Tiny Beautiful Things – Season 1 Episode 5 “The Nose” Recap & Review

The Nose

The Past

The flashbacks in episode 5 of Tiny Beautiful Things are all over the place. The timelines are not exactly specific and varied in nature. Majorly, they show how Clare failed to graduate from college because she couldn’t submit a five-page essay on a short story called The Nose by Nikolai Gogol.

We get a glimpse of a much younger Clare declaring to Frankie that she does not want to go to school. She expresses her wish to become a waitress, like Frankie, but the mother has a clever response to discourage Clare.

The next moment in time we jump to involves Clare attending college during her final senior year. Her mother had just passed away a week before. Lucas was taking it badly, still underage yet blatantly drinking and getting out of control. Jess, Clare’s then-husband, took care of him and tried to tell Clare she needs to as well.

We then go further back to when Clare got accepted into Holy Trinity University. Frankie was over the moon as Clare officially became the first person in the family to go to higher education. Frankie even hosted a classy dinner for her children. M0ney was an issue but Clare got enough scholarships to get past it. Additionally, the latter also mentions that the student’s parents could also attend college at no additional charge.

Clare initially resisted but was glad Frankie joined college too. Her cardinal rule was for Frankie to not make contact on-premises and essentially be strangers.

Post her mother’s death, we see Clare spiralling. Eric, her high school bully, persistently hits on Clare. In her emotional state, she makes a rash decision and once again cheats on Jess with Eric. She is struggling to get around the essay about The Nose, and when Jess tries to initiate foreplay in the bathroom, she resists.

Clare hits out at the professor in class for giving them a strange story. She is struggling to make sense of it but the professor says she has to complete it to get the degree. In another rash instance, she takes out Lucas to a rave party and gets drunk. She starts kissing another girl when Lucas separates her. Clare urinates in someone’s backyard, before telling Lucas she cheated on Jess. Without Frankie, Clare has a hard time being “good.”

We see her once again look at Eric with tempting eyes in the library. She comes home late that night, drunk out of her mind. Jess asks her to take care of Lucas but she says they need their mother, something that indicates her healing process. On graduation day, it is revealed that Clare did not complete the essay and couldn’t graduate.

Eric apologizes to her for not knowing about Frankie. The college gives Frankie a degree in history all the same, which Clare accepts. She breaks done after receiving it as Jess and Lucas stand by her side.

The Present

Rae has finally emerged from her room but does not want to go back to school. She is too embarrassed because of the video of Clare on the internet. Danny intervenes and Rae agrees to go. However, she asks to be transferred to another school, Douglass. Danny went to Douglass and thinks it is subpar, but she is insistent that she will drop out of school and not go to college.

When Rae brings up the fact that Danny did not complete college, he instantly replies that neither did Clare. Rae did not know this and this emboldens her rebellion against her mother. She picks up her bag and empties its contents on the floor.

Clare picks up a broken ceramic glass. Rae says she made it for Clare and it is in the shape of a nose, bringing back memories of the past for her. She works on repairing the vase in the basement, while Clare is actually completing her essay on The Nose to send to the college. She wants to complete her course and get the degree.

Danny and Clare take Rae to school where she once again pleads with them to go back. Clare gives her the option of choosing to go to school and Rae decides to go.

The Episode Review

“Healing is going out every day and doing the impossible” is another hard-hitting takeaway from Tiny Beautiful Things. Episode 5 showed how Clare was a reckless person, spiralling off track after Frankie’s death. Despite the uncomfortable characterizations, there is a feeling that Clare is simply too unlikeable due to her past.

It is a very bold creative choice as it completely hinges our acceptance of the show on our perception of Clare. Episode 5 made a further case for us to not like her, but the episode was once again creatively efficient in the storytelling. The interspersion between the past and present allows a more insightful assessment of the series.

Merritt Wever’s cameo appearances are well worth every minute. She adds so much warmth and charm to Frankie that even we can imagine how much of a miss she would have been in her children’s lives.

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