The Rehearsal – Season 1 Episode 4 “The Fielder Method” Recap & Review

The Fielder Method

Nathan and Angela continue their journey into parenthood together in The Rehearsal season 1 episode 4. To Nathan’s surprise, Angela opens up to Nathan about her past–how she hated her dad for not being present and put her parents “through hell” by drinking and doing drugs. They can only hope their own son doesn’t put them through the same–but shouldn’t the simulation be as realistic as possible?

At least Adam is only six when Nathan walks out of his Eagle Creek home to return to his real home in LA. As it turns out, he can’t really get a steady supply of actors for his show in Eagle Creek. Time to return to the Fielder Method Studio, then, to train actors for the rigorous process of participating in The Rehearsal.

Nathan teaches a class on his method, which his students interpret as “stalking” (a proud moment for Nathan as a teacher). He gives them an assignment to find a “primary,” observe them closely, and return to tomorrow’s class dressed like them. At first, it doesn’t even occur to Nathan that some students might find his method slightly problematic.

At the end of his first class, Nathan is largely only concerned with what his students thought about him. So, as he’s want to do, he re-lives the class as a student by populating the classroom with actors. Specifically, he takes on the role of a real student from his class named Thomas. What he notices from Thomas’ seat is that the method fake Nathan is teaching sounds intriguing, but the environment feels overly formal.

The students return to the next class to find the chairs arranged in a circle (a much improved vibe, Nathan feels). Most of the students share discoveries about their primaries, but Thomas–the real Thomas–struggled to get much information about his primary, an employee at an Açaí Bowl restaurant.

Nathan pulls Thomas aside to give him advice–“disrupt the situation” to somehow to get closer to his primary. When Nathan re-lives this class from Thomas’ perspective, he feels good about how things went.

Next, Nathan arranges for his students to work in the actual jobs of their primaries. He notices that the more extreme his method gets, the more his students respect him. Thomas remains uncomfortable, however.

When Thomas confesses that he doesn’t like lying to people, Nathan has to backtrack. He didn’t feel that way when he was Thomas. So, he decides to re-enact his first day of class again and truly try to get inside Thomas’ head this time.

In this rehearsal, we hear Nathan’s inner dialogue. Or rather, what he imagines Thomas inner dialogue to have been. He takes on the persona of someone excited to be on camera and, at the same time, nervous about impressing Nathan. He’s suddenly someone uncomfortable with his environment, but who also wants to follow along with what everyone else is doing. This Thomas is starting to feel real.

Nathan feels good about the rehearsal. But he knows he has to go deeper in order to understand Thomas. So he visits Thomas at the açaí place he’s now working at. Now, Nathan can live through Thomas’ experience of visiting his own primary’s workplace.

But when Nathan returns to a re-enactment of the first day, he realizes how much Thomas would see his practices as invasive. What better way to truly understand this mindset than to make his practices even more invasive? Nathan needs to get closer to his subject, he realizes. He needs to live in Thomas’ home.

Nathan suggests to Thomas that he move into a similar apartment as his primary, with the ulterior motive of taking over Thomas’s home for himself. He even gets a job at another açaí place. Now, Nathan can be Thomas 24/7.

And yet, he’s still able to realize that there are always going to be parts of Thomas he can’t understand. “It’s hard to know what exactly is hidden beneath the smile of an actor,” Nathan muses. “But once in a while, it’s nice to just pretend that everything’s okay.”

Thomas and the rest of Nathan’s students graduate from his program, so it’s now time for Nathan to return to his fake family at Eagle Creek. Adam and Angela are warm and welcoming, but this doesn’t feel right to Nathan.

Because Adam is now 15. Just like Angela’s father, Nathan missed out a great portion of his child’s life.

At Nathan’s instruction, the actor for Adam re-enacts the reunion with Nathan–much more coldly this time. “Good,” Nathan responds, more impressed with the actor’s performance than he is invested in his role as a scorned father.

From that point on, Nathan and Angela get to experience the terrible teens. Adam, fuelled by the absence of his father, stays out late drinking and doing drugs with his friends.

It’s all a performance for Nathan, but Angela seems to resonate with it. She tries to connect with Adam by bringing up her own experiences with drugs and an absent father. But it doesn’t really matter. Because the rehearsal isn’t about Angela anymore; Nathan has almost entirely hijacked it.

Feeling he missed out on too much of his son’s life, Nathan asks Angela how she would feel about turning back the clock to when Adam was six. Whatever is best for the show, she responds.

Soon after, Nathan rushes into his son’s bedroom to find Adam coughing and foaming at the mouth. He’s overdosed, and has to be taken away by an ambulance. Before they can take him to the hospital, however, he runs away.

Nathan goes to look for Adam, discovering him the next morning at a park with his friends. But when 15-year-old Adam takes a slide down to meet his dad, he emerges out of the slide a 6-year-old once again.

“It’s easy to assume that others think the worst of you,” Nathan ponders as he observes Adam at the park. “But when you assume what others think, maybe all you’re doing is turning them into a character that only exists in your mind.”

“The nice thing is, sometimes all it takes is a change in perspective to make the world brand new.”

“All right, Adam,” Nathan says to his now-6-year-old. “Let’s go home.”


The Episode Review

More than any other, this episode gets at the heart of what Nathan Fielder is trying to do with The Rehearsal.

It’s actually–initially–kind of nauseating to observe how easily Nathan can hijack rehearsals to serve his own purposes. Getting in Thomas’ head is less about empathizing, as Nathan thinks it is, and more about perfecting Nathan’s act.

Constructing a life in Eagle Creek is less about helping Angela realize what she wants for her future and more about depicting Nathan’s idea of a perfect scenario. Even when Nathan realizes how his bias affects a rehearsal and tries to correct his controlling nature, he does this in both scenarios by asserting even more control.

Nathan has a knack for encapsulating the themes of each episode in succinct statements, even as he (or rather, the character he puts on for this show) remains completely oblivious to how these lessons reflect his flaws.

The real Nathan must be absolutely aware of the arrogance he’s putting off, however. Observations like one in this episode – “sometimes all it takes is a change in perspective to make the world brand new”–intentionally underscore his own hypocrisy.

Nathan isn’t the hero of The Rehearsal, but he is its deeply flawed protagonist–inviting us to critique with him the inauthenticity of his journey to authenticity. It’s an intensely fascinating and mind-bending process.

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