A Teacher Episode 2 recap: Claire saves Eric from serious trouble

In A Teacher Episode 2, Eric gets caught underage drinking, and Claire steps in to save him. Later, Claire takes him on a college field trip.

By the time A Teacher Episode 2 begins, it’s October in the school year. Claire and Eric have been continuing their out-of-school tutoring sessions for about a month now, long enough that Eric feels confident enough to call Claire for a serious favor.

Content warning: This series contains sexual situations and depictions of grooming that may be disturbing to some.

Logan hosts a debaucherous teen house party, as teenagers tend to do in all television shows (and yes, based on my own experience, in real life) when the cops show up to bust it. They happen to arrive just as Eric was hooking up with his ex-girlfriend Allison and Logan was trying to make moves on Josh’s younger sister — another troubling age-gap relationship with some parallels to Eric and Claire.

Luckily for Eric, he realizes the cop who catches him is Claire’s brother, Nate (Adam David Thompson). “I’m not like these other kids,” Eric says, referring to being raised by a single mom and struggling on a low income. Eric calls Claire to tell him he has a student there that needs help. She convinces him to let it slide. While many of Eric’s peers get citations, including Allison, Eric gets off scot-free.

The next morning, during their scheduled SAT prep session, Claire decides to change plans at the last minute. She surprises Eric by showing up at his house and taking him on an impromptu field trip to tour UT. There, he takes the first chance he gets to apologize for having her brother call. “I feel like I can trust you.” Before Claire gets a chance to respond, a douchey-frat UT student named Cody (Cameron Moulene) and friend to Eric drives up and invites them to a “kegs and eggs” (am I old, what is that?) party.

Eric is ready to shoot him down, but Claire says they’ll stop by for a minute. I know where this road will eventually lead, but you’d think Claire would start thinking about how it would look were someone to recognize them and notice a teacher and her student at some random college party.

Further bonding ensues over cups of orange juice (kegs and eggs is like…frat brunch, I’ve learned). Eric awkwardly skirts questions about the cops at the party from Cody, not wanting to offend Claire. She later admits that this is her first frat party. She was a commuter during her years at the college and always too busy taking care of her alcoholic father to have much of a social life.

As Eric can obviously relate to single-parent life, he opens up to Claire, telling her how he never met his father. They share a moment when Eric notices something in her hair, causing some unspoken moments to pass between them. Uncomfortable, Claire realizes the optics of their situation and says they should leave.

After dropping Eric off at home, she deletes his latest text from her phone, perhaps to relieve some temptation. We get a peek at some of their previous text exchanges. So far, nothing untoward is evident, although Claire may have deleted other texts in the past. As for Eric, he can’t help but check his social media where he’s requested friendship with Claire. She’s yet to accept or deny, leaving him in limbo.

In the aftermath of their day trip, Claire almost instantly picks a fight with Matt. To be fair, I don’t think she was necessarily wrong. Matt buys a bunch of obviously expensive sound equipment and instruments as the beginning of some mid-life crisis. He wants to start a band with some of his work friends. I mean, I get it, but  Claire has a point that he could have at least asked her before dipping into their savings for such a substantive amount. “This stuff never loses value.” Sure, Matt.

One good thing about A Teacher, Matt’s mom, is aware of his time spent with Claire. I’m glad it’s not being kept a complete secret and I hope she’ll be part of Eric’s recovery. While prepping dinner, she asks him how things went with their SAT prep. He tells her they took a UT trip and expresses his delight at having someone to talk to about college, applications, and SATs. Eric’s unruly little brothers interrupt their conversation, so Eric takes them into the yard to distract them while their mom finishes cooking.

She can’t keep the slightly worried expression off of her face as she watches them through the window. Does she feel bad that she can’t be that pillar of support for Eric? Or does she think he might be spending too much time with Claire? “It’s a big deal, her giving up a Saturday to take you and do something like that.”

That night, Claire accepts Eric’s friend request on her private account, but she doesn’t appear to follow him back.

School is awkward the next day when Josh is the only one out of the trio of friends to get punished. Somehow Logan managed to get out of trouble, too, despite the party being at his house. As for Eric, he’s told his friends he passed the breathalyzer purely by “staying hydrated” despite taking several vodka shots. He gets distracted during the conversation as he notices that Claire has allowed him to follow her Instagram account. He sees that she shared a picture taken from their UT trip.

A Teacher Episode 2

A TEACHER Episode 2 — Pictured: (l-r) Nick Robinson as Eric Walker, Kate Mara as Claire Wilson. CR: Chris Large/FX

A Teacher Episode 2: Eric kisses Claire.

Shortly after checking out Claire’s Instagram page, Eric visits Claire in her classroom while it’s empty. “I liked being out in the world with you.” He’s taken Claire’s acceptance of his request on Instagram as a sign, and he kisses her.

Claire immediately pushes him away and tells him to leave. Normally, this would be the point where Claire would shut down all out-of-school interactions with Eric, but as we know, especially based on her expression afterward, this is just the start.

A Teacher Episode 2: Gradebook

  • “She’s at a Goop retreat.”
  • After reading Nick Robinson’s recent InStyle interview about the show, I think I understand more of what the show’s goal is in introducing this relationship as something we almost want to root for, at first. According to Robinson, the goal is to make the audience feel “complicit,” so when the other shoe drops, we can understand Eric’s trauma all the better.

What did you think of A Teacher Episode 2? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

The first three episodes of A Teacher are now streaming on Hulu. New episodes will be released on Tuesdays going forward.