A Teacher Season 1 Episode 4 Review: A Rule of Thumb

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So it begins.

Claire and Eric are in the throes of their illict affair as of  A Teacher Season 1 Episode 4, and as much as Eric may think this is a fairytale, it very much is not.

The pair is headed on a path of self-destruction, and we, as the audience, are already beginning to see those effects.

While the first three episodes offered an unconvincing buildup to Claire and Eric’s burgeoning relationship, this installment did little in the way to rectify that.

It’s still completely unclear why Claire is willing to risk everything in her life for a sexual relationship with a minor.

Claire: This cannot happen. This is stupid.
Eric: I’m sorry.
Claire: Anyone who follows me can see that. My husband can see that. Do you realize how fucked I am if anyone finds out? Look, if we’ve going to keep doing this, we need to set some ground rules.
Eric: Yeah, OK, whatever you need.
Claire: You cannot tell anyone about us, ever.
Eric: I know.

There are other — and way less illegal — ways to inject some rebellion into her seemingly picturesque life.

If she wants to try something crazy, I suggest a one-night stand with a guy she picks up at the bar, not sex in the backseat of her car with her juvenile student.

However, it seems as though the series doesn’t intend to offer a plausible reason for Claire’s actions going forward, so it might be best to put them out of our minds.

What is clear is why Eric is heading down this road.

He has naively convinced himself that he and Claire have something special, that the confines of their “relationship” extend beyond Monday “tutoring sessions” and impromptu booty calls.

He seems to think that he and Claire are in some sort of actual relationship, and while they may have to sneak around and keep it to themselves, Eric believes this is more than what it really is.

He’s in for a rude awakening when everything inevitably hits the fan.

Unfortunately, it may be too late by then.

He and Claire have been hooking up for no more than a week, and he’s already lying to those closest to him.

Eric: So, you’ve babysat before?
Leanne: No.
Eric: But, you have a sister?
Leanne: She lives with my dad and his girlfriend now.
Eric: OK, um, just turn on the TV, and they’ll basically watch themselves.

Worst of all, his actions have directly hurt his loved ones.

He late-night rendezvous with Claire led to his brother getting hurt.

Any fully developed and rational person would then take a step back and examine his or her choices as of late and realize that what’s happening isn’t the best idea.

Eric, though, is a lustful teenager, and years of locker room talk have led him to believe that bedding his older and attractive teacher make him the motherf*cking man.

So, this is the part of the story where it falls on the adult in this type of situation to take responsibility for what’s been done and put a stop to it.

But again, that is not Claire.

She has enough sense to put rules in place so that they don’t get caught but not enough to stop it outright.

She understands that if anyone found out about her and Eric, her life would be ruined, but she doesn’t seem worried enough to stop their affair.

Claire: So the SATs are in two weeks?
Eric: Yeah.
Claire: We should probably schedule more tutoring sessions.
Eric: Yeah.
Claire: Tonight?
Eric: Um, I can’t. I’ve got practice.
Claire: After. I can meet you at the same place.
Eric: OK.
Claire: Great.
Eric: I think I can make that work.

Claire has deluded herself into believing that as long as she and Eric follow those rules and don’t tell anyone about them, then everything will be fine.

The problem is that it’s not just them in their bubble.

Claire can plan all she wants, but even after a week of sneaking around, things already are starting to unravel.

Not enough for Claire to stop seeing Eric, though; if anything, these small slips seem to entice her further.

Claire claims she wants to keep things in an orderly fashion, but she finds delight in those moments where she loses control.

As the risk of getting caught increases, so does her infatuation.

It doesn’t take someone with a psychology degree to parse together what’s going through Claire’s head, but it might take an actual doctor to dissect her decision-making.

There’s a big difference between desire and acting on those feelings, and Claire crossed that not-so-imaginary line a while back.

She seems to be in this ill-advised “relationship” for the long haul, which will only make things that much worse for her when the truth comes out.

