Looks Like You Got Away With It
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The Affair abandoned the official “Part One” and “Part Two”, throwing a ton of narrative underneath its wheels in an hour that reveals the affairs to both of the spouses. It’s an unprecedented move but it makes sense for the affair to become the catalyst for an understanding of both marriages. It’s also economical, considering that the season is only ten episodes and I’m operating under the assumption that this is an anthology series. Nevertheless, the signature time tricks are still heavy in play, somewhat subdued this time around. And lest we forget, the investigation into Scotty’s murder is still occurring, with the detective arriving at The End to make a note of whether or not Noah Salloway truly had ever stayed there. As it turns out, he hasn’t – at least under that name. But what makes the hour click as much as it does is the dichotomous revelations within the marriages of Noah and Alison respectively and what those revelations say about the two as characters and their lives going forward. What I love the most about The Affair is how it refuses to cruelly indict any of the four main characters in the events that upended their lives. Everyone her has a valid point of view and the show is all the more intelligent for it.
Any narrative revolving around extramarital affairs or even has them as an inherent part of the story often milks the most out of how long it takes for the affair to come to light. What works for The Affair is that it avoids that melodramatic trick and goes straight for the jugular. It also makes sense for the characters involved. Noah and Alison have never been anything close to careful while rendezvousing with one another. Arguably, they’ve been massively incompetent with it. Considering they couldn’t have made it easier for their affair to be out in the open, the eventual revelation to both of their spouses comes as both a relief and a germane pathway for the story. Not that it makes anyone’s lives easier, but if The Affair is going to end as strongly as it had begun, cohesiveness is central to its narrative. I certainly wasn’t expecting the affairs to spill to both Helen and Cole despite the clues in the previews, but color me pleasantly surprised.
That’s not to say that either Noah or Alison made the jump to tell their respective spouses at the soonest opportunities. Noah went to Max immediately for help so he could keep it a secret from Helen and Max gave him the check, advising him not to tell Helen because no good was going to come out out of it. Noah takes the check and goes on a run before falling due to a panic attack. He ends up at the hospital, opening his eyes towards a concerned Helen. Quietly he admits to the affair, watching Helen’s face crumble with an extremely palpable sense of guilt. Helen tellingly doesn’t proceed to strangle him immediately as most people would do in her circumstance. Maura Tierney plays the scene beautifully, allowing for Helen to retain her composure. It speaks volumes about whom Helen is as an individual, her sense of dignity and self-respect overriding any amount of guilt. In private, however, she lets it loose. Ashe wants to know why, why he would do such a thing. Noah, in a continuous sleaze that makes me dislike him anymore, is quick to use anything that would provide a cover while simultaneously making him more empathetic. Primarily relying on his sense of emasculation, he throws out his career, Helen’s father, her romantic attraction to a more successful man in his wife’s face with about as much tact as slamming her over the head with a giant saucepan. No matter what Noah ultimately tells himself when faced with Helen’s fury and hurt, his confession doesn’t serve to help Helen in any way, shape, or form. It’s selfish, to help him remove his own guilt and the specter of Oscar looming over his head. They still sleep in the same bed, but that hardly is a note of conciliation.
Speaking of selfishness, Cherry finds out about the affair because of a note stuck to the bottom of the pie boxes. She forbids her from telling Cole, but it gets leaked anyway because of Oscar. Cole and Co. go to apologize to Oscar for all of the tension, agreeing in the sequence to sign a letter of support for his entertainment industrial complex. Scotty, the brawn without brains, has to stir things up and punches Oscar in the stomach. Oscar in retaliation spills the beans about the man Alison’s having an affair with. Alison without a moment admits to having had sex with Martin’s father (as Cole sees him). As an escape mechanism, she goes to New York, where her friend Jane has an apartment. For Alison, the affair was something more real, something palpable that gave a real direction to her existence. But when Cole arrives back in New York, that entire reality goes back up into question. In the episode’s best and most mature sequence, Cole and Alison take a walk through New York, the former hating the city and the latter loving it. They sit down on the street in quiet repose, giving Joshua Jackson the best material he’s yet had on the show. Quietly he laid his soul bare in a way that he perhaps never has since their child has passed away, or perhaps even before then. His grief has just bee more quiet, more introverted. “I want to start over,” he says quietly, forgiving Alison for the affair in a desire to chart a new path for the both of them.
Even in Montauk, the quietness had gone away. As one would have it, running a cocaine operation isn’t exactly the safest business around as the Lockharts find out the hard way. Hal’s heart is in the right place, but the simple reality is that giving cocaine back to the original dealers is a terrible, terrible idea. Cole, seeing his brother’s state in the hospital, arrives at the conclusion that the ranch must be sold, a proposition which interestingly Cherry vehemently opposes. For once it seems like Cole is willing to move forward in life, but this time around it’s Alison who is stuck in the past. Yet as the night comes to a close, with the promise of a new life ahead of them, Alison closes the box of birth control before sex with Cole. What lies ahead is anybody’s guess, but it can only get murkier from here on out, that much is certain. The rotten fence Alison was painting over will eventually crumble. The only solution is for it to be removed and replaced with a new one. What “new” means, however, remains to be seen. See you in two weeks, folks.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“I don’t think you understand the gravity of the situation.”
+Whitney feels that Noah is miserable and that Helen is having an affair, talk about irony
+“He actually wants to take responsibility.”
+The way Helen mutters “The waitress?” is fantastic
+The Vanity Fair article that tore up Bruce’s reputation
+“Maybe you might kill me.”
+“What? I’m loving this.”
+“Heading back to Gotham soon?”
+“Wouldn’t be dramatic enough, would it?”
+Max’s ridiculous work out equipment
+What was on that note?
+Noah tearing up the check, I’m assuming Oscar won’t take kindly to that
+Noah is a better parent in his own vision
+Who was the brunette with Scotty? Was it Whitney?
+Cherry’s stroller story seemed to be designed to make Alison feel like a terrible mother for what happened to Gabriel
+The sequence in Helen’s craft shop was deliciously
+Helen thanking Alison for saving her daughter
+Noah closing the curtains on Alison, literally
+“This trouble isn’t worth it.”
+“I want to start this part over again.”
+I love Cole placing a newspaper on the New York City street before Alison sits down. Such a sweet thing to do.
+“Won’t you come home? I surrender.”
Alternative Title: The Waitress
Written By: Kate Robin
Directed By: Ryan Fleck
Image Courtesy: Hitfix