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The Rehearsal: Let’s Discuss That Surreal Finale

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This submit comprises spoilers for the Season 1 finale of The Rehearsal. 

What started as a foolish, however extravagant option to rehearse on a regular basis situations and confessions became a staggering morality story, inspecting the uncomfortable truths of efficiency, media exploitation and youngster appearing—and reshaping the very notion of fatherhood alongside the best way. That is how The Rehearsal, Nathan Fielder’s six-episode odyssey pushing the boundaries of simulated life, got here to an finish in Friday night time’s unusual and poetic finale. By the ultimate scene, Fielder had not solely totally addressed critiques that his present was manipulative, but in addition dashed theories that the present was solely staged. He additionally delved deeper into the experiment, driving his arc towards an unpredictable, however inevitable conclusion: Nathan Fielder is your daddy now. 

Within the masterful finale, Fielder opens with the uncomfortable realization that Remy, one of many youngster actors employed to play 6-year-old Adam, had grow to be too hooked up to him. Remy has an emotional meltdown when it’s time to depart the home for good, regularly referring to Fielder as his “daddy.” Remy’s precise mom, Amber, later explains to Fielder that Remy’s dad isn’t a part of their household, and—as she feared early on after signing her son up for the HBO collection—he had latched onto Fielder. Abruptly, Fielder realizes his rehearsal had labored a bit too nicely. 

He spends the remainder of the episode making an attempt to ease Remy out of this section, reminding him that he’s not his actual father and that every part on the present is make-believe. It’s exhausting to observe Fielder try to fail to persuade this youngster, who has so deeply purchased into the premise of the present. (And except Remy is the world’s biggest actor, it looks like proof sufficient that your complete factor isn’t staged.) “What on earth was I doing?” Fielder later asks himself. “Every little thing about this rehearsal felt so trivial now.” Nonetheless, he continues with the challenge, shifting on to an older model of Adam performed by a boy named Liam. (In comparison with Remy, Liam is mainly a world-weary skilled, a natural-born actor who’s nicely conscious that he’s on a TV present.) 

However Fielder can’t shake what occurred with Remy. As a substitute of creating a clear break, he dives deeper into the difficulty. He rewatches footage of key moments with Remy, inspecting the place he may have loosened the emotional bond between them with forensic zeal. Possibly he ought to have been colder. Extra distant. Possibly he ought to have satisfied Angela to remain, as a result of having a faux mommy round would remind Remy that the present is faux. (Fielder finally reunites with the true Angela, apologizing for what he put her by.) Possibly he ought to have employed an grownup actor to play a toddler, guaranteeing he didn’t mess with a younger thoughts nonetheless wrapping itself across the idea of actuality versus make-believe. Possibly he ought to have simply used a model, to keep away from difficult human emotions altogether. Fielder truly explores the latter two choices, hiring an grownup actor to decorate up as Remy-as-Adam in a scene that’s each weird and achingly humorous. (The short reduce to Grownup Adam taking a smoke break within the yard is an ideal modifying alternative, in a present crammed with exact and good modifying decisions.) 

Fielder is mildly assured by Remy’s mother that her son will likely be okay. However how can he know for certain? The reply is straightforward: he turns into Remy’s mother, staging a rehearsal in a reproduction of her dwelling, repeating all of the steps she took to get to The Rehearsal, beginning with Remy’s audition to play Adam. It’s as sick because it sounds, a twist that’s each unpredictable and inevitable. Someplace round episode 2, Fielder determined he needed to rehearse what it was like being a father. Now he’s a mom, creating an infinite loop of rehearsed realities. 

Within the present’s ultimate moments, Fielder-as-Amber has a heart-to-heart with Liam-as-Remy, who’s sobbing in regards to the lack of Nathan, his TV daddy. Fielder-as-Amber tries to consolation her son. “That man didn’t imply to confuse you, honey,” she says. “He simply didn’t know what he was doing.” She owns as much as the truth that the present was “a bizarre factor for a child to do,” and possibly it was a mistake to let him be a part of it. (It’s a second during which Fielder lampoons, then absolves all of the dad and mom who allowed their children to behave on this wild experiment.) Fielder-as-Amber continues, reminding her youngster that it’s stunning that he’s so unhappy. “It reveals that you’ve a coronary heart, and you’ll love, and you’ll put your belief in others,” she says, swirling the present’s thesis—Fielder’s journey towards having the ability to really feel one thing—into one stunning sentence. “I’m all the time going to be right here for you. ‘Trigger I’m your dad.”

“Wait,” Liam whispers, breaking character. “I assumed you had been my mother?” Fielder registers the second. He appears to be like at Liam. Then he makes a alternative. “No,” he says. “I’m your dad.” Then they exit the body to go play, going deeper into Fielder’s world. 

The present’s poignant ultimate moments burst right into a kaleidoscope of feeling. The ultimate declaration—“I’m your dad”—is by some means heat and unsettling and horrifying on the similar time, all bundled up in Fielder’s dazzling efficiency, one of the best he’s ever given. The simplicity of the second raises one million questions. Was it Fielder razing the notion of parenthood, permitting Remy’s mother to say that she’s sufficient as a sole father or mother, a mother and pop swirled into one? Was it Nathan himself unintentionally flubbing a line, then leaning into its shock poetry? Or was it the present’s character of Nathan deciding to lean absolutely into his delusion, collapsing all of the layers of artifice he was in a position to construct at HBO’s expense right into a single fact? Who is aware of? Fielder dodges simple solutions and hardline moralizing, leaving the viewer with sure data of only one factor: how The Rehearsal made you’re feeling.

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