Previously on The Affair
This premiere left me feeling fairly ambivalent about the show and what’s to come. On the one hand, the setting and cinematography are still as beautiful as ever, and the addition of new perspectives (Helen and Cole) really open up the possibilities for where the story can go. On the other, the pacing felt even slower than last season and I found myself zoning out during certain scenes. There was some full-frontal male nudity, though, so that’s a plus.
It’s the dead of night and a car is speeding down the road in pursuit of another vehicle. It’s foggy and it’s difficult to tell who’s driving, aside from the fact that there’s clearly a man’s hand on the steering wheel. Just as the car in pursuit skids to a crashing stop, Noah wakes up. If The Affair didn’t have a fondness for mystery, I’d say this was enough evidence for the audience to pin Scott Lockhart’s death on Noah, but it’s probably nothing more than a red herring.
Then again, Noah has decided to change the ending of his book to one that doesn’t involve a murder. Couple that with the fact that his book has a family with four brothers in it – just like the Lockhart’s – and it’s easy to wonder how much of this he’s taking from real life. If he’s feeling guilty about his actions, it could be translating to his work. It’s worth noting however that it’s unclear whether Scott is actually dead at this point in the timeline, though. Despite Noah’s assertion that this ending is subtler and more powerful his publisher, Harry, doesn’t agree.
When Noah arrives at his old apartment, ready to move his stuff out, he’s surprised to find Helen’s mother waiting for him. C’mon, Noah, did you really expect Helen and your kids to be there and watch you move on with your life? Margaret informs Noah that she and Helen collected his things and left them in the basement. All he finds however are a few suitcases and a fold-up chair. Everything else has to be appraised first and once they know the value, they’ll ship him what he’s legally owed. Or, because Margaret is still convinced that Noah just wants that Butler money, they’ll just write him a check.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#4A7097″ class=”” size=””]“You know, now that you mention it, there was a sort of rainbow shooting out of his dick last summer. I probably should have paid more attention to that.”- Helen[/pullquote]
As usual, Noah doesn’t take any of Margaret’s shit, and he storms through the house taking some paperbacks, old pots and mugs, and a painting from his father. Margaret threatens to call the police but Noah counters with a threat to throw her down the stairs. Of course, Margaret lied about his kids not being home and his eldest son, Martin, hears the altercation. It’s clear that this divorce is taking a huge toll on the kids. Martin is suffering from progressively worse stomachaches, and when the younger son, Trevor, discovers that the divorce is in fact going through, he punches his dad square on the nose. Can’t say I blame him for that.
Apparently, Noah is antsy to move on. Not only did he schedule a moving truck but he’s also got a meeting with Helen and a divorce lawyer. A lawyer who is quirky as fuck and seems to relish in these types of proceedings, making horrible jokes the whole way through. Surprisingly Helen and Noah don’t get too petty with one another. He doesn’t want the house or any profits from her store and she doesn’t want anything from his book deal, even after she finds out that he’s getting $400,000 for it. The main topic of discussion is joint custody, which she doesn’t fight him on but makes it clear that she doesn’t want Alison anywhere near her kids.
Speaking of Alison, she’s pretty much the only good thing Noah has left. They’ve relocated to a guesthouse in Cold Spring, NY, and their relationship seems nauseatingly perfect. After the two of them share a dance to music only they can hear (barf,) a quite literal dark and foreboding storm cloud approaches the house. This likely signifies Noah’s eventual arrest, which brings us to the future/present day.
Noah is in jail and Detective Jeffries arrives to offer him some advice. The judge overseeing this case lost his wife in a hit-and-run and therefore won’t be lenient in his ruling. Noah could face up to 25 years in prison if he goes to trial, so the detective recommends taking a plea deal. We know that Jeffries has lied to both Noah and Alison before, so who’s to say that he isn’t now? In the end, Noah asks to see a lawyer.
The opening of the second part of the episode, eventually revealed to be Helen’s perspective, gives us some insight into the chaos that is her new life. She’s in a completely trashed hotel room having some seriously awkward hangover sex with Max, Noah’s BFF. It’s hard to tell at this point whether she’s sleeping with him as a means of revenge against Noah or if she’s truly happy. Max does nothing but adore her throughout the episode and you can’t blame her for wanting that type of attention right now.
Helen is definitely in pain and if Max isn’t a coping mechanism, her new vaporizer certainly is. She smokes pot twice in this episode, both times before a stressful event, the first one being her meeting with Noah. This is the only scene that’s shown from both perspectives and there are a couple of interesting differences.
The clothing is what caught my eye first. In Noah’s memory Helen is wearing white and he’s in a suit. In Helen’s memory she’s wearing all black and he’s in a leather jacket. Helen’s all-black attire reflects the depression she’s feeling, in contrast with the more neutral or detached white that Noah remembers. Noah’s leather jacket could be seen as relaxed or indifferent, which is certainly how he’s portrayed in her memory. In a suit, he remembers himself to be more respectable.
The divorce lawyer is the second discrepancy. For Noah, this guy was almost farcical, while Helen’s memory paints him as jaded and rude. Finally, it’s Helen who brings up the matter of custody, suggesting that Noah look for a place in the city. In this version he can’t afford an apartment but Helen offers to help him out. Instead of his success being questioned it’s hers, when Noah scoffs at the idea of her store making enough money to help him out financially. While I don’t think Helen’s memory is a complete lie, it’s evident that things are a little cloudy because of her grief, and probably in part due to the weed.
There were three distinct points during Helen’s POV that really emphasized how Noah is getting a fresh start, while Helen is left to deal with the aftermath of his infidelity. The first is when two mothers are gossiping about her divorce, right in front of her, at Stacey’s ballet class. Compare that to when Noah ran into an old friend who was under the impression that nothing had changed, and talked about making plans with him and Helen. Noah didn’t have to face it, Helen did. Next is when Helen arrives home to find Trevor in hysterics after being told by his father that the divorce is going to happen. Again, Helen has to deal with that shit on her own. Finally, after what seemed like the best part of her day – kissing Max goodnight – she’s left alone in the room she shared with Noah for so many years, looking at the blank space on the wall from the painting he took. A blank space that surely represents the one she now feels in her life.
The second time that Helen smokes pot is later that night before attending a benefit for her mother’s new dance company. Rich folks have too much time on their hands. When she arrives at the gala, Max is waiting for her, much to the delight of Margaret. Turns out that Helen, Noah, and Max were very close in college and Margaret always thought her daughter would end up with Max. Which is probably why she chose Noah. Max is over-the-top with his affection towards Helen, but she seems distant. He slips her a pot lozenge under the table, so at least he’s good for that.
Flash-forward to the present/future again, to the most perplexing part of the episode. Helen arrives with a lawyer, who she’s paying to represent Noah. Which raises the question: what the hell happened between then and now to make Helen willing to pay for that lawyer?