Fleishman is in Trouble, Episode 8 (Finale): With its final episode, Fleishman is in Trouble, floored me due to its contemplative approach. Based on her own novel, Taffy Brodesser-Akner created this series that goes through an array of emotions, switching its gears seamlessly from being a black comedy, a satire, to a tragic drama and becoming a contemplation about life, love, and so much more. While going through Toby’s mental state after his divorce for a majority of its duration, it manages to flesh out other characters while staying true to its style of humor with razor-sharp writing.
Fleishman is in Trouble Episode 8 (Finale) Recap ‘The Liver’
How does Toby react to Rachel’s nervous breakdown?
Directed by Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini, the season finale takes us back to Toby’s (Jesse Eisenberg) apartment and to his mental anguish. After spending the entire day with Rachel (Claire Danes) and understanding her side, Libby (Lizzy Caplan) is devastated. She makes an appointment for her treatment with a doctor. She then goes to meet Toby and shares everything she hears from Rachel. Despite hearing Rachel’s tragic state, he cherry-picks the events like cheating and abandonment, where she looks like a villain, and he becomes a pitiable figure. Libby gets annoyed by his state of denial about Rachel’s nervous breakdown and leaves.
The next day, Toby proceeds with his life as a doctor. He feels a sense of regret for stoically treating his patient’s husband. Despite his medical profession, he never let death become normal for him, and it upsets him that he did not take care of his emotions with due care. However, he cannot comprehend that a person can choose a life even if it is not about what they love. For him, doing what he loves is life. Solly (Maxim Swinton), his son, becomes a puppet replica of his thoughts and ideas, which he presents just as eloquently as his father.
However, Hannah (Meara Mahoney Gross), who earlier decides to go along with Toby’s decision to walk down the footsteps of Judaism, realizes that she does not want to lead her life that way. She does not want to be destined for a particular purpose, and she was not even sure if she believes in God or not. While Toby kept insisting she should do it as a form of tradition, he sensed her maturity of thoughts soon after and realizes that her freedom of thought is more important than complying with his worldview. After that, he even feels assured to enter the Vantablack exhibit with both his kids and face the void. However, the narrator Libby now delves into her own life’s story through her stages of midlife crisis.
Before being approached by Toby, Libby was in her second year as a stay-at-home mother after her resignation from the magazine office. By then, she had completed five years of living in the suburbs and thirteen years of her marriage. She kept trying to connect with other moms, but could not do it with her witty ruminations about life. After learning about an old friend’s divorce leading her to a new partner, she started feeling cheated by her life. Why is her life so mundane when everyone else seems to be enjoying the sense of freedom that she sought? With the same thought, she approached a guy she used to like when she was much younger. Unfortunately, he turns out to be a pervert.
Around that time, she received a call from Toby. After that, she started frequently meeting him and Seth and almost reliving a carefree life from the past where she harbored an abundance of choices. Hanging out with them started seeming like an escape route toward an everlasting, youthful confidence. She got so enveloped in seeking it that she became increasingly distant from her family. After returning from Toby’s home that night, she tries to speak with Adam (Josh Radnor). However, he is so pissed at her for her recent irresponsible behavior and her absence from the kids’ lives that he does not entertain her in any way.
While he is angry, he does not sulk about it to others like Toby. He takes the familial responsibilities and works out a routine with the kids. But he does that without her interference. It hurts her to see them not including her in their routine, but Adam is way past that. While she cannot find any interest in suburban life, he sincerely invests in it. During their eventual argument, he notes tolerating her miserable, sarcastic personality in the recent past while being a thoughtful husband. She feels even more guilty due to not being able to find anything substantially wrong in her marriage with him.
She apologizes, but unlike him – who finds satisfaction in the comfort of their life’s privileges, she cannot find joy while living among people with vapid lives. When he asks her to let him be a part of her journey of sorting out her chaotic state of mind, she does not accept that proposal. She keeps up with her attempts at self-discovery by herself. She starts reading the book ever-confident alpha male Archer while often being left to live her life on her own. Over a period of hardly any communication, she brings up the subject of Seth’s (Adam Brody) party, where he mentioned she must come. Adam tells her to go on her own.
Upon reaching there, she walks in on her own to the bar, bumps up into Toby, and starts talking after a while of zero conversation with him. He tells her that it is the night when Seth is going to propose to his recent girlfriend, and they both seem dumbfounded. They cannot fathom that this freewheeling friend has finally decided to settle. Through her conversation with Toby, you feel her sense of freedom to be uninhibitedly witty. Later, when Seth goes on to propose, Libby gets emotional. It is because of the miserable places where marriage led her and Toby and the realization that Seth is getting married only after years of living a free-spirited life.
Seeing her teary-eyed, Toby apologizes to her, and she apologizes back. During their following conversation, Libby mentions that she finds no solace in contentment, which in turn led her to a life of quiet and emptiness. When she mentions that, Toby asks what her next plan is. She shares that she wants to start writing a book and narrates one, which sounds almost similar to Toby’s life. She wants to do it with the same level of unwavering confidence as Archer but not be one-sided like him – presenting only what she liked and preferred. She feels envious of this author, who did not need validation to feel confident in his thoughts.
She and Toby discuss the book’s ending, and she notes the possibility of Rachel’s return and digresses to only sense how her mental state during the last couple of months has been similar to hers. After experiencing a bit of fun and danger as a thrill outside a mundane life, she started realizing what matters in the grand scheme of things. She believes Rachel would return with the same realization, and while Toby is sitting by himself, trying to move on, she would open the door with a key and give him a pleasant surprise. She cannot think of what the future would hold after that situation. They both start crying due to their shared feeling about the uncertainty of the future. He apologizes to her for being selfish all this time, and they decide to meet outside and leave together.
Fleishman is in Trouble Episode 8 (Finale) Ending Explained
How do Libby and Toby decide to do with their lives?
Libby goes out first, lights a cigarette, and in the chain of her thoughts, decides to head home. She hails a cab instead of taking the subway to her suburban home, probably with the thought of returning to her family as soon as possible. After texting Toby about leaving like that, she starts contemplating her life before and after marriage. When a couple decides to divorce, it starts thinking about their partner as the cause of their misery, while they are the closest ones. She has had a similar feeling in the recent past where blaming Adam could not help her. She realizes that the feeling of escaping her present self felt better because she always felt she was losing the young, carefree her, which she considered being the best version of herself.
After marriage or after any similar major decision, she changed and did not accept the absolute certainty of such a change. She realizes that denying her present is not going to help. She accepts that at every moment in her life, she would be young as she is ever going to be. Instead of feeling miserable about getting older and older, making the most of those moments would give her the sense of pleasure she was seeking. Upon reaching home, she walks around, sees their kids happily sleeping, and then goes to her bed. She sleeps next to Adam, apologizes to him, and confesses that she loves him.
They go through a moment of bonding after a while of distance. Meanwhile, back in the city, Toby returns to his home and starts seeking contentment, a sense of satisfaction in his life. He understands the insignificance of his misery while looking at several lives through the lit-up windows of other buildings. He contemplates his near future while looking through the rain window. That’s when Rachel opens the door to his home, and right at that moment, the story ends.
It is the exact ending that Libby narrates doing Seth’s party. So, it implies that it is an imaginative one. However, it is upon the viewer to decide whether to consider it to be real or not. Its uncanny resemblance to the story can make one look at it as mere fantasy. Unlike that cynicism, one might look at it as a possible ending between the couple where, after the hiccups and adventures, what the couple seeks is one another.