Fleishman is in Trouble (Episode 7): Created by Taffy Brodesser-Akne, ‘Fleishman Is in Trouble’ focused, until now, on Toby’s perspective on his divorce. The new episode presents Rachel, beyond the minor glimpses we see of hers in Toby’s life, as a nuisance, as a selfish, careerist individual. The episode delves deeper into her brokenness after the loss of their marriage. Claire Danes’ achingly beautiful performance presents Rachel’s soul-crushing journey with an incredible amount of compassion. The tonal shift from black comedy does not seem the least bit jarring, and it is a testament to the razer-sharp writing and the direction (besides the acting performances) that keep us equally involved in both these ex-partners’ mindscapes.
Fleishman is in Trouble (Episode 7) Recap:
What was Rachel doing on the bench with a bagel?
Episode 7: Me-Time
While crushed by the weight of her own sadness, Libby (Lizzy Caplan) finds Rachel (Claire Danes) on a park bench opposite hers with a bagel in her hand. She looks dispirited, unlike what Libby would have pictured her because of the image Toby (Jesse Eisenberg) painted of hers. She goes up to ask about her situation and primarily to understand the reason for abandoning Toby and her family. However, upon speaking with her, she feels a sense of pity and takes her out for lunch. Soon after, they go back to her apartment, where the family used to live together before the divorce.
This new episode, directed by Valerie Faris & Jonathan Dayton, shows Libby discovering previously unknown dimensions of the Fleishman divorce. In a disheveled state, Rachel starts talking about the cause of the eventual fallout and her meltdown. However, it started much before the three weeks – when they got divorced. With the opening of her own talent agency, she started getting busier. She does a favor during this time for Sam Rothberg (Josh Stamberg) by pulling some strings to get his nephew some fantastic gigs. Over the period, Sam shows the same level of interest in her that she had in him for a while.
Upon meeting his wife – Miriam (Jenny Powers), Rachel gets pulled into the web of wealthy friends. She was so envious of the way Miriam saw steps ahead into the future. Rachel faked a persona to fit in their group. As a kid, she had an experience of being othered and outcasted, mainly due to her desperation to be ‘one of them.’ When she first met Toby, he did not see her accent or her effort to fit in with the influential bunch. That’s what made her interested in him that he accepted without any pretentious malice.
Later, Rachel met Toby’s family and sensed how she had never had the experience of having one. After losing both her parents at a young age, she was raised by her grandmother, without a sense of protective shelter of wealth or safety, unlike him. Despite the share of happy moments of finding this blissful acceptance, she also had terrible memories related to their marriage. One of them was during her first childbirth, where Dr. Romalino (Vincenzo Amato) treated her pregnancy in a painful manner, with no necessary precautions.
Earlier, we see it only from Toby’s point-of-view, who sulks at her anger toward him for not being able to pull some strings in the hospital – to bring the appointed doctor. Now we see her trauma related to this incident being operated on without her consent. After the baby was born, she initially refused to take it in her hands due to the pain in her legs. However, to not hurt Toby’s sentiments by her not being motherly enough, she succumbed to it and to the duties of motherhood. He went back to his duties without worry or concern, oblivious to what she was going through.
One day, when she cannot bear the thought of being miserable, he hands her a pamphlet from a therapist to see for her postpartum depression. She did not want to go down that road but later accepted to be a part of a group of mothers that discuss the same. She did not feel included over there, and when she entered the conversation happening between a group of rape survivors, that is when she broke open. While acknowledging that she was not raped like them, she could not bear the thought of a doctor breaking down a person, breaking down who she was, in that horrifying manner.
Soon after the opening of emotions, Rachel felt the need to get back to her routine as an agent. She perhaps did not want her identity to be reduced to that of a survivor. That is when she approached Alejandra Lopez (Juani Feliz) with the idea of putting her dream show on stage instead of letting her singular talent be wasted on the TV writers’ table. Rachel opened her own agency with only this one client and, with the enormous success of their show, started bagging more deals. Soon, the agency grew, and so did the number of employees and the responsibilities that started falling over them.
At the same time, she started becoming lesser and lesser attentive toward her family, and Toby started getting angrier for her neglect of household responsibilities. Around this time, Sam gave a proposal for Toby to join his company, which would require him to let go of his noble job involving patient interface. The same argument opened up their differing worldviews and led to their divorce. After the divorce, she started getting closer to Sam in an intimate manner, who saw her enormous potential as an agent and praised it without any sense of irony in his words. Meanwhile, Toby kept getting an increasing number of parental responsibilities, leaving him restless.
Rachel goes to a yoga retreat with Sam, and at the beginning of this trip, she enjoys their casual sex with him. However, through the healing treatments, she opens to the uncharted territories of her mind, and with the same honesty comes a giant appetite for self-acceptance. She realizes that she is never accepted for who she is, and upon seeing her gloomy state, Sam also leaves her on her own. Her fear of abandonment gets heightened and makes her feel incredibly alone. The quote ‘You can go home now’ on her T-shirt starts feeling like a slap on the face.
In this state of bewilderment, she hides her phone elsewhere, perhaps fearing contact with any person accusing her of some wrongdoing or failing on her part. She returns home to their apartment and sloths away her days with worry and constant isolation. She tries to reinvent herself in numerous ways and meanwhile fails. She eventually falls into a Groundhog Day type of repetition of her mundane routine. Even the contact with her regular acquaintances makes her go through a whirlwind of nightmares. Upon meeting her wealthy mom-friends in a park, she mentions her abundant responsibilities as a way out from hanging out with them. Yet the same mention makes her realize that she had not been paying attention to her clients or her office all this time.
Fleishman is in Trouble (Episode 7) Ending, Explained:
How does Libby react to Rachel’s side of the story?
After this realization, Rachel goes back to her house and learns from the guard the amount of time that has passed. Some letters arrived from her assistant that she had not checked for weeks. She thought of going to Toby to have a word with him. But she realized that he would load her with a sense of guilt for things that she believed to be her mistakes.
Then, Rachel goes to meet Alejandra, who mentions having returned to the previous agency where Rachel used to work at because of Rachel’s sudden disappearance. She feels another wave of sadness since Alejandra was her discovery as a talent, whom the head of the previous agency had bluntly put forth to be a diversity hire. In the same hunger-filled state, she went to the park, wearing sweatpants and a coat over her T-shirt.
Upon hearing her entire story, Libby seems shaken herself. As mentioned before, a completely different dimension of the divorce opened up for her, which she had no idea about. While Rachel tries hard to organize her thoughts and her apartment while trying to showcase a semblance of normalcy, Libby understands what she is going through. She takes her to the bed and tells her that she needs help besides this. The episode ends with Rachel shutting her eyes and then Libby hearing the message on her phone where Toby was still engulfed in his individual sadness.