You’re My Hero
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The Affair needed to completely stick this landing for the entire season to work. It doesn’t. It’s not that this episode is bad and far from it in fact. It’s fairly entertaining, but what it does is it in hindsight is that it illuminates a few flaws that have been there for a significant period of time and are deepened upon the completion of this hour. I have consistently until this past week been giving each episode a 9 and the rare 10 before last week kind of went off the rails. The conclusion to the season makes me want to go back and drop a few of those nines, but I won’t do that as it is the fault of the finale if those episodes don’t hold up as well in retrospect. This installment in and of itself is unapologetically soapy, even though those soapy elements don’t largely hit the right notes they’re supposed to. When The Affair focuses on the introspective quest to understand its characters, it works absolute wonders. When it begins to seriously try and explain its plot, it gets bogged down. The arrest of Noah at the end of the hour is tantalizing as the camera closes in on Alison’s face, yet it forces the show to even more so than before be defined by how they end everything.
My biggest issue is how the dichotomy in views has devolved over the course of the season. At the beginning of the series, it was deployed as a thoughtful and provocative narrative device. It provided sharp and insightful commentary about the differences in views between genders. It has quickly become something else. At initial glance, the constant guessing of the differences between the two was a bit fun and it added more depth to the story. By several episodes in, some of the scenes were so wildly off from between the two perspectives that I just settled down with the concept that one of them was lying through their teeth. That could still be true but this episode provided the most heinous butchering of that narrative device yet. In Noah’s version, the confrontation with Cole occurs outside after he beats the hell out of Scotty for getting his daughter pregnant (one of the few things that Noah does that doesn’t make him look like a complete asshole). In Alison’s version, Cole is the one with the gun inside the house, where he threatens to commit suicide over the entire mess. People might not remember who wore what dress or imagine their behavior differently. But there ought to be little discrepancy around the moment when someone was pointing a gun and threatening to kill someone.
Noah begins the hour with basically going full on “I don’t give a fuck” mode. The camera opens up at the swimming pool where the series began and the same girl he had met there comes up, showing him her engagement ring. They have sex. Way to go, Noah. Just ruin something else while you’re at it. The string of hook-ups continue unabashedly until a janitor catches him having sex inside the school. He ends up in detention for adults, where he meets a guy who has some of the fastest reading speed. With literally nothing else to do, he opens lis laptop and begins writing. For one thing, I have a hard time believing that he wrote his book in that timeframe within that classroom primarily because of Noah’s consistent embellishment of narrative perspectives in order for him to feel better about everything. The note from his detention buddy that says “You’re my hero” just feels like the definitive proof of how over the top it is. He does, however, get the book done and presumably receives a half a million dollars in advance for it (I need to write faster).
Alison begins with a serenity at the ashram, which is so jarring (in a good way) that it almost feels like a dream. The four months she’s been away from home have been a quiet one but have estranged her completely from the Lockharts. The scene between her and Cole was thusly heartbreaking, where she quietly admits to him that she could never, ever truly be with him because every time she looked at him, the image of their dead son swam hauntingly before her eyes. She loves him, but she can’t do this anymore. Presumably as a token, she bequeaths what she has to Cole, a small consolation for the life they had led for so long. But she finds her life with a now successful Noah in a New York City apartment. That in and of itself raises some significant questions, chiefly whether or not they were colluding on their stories to the detective. Then the arrest occurs. It’s at that shocking juncture where we leave Alison for now. Despite some of the narrative snafus as of late, I am very much looking forward to Season 2, which will reportedly have episodes from Helen and Cole’s perspectives and address the narrative gaps present in this season. What The Affair brought to the table was a significantly mature handling of such intimate issues as intimacy itself. If they can learn from their mistakes here, I have no doubt that the next season will be just as introspective as the first largely was.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+Copy of Crime and Punishment
+“It is extraordinary”
+“No one really knows what is going on in someone else’s marriage”
+“Do you miss your wife?” Cue picture of a morose Alison.
+The scene between Helen and Noah was amazing
+Maura Tierney and Joshua Jackson’s performances were phenomenal
+The ashram sex conversation was horrifying uncomfortable
+Noah bribing the mechanic
+“How old is Alison?” Touche, Whitney. Touche
+Noah disconnecting Alison’s phone
+“I was so afraid of marrying my father I never realized I married my mother.”
Alternative Title: Gun & Punishment
Written By: Sarah Treem
Directed By: Jeffrey Reiner
Image Courtesy: Tomand Lorenzo