Well, it finally happened, just like we knew it would.
After five episodes of nothing making sense and the series dragging its feet before getting to the good stuff, the end of A Teacher Season 1 Episode 5 was such a relief.
Now, the real entertainment can begin.
While we knew Claire and Eric’s secret affair would leak at some point, can we take a second to talk about the idiocy that is Claire?
Why in the world did she think it would be a good idea to cop to having an affair with her student?
Like, I’m curious about her mental stability more so than before.
Rule No. 1 of committing a crime is that you don’t reveal that you’ve committed one.
Her telling Kathryn is akin to a murderer confessing on the witness stand or moving the body.
It’s just something you don’t do because you’re bound to get caught.
Kathryn: Please, please, please, I promise I won’t tell anybody. Please, please, please, I promise. Come on. Tell me. Tell me. Oh. Come on.
Claire: It’s Eric.
Kathryn: Who’s Eric?
Claire: Eric Walker, like Eric Eric.
Kathryn: Come on. Yes, Eric is cute, but like you’re kidding. We get it. That’s like lolz. You’re kidding, right? Claire, oh my god. Claire, um, he’s you’re student.
Claire: No, I know, but he’s 18, and we’re like, we’re in love with each other.
Kathryn: He’s your student.
Claire: Wait, Kathryn, listen, let me explain, OK?
Kathryn: That’s like a monumental abuse of power.
Claire: You, you don’t understand. Talk to me about this. Please, I… he’s an adult. He’s 18. This is not abuse. We’re in like a real relationship. We love each other.
Kathryn: Oh my god, stop it. I don’t want to hear it.
Claire: He’s over the age of consent.
Kathryn: He’s a kid.
Claire: Wait, wait, wait, you basically forced me to say it.
Kathryn: Claire, what do you want me to do? I don’t have a choice. I have to report you.
Claire: Please, please, no, that will literally ruin my life.
Kathryn: Wow, wow.
Yes, viewers can make the argument that Kathryn’s constant cajoling lulled Claire into thinking she could trust her friend, if only Claire hadn’t given Eric a similar speech on A Teacher Season 1 Episode 4 about him not telling anyone.
Also, Kathryn isn’t just Claire’s friend; she’s a fellow educator.
So even if Claire miscalculated Kathryn’s supposed loyalty because they’re friends, she should have realized that Kathryn, the teacher, wouldn’t be able to let this go.
Teachers are mandated reporters about this sort of thing, so it should have been apparent to Claire, also a teacher, that regardless of Kathryn’s personal feelings, her friend would be required by law or district policy to report Claire, even if Kathryn didn’t view this as a massive abuse of power, which it is.
Watching Kathryn’s visceral reaction to discovering Claire was sleeping with her student was so satisfying.
All the things we’ve wanted to say to Claire about her poor, and very illegal, actions were finally on display.
However, as liberating as it was for us, it was also unnerving, as Claire desperately tried to convince Kathryn of her and Eric’s love.
It’s one thing for Claire to have deluded herself into thinking what she’s doing is OK, but it’s another thing entirely for her to describe their relationship as real and loving.
Nothing about what Claire and Eric have been doing is even remotely close to the hollow words Claire used, as she implored Kathryn not to tell.
If this were a real relationship, Claire and Eric would be able to tell their friends and family, venture beyond their backseat hookups and vacation getaways, and be able to be out as a couple without fear of Claire going to jail.
Eric: Say cheese.
Claire: Oh my god, stop.
Eric: Come on. I never get to see you like this.
Claire: Like what?
Eric: Like yourself.
And if Claire truly cared for Eric as she claims, then she wouldn’t have let things get this far.
She would have put a stop to things before they ever began, or at the very least after Eric kissed her.
She’s the adult in this situation and knows better, whereas Eric is just a teenager who’s infatuated enough with this woman to convince himself that this is what love feels and looks like.
It’s such a toxic situation, which was further highlighted during their weekend getaway for Eric’s 18th birthday.
Watching them sip wine at the dinner table, drink beers on the couch, wake up next to each other in the morning, and all the other supposed picturesque scenes just hit home how wrong what they’re doing truly is.
While clandestine hookups are hardly the picture of responsibility, there was something inherently seedy about them getting it on in the backseat.
The undertones of their unsavory actions were always there, just beneath the surface, never quite dissipating enough for us to forget that what Claire and Eric were doing was inherently wrong.
However, once those undercurrents were removed, and it seemed like what Claire and Eric had could, in theory, be legitimized was when it became evident a gray area doesn’t exist.
Claire: Come on, why are you giving me the silent treatment? It’s our last night together.
Eric: Exactly, it’s our last night together. Then tomorrow you’re gonna go back to him, and this will have never happened. Yeah. I mean, this isn’t real.
Claire: Of course it is.
Eric: Is that why you’re talking about who I’m gonna fuck when I get to college? Like what is this to you? Is this just some bored housewife shit?
Claire: You know that’s not true. You’re not gonna want me when you go to college. You’re gonna be done with me. Fuck, I’m risking my entire life to be with you. I wish I could just stay here with you, but I can’t, and I fucking feel like a terrible person.
Eric: Hey, hey…
Eric: Hey, hey, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Please stop. Please stop. Stop. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I love you. I love you. So much.
Claire: I love you.
Eric: Say it again.
Claire: I love you.
It’s as if the show was trying to lull us into this false sense of reality just to rip the bandage off at the last minute and remind us how stupid we had been.
It was a highly effective technique and very reassuring as we head into the final stretch of the limited series.
As previously discussed, the series has struggled with setup and execution, primarily when it comes to establishing Claire’s motivations and the affair itself.
However, once things officially got off the ground, the show itself immensely improved.
Due to this, it’s worth exploring whether the series would have been more effective and impactful if it started in the middle of their affair or when the truth inevitably come out.
The 2013 film the series is based on does start with the former, dropping viewers into the middle of high school English teacher Diana Watts’ affair with her student Eric Tull.
The film’s lack of exposition is one of its assets, and the television series should have taken a cue from its source material on this particular issue.
That’s not to say there aren’t things the show does better than the film, but most of those take place during the final five episodes, which heavily focus on the fallout of Claire and Eric’s affair.
Kathryn: So who’s the guy?
Claire: Nope, I can’t tell you.
Kathryn: Fine, at least tell me how’s the D.
Claire: Oh my god. The D is great.
Claire: Like I love it. I literally love it.
If you’ve managed to stick with the series thus far, enduring its uneven storytelling, you’ll be greatly rewarded.
As someone who has viewed the series in its entirety, the final episodes are the strongest of the bunch.
Some stray thoughts:
After five episodes, we finally have an answer for why Claire’s having an affair with her student. It’s not particularly a good reason — she was tired of being perfect — but at least we now have a better sense of where she’s coming from.
This would have been more helpful if she’d revealed these feelings earlier in the series, so the audience wouldn’t have had to spend half the show wondering what the f*ck was going through her mind.
Claire and Eric’s ‘I love you’s’ were just cringey to watch. Their fight started as something real but quickly devolved once lust overtook them.
So what did you think, TV Fanatics?
How stupid is Claire?
What happens now that their affair is out in the open?
Those familiar with the film, do you wish the series had followed it more closely?
Hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts.
Jessica Lerner is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.