The simulation has a profound effect on one of the child actors, leading Nathan Fielder on a reflective journey of discovery. It’s a poignant and thought-provoking finale that has some hilarious moments and some harrowing ones as well.
This recap of the HBO series The Rehearsal season 1, episode 6, “Pretend Daddy,” the finale and ending explained, contains spoilers. You can check out all of our coverage of this show by clicking these words.
In “Pretend Daddy,” Nathan Fielder attempts to reflect on the experiment as a whole by descending into further complex and deeply problematic rehearsals. A few online critics have pointed out how manipulative the series is towards the unsuspecting public, especially those who find themselves wrapped up in all this madness. Well in the finale, there is a real life consequence of Fielder’s meddling that effects one of the child actors profoundly and the creator tries to right this wrong.
The Rehearsal season 1, episode 6 recap – the finale and ending explained
At a pretend party for Adam (aged 9), one of the actors who played Adam (aged 6) starts to cry. He doesn’t want to leave the party or the simulation for that matter. Nathan asks the child’s mother if this is just a normal temper tantrum, but it becomes apparent that there are bigger issues at play here. The actor, called Remy in real life, looks to Nathan as his father figure, because he doesn’t have a dad of his own. He talks about his pretend daddy all the time and seems confused by the situation. Does he actually believe Nathan is his dad or does he want it to be true?
Nathan tries to end this confusion by visiting Remy at his home. Remy continues to call Nathan daddy, even after prompting from his mother and Nathan to call him Nathan. They explain how it was all just acting, that it wasn’t real. But Remy wants it to be real, telling Nathan that he wants him to be his daddy. This heart-breaking scenario feels like a lawsuit just waiting to happen, but the mother reassures Nathan, saying that she doesn’t blame him at all. By the end of their conversation, Remy just about accepts Nathan as a friend and calls him Nathan not daddy – problem solved.
The controversial situation blindsides Nathan, who can’t stop thinking about how he might have messed up a child’s life with his rehearsals. Most people would admit fault and move on, but Nathan has other plans. He decides to meticulously re-enact these moments with actors and fake sets, desperately searching for meaning and a way around the dilemma. How could he have avoided the problem and yet still continued with the experiment?
So, Nathan relives the moments he shared with Remy, but rehearses them with other people. He tries with Liam (who plays Adam aged 9) in a blonde wig, then with an adult pretending to be the child, then with a doll. Nathan then brings in an actor to play the mother and then he brings back fake Angela. Always attempting to fix the problem. It is rehearsal insanity that is hilarious, but deeply upsetting to see unfold. It is like watching Nathan Fielder’s brain unravelling.
Nathan meets with the real Angela and apologizes to her, admitting that he was the problem. She talks of forgiveness and Nathan realizes that he need to forgive himself for the mistake. For one final simulation, Liam plays Remy and Nathan plays Remy’s mother. Nathan wants to see the situation from a different perspective. They relive all of Remy’s moments. It is clear Nathan has regrets about the show and is trying to justify them in real time. In one beautifully honest moment (that is probably rehearsed), he says that life is full of surprises. It’s as if he has realized that these painstaking rehearsals aren’t actually worth the effort and it is more important to live in the moment instead. Ironically the series has just been renewed for a second season, so it would appear that his light-bulb epiphany didn’t actually stop Nathan from returning to the original well once more.
In the final moments, Nathan plays Remy’s mother once more, yet he slips up this time and calls himself the daddy. Liam tries to correct him, but he reiterates that he is the daddy. It’s a confusing and ambiguous moment that will surely infuriate viewers. Is it a genuine mistake or a poignant reflection on the entire setup? Does he now see himself as a father or is it purposefully vague for these very debates? Either way, this is a ground breaking show that I can’t wait to explore some more in a follow-up season.
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