Warning: Contains spoilers and discussion of rape/sexual assault
The Time Traveler’s Wife Episode 3 Review
Episode 3 of The Time Traveler’s Wife finally addresses the questions viewers have about Clare’s teen years. Part of the answer explains Clare’s eventual career path and her relationship with Henry. The other part of the answer would appear unnecessarily traumatic if one didn’t realize this was in the original novel.
The episode begins with a return to Older Clare in the documentary. She reflects on her childhood being all about waiting for visits from Henry. She flips the pages on a paper calendar hoping the time between his visits moves faster. We also find out how Clare gets the notebook to write down all of the dates Henry will appear in the future. Clare in the documentary reveals that at least three different versions of Older Henry visit her during her childhood and pre-teen years. Clare asks him if he believes in God and other existential questions kids annoy adults with while they play board games. Henry explains to her that he experiences time travel like a shuffled deck of cards. The card that is next in order won’t be the next card pulled from the deck. Clare asks Henry if they are indeed married when she’s older but he lies and says while he’s met her family, they’re not together in the future.
Older Clare in the documentary notes that Henry did “the decent thing” to make sure boundaries were set for younger Clare. The premise of the show is already shaky in this regard, but these scenes for viewers who did not read the novel at least indicate that Episode 1’s hook-up only happened because Clare was an adult. There’s another Doctor Who Easter Egg from screenwriter Steven Moffat with 13-year-old Clare wearing a red raincoat and having an invisible older friend. Her childhood so far sounds like a fairy tale but then older Clare then mentions that there is always a wicked witch. Some may believe that’s Clare herself but in fact, someone else is the villain in her story.
There’s a transition to 16-year-old Clare greeting 41-year-old Henry in their usual meet-up location. Henry is freaked out by Clare’s appearance and also by the fact she’s excited about seeing him naked. She forces him to play reverse strip checkers for his clothes instead of handing him the box as younger Clare would do. Henry decides they need ice cream to cool down both the physical and emotional temperature. Several girls from Clare’s school see her with Henry and then later ask who the old guy is. We get a good example of the ‘sassy Black friend’ in the process of finding out more about teenage Clare.
The next time Henry drops in on Clare, she leaves him a note that she went to a party. We then see a ton of teenagers in a big house dancing and jumping into a pool. There are no adults in sight, and mid-2000 radio hits ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’ and ‘I Like The Way You Move’ are designed to either make Millennials (myself included) feel either nostalgic for their high school days or old as hell. Clare and her friends watch the boys frolic in the pool and ponder who’s the hottest. Once again, Clare gets the lecture that she’s never going to end up with Henry. Later on, we see Clare running towards Henry but he disappears through time.
On a different day after the house party, 16-year-old Clare meets 32-year-old Henry. She’s taking her driving test and wants to take Henry for a ride. Clare mixes reckless driving down busy streets and highways with awkward questions for Henry about their future together and whether he’s been arrested before. Henry says he’s been able to get away with a lot because he usually escapes police custody. Clare reveals that since Henry left after the house party something bad happened. She wants Henry to kill a boy named Jason Everleigh since he hurt her, and Henry has clearly gotten away with crimes before. She even packed a gun from her father in the glovebox.
Henry confronts Jason at his house and he pees his pants with fear. He shoves Jason into the trunk. Clare’s kind enough to drive back around to bring Jason his inhaler since he’s wheezing more than crying. They drive Jason to a secluded spot in the woods and duct tape him to a tree. Clare says Jason didn’t rape her but he did burn her with his cigarettes and bruised her after she refused to have sex with him. He was angry that she revoked consent. Older Clare in the documentary says Jason raped her but she lied because she wanted Henry to be her first. Jason meanwhile is tied up and taunting Clare about how “she really wanted it” and even says that she sent him texts that don’t show consent was revoked. Clare admits she did send the texts but only to diffuse Jason’s anger, not that she wanted to be beaten up.
Henry gets a few punches in before giving Clare a blue permanent marker and disappearing into the future. Clare calls her friends to continue her revenge plans. They use the permanent marker to write all of the stories of what Jason did to them and other victims. Older Clare says that was her first piece of sculpture which explains her pursuit of art school for college.
The episode ends with a loop back to Episode 1 where 20-year-old Clare meets 28-year-old Henry at the library. She says she met her soulmate but notes once again that Henry is an asshole. How does Henry go from co-conspirator to zero again? We’ll hopefully find out in the next episode of The Time Traveler’s Wife.
The Time Traveler’s Wife Episode 4 airs on Sunday the 5th of June on HBO in the US and on Monday the 6th of June on Sky Atlantic in the UK.