The Rehearsal (Season 1), Episode 1 Recap & Ending Explained: Nathan Fielder, creator of the famous American Docu-Reality Comedy TV series Nathan for You is back with his comedic charms and out-of-the-box absurdities.
The Rehearsal is supposed to be an extension of the earlier show. However, this one is more ambitious with its hilarious and experimental piques. The HBO docu-comedy is Nathan Fielder’s long-awaited follow-up project that is undoubtedly wittier and more thoughtful. The series’ plot is simple and immediately grabs your attention; with its humorous observational narration leaving you in splits.
In the show, Nathan Fielder plays himself and rehearses with people from different backgrounds to help them through difficult and possibly important situations. He creates a spitting image of the scenarios with people and the environment and prepares them to go through a dreading moment of living an actual truth of their life.
Please note the following recap contains spoilers; I request you to read it at your discretion.
The Rehearsal (Season 1), Episode 1 Recap:
Episode 1 of The Rehearsal begins with Nathan saying “I’ve been told my personality can make people uncomfortable, so I have to work to offset that. Humor is my go-to instinct, but every joke is a gamble.” Giving us a brief insight into what we are going to witness in the show, Nathan Fielder effortlessly starts playing with his audience from the first moment itself.
After creating an online advertisement about a television opportunity, a 50-year-old teacher from Brooklyn, New York, connects with him. Experimenting with his idea of predicting how people would act in the future in an uncertain environment – Nathan wants to help people to work their way out of tricky situations in their life.
Why does Nathan Fielder want to help the teacher?
Kor is a bibliophile who also loves television trivia. He hangs out with his friends in a bar and participates in trivia contests. However, all this time, Kor has been lying to his teammates about his educational background. While everyone in the group is an advanced degree holder, he only has obtained a bachelor’s degree.
A particular person in the group is concerned about his work life; therefore, she keeps sending him multiple job profiles that require an advanced degree. Kor, however, is out of ideas to avoid her recommendations and is also afraid to come clean to her.
Knowing this, Nathan does a little experiment on Kor before agreeing to meet him in person. He sends two people from his team (impersonating gas pipeline inspectors) to Kor’s building to check for any leakage. While one person checks his apartment kitchen for leakage, the other takes multiple pictures and videos of his entire residence.
Assuming that Kor’s TV trivia knowledge will help him understand his working methods, Nathan mentions his famous show, Nathan For You, which also had a similar context. Observing the reaction to the rhythm of his conversation, he realizes that sometimes his tricks don’t work their charm on people as he predicts. Unfortunately, in this case, Kor is not loosening up as he expected, in spite of Nathan’s clarification as to how exactly his plan works.
Building a replica of his apartment, Nathan had practiced having a scripted conversation several times with an actor who plays Kor. To explain this detail further, Nathan helps him understand how his experiment/plan will help Kor with different variables that will give him a happy outcome out of dreary situations.
What does Nathan do to understand Kor a little better?
Kor wants to admit his lie to his friend; however, he fears her response could get violent. He is also not sharing many details about her, which is challenging for Nathan to see things through. He plans a day trip with Kor to Upstate (strategically designed to persuade him) in the hope that he would open up with him. Trying to bond over activities like point blank range or swimming, Nathan tries to work his way with Kor in disclosing personal information for a better outcome.
On their return home, Kor talks about his trivia friend, Tricia. She is a freelance writer with a blog called ‘Cheap Chick in the City.’ So, Nathan soon hires an actor who will enact Tricia while rehearsing with Kor for the day of the event – confession time!
Going back to his workstation, a massive garage that modules replica’s of his subjects’ life, Nathan checks the blog to get better insight about Tricia. Only to find out there isn’t much on the website except for apologies for posting nothing (which he understands because sometimes people don’t have anything to say, though they want others to know they exist).
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What plans does Nathan come up with to know about Tricia?
The little information about Tricia is not enough for the stage actor to get into the character. Nathan devises another plan to know the sense of reaction real Tricia may give post confession. He creates a blog – ‘Thrifty Boy’ and offers Tricia an opportunity to write blogs for the website. To his luck, she accepted the offer. His article entails interviewing a professional birdwatcher for the site. Completely unaware that she would be meeting her doppelgänger for the interview. Someone who would be studying Tricia’s every move.
When the actor suggests that Tricia is also her daughter’s name, the real one is amazed because usually, she never found Tricia or Patricia to be a familiar name. While studying her, the actor observes that she is talkative, but doesn’t seem to have an intimidating character. She also tests her to check if she loses her calm once she confesses being lied to about having a daughter known by the same name.
