All the Roads
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
All roads lead back to Montauk. The quaint town had always been a character in its own right, with the city in the show’s early outings representing a sort of oddity in being. The town embodied escapism at its very core, but only from a certain perspective and from another it embodied a permanent state of being. Yet the town was stained with an abundance of hypocrisy, its quaintness hushed by the wealthy, the crime, and the passion of summer that would fade away at the first hints of autumn. It’s a perfect setting for a novel, all things considered, and even if Noah’s prose left so much to be desired, that setting being so enrapturing to a reader makes complete sense. Everyone loves a story where the seeming quiet is in fact so turbulent that it seems surprising that the ground could actually stand at all. The Affair for a while had been shifting towards the city as its cruz of setting, moving even adamantly reluctant urbanite Cole into its folds. Alison had found an existence there as well, as ephemeral as it may have seemed, but an existence nevertheless and for a while the future trial timeline seemed to suggest that her and Noah’s fracturing relationship would find some semblance of mending. But the trial’s setting in Montauk meant that the narrative had to fold upon itself slightly to bring all of the characters back to the ephemeral, quiet, stained town. It just so happens that that road back is the most fragile it’s ever been.
Cole’s road back to Montauk is a simple one, a germane feed off of what Alison had noted last week in what I’m going to call the Olive Bar. That appeal of going back to Montauk has always been in Cole’s mind in some small nugget and there was finally an avenue to do so where he didn’t have to sacrifice his relationship or even his livelihood. Luisa’s job at the restaurant is as taxing as one would expect, pushing Cole’s idea of owning the Lobster Roll a bit further. Their conversation on the bench is one of the best moments yet from The Affair, where he lays down quietly how he wants their lives to proceed. He notes that he truly wants the Lobster Roll to be the foundation upon which they build their lives, but he only has the half the money from his escrow required to put down a successful bid. Cole’s suggestion of bringing in Alison to put in the other half causes Luisa to hesitate and flat out refuse Cole’s suggestion and understandably so. There’s always that understated fear in their relationship in regards to Alison, but Cole is truly past that relationship, ready to move on with Luisa towards a new future, with or without the Lobster Roll. Luisa had agreed, it seemed, by the time the camera roll around towards Montauk City Hall and the former married couple are sitting with a solid foundation towards their joint future.
Noah begins with turning his bathroom into an office since apparently all other reasonable methodologies to deal with that circumstance had evaporated by that juncture. His exchange with Alison is a slightly testy one, although he manages a decent good luck for her biochemistry final. From that juncture forward, Noah’s journey is another downwards one but as tradition has stated with The Affair, sympathy for him remains fairly low. His meeting with Harry is an illuminating one, even if he throws out an absolutely absurd notion that Noah is in any way as talented as John le Carré, a master of espionage novels. Harry is understandably slightly exasperated at the lack of pages from Noah’s General Omar Bradley venture, although he seems to find an understanding of where Noah’s writer’s block is coming from. Harry feels that Noah is trying to escape what made him a popular name in the first place in order to find some validation so he can become a more credible one. A historical war epic takes a fair amount of research and a fair amount of writing on top of that to accomplish and in Harry’s perspective, that would sink Noah into irrelevancy. He instead suggests a series based on Descent, perhaps a sequel novel called Ascent that he could churn out now while continuing to do research on the side for his Bradley work. Noah is chuffed, but there’s hardly denying the truth in what Harry ultimately tells him: “That is writer you are [Descent], Omar Bradley is your ego.” It’s a disquieting moment for Noah, even though he sees clearly the reality of what Harry’s words are saying.
Noah, wallowing in a deeper realization of what his writing has become in a methodology to live vicariously through, gets a jolt when he discovers that Alison dropped her biochemistry course six weeks ago. Upon seeing Oscar’s text of Alison and Cole smiling together, his worst fears are seemingly confirmed and he races towards Montauk. An ugly meeting with Oscar later, Noah arrives where he always tends to whenever he feels far too perturbed by the quandaries seemingly devouring him. Max, however, is no stranger to this ridiculous relationship between the two of them, that simmering tension blowing over as soon as Noah realizes that Max and Helen had a fling. Noah is entitled, self-absorbed, and rarely sees beyond his own lack of understanding and Max calls him out on it with no holds barred. Noah has a singular point in how tactless it may seem for Max to be with his best friend’s ex-wife before the divorce had even happened, but out of all the people to be lecturing other people on tact, it shouldn’t be Noah. He remembers Alison’s lies about class and not telling him immediately about the Lobster Roll, but he doesn’t remember his own transgressions. Noah, as Max notes, is a man that could never be content with what he had, he could never be a decent friend to someone outside of trying circumstances, who always has put his own self before others. He always wanted more when what he had, when what he already had was worth cherishing. That may very well end up costing him a great deal, if Max’s surprise testimony on Noah washing blood off of his car stands up to scrutiny.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“I will kill you. I will fucking kill you.” Well, that’s one way to open an episode.
+“I feel nothing.”
+How awkward is it to meet your future in-laws at a hotel with your fiancé?
+Margaret offering her home for Luisa’s wedding is a sure surprise
+“A little forgiveness goes a long way.” The last thing one expects Margaret
+“I’ll cut you in if you get rehab.” Oh, the bells of tragedy that are ringing.
+“What were you gonna tell me?” Not just yet, Cole. The season finale’s next week.
+“Her dream is surprising.”
+“She never fucking had one.”
+“I can’t trust her. How do you have a relationship with someone you can’t trust?”
+“You kicked her to the curb.”
+“Now I see why your first marriage fell apart.”
+Noah’s request of Alison is exceedingly selfish and a part of her knows it. Alison standing her ground, assured of whom she is and what she wanted, is the strongest her character has been it’s hard not to revel in her confidence.
Episode Title: 211
Alternative Title: The Ascent
Written by: Abe Sylvia & Sharr White
Directed by: Michael Slovis
Image Courtesy: Showtime