Previously on The Affair, ‘9’
Let’s get right down to brass tacks: this finale was kind of a bummer. Does anyone else feel like they were watching The Affair characters on a completely different show? The actors were just as on point as they have been throughout the season, the beautiful cinematography we’ve come to expect wasn’t lacking, and, in fact, the episode as a contained unit worked just fine. The problem, for me anyways, was how it fit together – it didn’t –with the rest of the season. The biggest problem I had with it was the two scenes at the Lockhart house but we’ll get to that a bit later. For now let’s talk about Noah…
This week starts out with two montages. The first shows Noah swimming, having sex with random women, writing his novel in a new apartment, having sex with random women, visiting his children, having sex with a fellow teacher, and ultimately being punished for that last sexual encounter. The second is of his time spent in the reassignment center within the NYC Department of Education, which he uses to finish his second novel. I wish I could montage my way through writing a book! The device worked well to move along the time frame – four months elapse – and even though a lot of the time these sequences can come across cheesy, this one felt authentic but it also felt out of place.
Noah meets with Harry the publisher, who thinks his book is fantastic, promises to start a bidding war for him, and believes he could make up to half a million for it. That’s it; I’m montaging my way through a book later today! Harry makes a comment about Helen’s hotness – love the parallel here to the quote about Cole from Whitney later on – and asks him if Noah misses her. After a long pause, whilst Noah thinks about having sex with Alison, he replies no, not yet.
In the present/future as Noah is leaving a rather heated interaction with Detective Jeffries, he notices the tow-truck guy from Montauk is on his way in and he calls out for him to wait.
Back in past NYC, Helen shows Noah the video footage from Planned Parenthood where he got aggressive with Scotty. Apparently he never told Helen that he was the one sleeping with Whitney. Helen’s mother has hired a private investigator, without consulting Helen about it of course, to make a case against Noah in divorce court. The P.I. informed her about the women Noah has been sleeping with and the fact that he was sent to the “rubber room” for disorderly conduct at work. They yell over top of one another, Helen exclaiming that she hates him and Noah screaming for her to divorce him already, when Helen fully breaks down and admits that she wants him to come home.
This was one of the more compelling scenes, watching Helen as she desperately tried to hang on to their shattered relationship; it conjured up a mixture of feelings from pity to sympathy. She accuses Noah of not giving her a chance to change but that she’s working on it with their therapist now. She’s crying and grasping at straws and finally Noah embraces her. Then they have sex, which is probably a mistake.
Another flash-forward to where Noah and the tow-truck guy meet. He offers the guy 20 thousand dollars to stay quiet to Detective Jeffries about ever knowing him or fixing his car. This must be the guy who towed Noah’s van when he had a flat tire out by Phoebe’s place, but I’m betting there’s another interaction between them that we never saw.
Noah and Helen confront Whitney about Scotty and tell her that they’ll be pressing charges for statutory rape. Whitney freaks out saying she wanted it to happen. She easily evades further questioning by playing the Alison card with her father and outing her mother for calling Noah a sociopath. Well played, Whitney.
In private, Noah suggests that they back off but Helen is going to press charges against Scotty whether he joins her in it or not. Helen changes her clothes in the washroom, which is sad, but also tells Noah to spend the night. The actions seem so genuine, of course you feel awkward changing around this man now, after all his unfaithfulness, but having him next to you in bed also feels familiar and safe in a time of utter chaos.
The next morning Noah awakes to a call from Alison, which he quickly silences. Seconds later however she texts, “your daughter is here.”
Grandma Margaret has come to the city to watch the kids while Helen and Noah go to retrieve Whitney. After a quick and par for the course argument with Margaret, Noah attempts to hug his eldest son goodbye but gets a massive cold shoulder. On the way to Montauk Helen tells Noah that she was so afraid of marrying her father she didn’t realize she had married her mother. What? Does anyone understand this? What am I missing?
Helen is super pumped when Alison answers the door at the ranch in Montauk. Before they can get Whitney out of there, Cherry pleads to Helen on a mother-to-mother basis to not press charges against Scotty. Helen stands her ground against Cherry and she warns Alison to stop staring at Noah.
Just as the Solloways are on their way out, Scotty appears asking, “did you get rid of her?” That was all Noah needed to hear; he attacks Scotty, pushing him outside and on to the ground, throws a few face punches, and then starts to strangle him. Things start to look fatal for Scotty just as Cole fires a gunshot and tells Noah to, “get the fuck off my brother” and then he threatens to kill him. The imagery of Noah literally being caught in the middle of Alison and Helen was a nice touch.
A Yoga retreat is honestly the last place I thought we would find Alison, never mind one that included Athena and Dennis where they all seem to get along fairly well. Alison even hugged Athena goodbye! I am happy to see that Alison boarded that train alone and has been spending some time healing, but I just didn’t buy that this was the place she’d be or the company she’d keep while doing so. This was another scene that was well executed but didn’t seem to fit within the larger context.