Tricia doesn’t mind the lie and coerces the conversation back to the interview without getting annoyed or angry about being lied to. It gives them heads-up about how things may unfold on the day of the event.
Meanwhile, Kor decides to confess at the bar where they meet for trivia contests/events to avoid any speculation or outbursts. Nathan visits the bar to understand the place better, but he is overwhelmed by the chaos of the environment. It was a challenge, but he could still work things in the right direction with the right props and arrangement. He collects enough footage to help build the set from scratch keeping minute details in mind for a fruitful result on an actual day.
Nathan takes Kor to the set designed by his team and he is amazed at how every detail of the bar is done with absolute precision.
Does the entire plan come together for both Nathan and Kor?
Nathan prepares a flow chart based on every possible reaction that would be the deciding factor for the night. From selecting which table to pick, what drinks to order, what flow conversation must have, to the kind of jokes he will make to break the ice until confession time. Nathan makes sure every set of possibilities is listed down on the flow chart. It is vital to be on the script to avoid any mistakes. The show captures Nathan hovering over the actors in a mobile laptop harness and supervising everything with the help of the flow chart that devises each choice with an alternate outcome.
Everything is meticulously designed – even keeping in mind the fear of getting a violent reaction during the reveal of his educational situation. Going through the moment of the fear of explaining one lie and losing his friendship overwhelms Kor. He is scared because, with every rehearsal session, he is living fearful moments of how Tricia will react again and again.
To help him through, Nathan recommends that he should come up with the ‘truth’ after playing the trivia game. However, while practicing the game, Kor is distracted and can’t focus on the game and the situation he has at hand. Nathan decides to somehow get Kor the answers so that he is not distracted when he is about to blurt out the truth. But since he knows Kor has told him that cheating on a test is against his personality, Nathan decides to come up with an alternative. Nathan then starts to feed the answers to the quiz in various ways without Kor realizing that he is doing so.
Was Kor able to confess to Tricia on the day of the event?
On the day of the event, after rehearsing the scenario umpteenth time, Kor enters the bar. He finds someone else sitting at his selected table, making him nervous. Fortunately, knowing tactics that would work as magic, he finally gets the seats he was comfortable with. Once Tricia arrives, they greet each other, and Kor follows the pattern in the exact order. He orders drinks and starts having a conversation until he realizes that his friend is having a bad day and not in the mood for any worse.
To alleviate the situation, he makes little jokes that were scripted as alternatives. Very soon, the trivia game begins, and Kor, to his surprise, realizes that he knows the answer to most of them. By the end of the game, he gets confident with the success of each move. While handing out the answers to the core team of the trivia quiz, he prepares himself for the final action – coming clean to Tricia about his lie.
During the rehearsal time, Kor was scripted to confess right after the 4th round of the quiz and order food that would keep Tricia busy. However, his friend was not in a chatty mood on the actual event day, which made everything tricky for Kor. He orders two pizzas, and both of them wait for their order to arrive. For some reason, Kor is not moving ahead with the plan he was meant to. He is reticent, and so is Tricia. After a lot of hesitation and introspecting, he decides to confess.
He tells her that he is not an advanced degree holder and doesn’t know why he lied to her in the first place. Although he owes her no explanation, lying to her was not a wise thing to do as a friend, and he apologizes to her for it. However, Tricia, to his surprise, doesn’t mind it at all and says it is okay. She confronts him, saying it is not a big deal, and everything is fine, even if he doesn’t have a master’s degree. Relieved that she didn’t react as he imagined her to every time he thought he would come clean to her, Kor opened up even more to her; little sharing details about him and his family.
The Rehearsal (Season 1), Episode 1 Ending Explained:
After a successful and eventful night, Kor meets Nathan outside his house and shares how much this confession meant to him. Nathan listens to everything and then tells him he has something to confess too. Rehearsed several times in advance about having the same conversation, he explains to the actor (playing Kor) how he could answer all the quiz questions.
He reveals that he planted all the answers well in advance by staging real-life scenarios and trivia so Kor would not get distracted and ace the quiz. Episode 1 of the first season, The Rehearsal, in the end, shows that the staged actor gets angry and feels let down by Nathan’s move.
In the actual case, on the other hand, Nathan compliments Kor about being a good man. The ending of the first episode leaves the audience to introspect whether Nathan confesses the truth, whether Kor gets angry, or if Kor responds to Nathan’s compliment with a thank you.
What is the meaning of Episode 1 of the show The Rehearsal?
Interpreting the meaning of the show’s first episode shows that no matter how much you prepare for a moment; regardless of how much work you put in to decide how things will work, dealing with life is often spontaneous.
No deciding factor or tool can change the course of a human psyche into understanding how to handle a critical moment in life or people’s reaction to it.