NewsTV Explainers

A Teacher Episode 5 Ending, Explained

November 24, 2020
6 min read

Viewer discretion is certainly advised because ‘A Teacher’ takes a look at a rather forbidden relationship between a high school English teacher named Claire Wilson (Kate Mara), and her student, Eric Walker (Nick Robinson). The show doesn’t attempt to glorify this illicit relationship by any means. Instead, it explores the subtle intricacies and the “why” behind the characters acting the way they do. If you’re keen to know what episode 5 and its ending is all about, then we have got your back. 

A Teacher Episode 5 Recap

It is Eric’s 18th birthday, and the clandestine lovers go away on a secret trip to celebrate it. While in the hot tub, Claire states that she booked the breathtaking property a couple of weeks ago. Furthermore, this is an opportunity for them to celebrate his 1375 SAT score. Eric then cooks dinner, and they talk about Claire’s mother’s death over spaghetti and wine. The English teacher reveals that she was just 9 when her mother lost her battle with cancer. Following this, Nate went to the military, and their father became an alcoholic.

Calling it her personal brand of rebellion, Claire chased perfection so that she could be everything her father wasn’t. But she was still a walking reminder of everything that he had lost. Claire then asks Eric if he is curious about his father, to which he answers in the negative. He believes that you can’t miss what you’ve never had. The next morning, they’re cuddling in bed when Matt calls his wife to remind her about his cover band’s gig. Eric becomes a bit possessive and is visibly upset.

Although Claire tries to talk to him, he commands her to take her underwear off, and they have sex. In the evening, the student lights up a joint and shotgun’s his English teacher. Later, over a couple of beers, Eric asks Claire about her high school experience. She states that she had all these self-imposed rules and would never let her hair down. In fact, she only lost her virginity to Matt when she was a college senior. After discussing Eric and Alison for a bit, Claire states that he will hook up with many girls over the course of his life.

Eric goes to get another beer, and Claire confronts him about giving her the silent treatment. He vocalizes that everything will end the next day, and they will have to resort to pretense. After a small argument, Claire cries and states that she is risking her entire life to be with him. He apologizes, and they say “I love you” to each other. Furthermore, they spend their last night together, doing what they do best.

A Teacher Episode 5 Ending

On reaching home, Eric is eating his birthday cake, alone, in the kitchen. Claire, on the other hand, is at the bar where her husband is going to perform. Kathryn also comes, and she sneaks a bottle of tequila from the bar. The two teachers go to the parking lot and drink. Kathryn is pretty confident that Claire is having an affair and badgers her about the details. Initially, Claire is hesitant, but she confides in Kathryn that she is hooking up with Eric.

The French teacher thinks that Claire is just kidding and can’t take her seriously. However, on realizing that this is not a joke, Kathryn calls the entire situation a “monumental abuse of power.” Although Claire tries to justify her relationship by saying that they are in love and that Eric is 18, Kathryn knows that she needs to report Claire to the authorities.

The Bubble Has Burst 

For so long, Claire has lusted after Eric and vice versa. Both of them genuinely believe that they are in love with each other. In this episode, we learn a bit more about their backgrounds, and consequently, their psyche. All this time, they know what they are doing is basically illegal and morally wrong, yet they can’t keep their hands off of each other. But initially, they are far more aware of the dangers of the relationship.

As the series progresses, Claire is slowly bringing her guard down. She is the one who has everything to lose, and yet, she is letting herself get carried away by this pseudo-reality which she has created with Eric. In this world, it is all about love and sex. There are no tensions that accompany adulthood. She doesn’t have to face her fertility issues or dwindling marriage. She can just be… happy. At least that’s what Claire is thinking.

Knowing what is at stake, the teacher feels comfortable enough to let Kathryn know that she is having an affair with Eric. But who in their right mind wouldn’t report this illicit bond to the authorities? In the wake of this interaction, Claire is simply devastated. Her bubble has burst, and she has finally been welcomed back to the real world, where actions have consequences.

She can no longer stroll around the truth as it comes out sooner or later. However, we also felt that it could be the case that Claire, maybe subconsciously, wanted to get caught. Hear us out. No, we’re not saying that she is looking forward to being convicted for abuse of power. But this episode spends a great amount of time exploring her personality and how she has always strived for perfection.

Given that she has spent her formative years cultivating this habit, she can’t just switch it off willy-nilly. Claire has never really done anything dangerous, stupid, or immoral until she actually started hooking up with Eric. Even then, she was hesitant in the very beginning. Sure, she gives in to her carnal desires eventually and forms a relationship with the student.

However, old habits die hard, and maybe Claire hasn’t realized it yet, but a part of her could want to restore things back to “normal” since she inherently understands what she is doing is wrong. Otherwise, knowing what is at stake, why would Claire take Eric’s name in front of Kathryn?

Read More: Where Was A Teacher Filmed?

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