Back in Montauk, Alison spends the night at Phoebe’s place and fills her friend in on what’s been going on. Alison says she wants to be alone and instead of being supportive, Phoebe spews some crap about not being able to find a kidney if you’re all alone. Alison wakes up the next morning to find Mary-Kate waiting in Phoebe’s kitchen. She is happy to see her estranged sister-in-law and asks about the family and the ranch. MK tells her they lost the ranch and she couldn’t care less about seeing Alison; she would have waited in the car had she known she was there.
Back at their place, Alison and Cole attempt to make small talk, but eventually he figures out that she didn’t come back for him but to sell the house. She ends up offering it to him so he can have something he loves. The look of pain on Cole’s face was agonizing when he told Alison he loves her, not the house. Unfortunately, Alison doesn’t know how to fix their relationship because when she looks at him all she sees is Gabriel. Cole wonders if she just wants to forget Gabriel, but it’s Cole whom Alison wants to forget. Ouch. But wait, it gets worse.
Alison asks Cole why he wasn’t keeping a closer eye on Gabriel the night that he died and he counters that almost immediately by questioning her about not taking him to the hospital. It felt like these two had been waiting years to have this conversation, there was so much pent-up anger behind both of their accusations. Cole tells Alison he never wants to see her again but MK bursts into the house telling them “that Solloway girl” is at the ranch and they both need to come with her.
Cherry wants to speak with Whitney’s mother but Cole thinks it’s best if he has a chat with Noah believing that as the father, he’s the one who’s pushing the idea of rape charges. Cole forces Alison to make the call because Noah would only come out there for her.
In what seemed like a very out of place flash-forward, we see that the tow guy was recording his and Noah’s conversation for Detective Jeffries. The detective also has the Planned Parenthood footage and he’s pretty pleased with himself about it. We also learn that Jeffries is gay, which doesn’t necessarily mean that he doesn’t have an ex-wife and kids but it does seem as though he was using his marital and parental status to fuck with Alison and Noah during interrogation.
Whitney swiftly became my favorite character when, in regards to why Alison would have an affair with her father she says, “he’s so old and your husband is so hot!” I wouldn’t have chosen the word old, but she basically says what I’ve been thinking this whole time!
This is where the show went off left; I’ll elaborate more about this after the recap though.
In this version of events Cherry isn’t present at all for the confrontation and it’s Cole who attempts to “reason” with Noah. Things get heavy really quickly when Cole pulls a gun on the Solloways, asking Noah how it would feel if Cole fucked his wife. Everyone is rightfully terrified. Noah acts as a human shield for his family until he can get Cole to just focus on him. Cole is angry that Noah took away the one thing left that he cared for. Alison persuades Cole to take out his anger on her; she made her own choice to be with Noah so kill her instead. For a moment Cole considers this, shifting the aim of the gun to Alison but he quickly turns the gun to his own temple. Alison uses the thought of Gabriel to help Cole calm down. She tells Cole that he wouldn’t want them to be like this, he’d want them to be happy. It works. Cole snaps back to reality and he’s clearly both ashamed and devastated.
Helen and Whitney get the hell out of there but Noah lingers, to his family’s disgust, and stays behind to comfort Alison.
Finally, some time in the present/future, we see that Alison and Noah have indeed ended up together. They have a gorgeous new apartment and a daughter. As they sit together and plan their following day there’s a knock at the door. It’s Detective Jeffries, of course, with a few police officers and they’re there to arrest Noah.
What initially attracted me to The Affair was its dual narrative structure and the subtle differences between them. Separating the fact from the fiction by trying to understand why each individual saw a particular memory a little differently, and what that meant for the story as a whole, was quite enjoyable. Though Alison and Noah always had a unique perspective on what happened between them – different clothing, different attitudes, he-said she-said type stuff – they never veered too far away from each other and that made it seem real and worth a closer look. This finale took the beauty of that subtlety and threw it out the window; the confrontations at the Lockhart Ranch were SO vastly different and I find that seriously puzzling.
Furthermore, it seemed that as Alison and Noah became closer so did their individual memories. Considering that they end up together why would this hugely traumatic event be SO different to each of them? Surely they’ve had time to talk about what happened that day. Hell, they had enough time to have another kid.
Speaking of their new child, she must be at least preschool aged because at one point Alison told the detective she had to pick her kid up from school. Which makes me wonder, just how much time HAS past since that first summer? This finale provided some answers but maybe not enough.
Bearing in mind how much I loved the rest of the season, and how hard it can be to land a finale, I don’t think this less than stellar episode will sway me from checking out season 2. Perhaps this episode was a failed attempt at changing the tone for the next season, guess we’ll have to wait and see!
Big thanks to all those that followed us through season one, hope to see you all next year!