Previously on The Affair, episode 4
Last week’s episode focused solely on the growing relationship between Alison and Noah, and there was very little interference from outside parties. This week, they spent less time together physically, but nearly all of their encounters were clouded by their affair. It was heartbreaking to see the dejection in Cole’s face when he realizes Alison was avoiding him or how frightened Trevor was by his father’s outburst. It was uncomfortable to watch Noah make excuses for staying in Montauk and to see Alison accept Cherry’s wedding band for being so good to Cole.
The two of them were so preoccupied with their own shit that neither one of them recalled the other dealing with family dramas. Noah doesn’t remember Alison’s mother being in town nor does Alison remember Noah needing to rush home to fix a crisis. It was interesting for Alison to remember herself wearing a dress and for Noah to remember her in jeans & a t-shirt because typically Noah tends to recall Alison as overtly feminine while Alison thinks of herself as much more casual. Each of them however, remembers discussing future plans. Whether it was the specific idea of visiting California or the more vague proposal of running away together. Either way, it’s a far cry from last week when Noah said he would never leave Helen.
It’s worth noting that Alison’s memories were up first this week. I previously had a theory that we were meant to think Alison is the more trustworthy of the two since her memories always came last and therefore had a kind of finality and truth to them. Overall this episode had a very anxious and chaotic vibe, which makes sense considering the circumstances.
After being caught lying to Cole, Alison meets with Noah at her friend’s conveniently empty home. They get intimate, but are interrupted by a call from Alison’s grandmother’s nursing home. Alison’s mother Athena is visiting and she’s making things difficult. This woman has the ability to blame everyone and everything except herself for her own problems. She’s jealous, manipulative, and oh so smug. Alison makes it pretty clear to Athena that she’s more than capable of taking care of Joan, her grandmother. Athena tries to make plans with her but Alison’s not interested. When Alison arrives at work, Oscar asks to use her phone to call Scotty to remind him of the “delivery” he’s waiting for. Also, he, in a very odd way, asks Alison if she’s still watching Phoebe’s house. Scotty shows up a bit later and spends almost an hour in the back office of The Lobster Roll. Alison watches the clock constantly, clearly thinking only about seeing Noah.
Back at Phoebe’s house, Alison and Noah talk about places they’d love to live and how much Noah loves teaching. On Noah’s way out he meets Athena, who found out from Oscar where Phoebe’s house was. Athena knows Alison is having an affair because she can read her energy and can tell she just had sex. Uh, OK. Alison is kind enough to invite her mother to dinner with the Lockharts, which unsurprisingly goes pretty awfully. An argument breaks out between the Lockhart brothers over selling their ranch, Athena is a total bitch to Cherry, and Cole defends his mother by calling Athena out for her complete absences in times of need. Alison removes her mother from the dinner and drives her to a hotel. Athena criticizes Alison for choosing Cole over travelling the world with her. She tells her that she’s becoming a different person and Alison uses all her strength not to let her mother get inside her head.
Noah tries to slip out quietly to go for a run – he’s really going to meet Alison – but Helen asks him to bring home bagels and foils his plans. When he arrives at Phoebe’s place he barely says hello to Alison before ripping off her clothes for a quickie. She suggests that he send a text to Helen saying that he’s waiting on a new batch of poppy seed bagels so that they’ll have more time. Once again the plan backfires when Helen tells him there’s a major crisis, forget the bagels and come home. Noah’s van gets a flat tire and while he’s waiting for Triple A to arrive, Oscar Hodges drives by and offers to wait with him. We learn for the first time that Helen’s family and the Hodges have a friendly history.
The crisis at home is that Whitney, along with her friend Ruby, has been bullying a girl named Jody via Twitter and that as a result, Jody has attempted suicide. Noah wants Whitney to write an apology and beg Jody for forgiveness. The in-laws have their own opinion, of course, believing that this is an attack on their wealth and that they should see a lawyer first. Things get super heated and Helen suggests that they should head back to Brooklyn in order to take Whitney to therapy. Just then, Oscar shows up to return Noah’s Triple A card and without realizing it he blows Noah’s cover by mentioning the area of town where they met: Ditch Plains. Noah quickly tries to usher Oscar out the door but he’s reluctant and Noah ends up pushing him. Things get messy and Oscar calls Noah a douche. Well, takes one to know one, I guess.
Noah takes Whitney to apologize to Jody. He gives her a lesson in consequences and how to stop being an asshole and for a second there it looked as though he was going to take his own advice. Helen and Noah talk about being more hands-on with Whitney by having family dinners and being home after school. Since they both work this would mean either Helen having to sell her business, Noah having to take a semester off, or taking more money from the in-laws. Noah isn’t pleased with any of those options and for some reason this prompts Helen to tell him that he’ll never be successful by writing one book a decade. Rough stuff! They blow up at each other, Helen questions why he was at Ditch Plains that morning and Noah tells her to f*ck off. Noah runs to Alison and while they’re having sex he asks her to run away with him and she’s on board.
Alison’s self-righteous, bangle-clad, spiritual-guru mother was an almost cartoonish character, but upon further reflection I think she was meant to be. The secondary characters in The Affair really have no autonomy, we only see them through the lens of either Noah or Alison and we therefore only see what they see, or the projections of how they feel about someone. It’s clear that Athena and Alison don’t have a great relationship and therefore Alison’s depiction of her wouldn’t be anything positive. I will say that I liked the contrast of Alison being a nurse in the field of modern medicine whereas Athena is a healer and practitioner of alternative medicine, but that’s about all I enjoyed. It’s possible Athena was designed to make Alison reflect on her choices and if we see an interesting outcome of this in future episodes, my feelings on Athena may change.
The Hodges & The Lockharts
Oscar is acting shady this whole episode. In both Alison & Noah’s memories he’s always been a bit of a creep so, unless they’re being purposefully dishonest about him to protect themselves, I truly do think he’s a bit slimy. He might be starting to put some clues together because he definitely knows more then he lets on when it comes to Alison looking after Phoebe’s house. The delivery that Scotty makes to Oscar is shady too. If Scotty were delivering food or something else a restaurant would need, why would he spend almost an hour there? Especially since there’s an alleged long-time feud between the two families.
In an earlier episode we saw Alison delivering a cooler from a fisherman to one of the Lockhart brothers. There was a conversation about keeping the back door closed, which seemed extremely suspicious. Could the Lockhart family be involved in some sort of illegal trade? When Scotty left The Lobster Roll he let out a very audible and telltale sniff and Oscar seemed much more spirited once Scotty left.
- Just how much time separates the summer Alison and Noah met and the interrogation room scenes? Alison mentions having a son and Noah’s second book is completed. Alison also looks much different: she’s swapped the beach-y look for a more urban-chic style. Is it possible that the death of Scotty was re-opened much later on because of another incident, perhaps one involving illegal materials and the Lockhart family?
- The identity of the murder victim, Scotty Lockhart, was finally revealed to us and it looks like the detective is finished questioning Alison and Noah. Which leads me to wonder where the present day/future storyline will go from there? It was my understanding that the memories being presented to us were prompted by the stories being recalled for Detective Jeffries. The format of this show, the he-said she-said, is such an integral aspect so I hope it doesn’t deviate from that too much.
- During their conversation in the van, Whitney hints to Noah that she may have done more awful things besides the cyber-bullying, wondering if it makes her a bad person. What are these awful things? Could they have any connection to Scott Lockhart? In a previous episode Whitney and Scott flirted at the Lockhart Ranch and during the party at the Butler’s they were seen headed upstairs together until Noah intervened.