Episode 3 of The Rehearsal Season 1 picks up in Nathan and Angela’s shared homestead as they continue to co-parent their “son,” Adam.
Things are going well for the most part. Nathan may differ with Angela’s conviction of the Satanic origins of Halloween, but they have a working system. Angela takes on most of the child care, while Nathan does farming and maintenance work on their land.
But Nathan has a job to juggle as well. He had other rehearsals lined up to take place during Angela’s project and can’t neglect those.
Enter Patrick, whose girlfriend Nessa is certainly not a gold digger–he insists. Patrick’s rehearsal–set in a reconstruction of a Raising Cane’s restaurant–will be practice in convincing his brother of this fact.
Patrick’s brother is the executor of his late grandfather’s will, which names Patrick as an inheritor under one specific condition–that he not be dating any gold diggers. Patrick will have his work cut out convincing his brother of the fact that Nessa isn’t out for their grandfather’s money.
But their rehearsals don’t seem to be benefitting Patrick too much. Nathan sees that the reality of the situation isn’t hitting him. And actually, he can relate. His own rehearsal with Angela has consisted of taking all the right actions, but the feelings of being a real father aren’t quite there.
How then, Nathan asks himself, can he prepare Patrick for the feeling of sitting across from his brother?
The answer reveals itself in a secret portion of Patrick’s rehearsal. Nathan has the actor for Patrick’s brother ask Patrick to help him out at his own grandfather’s house. Patrick agrees.
But the “brother” is still acting, as is his “grandfather.” All is part of a scheme to push Patrick and the grandfather closer together.
When his own grandson refuses to help, the grandfather invites Patrick to assist him in hunting down some treasure he buried years ago. They spend hours together, talking and bonding, until Patrick finally strikes gold.
The actor, under Nathan’s instruction, thanks Patrick for all his help and promises to give him some of his gold after he has it appraised.
The scene has been set. Later, Nathan breaks it to Patrick that the man has died. In their next rehearsal, the actor for Patrick’s brother brings up the matter of his grandfather’s gold. He wanted Patrick to have some of it, but the actor isn’t sure that’s such a good idea with everything he’s heard about Nessa.
Patrick fights for his right to the gold, just as Nathan hoped. As intended, the rehearsal should feel more real to him now than ever. Maybe that’s what causes Patrick to break from the script. In his next practice, he becomes very emotional. He pleads to his brother’s love for him as a sibling, asking him to respect his own life and choices. The rehearsal ends with the two brothers hugging it out. It feels like a major breakthrough.
After that, Nathan never sees Patrick again. “Maybe for some,” Nathan muses, “the rehearsal itself is enough.”
Back at home, Adam grows up fast. A three-year-old becomes a six-year-old in the blink of an eye. To help orient himself and Angela to this rapid process, Nathan has other aspects of their life simulated to reflect the passing of time: a digital mirror that shows them as older than they are; a crew to put vegetables in the ground a day after seeds have been planted.
Sometimes, Nathan is able to forget reality and feel like this is his family. ““I often feel envious of others.,” he reflects. “The way they can immerse themselves in a world with so little effort. The way they can just believe,” he says, alluding to Angela’s faith. “To gather only what they need to know and ignore the rest.
“Emotions are a funny thing. They’re not easy to engineer. After all, there’s only so much you can do to deceive yourself. And even when you think of everything, there will always be things you forget.”
He turns over a vegetable on the counter so the sticker faces down.
The Episode Review
As ever, Nathan Fielder subverts expectations of what reality television is meant to look like, as well as what (and whom) these rehearsals are meant to teach. Episode 1 with Kor was unpredictable enough, but it had a sense of structure and closure to it that I assumed would apply to each episode.
The Rehearsal isn’t concerned with a formula, however. It goes where its unpredictable subjects lead, and when (in the case of Patrick) they abandon the show’s format, that’s okay. Because our attention can then settle on the steadiest factor of the series: Nathan Fielder himself.
More than a host, Nathan is ultimately the protagonist of The Rehearsal. He directs observations and criticisms to his clients, but he only ends up highlighting his own flaws in his comparisons.
This is seen in the first episode, when we see Kor able to face his fears, but we receive no evidence that Nathan confesses his own lies to Kor. In this episode, he’s almost poking fun at Angela’s blind faith, her ability to “just believe.” But Nathan himself acknowledges his envy of the way his clients can become so immersed in the world he constructs for him.
Maybe The Rehearsal, then, isn’t so much for Kor and Angela and Patrick as it is for Nathan. Is this difference in Nathan–his need for control–a flaw? Can he change? Should he? I think future episodes will further explore these questions.
You can read our full season review of The Rehearsal here!