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A Teacher - Episode 3 - Review

21 Nov 2020

One of the core tenets of storytelling is that you have to care about what happens to the characters. Not care in the sense that you like them or want what’s best for them, but that you’ve taken an interest in where their stories go. You need to want to watch them walk the road they’re walking and see what awaits them at the end.

We open on some fantasy sequence from the way Claire is dressed, it’s clear the source is Eric’s hormone fueled teenage brain that views every sexual encounter through a porn filter. Claire is on her knees before the scene changes to show the actual “unwanted” kiss before rapidly moving back to the fantasy sequence then Eric alone in the hallway then Eric standing at the front of the classroom with all of his classmates’ eyes on him. Then he wakes up. Is this metaphor or premonition or just something the writers thought would be jazzy?

Claire and Husband are at the doctor’s about their pregnancy options. Claire’s uterus is deteriorating. The viewer isn’t given specifics, but I think it was the right choice. Nate sees the positive but Claire makes the point of saying it’ll be her body that is poked and prodded, so he should pump the brakes for a moment or two or maybe forever. I agree with Claire.

Eric comes to apologize. Claire steps up and outlines the potential consequences of his actions, sort of. She talks about the way her life would be ruined if people found out. Yes, Claire, it would only be your life that was ruined. She says she’s going to find Eric a new tutor. He doesn’t want one. Eric swears he won’t tell anybody. Takes full responsibility and says it won’t happen again. Claire’s only response is good. Eric still needs a tutor because he can’t afford the classes. Claire agrees to tutor him Saturday before homecoming. So much for doing the right thing.
Remember an episode ago when I thought there was a glimmer of growth for the friends? I was wrong. Logan, the really toxic friend, is taking Josh’s sister to homecoming. Josh is the toxic friend. He obviously knows Logan is a questionable human being because he’s pissed Logan is taking his little sister to homecoming. I mean, we all know Logan is an awful person because he doesn’t even try to hide it. Logan wants to know who Eric is taking. Eric says he might not go. According to Logan, that’s not an option for seniors. Josh suggests Eric take Allison, but Logan can’t take another year of her activism and feminism. Chiming in with another helpful comment, Josh tells his boys that he got Meadow to take him back by ignoring her for a week. Yep, they’re the same horrible people they were in episode 1.

People want what they can’t have is Logan’s cliched declaration. People want what they want whether or not they can have it is a more accurate description of human nature. It’s called desire. Also, jealousy is real. That’s another marker of human nature.

Claire doesn’t have friends. No one watching this show is surprised. We do see her in the gym decorating for homecoming with the teacher that welcomed her in the first episode. When Claire sees Eric talking to Allison, she can’t look away. Here’s jealousy.

Later that day, Nate and Claire share a bottle of wine over dinner. Nate brings up what the doctor said. Claire doesn’t want to talk about it and doesn’t want to be pumped full of hormones. The conversation seems over but Nate has one more thing to say. He wants Claire to know that whenever she's ready is what matters. He just really wants to start a family with her. On the surface this seems a lovely thing to say, but this show seems to be about what isn’t said. He says when she’s ready not if she ever becomes ready. Here’s desire.

Next day. The frat bro was actually Logan’s brother and he brings up the girl Eric was with at the brunch and beer. Eric makes up a name, Stephanie. Logan, the intellectual giant, wants to know how hot we’re talking. Apparently “really hot”, “sophisticated hot”, “a smoke show.” In the midst of this meeting of the minds, Claire keeps texting. It’s Saturday, and Eric is supposed to be at his tutoring session. Eric tells his friends he’s playing hard to get. I’m so disappointed.

Pre-partying at Logan’s. Someone asks Logan if he put roofies in the shot. So everyone knows he’s trash but are comfortable because he has a big house? His brother gets them alcohol? He’s cool? I think the show might be trying to make commentary on how conversations about rape are so familiar that callous people are willing to make jokes. Maybe this offhand comment, that on the surface just feels unnecessary, will re-enter our thoughts when this show reaches the point of holding Claire accountable.

Turns out Nick asked Allison to the dance. It’s a dance, so they dance. Claire can’t handle it and goes to pant in the bathroom. In another bathroom, Eric fixes his hair in the bathroom. At this point my notes just say: Mark my words this is about to get disturbing and gross.

Claire waits for Eric in the hallway, confronting him about not showing up for tutoring. She calls out the lie he’s telling her and points out that he practically begged her to keep tutoring him. Here come Eric’s confessions. He can’t handle tutoring because he thinks about her all the time. Has dreams about her. Without knowing the premise of the show, you’d never know one of these people was an actual adult.

In the hallway of the high school, outside of a dance Claire is supposed to be chaperoning, Eric declares himself incredibly attracted to her. Possibly too attracted to function. He doesn’t think he can control himself around her. She sends him back to the dance. Claire is clearly turned on by this, but if you missed her slight panting, the show gives you a subtle reminder, Climax by Usher plays in the background. It plays as they look toward and away from one another from across the dance. Claire leaves and Eric follows. She’s literally smiling to herself about what comes next. Way to ruin a song. How long before I can listen to it without feeling a little sick? And we’ve arrived at manipulation.
They drive to some empty parking lot. She orders him into the backseat and now he’s panting. She joins him. And then the teacher rapes her student. It isn't complicated. Claire is a predator.

Is this how the remaining episodes progress. She manipulates a horny teenage boy without executive functioning skills, they pant then the teacher sexually abuses him. What changes? The location. What’s propelling this story? The clandestine nature? It can’t be because that would imply there was some secret the audience wants kept. That we want to be a part of the secret. We don’t. It isn’t a secret that should be kept. Three episodes in and I’m still not sure why the episodes are painting this like these two people are just secret lovers. I’m just . . . disappointed.

With six episodes remaining, I have one question and one wish. Who saves Eric? I hope Claire’s whole complete and entire world burns.

What did you think? Will you keep watching?