Episode 2 of The Rehearsal Season 1 begins with an outrageous scenario. Nathan Fielder watches a woman and baby through a monitor. When she puts the baby in a crib and exits the room, it’s apparently “go time.”
Nathan’s crew is fast on their feet, rushing toward a house and covertly switching a baby with the one in the crib–without the woman ever seeing. Nathan congratulates his team for a job well done and walks toward the house himself.
The rehearsal hasn’t even been explained yet, but we can already tell it’s going to be an intricate one. Of course, Nathan doesn’t disappoint.
The woman on the monitor is Angela, the subject of this episode. For Angela, Nathan has concocted a groundbreaking experiment that requires hiring dozens of child actors: a simulation of parenting a child from age 0 to 18.
He moves Angela into a rural area (she doesn’t want to raise a kid in the city); simulates the adoption process of baby Adam; constantly switches out babies to work around child labor laws; and even provides a robot baby to imitate crying and keep Angela up at night.
Still, there’s something missing. Angela knows that, in the future, she wants to raise Adam with a partner. Fortunately, she meets a guy via dating apps, and they hit it off. Robin is a Christian, like Angela. They connect in the ways God has turned their lives around.
Angela likes Robin, but she’s sceptical about inviting him to join in the rehearsal. She decides to go on another date with him, but she fails to schedule child care.
For the first time, we catch a glimpse of frustration in Nathan, and I’m not sure if this was real or fabricated. He muses whether Angela is taking this experiment seriously, or if she just wanted a vacation. In the end, he offers to break his own rules and babysit “Adam,” which leads to some cute playtime scenes as well as Nathan’s first time changing a diaper.
Angela’s date goes well. When she invites Robin to be a part of the rehearsal, he has a weirdly enthusiastic response. It’s after Robin accepts that a few red flags crop up around him.
He calls his roommate a “demon” for not sharing his own belief in God, drives after smoking weed, and internally disregards Angela’s desire for celibacy in their relationship. He also has an obsessive fascination with numbers, citing the numbers he’s seen in his life lately as a sign that he and Angela are meant to be.
I started to wonder if he was even real, or simply one of Nathan’s actors. It wouldn’t be the first time Nathan set out to fool the subject of The Rehearsal. That’s why I can’t help but wonder if this next scenario was planned by Nathan all along.
Robin stays the night with Angela, who instructs him to take care of the robot baby each time it cries that night. Nathan watches Robin on the monitor from behind the scenes while controlling when the baby cries.
At one point, Nathan informs the man who controls the robot to “keep him crying” and “don’t let up.” As if expecting it, Nathan watches as Robin packs his bag. “I just… I need a good night’s sleep,” he tells Angela before leaving.
We next cut to Nathan meeting Angela at the fake bar from episode 1. He tells her he thinks he could be a good dad, but he’s not sure. This experiment could help him, if she would allow him to co-parent with her in the simulation. She agrees, though Nathan’s humble presentation wreaks of subtle manipulation.
Nathan gets approval from the real parents of the child actors, and it seems the experiment is ready to truly begin. The episode ends with him walking into the house, carrying his cats with him.
The Episode Review
Watching The Rehearsal, any scepticism felt goes beyond the normal levels of apprehension when diving into reality shows, which are usually manipulated to some degree. In The Rehearsal, Nathan Fielder manipulates even that expectation by introducing actors within the “reality” setup.
I can’t help but wonder what the real social experiment behind The Rehearsal is. Whether, at its heart, it’s about us as viewers–how much we’re willing to suspend our disbelief and trust Nathan; what we consider to be plausible reality vs. cultivated fiction.
Was Robin a plant all along? Did Nathan always plan to become part of this rehearsal? Maybe I’m reading too much into everything, but I can’t help but hope for a big reveal in the next episode–if this was indeed setting up a two-parter.
“Scion,” though not quite as full or immersive as the premier episode, is full of laughs and trippy reveals, and should leave you excitedly wondering how Nathan is next going to screw with our expectations.
|Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!|