A Teacher Season 1, Episode 5 recap: The truth comes out

In A Teacher Season 1, Episode 5, Eric and Claire enjoy a romantic weekend together in Dallas.

It’s Eric’s birthday in A Teacher Episode 5. To celebrate, he and Claire escape to an Airbnb in Dallas for a romantic rendezvous. Claire’s choice of rental is as perfect as perfect gets. It’s a remote ranch house in a place where nobody would recognize them and allows them to pretend they’re a normal couple living in domestic bliss.

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

Some parts of the episode make it almost seem like Claire and Eric are a normal adult couple, albeit one where Claire is still married and having an affair — but not necessarily Eric’s teacher. But for every genuine moment, there’s one seeded with the terrible reality of their “relationship.” Eric can’t help but think about what happens when they return to normalcy, and Claire returns to her husband.

Then there are awkward moments where Claire suggests they go to a bar in town. Eric reminds her he doesn’t have an ID. Or when she asks him about his past relationship with Allison and whether they loved each other. Eric dismisses that relationship like it was one from his youth, “I was 16.” As if that’s much different from his current age of 18. Claire easily forgets that Eric is a teenager. Yet, she also skillfully manipulates him.

During one scene, they start discussing Eric’s future at college. Claire makes a remark about all the sex he’s going to have because he has his whole life ahead of him. Eric gets upset. Why is she talking about him sleeping with other people? Does she think their relationship is real at all, or is it just some “bored housewife s–t?”

Claire gets all teary-eyed as she expresses her concerns that Eric won’t want her anymore when he goes to college. It’s super emotionally manipulative. Eric forgives her immediately and then tells her he loves her. Claire says she loves him too.

When Eric returns home later, his mom wishes him a happy birthday before heading to work. His mom thinks Eric spent the weekend with his friends. She says she wanted to give him the night off from babysitting, so she sent his brothers next door. Instead of doing something fun with people his own age, Eric spends the evening sitting alone with his birthday cake, evidence of how his relationship with Claire has isolated him.

A Teacher Episode 5

A TEACHER EPISODE 5 — Pictured: (l-r) Kate Mara as Claire Wilson, Marielle Scott as Kathryn Sanders. CR: Chris Large/FX

A Teacher Episode 5 recap: Claire tells Kathryn the truth.

When her special weekend with Eric is all said and done, Claire heads to a local bar where Matt and his band are scheduled to perform their first gig. She invites Kathryn along to spend time with her during the band’s performance. They steal a bottle of tequila from the bar and slip out into the parking lot to pre-game before the show.

Kathryn confronts Claire about her “glow.” She guesses that Claire is having an affair and doesn’t judge her for it — life’s too short. Between sips of tequila, Kathryn goads Claire into telling her more about her steamy weekend away and her adventurous romp with who she assumes is another man. She asks if Claire is enjoying the sex, and Claire enthusiastically says yes, which just makes what comes next so much grosser.

After begging and pleading, Claire decides she can trust Kathryn with the truth and reveals that the mystery man is none other than Eric Walker. At first, Kathryn thinks Claire is joking because that would literally be insane. But once she realizes the truth, she completely calls Claire out for thinking that this “relationship” is okay in any way, shape or form. “He’s a kid.”

All Claire can say is that he’s 18 now, the age of consent. Even if that were a  valid argument, she neglects to discuss the fact their relationship had carried on for months, even before he turned 18. Kathryn tells Claire she has no choice but to report her as she walks away, disgusted. Claire is left alone in the parking lot to accept the fact that her life as she knows it is about to explode in her face.

As MEAWW noted in their review, “While Claire had Eric as her only option to add some spice in her life, Eric has his whole life in front of him.” Claire’s only concern is how this whole thing could ruin her life, but she hasn’t once considered how it could be ruining Eric’s. Yes, she’s the one whose job, marriage and freedom are at risk — but Eric is going to have to live with the trauma.

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The first five episodes of A Teacher are now streaming on Hulu. New episodes release Tuesday nights at 12:00 a.m. ET.