 2013 film — begins following a long time jump after the last episode. The show follows 30-something Claire Wilson (Kate Mara), a young teacher at a suburban Texas high school caught in an affair with her 17-year-old student, Eric Walker (Nick Robinson). After the scandal is exposed, their lives are turned upside down.
Despite being a victim of grooming, Eric keeps apologizing and thinks it’s his fault that Claire is arrested. Will Eric finally realize how Claire groomed him? Ten years on, Eric works with emotionally vulnerable children, and Claire has children of her own.
As the episode begins, we see a glimpse of both of their lives. The faded memories of the past haunt them despite their seemingly perfect lives. Returning to Austin for his high school reunion, Eric is brought back — after far too long — to his old friends and to Alison Miller (Camila Perez), his old girlfriend in high school. The episode makes you wonder: Can time really change things? What happens once Claire and Eric meet again? Will Claire finally realize she was in the wrong and apologize?
How do Eric and Claire’s paths cross?
A dollhouse comes into view as we focus on Claire’s life. She has a husband (no, not that Tinder date) and little daughters now. What’s more, her dad Wyatt Wilson (MC Gainey) comes to visit them on his 75th birthday. Seems like she mended her sour relationship with him.
“Welcome to Texas,” the board reads as Eric drives back home. Before heading to his house, he stops by the grocery store. It is there that an unexpected moment alters both their lives. Claire and Eric cross paths with each other. When he sees Claire with his little daughter, there is an awkward exchange of conversation and then he leaves in a rush.
Claire’s daughter asks, “Who is that man?” She replies, “He is an old friend.” Old friend, ha! Really? Dumbfounded and panicky, Eric slams his car door saying “F**k!”
Meanwile, Claire cannot stop thinking about the meeting.
Eric’s tryst with the past
Back at home, Eric meets his mom and brothers — who are now taller than him. “It’s not cool, guys,” Eric jokes. When his mom asks him if he’s okay, he says, “Yes, I’m just tired from the drive. It’s good to be home.” Meanwhile, at Claire’s home, her dad asks if she is doing okay and thanks her for organizing his birthday party. “It’s a team effort,” she says, adding, “75… How are you feeling?” Wyatt says he is proud of her and adds, “Feeling happy to have my family together like this.”
To live old days, Eric visits his school and meets his old friends and Alison. The two catch up and Eric realizes she has been keeping a tab on his life. The two decide to take things one step ahead. Sitting close on her bed, Eric apologizes, “I’m sorry about what happened in senior year…” She remarks, “Yeah, but that was like a whole lifetime ago.” She kisses him and he kisses her back.
Claire has sleepless nights. As soon as he gets out of the room, Eric gets a text message that reads: “I don’t know if this is still your number… It’s Claire. Can you meet for lunch?”
What happens at the lunch meeting?
A big fat diamond ring sits on Claire’s fingers as she meets Eric for lunch. “So you’re married now. You have a kid,” Eric snaps at her when he first sees her. “Why did you text me?” Ridden with guilt, Claire then begins her apology, “I have been wanting to… For years. I feel like such a coward. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to reach out. I was so happy you were able to go to UT and move forward with your life.”
“I didn’t move forward with my life. Our relationship f**king destroyed me,” Eric tosses the ugly truth right in her face. Claire then says, “I’m so sorry. My marriage wasn’t working. So I blew it out because that’s the only way I knew to end it. That’s not an excuse. You were the victim and I shouldn’t have let it happen. I violated my role as an educator. I should have never crossed those boundaries. I should have stopped you. I should not have let you kiss me. You came into the class to kiss me… But I should have ended it.”
Not one to take her apology, Eric slams her, “You took me to UT, you told me to call you Claire, you told me to get out of the dance and you told me to get into the backseat. I thought I hurt you. I lost years Claire. I saw my brother the other day. He is 17 now. The same age as I was. He looks so f**king young. That was just a kid, Claire.”
Can Eric ever forgive Claire for what she did?
The good thing is… Unlike the last episode, where Claire just blamed everything on her “f**ked up childhood”, she is ready to take responsibility. But is that enough? “And now being a mother, knowing I did that… I cannot understand it myself. It’s taken me so long to live it. Every day I think about what I should have done differently. I just want you to be okay.”
Eric again lashes out at her, “You’re kidding me right? You called me here today because you are sick of being guilty I have seen you. I have seen your photos. Your perfect family. Your big house.”
Defending herself, Claire explains, “My life is not ??perfect. Yeah, sure I got lucky… I found a husband — who for reasons I don’t understand — doesn’t judge me the way others do. But I can’t get a job. I can’t go to PTA meetings. The way other parents look at me. It’s just a Google search away. I am one click away from ruin. It’s hell…”
However, Eric doesn’t seem to be in a mood to listen or understand. “You’re still making this about you. I will never be just one click away from this. I have to live with this forever. So do you.” He leaves. Can Eric forgive Claire? NO. Should he forgive her? NEVER.
‘A Teacher’ premiered on Tuesday, November 10, 2020, from 3 am ET on FX on Hulu with three back-to-back episodes. More episodes in the 10-episodic series followed every week starting from Tuesday, November 17, 2020. Directed by Hannah Fidell and written by Fidell and Dana Kitchens, the new half-an-hour episode will be available to stream on Tuesday, December 29, 2020. You can stream the season finale at 12.01 am EST on Hulu.