It’s a shame that the porch scene from Alison’s memory couldn’t have been the opening scene to this week’s episode. It was such an excellent metaphor for the couples in The Affair and it really set the tone for the second half of the show. Imagine the impact it could have had if it had been placed at the very beginning. She’s trying to fix parts of the front porch when Cole tells her the whole thing will need replacing because it’s rotting. Alison reasons that they could just paint it, at least that would make it look better. Cole disagrees saying it will only look painted. How perfectly this describes Alison & Cole and Helen & Noah, was not lost on me. How at the core, their relationships are decaying and a quick, superficial fix won’t be enough to save them. I think both couples are in for the long haul if they stick it through.
After an uncomfortable therapy session, where Whitney hilariously misinterprets the truth and divulges that she believes Helen is having an affair, Noah decides it’s time for the Solloways to head back to Brooklyn. Martin wants to say goodbye to the Lockharts so Noah, eventually gives in, and takes him to the ranch. Noah tries to avoid Alison but while Martin and Cole are occupied she approaches him and asks if this is it, clearly hurt by the fact that he was going to leave without saying anything. Which is exactly what he does, he calls for Martin and walks away without a word to her.
The Butlers are in a screaming match when Noah and Martin return. Vanity Fair has written a piece about Bruce claiming that Margaret tends to do most of the actual writing for hm. He’s furious and this makes Noah happier than Helen’s seen in 25 years. It’s definitely the happiest he’s been on this show. What was the purpose of that scene? Was it simply so Noah could have that one moment to gloat and feel better about himself?
At The Lobster Roll, Noah is leaving a note for Alison in her bike basket just as Oscar arrives. Oscar decides, apparently on a whim, to blackmail Noah. He demands $10K, to be delivered within the week or, he will inform Helen about the affair.
Noah is out for a run when, it suddenly seems as though he’s having a heart attack and falls to the ground. At the hospital, a nurse assures him that it was just a panic attack caused by excess stress. Although Max had loaned him the money to keep Oscar quiet, Noah decides to come clean to Helen. Immediately she knows that the affair was with Alison.
Noah blames everyone and everything but himself when discussing his actions with Helen. First it’s Alison, who was in a dark place and came after him pretty hard. Then it’s the failure of his first novel, which he put 10 years of his life into only to have it flop. There’s Helen’s dad who even I admit must suck to be around, constantly dangling both his career and financial successes over Noah’s head. Oh and it’s Helen’s fault too because she was putting pressure on him about his second book, making him feel that he’s just unfulfilled potential.
Helen’s response, that she only sees him that way because he does, was delivered with such a mix of perplexity and sincerity that it forced me to rethink how I feel about her character. Is she truly this insensitive rich-bitch that we’ve seen through both Alison’s and Noah’s eyes? I’m not so sure anymore…
When Oscar refuses to pay Alison her final wages she steals a few pies in place of monetary compensation and heads over to Cherry’s place. It’s business as usual with the Lockharts; mom is busy making dinner while the boys discuss how to get rid of the heat around their drug dealings. Cherry finds the note that Noah left for Alison stuck to the bottom of the pie boxes. She’s more than pissed, telling Alison she had better break it off with Noah and then burning his note before she can read it. She orders her to keep the truth from Cole and when Alison tries to run off she demands that she stay to help serve dinner.
Alison, Cole, and Scotty head to Oscar’s house to apologize and strike up a deal. Cole will write a letter supporting Oscar’s bowling alley and in turn, Oscar won’t fuck with the Lockharts anymore. The truce is easily agreed to and all looks bright until Scotty decides to seal the deal with a right hook to Oscar’s gut. Cole tries to soften the blow but, in his rage Oscar tells Cole that Alison didn’t see him make that fake 911 call, the guy she’s sleeping with did and that’s how she found out. Shit gets real as Cole and Scotty attack Oscar leaving him in what I’m sure is rough condition.
Though Cole dismisses the affair as Alison’s problem to deal with, he still thinks it’s a good idea for her to go away for a few days. So, Alison heads to New York City and stays with her fellow waitress friend Jane, who’s recently home from her summer in Montauk. What these two women end up doing is just plain silly. I could understand the pot smoking, I could even excuse the internet trolling to find Noah’s address, but what could possibly compel someone to spy on the wife of the man you had an affair with? They were just playing with fire at the point.
