A layered masterpiece from a truly innovative series. Nathan Fielder continues to push his ideas to their limits, creating a gruesome real-life version of Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York.
This recap of the HBO series The Rehearsal season 1, episode 4, “The Fielder Method”, contains spoilers. You can check out all of our coverage of this show by clicking on these words.
Nathan Fielder continues to channel his inner Charlie Kaufman in the show’s best episode yet, digging deeper into acting method freaks than anyone has ever done before (Daniel Day-Lewis sir, you’ve got competition) . Our snarky comedian ends every setup this week saying they need to go further, taking that mantra and experience to the extreme. It’s another ingenious and inventive episode that will leave audiences in awe.
Repetition summary of season 1, episode 4
Rehearsals require an army of actors, so Nathan Fielder decides to start his own acting school, called The Fielder Method. Here he can hone actors’ techniques and learn from his own previous mistakes. He even shows students footage from the first episode to give them an idea of what to expect. Nathan wants the students to hunt down a member of the public for their first mission, getting to know their primary’s mannerisms and personality. The actors seem apprehensive at first, but are intrigued by the task. Their concerns cause Nathan to doubt himself after the first lesson.
Due to these doubts, Nathan decides to recreate the acting class in another simulation. He hires more actors to play the original actors, even bringing in an actor to play himself. But the subtleties do not stop there, he decides to relive the experience from the point of view of one of the students and plays the role of Thomas. are you still with me? Things are about to get a lot more complicated before the episode ends.
On the second day of the original acting class, Nathan asks his students how the work went. They sit in a circle now and seem much more optimistic, although one student in particular struggles with the process. This happens to be Thomas, Nathan’s principal (the person he is impersonating). Thomas found the whole experience awkward and uncomfortable, getting very little out of his own primary. Nathan suggests breaking down social barriers and finding a way to connect with his primary the next day, perhaps by spilling his drink or asking for his help.
Nathan relives the second day, again playing Thomas, and finds the situation just as successful as he did as a teacher. The process continues in this vein, with actors getting to know their counterparts and training to perform the same subordinate tasks as their principal. An actor works as a mechanic and another security guard, etc. Nathan continues to play Thomas, but finds the process quite confusing, so in his usual manic way, he decides to live in Thomas’ apartment, while the actor lives in an apartment that mirrors his own primary’s life. Again, are you still with me?
This complex tale ends with Nathan Fielder reflecting that he may be asking too much of his students and they are sacrificing a lot in pursuit of their dreams. Students perform a final showcase and receive a certificate for their problems. Everyone says the Fielder method out of three…
Our simulation brain returns home from this convoluted experiment to find his fake son, Adam, nine years old and now a teenager. Adam greets his father in a cheerful and bubbly manner, but Nathan thinks that wouldn’t be accurate in reality. They recreate Nathan’s return, Adam this time disgusted by his absent father. The actor is then asked to delve deeper into this role and mirrors a friend of his, who was involved in underage drinking, sex and drugs. Adam becomes hostile to his father and they argue nonstop, all of which stems from Nathan’s abandonment. It’s a pretty sad diversion from the humorous first half of the episode, with the simulation stepping up in its usual way.
In the end, Nathan realizes he missed nine years of his son’s life and wants to recreate those lost years again. He asks Angela if they can take Adam back to age six and she agrees. Teenage Adam overdoses, wakes up and then runs away from his childhood home. Nathan then finds him in a park and the son takes the slide, entering as a teenager and exiting again as a child. It’s a perfect moment that sums up this silly but insightful experience. Nathan Fielder ends with a closing summary, hinting that this last experience could have descended into a formulaic narrative, with very little overall authenticity, because he controlled the script too much.
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