Previously, on The Affair: “7”
Mr. Solloway is teaching a class on Romeo & Juliet, and I think we’re supposed to gather that he’s Mr. Cool Guy because he allows his students to say “fuck”, and he’ll even repeat the word back to them. When he tells his students that pure love cannot last in an impure world, is he talking about his love for Helen or Alison? Time will tell I suppose.
That night, he meets Helen for dinner, and things seem relatively happy between them. She shares the big news that her store will be prominently featured in the New York Times Style section, and he gifts her a gold necklace for “sticking it out” with him. Things turn sour fast when she refuses the gift, saying they need to pay their credit card bills first, when what she really means is her forgiveness can’t be purchased at Tiffany’s.
While talking to Martin about his slipping grades, we discover that some time has elapsed since the summer because a semester of school has already passed. Martin wants to go to private school because he’s getting bullied, but Noah asks him to tough it out for another semester. Helen believes that Whitney is bulimic and blames herself and her harsh mother for causing the problem. This may be clue #1 that Whitney is pregnant. Stressors are compounding for Helen: she wants to care for her daughter, make sure the store is ready for the magazine shoot, and there’s an event for her father this weekend that she feels she needs to attend since her own mother won’t be going.
During a therapy session, Helen admits that marrying Noah was a safe choice. She could have had anyone, but she chose Noah because she thought they would have a normal, quiet life together. Noah wants to move on from the summer but can’t live up to the standards that Helen has because it makes him feel like a fraud. He offers to go to Montauk for her to represent the family, which she is obviously very against, at first.
Alison, of course, is working at the event, and she’s wearing that same skintight, black dress from the night of the Butler party in the summer. She pours him some wine, says it was nice to see him, and walks away. Bruce takes Noah outside to confront him about Alison, insult his book, and tell him about an affair he had many years ago. He tells Noah that he used that affair to write one of his novels, the only one that was shortlisted for a Pulitzer. It feels almost like he’s absolving Noah of his actions, as long as he takes Bruce’s writing advice. Gross.
Bruce gets a ride home with someone else, leaving Noah conveniently alone when he notices Alison is upset. Her nana has had a heart attack, but she doesn’t have a car and can’t find a taxi. Where is Cole? Doesn’t one of the Lockhart brothers run a taxi service? Whatever. Noah drives Alison to the hospital, and though she asks him to accompany her, he appropriately declines.
Back at the Butlers’ home, Noah hears some grunting – which I definitely thought was Bruce having sex with the cleaning lady or something – and finds Bruce unable to get out of his chair. Noah comes to his aid and then asks him if he ever thinks about his affair to which Bruce replies: everyday. It feels as though there has been an attempt to soften Bruce’s character and to make him more similar to Noah. Not sure if I’m here for that, though; not yet, anyway.
Bruce’s divulgence provokes Noah to head back to the hospital, where he finds Alison’s nana close to her final moments. I’m not sure how he can know this, unless something very similar happened with his mother when she died. Even still, Alison’s reaction is strange. She’s a nurse; shouldn’t she have recognized that Noah was correct almost immediately? It’s possible she was just too consumed with her own grief but something didn’t sit right with me about this scene. The next thing we see, Noah and Alison are parked in an empty lot, she’s sleeping and he’s brooding. Why did they park there? What’s he up too?
Cut to the present/future and Detective Jeffries is attending a book signing for Noah’s second novel, which is successful enough that it’s being made into a movie. Noah reads a section of his book for the crowd, and as he’s describing a blue boat on the side of the road with grass growing inside of it, we see that Jeffries is looking at pictures of this very boat. It’s the boat that’s on the side of the highway on the way to The End nightclub.
The Lockharts are all together at Cherry’s place to celebrate Thanksgiving. The brothers are sorting through the family’s belongings when Scott finds an old toy trunk of Gabriel’s. Cherry decides she’ll keep it, and Alison is grateful for it. During dinner, there’s discussion about how the brothers will spend their share of the sale money and – clue #2 that Whitney might be pregnant – Scott plans to buy a place in the city, since he’s been travelling there so often as of late. Cole tells them to slow down; they haven’t even put the ranch up for sale, and there’s still a lot of work to be done first. Just then, the ceiling starts leaking. Cherry forgot to turn the faucet off in the tub upstairs.
Cole believes his mother is showing early signs of dementia because she’s been so forgetful lately. Alison wonders if Cherry is trying to slow down the sale of the ranch since everything she’s been forgetting has led to some destruction of the house. The two of them seem much happier than we’ve known them to be. They’re smiling and giggling with each other, and the sex seems enjoyable for them instead of being just an escape.
The next morning, Alison gets a phone call from Athena with the news that her nana had a heart attack. When she arrives at the hospital, Athena has brought along her new “friend” Dennis, the perfect match for Athena; he’s just as sanctimonious as her. Athena wants Alison to sign a “Do Not Resuscitate” form because nana isn’t long for this world. Back at the ranch, Alison asks Cole for advice about the DNR form, but he’s pretty cold about it, changing the subject quickly to the incompetent appraiser he’s working with. Alison mentions that she’s got a catering gig that night, but she’s not sure for what event.
Once Alison discovers what the event is – for which she is dressed in what looks like a perfectly normal catering uniform and not a slinky black dress – she tries to get out of it but is relegated to coat check duty. Eventually, Noah finds her. He calls her a traitor – for reading Bruce’s book – but there’s definitely more than one meaning there. The two head outside for a smoke, and Noah tells her how beautiful she looks. She ignores this, talking instead about how happy she and Cole are, really playing it up, almost as if she’s trying to convince herself of the fact as well.
Alison receives another call about her nana, and they’re off to the hospital; this time with Noah offering his company and Alison politely declining. Athena pushes for the DNR form to be signed, and it’s obvious now to Alison that her mother just wants her to do the dirty work, so she can feel free to leave.
Noah finds Alison in a waiting room and offers his support with her decision. He immediately seems to know the right thing to say to her. Reassuring her that this is not the same situation as with Gabriel and that it may be an act of compassion to let her elderly grandmother pass on in peace. Regardless of which memory was true, Alison was with Noah when her nana died, not Cole, and it seems as though that was her choice. She never attempts to call Cole in either of their recollections.
It couldn’t have been longer than an hour after the decision was made that Athena was rushing out again; no time for a funeral. She’s spewing some new age-y nonsense about how she needs to leave so she can start healing from this “archetypal wound” of losing her mother. Alison – though not buying any of her mother’s bullshit – most definitely understands the loss of a mother.
Noah drives Alison back to Cherry’s – a little conspicuous no? – and they both admit to loving the other. Alison avoids the family inside, heading upstairs to look at Gabriel’s toy trunk. It’s heartbreaking to watch but Alison seems as though she’s not completely consumed with the grief anymore.
Detective Jeffries attends Scott’s funeral, which has apparently been very delayed. He notices, as did I, that Alison is sitting rather far back in the church and not at all with the rest of the Lockhart family. She looks sad but also kind of shady and uncomfortable.
Jeffries heads back to The End, asking the front desk clerk to check for the name “Solloway” again, but this time in the cancellations on Labor Day, and this time she finds something. Labor day would have been after the Solloways had gone back to Brooklyn meaning that Noah was at that club more than once. Or is it possible that a different Solloway made that reservation? Before leaving, Jeffries asks for the number of someone that can repair his car – even though it’s completely fine – and the clerk says there’s a guy whom everyone in town goes to. Who is this mystery auto-mechanic, and what answers will he have?