The finale of A Teacher picks up a decade on and provides a low-key coda to a story of abuse and trauma that isn’t so easily forgotten.
This recap of A Teacher season 1, episode 10 contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
A lot can happen in a decade, which is how long has elapsed between the penultimate episode and the finale of A Teacher. With all that time having supposedly passed, it’s odd to see Eric not looking a day older, still awkwardly shuffling around with the same cowed demeanor. Claire hasn’t altered much either, but she at least looks a little tidier and more buttoned-up – a consequence, probably, of having fallen on her feet with a husband, two children, and a big house, even after the whole statutory rape scandal.
This is the point of A Teacher episode 10, and it’s made quite cleverly, with admirable brevity. As I noted in earlier recaps, it was Claire who in large part initiated the predatory student/teacher relationship between herself and Eric. Since then, she has done nothing but feel sorry for herself after having done so, sparing little thought for Eric other than to lament how he continues to affect her job prospects. The sad underlying point is that the architect of Eric’s trauma got to move on; to build a new life with someone else, to have children, and to develop a better relationship with her father.
Eric, meanwhile, continues to exist in a kind of stasis. At his high school reunion, which he reluctantly attends, he learns his friends have gotten married and had children of their own, or made a Bitcoin fortune. That night he hooks up with Alison. He’s so emotionally tethered to his high school days that he’s even sleeping with the same girl. He never got to move on.
This all becomes explicit when Eric eventually meets with Claire for lunch (this is prompted by a chance encounter in a supermarket.) Here, for the first time, Eric is able to accept that what happened between them wasn’t his fault; that Claire abused a position of power and ruined his life for entirely selfish reasons, and that she still can’t admit having done so. She even tries to frame their relationship as something he pushed for that she begrudgingly accepted – to see Eric call that out, and say out loud that he was just a kid, is everything that his character arc has been building to throughout the season. When Claire mentions being unable to find a job and being “one click away” from ruin, Eric reminds her that he doesn’t have the same privilege: “You’re still making this about you. I will never be just one click away from this. I have to live with this forever.”
Sick of Claire’s self-interest, Eric finally gets up and walks away. But he delivers the mic drop on his way out: “So do you.”
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