Warning: This The Time Traveler’s Wife Review contains spoilers and pregnancy-related trauma.
The season finale of The Time Traveler’s Wife takes pre-wedding jitters to new metaphysical levels. Henry’s nervousness about the future plus his failure to disclose key information on how time travel would affect normal married couple life makes wedding planning and prep extra complicated. There are also the complications of family expectations and the weight of past memories. Let’s discuss what happens.
Older Henry starts the documentary film once again by saying he hates videos. Videos capture memories and for a time traveler, memories are essentially bear traps he can fall into. Henry snaps into the future to see Older Henry’s documentary set-up. He then notices Older Clare watching the wedding and ends up leaving again.
The opening credits then transition to 14-year-old Clare running through the meadow with ‘Get Me To The Church On Time’ playing in the background. When she meets 42-year-old Henry she explains her mom is having a garden party and likes to play old musical soundtracks. He talks about memories of shoe polish but doesn’t explain what that means. We then move to see Richard watching the old footage of his wedding to Annette. It turns out that this is the same night Richard found Henry having sex with himself. 16-year-old Henry after that has to finally break the news to his dad that he’s a time traveler. Richard is struggling to accept that this is true but Henry tells him he saw his parents’ first kiss ever.
28-year-old Henry then tries to dissuade 20-year-old Clare from hiring a videographer for the wedding. He doesn’t want to keep time traveling back to that day. This scene is five weeks before the wedding day. Clare tells him she wants to preserve the memories. Charisse notices Henry is grumpy and it’s because Richard is invited to the wedding. We already have seen their relationship isn’t the best and it’s clear that it’s largely due to their shared grief over losing Annette, and Richard’s alcoholism.
While Henry is sleeping he travels to the future where he sees a house with a tree in the backyard. This is clearly Clare and Henry’s future house. He sees Clare crying as she’s rewatching the wedding video. Younger Henry goes back to the present where there’s still a lot of wedding prep to do. Clare asks why Henry hasn’t seen doctors for managing his condition. Henry then takes Clare to meet Richard for the first time. This meeting is far less awkward than when Henry met Clare’s parents. Richard is surprised by Clare not being blonde (ie she’s not Ingrid). Henry and Clare reveal the big day is October 23rd at a yacht club picked by Clare’s mom.
Henry then time travels to an empty living room. He has to hide because he sees 29-year-old Henry and 21-year-old Clare touring the house with a real estate agent. Clare can’t believe this is going to be their house but Henry tells her he’s seen it many times before. They joke about how they’re able to afford the place but Henry uses his abilities to play the lottery. The story moves to four weeks before the wedding and once again Richard is drinking. Henry tells him he’s time-traveling more often because he’s stressed. Instead of revisiting his mother’s death, he keeps returning to the future house with Clare. A trip to Bloomingdales to shop for registry items triggers another trip to the future. We then move to one week before the wedding at the rehearsal dinner. Gomez and Mark appear to be getting along. Clare’s parents are once again stanning Annette. Clare’s parents are turning the wedding into a Broadway production which makes Henry nervous about if he’s able to be there for the whole ceremony.
Henry realizes that he needs some kind of medical intervention to stop time traveling. Clare suggests he should go to a real doctor but Henry doesn’t want to become someone’s case study. Two days before the wedding he drives to a working-class neighborhood to meet a guy named Ben who has less-than legal drugs. Gomez is also there supposedly to meet with a client. Ben has an entire lab in his house because he has AIDS and is experimenting with pharmaceutical formulas not condoned by the medical establishment. The series’ decision to have Henry and Clare living in 2022 makes Ben’s plot line slightly out of step with our own history. In the novel, Henry visited Ben during the height of the AIDS crisis when treatments were not widely available and patients were discriminated against. The show takes place in the early 2000s which is when there was more access to prescription drugs to counteract the virus.
Ben shows Henry a pill containing morphine and some other mystery ingredients. The pill is intended for Henry to take the morning of the wedding but he swallows it. Gomez bangs on the door of Ben’s lab to find out what’s going on but encounters Henry passed out and then disappears. 28-year-old Henry keeps being pulled into the future at various points and stays there for several hours. These trips contain key clues toward Henry and Clare’s future in the house with the tree outside. In one of them, you see Clare throw a wine glass at Henry. Another short scene appears to be after Henry’s death because everyone in the house is dressed in black and Clare and Gomez are hugging outside.
The most important scene is when 36-year-old Henry finds 28-year-old Henry after seeing Clare crying in her studio. First of all Older Henry tells younger Henry that he’s not technically married to Clare because “he didn’t stick the landing”. Clare is crying because she has had several miscarriages. One of them is represented in a sculpture. Older Henry knows they happened because the fetus time travels in utero. He also tells Henry he had a vasectomy but didn’t tell Clare. Younger Henry yells at him for hiding the truth from Clare but Older Henry advises him that the procedure is the only way to stop the repetitive trauma. Both of them disappear after Clare asks them what they were talking about.
Back at Ben’s lab, Henry has come back but it is 36-year-old Henry who materializes and not 28-year-old Henry. Richard is there to greet Henry on his return which also adds to the confusion. This is why Henry refers to the wedding day earlier on in the episode as “shoe polish day” because they use polish to hide 36-year-olds Henry’s grey hairs. Richard notices that Henry looks at him differently which is another hint about Richard’s mortality. Henry asks his Dad about if it was worth it to marry Annette despite knowing it wouldn’t last forever and Richard says yes because of Henry. Despite all of the supernatural elements, Henry’s fears about the future are relatable. He wants to be the husband Clare dreamed of.
28-year-old Henry meanwhile is watching the wedding video he didn’t want to be filmed with older Clare. Older Henry looks to the camera and calls out 28-year-old Henry as an asshole. It’s obvious Clare is angry that Henry couldn’t figure out how to stay in one place. As they’re watching the wedding there’s some reflection about how marriage is like setting sail into a storm. After the vows, we see the band at the reception singing a jazzy rendition of ‘Get Me To The Church On Time’. The episode ends with a montage of other versions of Henry and Clare singing along, even Baby Clare with Older Henry.
The end of the episode does close the loop on how Henry and Clare finally get together, however fans will have questions. Book fans may notice some introductions were made in the last episode in regards to continuing plot lines while non-readers may wonder if 28-year-old Henry ever returns to Clare. HBO has not confirmed converting this miniseries into a series as of publication. If the series ends with this episode, it does bring enough closure for fans who didn’t read the book. Even if Henry and Clare’s happiness won’t last forever, they’ll have each other through thick and thin.
All episodes of The Time Traveler’s Wife are available to stream on HBO in the US and on Sky Go and NOW in the UK from Monday the 20th of June.