Memories of a love affair never really fade, do they? ‘A Teacher’ portrays that ?and more in its penultimate episode as Claire Wilson (Kate Mara) goes on a date. Meanwhile, Eric Walker (Nick Robinson) is not ready to accept he is not okay but his friends try their best to cheer him up. While Claire deals with the horror of being slut-shamed, Eric realizes he can never find love again… well, not any time soon.
The episode puts their tragedy in perspective — how will Claire and Eric navigate the complexities and consequences of the predatory teacher-student relationship. The secret fling is a dirty, blurred mark on Claire’s character. Not only did Eric lose his innocence and youth, but everyone close to Claire — from her ex-husband Matt (Ashley Zukerman) to her brother Nate (Adam David Thompson) — has suffered indignantly.
Claire’s Tinder date
After the sex scandal, Claire is trying to get back into the dating game. “This is not so bad… Meeting someone online. It’s nice. You’re my first Tinder date,” she tells Don (Peter Skagen), a new man she sits across. “Now I am feeling a lot of pressure to make this go really well on behalf of online daters everywhere.” When Claire compliments him saying he’s doing great, he flings two complex questions across.
“So when was the last time you went on a date? And when was the last time someone kissed you?” he asks. A little hesitant, Claire says it was a while ago. The two then go up into his apartment and he kisses her. Claire tells him her backstory of how she got into some trouble. Of course, he doesn’t care and they slip between the sheets too fast. In a rough session of sex, he calls her a “sl*t” who “f**ked her student”. Claire has her hands over her face at first but then she tells him to say it again.
‘Hit me harder’
Claire then goes to see Matt to sign their divorce documents. Bitter and angry, Matt is filled with resentment over how things ended between the two. “It’s okay… you don’t have to pretend you are worried about how I am… You wouldn’t have done the things you did of you had given a shit about me.” When she calls it a mistake, Matt retorts, “Mistake? Is that what you’re calling it. I don’t know how I ever loved you. Oh f*ck it, I’m so mad… I’m so mad at you.” Seething with anger, he then says, “Can you go please? Can you go?”
Even though Claire doesn’t show it, it internally affects her. She goes back to her Tinder date and asks him to f*ck her again like a dirty sl*t. Hit me. Harder. When he is uncertain, she says, “Just f**king do it. Come on.” She spits blood. “That was great. Come on, keep doing it.” But he leaves and asks her if she’s okay.
Eric’s little dance with Chloe
Eric, meanwhile, is lost in his own world. He skips college classes and lies in bed all day long. When his roommates comes in, he asks why he isn’t in his class and demands him to get dressed. He says he’ll buy him dinner and takes him out. Later, at a party, Eric is surrounded by a lot of beautiful girls who introduce him to Chloe (Grace Gummer) — a certified yoga teacher!
The word teacher lights up Eric’s eyes and he sparks a little conversation with her. Chloe soon catches that Eric isn’t even 21. “You are not 21. Maybe 20. Okay, your secret is safe with me,” she tells him. In a while, Chloe realizes her friends left her alone. To cheer her up, Eric calls her for a dance as ‘Strawberry Wine’ by Deana Carter plays in the background. But she cries and tells him she just got out of a 5-year relationship.
What’s next for Claire and Eric?
Claire finally gathers courage and calls her dad Wyatt Wilson (MC Gainey) out for her troubled childhood. “Stop trying to help me,” she yells at him. “I used to go through our trash and count it. That you were going to die. Now I am supposed to watch thrive. You could be there, you just couldn’t do it for me. I have spent my entire life… Running to feel safe.” Confessing how she feels about her actions, she says, “Somehow I have hurt everyone. And I don’t know how to fix it. Everybody wants me gone. I just want to be gone.”
Claire’s dad reassures her, “You are going to able to fix it I promise you. I know it feels that way. But you gotta stay. You gotta.” Meanwhile, Eric goes back home. “I thought maybe I could come home for the weekend or maybe longer.” What will happen to them in the final episode? Directed by Hannah Fidell and written by Boo Killebrew, the episode hints at how a tiny mistake can ruin your life and there’s no returning back. Do you think blaming the mistake on her wrecked childhood is right? Did her dad really ruin her life? Or is it all her fault?
‘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. The season finale will now air on December 29, 2020.