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A Teacher - Episode 10 - Review


In the words of Sam Cooke, “it’s been a long time coming.” I always knew A Teacher would come to an end but there were moments I doubted I would be there when it happened.

For the last time, let’s peer into Eric’s life and Claire’s soulless existence. We open a decade after our last episode, which means we’ve arrived in the future. Around 2024. I feel like I’ve been watching this series forever, so stealing four years feels just about right.

We open with Eric who is camping in the woods with a friend. Turns out he hasn’t gone off the grid, but is a counselor or wilderness guide for troubled kids. He talks to his nameless co-worker about heading home for his high school reunion. Does this mean Eric isn’t a doctor?

His hairstyle is an interesting choice. Is this supposed to be a rugged look or an indication of something deeper?

Claire also has new hair. She also has a husband, Jeffrey, and two little girls, Lizzy and Sarah. She looks polished. The picture of the perfect suburban mom. We’re treated to a conversation about the minutiae of parenting—dance classes and the kids’ schedules. It’s time for a road trip. They are packing up and heading back to Austin for Wyatt’s 75th birthday.

Look what we have here. Eric’s high school reunion in Austin is the same weekend as Wyatt’s birthday celebration. Contrivance dressed as coincidence. This show could have easily concluded without Eric and Claire sharing the same space, but the writers decided to add another layer to what they’ve staged from the beginning as a relationship drama. The only question I have is will their final encounter satisfy or disappoint. The series’ track record says it’ll be the latter but let’s hold on to hope just one more time.

Not even this show would have Claire show up at the reunion, so of course we get the awkward meeting in the grocery store. Claire initiates the conversation, wanting to know how Eric is doing. Eric doesn’t tell her that she ruined his life, but he should. Instead he tells her that he’s okay before abruptly leaving the store. Kids are curious, so Claire’s daughter wants to know about the strange man. Since Claire probably doesn’t want to tell her daughter she’s a sexual predator and a felon, she calls Eric an old friend.

Looks like life worked out for Claire because the next time we see her, she’s being an awesome mom and baking with her daughter. She’s obviously distracted by her encounter with Eric. She’s playing with her mouth and lost in thought. Elsewhere in Austin, Eric sits in his car. He’s also processing the encounter but without the oral fixation.

We then get some quick glimpses into both families. Eric’s mom is aging backwards and his brothers are so tall. Over at Wyatt’s, Nate arrives. Did anyone see his wife? How about his kids? Do you think the final blow to Nate’s marriage was Claire staying with them? In a quiet father-daughter moment, Wyatt tells Claire he’s proud of her. I’d love to know why. I mean sure a parent’s love is supposed to be unconditional, but loving someone no matter what is different than being proud of them.

By the time Eric arrives at his high school reunion, looking like a lumberjack, people are starting to leave. Logan and Josh are there. It’s been at least five years since he’s seen them. Rumor has it that Josh is Bitcoin rich. Logan still thinks he’s funny, and he still isn’t, but he did find someone willing to procreate with him, so the world keeps turning. Alison is also there.

Eric goes to Alison’s hotel room with her. The encounter is a little awkward at first, but time can do that. Eric apologizes for the way he treated Alison during senior year. She brushes away the old, healed hurt because she realizes that his life was an actual trainwreck then, but he does the right thing here. Making their way to the bed, they kiss, laugh, and talk. Alison wants him to stay the night. He doesn’t seem opposed.

I love that what could have been a scene of healthy consenual sex happens behind closed doors when the audience was subjected to countless moments of a teacher raping her student. This sudden modesty is a choice. And it says something about someone.

Claire is in bed and awake. Her strange panting is back. It seems like her preferred emotional response. As Claire sits on the closed toilet, we watch as her thumbs start moving across the screen of her phone. We all know she’s texting Eric and hate her for it. Well, we should all hate her for it.

I realize there are some people out there who are actually rooting for Eric and Claire as a couple because the show leaned into the two of them being star-crossed lovers for more episodes than they spent calling their “relationship” what it really was–a gross abuse of power that resulted in rape. The series spent more time bathing Eric and Claire’s scenes in the soft, hazy lighting that’s usually reserved for love stories than they spent showing the damage Claire did to Eric’s life. Not only that, but they had the audacity to show the toll it took on Claire’s life. The same amount of time they gave to showing how much it had shattered Eric’s life. Poor choice after poor choice. Who cares what toll it took on Claire’s life. She was the manipulator, the abuser, the rapist.

And if people rooting for Claire and Eric to end up together doesn’t signal to all those responsible for the series how poorly this was all executed, nothing will. They managed to make people believe that a teacher and her student were actually in love. That the power dynamic was equal. That it was okay. That it was consensual. That Eric and Claire’s aftermath is somehow equal. This isn’t some fantasy brought to fruition. This is a felony. This is destructive. This is a subject denied the gravitas it deserved. And the tacked on website at the end of each episode isn’t enough.

As I slide my soapbox under the desk, Eric leaves Alison’s hotel room. While waiting for the elevator, he receives Claire’s text. Do you like what they did here? Tried to make it seem as though Eric left Alison to go meet with Claire. This show keeps disappointing. Claire asks him to lunch. What is her problem? Why can’t she just leave him alone? Keep playing Happy Homemaker with Jeffrey, Claire.
The next day, Claire waits for Eric in a restaurant. We’re granted a closeup of her ring. For why? We know she’s married. The symbolism here is lost on me. Truthfully, I think it’s lost on the writers and director too because they all lost their way about nine episodes ago. I was hoping Eric wouldn’t show, but there were too many minutes left for that to happen.

When Eric arrives, they talk about the parking and Claire’s life before admitting they Googled one another. Finally, Eric dives in and asks Claire why she texted him. She confesses that she’s wanted to reach out for years to apologize, but also thought they both needed the space to move on with their lives. Ten years and Claire is still myopic. As if Eric could just move on with his life after being groomed by a sexual predator.

Eric isn’t a confused and manipulated child anymore, and he let’s Claire know that their “relationship” destroyed him. And here comes Claire’s excuses and victim blaming. Apparently, she wanted out of an unhappy marriage and raping her student was her best and greatest plan. This woman is freaking ridiculous. I wouldn’t blame Eric if he picked up a fork and drove it into her hand or heart right now. I know I want to.

Claire blabs on and on about how she should have stopped him from starting the “relationship.” Good to see that Claire hasn’t changed, she’s still not taking responsibility, which means that in some small way the writers realize that she isn’t the protagonist of this story. Eric calls her on her crap and talks about how long it took him to get his life back. Seeing Eric and his healing process has been the series' only satisfying moment.

And here comes Claire with more of her boo hoo. She can’t go to PTA meetings. She’s one click away from ruin. I hate her so much. So much. She sits in front of her victim and tries to make it about her and her life. Eric lets her know that he wishes he were only one click away from ruin before leaving her alone. Eric is no longer here for her mess. And neither am I.

If you or someone you know needs help, please know that there are people and organizations ready to help. You are not alone.

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. They operate the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE). They are also available at online.rainn.org. Obtenga ayuda a rainn.org/es.

Thank you for taking this journey with me.