The parenting simulation is in disarray as religion enters the debate. It’s another inspired installment that addresses the dangers of pushing your own specific views in a profound and insightful way.
This recap of the HBO series The Rehearsal season 1, episode 5, “Apocalypto,” contains spoilers. You can check out all of our coverage of this show by clicking these words.
On this week’s instalment of The Rehearsal, Nathan Fielder finally addresses a glaring issue in the series – Angela’s lackluster involvement in the parenting simulation. There’s also time for Nathan to try out some further rehearsals of his own and religion enters the conversation. Again, it’s a gripping half hour of entertainment that pushes the TV format, whilst creating heart, humor and some topical debates for you all to over-analyze on social media.
The Rehearsal season 1, episode 5 recap
The fifth episode opens with Nathan Fielder and his six-year-old son Adam playing dress up. Adam calls himself Doctor Fart and daddy is forced to eat fake poo (a brownie) in this childish setup. Angela watches the footage afterwards and is disgusted by this clearly harmless game, arguing with Nathan about his parenting style. “Apocalypto” returns the focus to Angela, who was the main test subject of the parenting simulation in the first place. Her strong religious views and waning involvement in the process become Nathan Fielder’s main concerns in this week’s episode.
Angela wanted to raise Adam as a Christian from the get go, delivering her own faith-based home schooling to the child. Now that Nathan is more involved in the experiment himself, he wants Adam to sample Judaism as well. The simulation has entered the winter months, accompanied with fake snow and talk of the holiday season, which Nathan wants to use as a way of bridging the topic. This religious debate is also spurred on by Nathan’s real-life parents, who are skeptical of Angela’s leanings and have noticed how their son has a tendency of avoiding conflict in relationships. He’s happy to just go with the flow. Nathan appears to be reverting back to his old ways and decides to use the rehearsal process as a tool to help him finally stand up for himself.
Nathan Fielder uses one of his acting school students to help out with his latest rehearsal. Once again, the home is reconstructed and an actor is brought in to play Angela. They practice the simulation and Nathan attempts to convince fake Angela into letting Adam learn about Judaism. In real life, the discussion goes terribly though, with Angela flat out refusing to even consider the idea. So, Nathan decides to take matters into his own hands, he is the puppet master after all.
What follows is a covert mission to teach Adam all about Judaism in secret. Nathan pretends to take Adam to swimming lessons, but is in fact visiting synagogues and a Jewish tutor instead. To throw Angela off the scent, Adam is fed lies by Nathan about these swimming lessons and always returns with wet hair. The Jewish tutor cottons on to this lie and Nathan is forced to admit to her about Angela’s anti-Semitic views. The tutor wishes to speak with Angela and Nathan arranges a meeting. Nathan even suggests running a rehearsal on this unscheduled conversation beforehand, but the tutor is eager to just go for it. The meeting is another failure, with the tutor storming off, enraged by Angela’s unwavering views, and then Angela calls Nathan a manipulative liar.
The stress of conflict becomes too much for Nathan, who hides out at his replica bar from episode one. In another moment of sheer genius, Nathan Fielder has decided to open the bar for real, obtaining a liquor license and rebranding the bar as Nate’s Lizard Lounge. He even hires his student actors to work at the bar. Here, Nathan reviews old footage from the house and catches a glimpse of Angela’s strange behavior. In person, she is very controlling of Nathan’s involvement in the simulation, yet when he is gone, she ditches the simulation entirely and talks to the actors out of character. Nathan wants to confront her about this phony performance, so he goes back to the rehearsal set once more.
Real life Angela tells Nathan that she believes the experiment feels never ending and wants to conclude the simulation at this current juncture. She thanks Nathan for the opportunity and his detailed approach to the process, but that is the end of the line for Angela. The fake mother packs her bags and is off. Nathan has to tell Adam that mummy’s left, but then jumps at the chance to deck the house in Jewish festivities, tearing down the Christmas decorations. The tutor comes over and is grateful Angela has left the process. Nathan decides to go it alone from now on.
As always, the show likes to end with a profound self-reflection or a clever little observation. In “Apocalypto”, the episode concludes with the Jewish tutor talking to Nathan about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She thinks Nathan should use his platform for good and make a statement about the religious conflict. It’s an insightful, ironic ending, as Nathan wanted his own religious views to take center stage after Angela’s Christian beliefs were the initial focus. Now another individual is trying to push their own agenda, manipulating Nathan once more.
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