[Editor’s Note: In an attempt to best review the enticingly blended “facts” presented by each new episode of “The Affair,” Indiewire has tasked Liz Shannon Miller with analyzing Alison’s version of events, while Ben Travers will be providing perspective on Noah.]
Episode 7 was all about confessions, and it started with Whitney. During therapy, Whitney tells her parents she thinks it’s very clear the couple is struggling because Helen is having an affair with Uncle Max. Laughed off by both parties as an irresponsible daughter trying to avoid her own issues by fabricating others, it nonetheless set the table Noah to tell Helen about his own very real affair. It took the threat of blackmail from Oscar, some dubious advice from Max and a panic attack in the park, but Noah told his wife what happened…and the reaction was much better than I expected.
Summer’s over, in so many ways. For one, Noah and his family have left Montauk, so Alison’s left to her own devices, which includes quitting her job at the Lobster Roll (the smartest move she could make, given Oscar’s actions last week). For another, Alison’s fun sexy fling is done like the dinosaurs; not only does her mother-in-law Cherry find out the truth, but Cole does as well. Having devastated her husband, Alison decides to give him some space and visit her friend Jane in New York, which leads to a lazy afternoon of pot, Oreos and stalking Noah online. Not only do the girls look up Noah’s brownstone address, they also look up Helen’s store, paying a surreptitious visit that could have gone a lot worse… Except that Helen hasn’t found out about the affair yet, and thus only has words of thanks for Alison that are interrupted by the phone call letting her know Noah is in the hospital. Alison, that evening, finds herself outside Noah’s house, but Cole and her life in Montauk end up pulling her back. At the end of the episode, Alison and Cole prepare to make love — and maybe even make a baby. Because right after discovering your partner’s infidelity is the best possible time to bring a child into the world.
His Biggest Lie:
His biggest lie doesn’t apply to Noah, only his side of the story. Considering “The Affair” seems to be permanently shifting away from its unreliable narrator origins—Noah wasn’t speaking to anyone this week, a point illustrated by two random cutaways to Detective Jeffries conducting his investigation—finding the lies in each story is going to be trickier and trickier, if there are any at all.
This week featured a doozy, though, and it comes straight from Helen’s mouth. It may be in poor taste to call the victim in this scenario a liar, but Whitney’s accusation stuck with me throughout the episode. Helen’s reaction to it wasn’t as plainly innocent as one would hope, and I’m pretty sure I could see the lie detector spiking from here. Then, when Noah goes to his good buddy Max for help, the only point Max emphasizes when handing over a whopping ten grand is not to ever tell his wife. Max’s wishes could be seen as fervent loyalty or learning from his own experience, but the drug-snorting Wall Street type seems a tad too full of himself not to be into something awful. My bet, it’s not the drugs that lured him to visit Montauk.
His Clearest Truth:
As happy as I should be the truth is finally out to both the jilted parties, I didn’t have a “Finally!” moment when Noah told Helen what he’d done. In part, it’s due to the circumstance—his revelation was more about the check/blackmail than his own guilty conscience—but it’s also very much about the premise of the show. No matter what Noah said, this wasn’t some random fling. It was thought-out, pursued, and repeated. He has feelings for Alison, and he has a lot of built-up resentment for his wife. Frankly, between his feelings for Helen and his feelings for her parents, it seems somewhat miraculous they’ve lasted this long.
I’m not advocating for adultery. I simply think it would have been better for Noah if he had been honest with himself before being honest with his wife. He needs to know what he truly wants before he puts himself and Helen through more trauma. Granted, a calm and rationale decision wouldn’t make for good pay cable drama, so here’s hoping the confession leads to something appropriately juicy in the weeks to come.
Her Biggest Lie:
“Right after discovering your partner’s infidelity is the best possible time to bring a child into the world.” That, dear reader, was sarcasm. Oh dear God. It’s incredibly sweet, that Cole and Alison are now trying to reconnect, and that it looks like their relationship could somehow survive everything that’s happened. But while he’s forgiven her enough to want to start things over, she’s not saying that she wants the same thing.
Her Clearest Truth:
If Cole and Alison’s marriage survives, it’ll be because, at its core, she still really loves Cole. And while Cole may not be perfect — he’s a stubborn, tactiturn coke dealer, after all — his affection for Alison is genuine. Gentlemen, pay attention to that move where Cole puts down newspaper so that Alison won’t damage her dress. That, as the kids say, is called GAME.
Montauk Facts (Summer People Edition):
You can’t talk while you’re eating in Montauk. Poor Trevor. He had to spend the whole summer listening to Bruce go on and on about his books while Margaret no-so-subtly degraded his dad’s life. Now he can say whatever he wants, even if he has to clean his own plate.
Montauk Facts (Locals Edition):
Winters are the worst. Which is why the summer people don’t tend to stick around, and even Alison’s friend and fellow waitress Jane returns to Brooklyn. Thanks to Jane, Alison has a place to escape after Cole finds out the truth, but Cole ends up dragging her back to Montauk. For a second, it looked like Alison might have found a real haven, but no longer.
Shut Up, Bruce! (Him)
There weren’t too many people for Noah to be upset with in Episode 7 other than himself, so consider this “shut up” to be retroactive. One of the few joys handed down for our male protagonist was discovering the heralded Bruce Butler wasn’t the writer he so smugly claims to be. HIs wife, Margaret, has been more than just his editor—apparently she’s been his ghost writer, embedding the soul of the prose in all his novels. If Bruce had lowered his anger level by half, maybe we would’ve believed Margaret was just trying to get back at him for his affair. But that kind of fury—I’m-not-even-going-to-say-goodbye-to-my-grandchildren fury—is reserved for when someone strikes a chord of truth. So shut up, Bruce, and lay off Noah until you write something on your own.
Shut Up, Cherry! (Her)
Look, Alison’s mother-in-law isn’t wrong to be angry at Alison. Totally understandable, her being upset. But is it any of her business, really? Of course Cherry wants to protect her son from any hurt, but that doesn’t give her the right to do things like burn the note Noah left for Alison. Alison is a grown woman, and her life is her own. Butt out, Cherry.
Was It Good for Him?
I don’t think we’ll have to address this question for a few weeks with Noah. He’s going to be in the dog house at home and will likely spend that time trying to repair his marriage rather than pursuing Alison. Even if he did, I’m not sure she’d be having it right now. So, no, I don’t think anything was good for Noah in Episode 7.
Was It Good for Her?
No clue, because we faded to black just as things heated up. But one thing’s for sure — while she may be back with Cole, even the very best sex in the world can’t fix everything.
Suggested Episode Titles:
His: “The Rotten Porch”
Hers: “A Fresh Start”