Making Sense Of Rob’s Shocking Cliffhanger Choice In The High Fidelity Finale

Photo: Courtesy of Hulu.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for High Fidelity season 1
When you start High Fidelity’s season 1 finale, “Other Side of the Rock,” the episode’s ending seems inevitable. We find out Rob (Zoë Kravitz) and Mac (Kingsley Ben-Adir) hooked up after the messy revelations of penultimate episode “Fun Rob.” That means Rob will have cheated on her fiancé Mac — as we learn in “Fun Rob” — and Mac will have cheated on his fiancée Lily (Dana Drori). Rob and Mac may have burned the world down around them, but, after a year of drama, they will be together at last. That is an approximation of the ending we get in 2000’s High Fidelity, the John Cusack movie that inspired this Hulu comedy. 
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But, that’s not at all what happens. Instead, after pining for Mac throughout all of High Fidelity's freshman season, Rob doesn’t choose him. In fact, she was never trying to choose him over the course of “Rock,” no matter what 95% of the episode leads you to believe. 
Instead, Rob picks Clyde (former Girls boyfriend Jake Lacy) at the very last minute — and the clues leading us to this twist were there all along. 
The through-line of High Fidelity’s 2020 finale is a series of calls Rob makes to one of her love interests. The person never picks up, pushing Rob to leave messages, giving us her side of the story. In the most memorable voicemail, Rob says, “Hey, uh, it’s me, if you’re not calling me back because of the other night, I get that.”
Immediately, we’re meant to assume Rob is calling Mac. First, there is the fact that Mac is painted as Rob’s soulmate and the person at the top of her mind. Why wouldn’t she be calling him and referencing their recent, shared awful night? Then, “Rock’s” entire structure is built to make you believe Rob is fixating on Mac. The prior episode, “Fun Rob,” wraps with Mac showing up at Rob's apartment. Each time Rob makes a phone call in “Rock” and is ignored, she gets a far-away look in her eye. Then, we’re taken to a flashback that reveals a little bit more of what happened directly after “Fun Rob’s” cliffhanger, when Mac still returns to Rob’s apartment after learning she cheated on him the night they got engaged. 
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Eventually Mac admits that his original reasons for breaking up with Rob feel like “bullshit” and they kiss. They do not have sex, as multiple people in Rob’s life assume. Mac walks away from Rob after the kiss, and it is easy to assume he is going to break up with Lily. It makes sense that Mac doesn’t want to escalate the physical situation with Rob before a proper split with Lily. 
That is not what Mac does after kissing Rob. He returns to Lily and still plans to marry her. Rob understands that is Mac’s decision throughout all of “Rock” and tells a despondent Lily as much in the first half of the episode. “Whatever was between me and Mac — it’s over, okay? It’s done,” Rob says. At the time, it seems like Rob is lying to Lily and the audience. However, it’s the truth. 
To close out the finale, Rob calls her love interest one more time — “It’s me, again,” she says, suggesting she has been phoning the same person throughout the episode — and explains she is coming to his house. When she rings the doorbell, Clyde appears instead of Mac. Rob was never calling Mac. She truly has decided to leave Mac alone. Rob and Mac's kiss in front of her apartment was the legitimate end of their relationship, not the beginning of a second round. Rob confirms she has been trying to get a hold of Clyde this whole time, saying, “I’ve been calling you and you haven’t been answering.” 
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Clyde has every reason not want to speak to Rob. While “Fun Rob” centers on her time with Mac, Clyde is also an important part of the story. At the midpoint of that episode, Rob makes plans to meet up with Clyde — and she completely stands him up to see Mac. Clyde was left waiting to see Rob for what could have been hours. That is an upsetting experience that feels worse for Clyde following his most recent hangout session with Rob. During that not-date, Rob cons Clyde into posing as her fake boyfriend in front of Mac, kisses Clyde, and then tells him she “doesn't know” if any of their chemistry was real. Clyde is obviously emotionally wounded by the mixed messages. 
By the end of “Rock,” Clyde has accepted that Rob is too toxic for him. That is why he has been ignoring her calls. Although Rob claims to now want a relationship, Clyde isn’t interested and says there is a “9%” chance he would ever want to be with her. All of a sudden, Rob is back where she started at the beginning of High Fidelity — doggedly trying to secure the affection of a man who is no longer interested. 
If High Fidelity does get a season 2, we’ll find out if Rob can rewrite her story the second time around.
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