Previously on The Affair, ‘205’
Margaret just loves the sound of her own voice. She has an opinion for everything. Perhaps if she were a pleasant person, her constant slew of verbal vomit wouldn’t be so awful. But she’s absolutely horrible. She’s convinced Helen that Martin’s stomachaches are psychologically triggered so instead of seeking out a medical specialist, Martin has been going to a psychiatrist. Helen had to learn the hard way, when Martin is rushed to the emergency room, that her son’s pain was more than just metal stress.
Martin’s condition escalates from bad to worse very quickly. Within moments of seeing a doctor, he’s rushed into surgery because of a perforated bowel. Helen and Noah have no time for this to sink in, they simply have to reassure their son that everything will be ok. The high-intensity and emotion of this scene was so on point; the anxiety was palpable. And though the pacing slows a little while Helen and Noah wait for their son, the tension remains. Noah blames Helen, Helen blames Noah, and their arguing starts to reach a breaking point when the doctor returns from surgery.
Martin has Crohn’s disease and, now more than ever, Helen and Noah are going to have to start cooperating so they can focus on what’s most important moving forward. After seeing the state her own parents are in – Bruce and Margaret completely hi-jack their daughter’s custody meeting and end up in a screaming match about their own petty problems – Helen is motivated to take a better, far less miserable path. She’s tried of fighting and wants Noah to have co-custody. She even grants Alison permission to be around the kids. All this character growth was beautifully done and it only got better.
Helen leaves Martin at the hospital with Noah and this upsets Margaret (shocker!) Helen does her best to walk away from her mother but Mrs. Never-shuts-the-fuck-up keeps pushing. It’s clear Helen has been subduing her frustration for about forty-plus years because what comes out feels like it’s been a lifetime in the making. She’s had enough of allowing her mother to influence her decisions so highly and not just with Martin’s illness, but also with everything in her life. Margaret never liked Noah and was able to slowly chip away at Helen’s view of her ex-husband. “I loved him for who he was and you convinced me that he wasn’t enough.”
After tossing her mother out on the street – which must have been extremely cathartic – Helen breaks down. In a nice contrast, which hopefully foretells a more positive future for this mother-daughter relationship, Whitney doesn’t hesitate in being emotionally supportive to Helen.
Ten days after Helen’s POV, Noah and the kids are preparing for Martin’s return home from the hospital. The Solloways are functional, loving, and happy, something we’ve barely seen from them. For a brief moment everything seems perfect, until it’s time for Noah to leave and their new reality crashes back in. He’s excited to show the kids his new apartment next weekend, but when Whitney learns that it’s only a 2 bedroom, her privilege kicks in and she refuses to go. Helen offers Noah her place for the weekend and it seems like these two are truly going to make it work.
In order to make that part of his life better, however, Noah’s had to make some sacrifices; he hasn’t seen Alison in six weeks. She’s been living at a yoga retreat with her mother, Athena, and he’s confused when Alison won’t drop everything at a moment’s notice to return to the city with him. In his mind, the past six weeks have been about making his future with Alison better. The divorce is finalized, he has a new apartment, and she can finally be around his kids. For Alison, this time away has been very distancing (made especially clear when she later introduces Noah as her “friend”) and she’s had a lot of time to consider their relationship. Especially now that she’s read parts of Noah’s book.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#4a7097″ class=”” size=””]“I hate you. I really do. And I want you to get out of my house” – Helen[/pullquote]
The more Noah tries to convince people that the novel is not about Alison, the more it becomes clear that’s exactly who it’s about. Why else would he become so defensive upon discovering that she’s read it? Either way, Alison has used this depiction of her – that she is sex – to do some soul searching. After Gabriel died, she found it hard to talk to people so she resorted to sex and reckless behavior as a way to feel something without having to communicate. Now that she’s gone six weeks without sex, Alison feels clear-headed for the first time in years. Something Noah is immediately unsupportive of, “that’s something you’re going to continue when we leave here?” Noah, you never cease to find new ways of disgusting me.
Noah stays at the retreat for the day and ends up meeting a writer who he openly gushes over. The writer, Sebastian Junger, gives him some unexpected advice for the writer’s block Noah is experiencing: Reiki. Athena is finally given the chance to work her spiritual stuff on Noah, this time with his full cooperation. She evaluates his Chakra’s and claims he’s having a creative block. She says that he’s attracted to darkness, while being afraid of it at the same time. Athena wants Noah to give into the darkness so he can have a moment of higher consciousness. It’s then that Noah’s visions from throughout the season finally become clear: he’s the one driving the car and Alison is the woman he runs down.
Fired up after this vision, Noah storms into Alison’s yoga class and drags her into the woods. He loves a good opportunity to blame things on other people; “I blew up my life for you, Alison…and you can’t leave because you got a fucking yoga class?” What a selfish whiner. And then he rapes his fiancé against a tree. You could argue that Alison didn’t protest but she didn’t say yes, either. On top of which, she had just finished telling him how much better she felt after not having sex for a month and a half, and it felt like Noah needed to take his control back. Then the situation got even more uncomfortable when Alison revealed she is pregnant. Some combination of the day’s events leads Noah to rewrite the end of his book. Looks like Harry the publisher is getting the murder scene he’s been pushing for.
- First Helen agreed to pay for Noah’s lawyer and now she’s willing to dish out $100,000 – she’ll sell her house if she has to – to obtain a potential lead from Oscar. What’s behind these motivations? Does she truly believe in Noah’s innocence, or is there another piece of the puzzle yet to be seen?
- Before leaving to see Alison, Noah looks back at his old home in a curious way. Was he coming to terms with the end of that chapter in his life? Or, was he looking back regretfully?
- Alison’s baby is definitely Cole’s and not Noah’s. There’s no doubt in my mind. #TeamCole
- I hate Noah. That is all.
The Affair S2E6
Though intersecting memories are the signature style of The Affair, it’s a refreshing change for the show to stick with the linear structure for a second week. As an audience, it’s hard not to pick apart the differences in clothing or attitude when the memories overlap. Not having the impulse to focus on this allows for the two halves of the story to connect in a much more rewarding way. Not only that, it gives more time for each of the characters to be explored in their POV, which is helping to move the plot along at a much more exciting pace.
It still continues to intrigue me that Noah comes off as such an asshole in everybody’s narrative and often he’s the most egregious in his own. His obliviousness makes me laugh; it’s nice that he acknowledged his blind spot in regards to Gabriel but it’s too little too late, buddy. This is one of the first times Alison has seemed like a fully realized character in his memories. Typically she’s very mysterious or overly sexual (almost a fantasy,) so it was great to see her narrative from last week carry over and have consequences here.
The flash-forwards seem to be detached from any one character in particular and this is promising. They’re becoming the only objective part of the show. I’m hoping they’ll continue to come more into focus in the last four episodes, and give us a better insight into the story as a whole.