A layered masterpiece from a truly innovative series. Nathan Fielder continues to push his ideas to their limits, making a horrifying 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 these words.
Nathan Fielder continues to channel his inner Charlie Kaufman in the show’s best episode yet, digging deeper into the method acting phenomena than anyone has ever done so before (Daniel Day-Lewis sir, you have competition). Our devious comedian ends every setup this week by saying that they need to go further, pushing this mantra and the experiment to the extreme. It’s another ingenious and inventive episode that will leave audiences in awe.
The Rehearsal season 1, episode 4 recap
The rehearsals require an army of actors, so Nathan Fielder decides to launch his very own school of acting, called The Fielder Method. Here he can hone the actors techniques and learn from his own previous mistakes. He even shows the students footage of the first episode to give them an idea of what to expect. Nathan wants the students to stalk a member of the public for their first assignment, getting to grips with 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 class though.
Because of 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 intricacies don’t end there, he decides to relive the experience from the perspective of one of the students and plays the role of Thomas. Are you still with me? Things are about to get a whole lot messier before the episode is over.
Day two of the original acting class and Nathan asks his students how the assignment went. They sit in a circle now and seem a lot more upbeat, although one particular student is struggling with the process. This happens to be Thomas, Nathan’s primary (the person he is impersonating). Thomas found the whole experience to be awkward and uncomfortable, getting very little from his own primary. Nathan suggests breaking the social barriers and finding a way to connect with his primary the next day, maybe by spilling his drink or requiring their assistance.
Nathan relives the second day, playing Thomas again, and finds the situation to be just as successful as he did as the teacher. The process continues in this vein, with the actors getting to know their counterparts and training to perform the same menial jobs as their primary. One actor works as a mechanic and another a security guard, etc. Nathan carries on playing Thomas, but finds the process to be quite confusing, so in his usual maniacal way, he decides to live in Thomas’ apartment, whilst the actor lives in an apartment that mirrors his own primary’s life. Again, are you still with me?
This complex narrative ends with Nathan Fielder reflecting that he may be asking too much from his students and that they are sacrificing a lot in the pursuit of their dreams. The students perform a final showcase and receive a certificate for their troubles. Everyone say The Fielder Method on three…
Our simulation mastermind returns home after this convoluted experiment to find his fake son Adam has aged nine years and is now a teenager. Adam greets his father in a cheerful, bubbly manner, but Nathan believes this wouldn’t be accurate in reality. They recreate Nathan’s return, with Adam this time being disgusted by his absent father. The actor is then told 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, this all spawning from Nathan’s abandonment. It’s quite a sad diversion from the humorous first half of the episode, with the simulation escalating in its usual way.
In the end, Nathan realizes that he’s 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 being a six-year-old once more and she agrees. Teenage Adam overdoses, wakes and then runs away from his childhood home. Nathan then finds him at a park and the son takes the slide, entering as a teenager and exiting as a child, again. It’s a perfect moment that encapsulates this silly, but insightful experiment. Nathan Fielder ends with a final summary, implying that this latest experiment might have descended into a stereotypical narrative, with very little overall authenticity, because he controlled the scenario too much.
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