[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.]
We pick things up well after last week’s episode, when Noah ventured back to Montauk in the hopes of reuniting with Alison only to be spurned and left all alone. Well, he’s not alone anymore. Noah beds a number of beauties in a sex montage to kick off the season finale of “The Affair.” Things seemed to be going pretty darn grand for the hunky teacher until he was caught giving a private lesson to a fellow instructor on school grounds. This forced him to some sort of strange teacher’s purgatory where tenured but unwanted educators wait for their penalty time to expire.
Noah spends his long hours there typing his novel, which he then promptly sells to an overeager agent who inquires about his marriage. Noah claims he doesn’t miss Helen, but when she brings him over to tell him she’s been having his life investigated for divorce proceedings, he ends up taking her back (she, for some reason, wants him again). They both go to Whitney to tell her they’ll be pressing charges against her summer lover, and she flips out and runs to him. There, Noah is talked down by Scott’s mama, but flips when he sees the statutory rapist and strangles him on the front lawn. Cole shows up, fires a shot, and holds Noah at gunpoint, demanding a reason not to kill him before we fade out on Noah’s side of the story.
In the future (or, really, in present day), we discover Noah and Alison are living together — and possibly have a baby? — before Noah is taken away by Detective Jeffries, who after turning the tow truck driver into his snitch, has enough evidence on Noah to arrest him.
After the confrontation at the train station last week, Alison has found shelter with, of all people, her mother Athena at an ashram, and the months she’s spent away from Montauk appear to have had a positive effect on her outlook.
That is until she returns to Montauk to “deal with the house” as summer is a’comin’. Over a glass of wine with her friend Phoebe, she admits she’s considering just being alone; a position she’s forced to confront when encountering Cole at her old house. The conversation becomes about blame, always a prospect ripe with guilt, one that spills over when Cole and Noah confront each other — and Cole’s got a gun.
They’re able to talk Cole down, and Noah and Alison embrace — then we flash forward to Noah and Alison, living the happy glamorous life in the city, at least until Detective Jeffries stops by to arrest Noah for MURDER! What will happen? We’ll have to wait for Season 2, to find out.
His Biggest Lie:
Noah’s no one’s hero. Sure, it’s easier to sleep or read in a prolonged daily study hall than to actually dig in and do some work, but I don’t buy for a second Noah diligently sat there typing away while everyone else wasted their time. Victor, in particular, seemed like a conveniently made up character. That note calling Noah his hero for finishing the novel was a cherry on top of Noah’s bullshit sundae. The whole scenario seemed like a story someone would tell Leno on “The Tonight Show” more than anything that really happened. If Helen had not said what she did about the investigator having a laundry list of Noah’s ladies, I would’ve doubted that part, too.
His Clearest Truth:
For once, I’m going to believe the novel’s version of things in regard to the split ending in Montauk. Did Noah see Scotty there and get a few good punches in before Cole stopped him with a shot? Did Cole not wait for Noah inside the house, instead appearing as if from nowhere to create a dramatic standoff? Could Noah have been given such a perfectly choreographed moment of symbolism with his wife on his right side, his mistress to the left, and her enraged husband staring down the barrel of a gun pointed at our protagonist’s chest?
Yes, I believe all these things happened. Normally, I would argue it’s too convenient. It’s too perfect of a scene to be believed. Noah made it up for his book and that’s why we’re hearing it now. Not because it’s true, but because it’s better than the truth, just like most of Noah’s garbage talk. This time, however, I want to believe the lie because the alternative was even worse. Alison’s version of things was somehow even more overwrought with melodrama, cliched lines, and predictable outcomes than her boyfriend the author’s. It was a laughable, eye-rolling kicker that’s so bad I have to believe it was a purposeful lie, something told by Alison to an unseen listener in order to preserve her or Noah’s innocence. Who knows, maybe they’re both lying. I don’t care. I just can’t believe her story, or I’d start to hate this show. So I’ll take the lesser of two evils and try to stay optimistic heading into Season 2.
