Adolescence is already an unpleasant tornado of emotions, hormones and confusion around one’s identity. And none of it improves when you add the unique experience of moves your life out and moves to a military base in Europe.
These are the circumstances that teenager Fraser Wilson finds himself in during the premiere of HBOs We are who we are, an eight-episode miniseries co-created by Call me by your name author Luca Guadagnino. Before you tell us what you thought of Monday’s premiere, let’s break down what happened in episode 1:
If you are familiar with any of Guadagnino̵
We learn a lot about Fraser’s personality right away: He’s annoyed when his luggage is lost on arrival in Italy. When he tells his mother that he is thirsty, he does not want water but a mini bottle of alcohol in her bag. Later, when Sarah receives a freshly baked cake as a welcome gift at the base, Fraser removes quite a bit of the cake with her fingers and eats it. He is not the most considerate child, and his relationship with his mother is unusual (as when Sarah cuts her finger while opening a box and Fraser immediately sucks the blood out for her).
But as Fraser explores the base on his first day there, he appears to be enchanted by Caitlin (novice Jordan Kristine Seamón), a high school student whom Fraser overhears reading a poem to his class as he walks down the hallways. In much of the premiere, he does not say a word to Caitlin, but he seems to be fascinated by her. Britney, one of Caitlin’s friends, notices Fraser’s relentless staring and invites him to the beach with the rest of their group – but Caitlin’s friends find Fraser a little weird, and they spend much of that afternoon mocking him until Fraser leaving the beach alone.
Fraser spends the rest of the day without walking around the base aimlessly and gets more intoxicated as the night goes on; he even takes a spill while drunkenly walking along a pond and scraping his face up. Luckily, Maggie arrives to pick up Fraser before he can find more problems, and she is patient with him as he vomits from the alcohol and needs help to clean up the wound. (Maggie even reveals some tension in her marriage to Sarah and tells that it feels like Sarah “kisses a mirror” and not her own wife when the women are intimate.)
During the class, Fraser also sends a few voicemails to a person named Mark, who lives back in New York. Most of the messages are Fraser’s worldly, currents of conscious thought – but when he buzzes with wine during his first day at the base, Fraser mutters to himself, “Mark, I may miss you.” And later, during a confrontation with his mother, Fraser says he hates Sarah, especially when she made him give up his “perfect life” in New York. “You made me leave him,” Fraser says to Sarah, walking away from her.
The next day, Fraser realizes that Caitlin is his next neighbor when he overhears her being scolded for using her brother’s clothes. Caitlin is dressed in an oversized shirt and baseball cap, and the fascinated Fraser follows her on his bike all the way to a bar at the edge of the base. Fraser watches and listens as Caitlin poses as a boy while at the bar, pretending to be named Harper while talking to a young woman. When Caitlin turns to travel, she makes eye contact with Fraser, but once again they say nothing to each other. It is not until the next day at the beach that Fraser finally speaks to the object of his fascination: “So what shall I call you?” he asks.
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