Eric: I do. I want this so much, but um, I’m just a little confused, OK. Because you texted me, and I’m glad you did, but what about your rules?
Claire: I just really want to fuck you right now.
Eric: I don’t want to just fuck. I mean, I love, um, fucking you, but I feel like… I really like you, like a lot, and I don’t know. I feel like… you’re so funny and smart and beautiful and I just feel like I’ve never been with someone like you before. And, fuck. I just want you to know that. This is all sounding really lame.
Claire: No, it doesn’t sound lame. I like you too.
Eric: Yeah?
Claire: Yeah, that’s why I’m here.
Eric: I didn’t even know if this was going to happen again.
Claire: Now you know.
Eric: Now I know.

While the series is set before the #MeToo movement took off by several years, that doesn’t mean the consequences will be any less dire.

Clarie is nowhere near connected enough to make this go away quietly, nor does she have enough money to bribe law enforcement officials to look the other way.

No, she will face very real and public repercussions when word of their affair leaks, and we know it will.

As the adult in this situation, she is the one who will deal with the brunt of the fallout.

At the very least, her marriage and teaching career are over.

At the worst, she’ll serve time in prison and will have to register as a sex offender.

What happens to Eric is less clear.

His future won’t be ruined in the same ways Claire’s will be, but he’ll still carry the trauma of what happened to him.

Josh: I’ve known you since first grade. I know when you’re fucking lying. So just tell me. Logan told me about the girl you met at work.
Eric: Yeah.
Josh: Yeah.
Eric: Yeah, man. I’ve never felt this way before. It’s new. She’s confusing too.
Josh: Love is a beautiful and confusing thing.

It’ll probably be years before he even realizes that what they did was wrong and even longer before he can come to terms that it wasn’t his fault.

Television has done a remarkably improved job at portraying the intricacies of the rape over the past few years.

However, these instances of rape are usually limited to very clear-cut examples, such as a woman being drugged at a party or being forced to have sex against her will.

There have been very few instances of gray, which is understandable.

Until recently, most rape victims were not believed or worse, they were villified for what happened, like they were asking for it, or it was their fault.

So since this is such a touchy subject, it makes sense writers want things to be as black and white as possible.

We, though, live in a world of gray, and an illict student-teacher relationship falls into that category.

There’s no questioning that what Claire and Eric are doing is wrong and illegal, but some might not feel comfortable categorizing their illicit relationship as statutory rape.

Alison: It’s nice to see you’re still alive.
Eric: Hey, yeah, um, I’m sorry. I should have texted you. I got really sick after the dance, and I just… I uh…
Alison: Yeah, fuck you.
Eric: Yeah.
Alison: Don’t lie to me. Can you at least give me that? Why did you even ask me to the dance? I mean, you broke up with me last year and now you abandon me in front of the whole and entire school.
Eric: Alison, I’m sorry. It really wasn’t planned.
Alison: I don’t want to hear that.

That’s what it is, though, and when you look further at the power dynamics, it becomes even clearer.

Hopefully, the series will attempt to tackle the aftermath in a thoughtful and respectful manner.

If not, then this show might actually do more harm than good.

Some stray thoughts:

  • Though it’s unnerving to watch their relationship to unfold, it’s good to remember Nick Robinson is 25. So while he may look young and be portraying a high schooler, he is an adult.

  • Alison is essentially the only one in this series with her head on straight. Good for her for standing up for herself and not taking any of Eric’s crap.

  • I’m not sure how I feel about Logan and Mary as a potential couple. Are they supposed to be some sort of parallel to Claire and Eric and highlight an appropriate relationship with an age difference, or is it just fodder to give Logan something to do besides be jealous of Eric?

So what did you think, TV Fanatics?

When will Claire and Eric’s “relationship” implode?

What will be the fallout when it does?

How do you hope the series handles the complicated conversations surrounding their affair?

Hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. 

Jessica Lerner is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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