Her Biggest Lie:
We’ll just ignore, for a moment, the fact that Alison and Athena, The Worst Mother Ever, seem to be getting along okay. Because Suicidal Cole? Please. Maybe we buy the emotional manipulation, but Noah’s version of events seems a lot more likely than what happened from Alison’s point of view, when Whitney was collected from the Lockhart household. Maybe it’s Alison setting Cole up as unstable, for some reason? Who knows. Point is, Alison’s interest, in the future, is clearly taking care of Noah. And accordingly, nothing she says can be trusted.
Her Clearest Truth:
Who would ever expect a show called “The Affair” to be largely about grief? Because from Alison’s perspective, over 10 weeks, that’s what it’s been. And Alison’s confrontation with Cole just cements that. It’s clear their marriage died the day their son did, and it just took a really, really long time for that to become clear.
Montauk Facts (Tourist Edition):
What the hell is a rubber room? Did I hear Helen right when she was talking to Noah about his many bed buddies during their time apart? That’s what she said when referring to him being caught with another teacher in school, right? Is that some sort of weird Montauk slang? I’ve never heard it, though then again, I could just be crazy.
Montauk Facts (Locals Edition):
You really can’t walk anywhere. So much of Alison’s time on the island is driven by, well, who’s driving. Makes you really value a robust public transportation system or having a damn car.
Shut Up, Cole! (Him)
Right at the climax of Part 1, Cole fires off a shot that stops Noah from choking Scotty. Then, turning the gun on Noah, he asks him for one good reason not to shoot Noah right then and there. If I were in Noah’s shoes, I sure as shit wouldn’t be glancing anywhere in the general direction of the wife of the man holding a cocked pistol on me. Yet Noah did it anyway. That takes balls. Why he did it — I assume as some intimate gesture of love before he was murdered — or whether or not he did it at all — which we already discussed — is still up for debate, but what’s not is the question posed to him. It’s a terrible, stupid, pointless question, and Cole should’ve known better than to ask it.
First of all, if Cole really couldn’t think of a reason, he would’ve used that first shot to take out Noah or shot him immediately after separating him from his brother. But Cole doesn’t want to go to prison for the rest of his life, so there’s your first reason. No. 2 comes when you consider Noah has three kids, all of whom would be traumatized by the death of their dad, an idea Cole should understand given he was a father once. The third reason not to shoot Noah is that’s the most sure-fire way to never see your wife again, the one woman you claim to care about. She’s not sticking around for a cold-blooded killer, whether he goes to jail or not.
So shut up, Cole. If you’re going to talk tough, learn how it’s done. Don’t point your gun at a man and give him an easy way out of it. (Also, we’re just pretty sick of Cole altogether in this episode. His usefulness is waning rapidly.)
Shut Up, Cole! (Her)
Even from the flip side of things, Ben and I are in agreement here. Look, man, we get it. You’re suffering. That’s totally understandable. But you’re bringing a gun to the wrong sort of fight, sir, and it’s not only unpleasant, but exactly the sort of move to drive your now ex-wife to another man, for good.
Was It Good For Him?
Which time? While all of Noah’s flings looked appropriately fun, his flashback to sleeping with Helen when posed the question whether or not he missed her appeared painful to Mr. Solloway. I honestly couldn’t tell if he was lying or not when he replied he didn’t miss her “yet,” but one could argue his very specific flashback to what was clearly more than sex (dare I say “making love?”) contradicted his claim. So yes, it may have been good while it lasted, but it probably didn’t last for long (phrasing!).
Was It Good For Her?
While remembering a quick moment with Noah, Alison is drawn back to the most “perfect erotic moment” of her life — Noah grabbing her hand, pulling her to him. This maybe explains why things end up the way they end up: Alison and Noah, together in Manhattan with their daughter. If you’re looking to understand that ending, that quick flashback is the best explanation.
Suggested Episode Titles:
His: “Too F***ed Up”
Hers: “Something You Love”