Not gonna lie, sometimes I really wonder how the Murphys’ didn’t realize Evan was lying sooner. Of course, that wouldn’t help the plot, but it seems pretty early on that Jared and Evan are writing rehab into the emails, and to some unknown extent, are writing about Connor’s experience there. I am sure we all assume that Connor has been to rehab (though not technically confirmed, Cynthia does mention it and as Connor’s classmates, Jared and Evan probably would have heard about it at some point, explaining why they’d bring it up in the emails). But, as I’ve seen other people mention on here, Cynthia says that she ‘fought for rehab’, not that he actually ever went. Though we can’t actually be sure that Jared and Evan ever included the reference to rehab,, because it was the whole ‘sucking dick for meth’ bit which obviously got deleted, and therefore, the mention of rehab as a whole could have gone too.
Arguing that Connor did go and they did bring it up in the emails, I do question how two boys who have never been to rehab could have written about the experience even remotely accurately. Plus, there are so many specifics that could have so easily gone wrong. How long was he in rehab for? How did they get those days right? Even if he missed school for quite a while, surely he wasn’t at rehab that whole time? There would have HAD to have been days where he was just at home. So for Evan and Jared to get the timeline even remotely close, seems pretty impressive to me.
Which leads me to what I’ve been thinking about for a while. Evan is a watcher. An observer. He knows about Zoe filling out quizzes in magazines and how she dances because, for Evan’s entire life, he’s sat on the sidelines. You can argue that he only noticed this stuff because he liked Zoe - but I wouldn’t reduce him to that. When you have no one to talk to, you fill the void by placing yourself into other people’s conversations, and eventually other people’s lives. Also known as Evan worming his way into the Murphys’ lives. I would argue that Evan did this long, long before we ever saw it.
Evan was injecting himself into Zoe’s life long before the narrative began. And so was he, with Connor. Even if we say that Evan didn’t have any reason to want to know more about Connor, he would have ended up doing so just because of Zoe. How do you get to know someone? You get to know the people around them. Plus, Connor and Zoe going to and from school together would have been something Evan noticed. He would have noticed Zoe at the jazz band concert, and he would have noticed how her brother didn’t show. He would have noticed when Zoe came to school alone for a while and wondered where Connor could be. Evan would have seen these things, and I like to think that sometimes Evan would have wondered who Connor was.
That’s why I think Evan was so good at writing the letters. Sure, he was projecting himself onto Connor. You can’t get to know someone just by watching them. We see this with how Evan and Zoe play out. But, I think Evan spent quite a while catching glimpses of Connor and that wove itself into the letters. Of course, Evan’s not perfect at it. Alana notices that things aren’t making sense, which just drives home that despite Evan watching Connor for who knows how long, watching someone doesn’t equal knowing someone. Regardless of how much Evan thought he knew, at the end of the day, he could never know enough.
I guess that’s why the letters worked so well and then failed so badly. Evan knew the big things, the moments like rehab, printer throwing, getting high, going to school with Zoe, that Connor was alone. Things that the Murphys also knew about Connor. But Evan, just like the Murphys, didn’t know the details. He didn’t know what Connor wanted to do after high school, or his favourite colour, or his favourite song, because he didn’t actually know Connor. Just like how, despite their best attempts, the Murphys didn’t either. So it worked for a while. Until Evan had to keep projecting himself into the letters, because the big things were becoming too small, and the small too big. Until things were crumbling and Evan couldn’t keep up anymore. All of that just makes me that much sadder. That Evan and Connor could have been so close for so long, so present in each other’s lives, and yet somehow never quite meet. And doesn’t that make the whole computer lab scene even worse? That Connor was telling Evan, ‘now we can pretend we both have friends’, and for a moment, maybe Evan thought it could have been possible. Maybe he thought that Connor, just like Evan, had been watching too.