The entire interaction between Helen and Alison was so unpleasant and I honestly couldn’t tell if Helen knew about the affair at this point or not. Helen’s demeanor is unsympathetic, but that’s typically how Alison perceives her anyways. When Helen thanks Alison for helping save Stacey the day she was choking at the restaurant, there are so many levels of emotion. Alison feels unworthy of an apology, ultimately feeling guilt because of the affair. Helen could either be feeling truthfully thankful, or she’s purposefully trying to humiliate Alison. As an audience, it’s hard to know what to think or feel.
Cole shows up at Jane’s apartment with news that the cocaine is gone. He’s suspicious of whoever Alison was having an affair with since that person knew about the drugs. Once he realizes who Noah is, the suspicions are gone. They go for a walk and I had assumed that they would further discuss the affair, but instead Cole talks about coping with grief. He tells Alison about how he dealt similarly with the deaths of his father and of Gabriel, about how he hoped things would eventually start fresh but that they haven’t.
They head back to Montauk and on their way they receive news that Hal is in the hospital. He tried to give the cocaine back to the original dealers and paid a pretty hefty price, he’ll be in the hospital for a few weeks. Cole announces that this life isn’t for them anymore and they’re going to sell the ranch. Alison stands by Cole and they leave hand-in-hand. That night, Cole persuades Alison to skip her birth control because he wants to start over and have another baby. Alison silently agrees and I’m left feeling like those two may actually get the new beginning they’re hoping for. Or it could merely be the paint job on the rotting porch.
We only get a few quick glimpses of the detective this week. First, we see that he took Noah’s advice and is reading his latest novel “The Descent.” It’s an interesting title with a couple of different meanings: most obviously it may be a reference to Noah’s plunge into the affair with Alison or, it could have something to do with the family lineage of the Montauk locals which would give good reason for Noah to suggest that the detective read it. Later on we find Detective Jeffries snapping some photos at what I assume was the place where Scott Lockhart died, it’s the bridge leading to The End nightclub. Finally, the detective heads to the hotel connected to The End nightclub and requests a search on their database for the name Solloway, but there’s no record of it. It’s quite curious to me why Noah, after ostensibly telling the detective all about his affair, would be so secretive about this particular aspect. The only reasoning I can come up with is that, his time at The End is connected to the Lockharts’ drug dealing because Max bought some that night and Noah actually helped him pay for it.
In relation to the investigation, in their interrogations both Alison and Noah hinted at Oscar being to blame for Scott’s death. Alison alluded to the families’ history and ongoing feuds and Noah comes right out and says that Jeffries should talk to him. I wonder if this is at all motivated by resentment. He was the reason that both of their spouses were made aware of their affair.
Noah’s memories continue to be self-serving at the oddest moments. When he takes Martin to the ranch to say goodbye, Cole tells him that Martin is a good kid but that it seems like he’s crying out for attention. Noah simply smiles and shrugs it off with a comment about all teenage boys wanting attention. Hey Noah, remember when Martin pretended to hang himself before you left for Montauk? What about a few days ago when he slept at the Lockhart Ranch and you didn’t even realize he was gone?
When Alison recalls this same encounter, Cole’s remarks stay the same but Noah reacts somewhat defensively. In response to being told his son has been hardworking, Noah scoffs thinking they must have the wrong kid. He continues with, perhaps Cole should talk to him again when he has a teenage son of his own. Which, knowing about Gabriel is just plain callous of him.
I thought it was so odd when Noah closed the living room curtains in his apartment, alleging to Helen that he didn’t want them to be exposed. I kept thinking, is this his shady affair-having nature coming out? Then when we see Alison’s POV we understand that he saw her outside, peeping in and was shutting her away. Interesting to note that Helen doesn’t join the family hug in Noah’s memory but she does in Alison’s. In fact, for Alison, the Solloway family seems right as rain, definitely a tough blow for her.
Noah was willing to risk everything for the small chance that he could get his life back on track. He seemed to feel truly guilty about the affair and then in a totally mind-boggling way, he placed the blame for his actions completely outside of himself. Alison on the other hand, didn’t intend for the secret to be revealed but she shouldered all the blame. She removed herself from their home to give Cole space and when he wonders if it was something he did wrong, she instantly assures him otherwise.