Does Remy accept that Nathan is his “pretend daddy”?
In episode 6 of The Rehearsal Season 1, Nathan is embracing single parenthood, but he didn’t account for the possibility that one of the child actors would latch onto the idea of Nathan being his dad.
The rehearsal worked a little too well for Remy and Nathan. Nathan now has trouble bonding with the new Adam (real name, Liam). Remy, without a father of his own, thinks of Nathan as his real dad.
When Remy’s mom Amber invites Nathan for a visit, Remy is still calling him “daddy.” Nathan and his mom try to explain the concept of acting to him, and he eventually gets it. But parting with his “pretend daddy” is still hard.
“I still love Nathan,” Remy says after his departure.
How does Nathan change his approach to the rehearsal?
Nathan has dinner with Liam, but their interaction as “dad” and “Adam” is tense and awkward. Finally, Nathan can’t help it. He breaks through the facade of the simulation. “You know I’m not your real dad, right?”
Nathan is worried Liam won’t understand the “pretend” nature of their dynamic, just as Remy didn’t. But Liam gives him a thumbs up. He’s older than Remy; he gets it. He’s just a great actor.
When Nathan asks Liam if he’s believable as a dad, Liam pauses for moment. “You’re a great scene partner,” he says.
As he conflates Remy with Liam, it again seems Nathan is struggling to separate the roles from the real people and individualities behind them. And when he has to know what went wrong with Remy, he uses Liam to help him find out.
He tries reenacting his scenes with Remy, first using Liam, then an older actor, then a mannequin. He hires a fake Amber to reenact their introduction and parting. But nothing feels right.
Maybe the problem was that Angela left. If Remy had a fake mom and dad, maybe he wouldn’t have been so confused.
So, Nathan relives his parting with Angela, trying several different scenarios to try and get her to stay. Yet, in every one, Angela leaves. “What else can you do when you’re trying your best?” Nathan wonders.
Can Nathan forgive himself?
Nathan decides to apologize to the real Angela. They meet up; he admits he shouldn’t have suggested that she wasn’t taking the experiment seriously.
And Angela forgives him, citing scripture to support that it’s also important for us to forgive ourselves. “Forgiving yourself sounds so easy and nice,” Nathan thinks. “But how does a person actually do that?”
Again, Nathan visits Remy and Amber, but this time with Liam accompanying him. Remy greets him not as “daddy,” but as “Nathan.” He says he wants to call Nathan “daddy” again, but this doesn’t worry Amber. She assures Nathan that Remy is going to be okay.
“You may never be able to change what happened,” Nathan muses after this interaction. “But maybe with a new perspective, you could try to change yourself.”
But Nathan doesn’t apply this lesson in the most traditional way.
Why does Nathan pretend to be Amber?
Nathan searches for this new perspective–just not in any new way. He simply takes on a new role–this time as Remy’s mother, Amber.
He and Liam act out Remy’s application to the show. Nathan takes on the persona of a mother who is concerned about enlisting her kid in such a confusing experiment, but who pushes through anyway, insisting Remy will be fine.
When it comes time to act out Remy’s difficult parting with Nathan, Liam (as Remy) turns to Nathan (as Amber). “Why did you say he was my daddy?”
“Amber” explains that she didn’t mean to confuse him, and neither did Nathan. She portrays Nathan as someone who messes up and makes mistakes like everyone. She says maybe this experiment was not something a kid should be a part of, but “mommy makes mistakes too.”
She then affirms Remy’s sad feelings. They mean that he has a heart and can feel love and trust others. (This hits especially hard when we remember fake Angela’s accusation from the last episode: that Nathan will never feel anything.)
How does ‘The Rehearsal’ Season 1 end?
“Life’s better with surprises,” Nathan says as Amber. “Some things you want to be prepared for, but you know what I mean.”
She says it’s okay that Remy is confused, because they have each other. “Because I’m your dad.”
“Wait,” Liam whispers, breaking character. “I thought you were my mom.”
Nathan freezes. He blinks rapidly. “No, ” he sticks his ground. “I’m your dad.”
After a long pause, Liam accepts the shift in roles. He reaches forward to hug Nathan.
A kind reading of this ending would be that Nathan is still acting as Amber at this moment, insisting she can be both mom and dad to Remy. But I think this is Nathan–unable to directly apply the lessons he’s learned, unable to forgive or love himself unless he’s taken on the role of someone else–such as Remy’s father.
The Episode Review
Every so often in the show, we catch a glimmer of how Nathan believes others see him. In this episode, it’s when Nathan pretends to be Amber, watching fake Nathan from the monitors. The crewmember beside him gestures to fake Nathan. “He’s kind of a weird dude, huh?”
In the last episode, it was fake Angela accusing Nathan of being unable to feel love–which came about in a rehearsal of Nathan’s own design.
If Nathan once saw himself in this way, it makes sense, then, that he’d devise The Rehearsal to depict his journey to learning about and accepting himself. The whole series has been a reflection for Nathan, about learning perfection–maybe because he thinks everyone views him as someone who can’t get it “right.”
The season 1 finale concludes a fascinating character study of Nathan, and one that’s more relatable than he might think. It’s human nature to break down past events in our heads, to wonder what we could have done differently. The Rehearsal is a lesson in how we have to forgive ourselves in these moments. After all, life is too messy and complicated. We can’t prepare for everything. Nathan even repeats this lesson to Liam/Remy, but he doesn’t quite grasp it for himself.
The question is–will Nathan learn this for himself in season 2?