In a season that has gone above and beyond in awkward yet hilarious moments, Nathan Fielder completely outdid himself in “Hero,” the finale to the third season of Nathan for You. Aside from his ability to subtly milk humor out of subjects who are, for the most part, just reacting to him, one of Fielder’s strengths is his ability to play the long game for the sake of comedy. Whether it be opening Dumb Starbucks or starting up his own outerwear line, Fielder demonstrates time and time again a tenacious commitment to his craft.
In “Hero,” Fielder once again departs from the series premise of helping struggling small business owners improve their businesses, to instead play humanitarian by helping a struggling individual improve their life. His subject was Corey Calderwood, a part-time arcade worker living with his grandparents who he found employing an open casting call for a fake reality series marketed towards people who want to change their lives.
But in typical fashion, instead of teaching a man to fish, Fielder instead concocted a hare-brained scheme to transform Corey’s life in a two-pronged effort of both finding him a girlfriend and having him accomplish something amazing that people would truly remember. He pulled this off with an insanely intricate and elaborate setup of not only temporarily assuming the complete identity of another human being, but also actually teaching himself to walk a wire between two Los Angeles high rise buildings.
After studying Corey and his mannerisms in a series of interviews, as well as getting a 3-D map of his face, Fielder sent Corey to a trailer in the Mojave Desert to get him out of the way long enough to put his plan into action. Kind of like Scott Bakula in Quantum Leap, I guess you could say. And the plan worked! (Or at least, at the time it did. I’d have to imagine if Corey’s cover didn’t get blown before, Thursday night’s episode may have given it away.) Having painstakingly taught himself to wire walk over the course of the season, Fielder assumed Corey’s persona with the help of a prosthetic face and body and performed the act in the name of breast cancer for the hundreds gathered below — including many local news stations — effectively turning “Corey” into a hero before making a stealthy bait and switch following the stunt.
Epic just doesn’t quite seem to cover it. It’s difficult to imagine Fielder going back to coming up with zany schemes for various retail shops and services after this, as the comedian seems almost determined to constantly outdo himself. Shortly prior to the airing of Thursday’s finale, Comedy Central announced a fourth season of Nathan for You, so we’ll just have to wait and see what the deadpan genius has in store for us next year.