Previously on The Affair, “309”
When the promo for this finale aired after last week’s episode, it seemed pretty obvious we were going to get another Noah-centric hour. In a state of denial, I held out hope the show was pulling a fast one; surely it would have to give us one last glimpse at Alison and Cole. Unfortunately, I was deeply mistaken. Alison and Cole were nowhere in sight and the episode barely even took place in America, let alone Montauk. No, we were stuck in Paris (which seems bizarre to write) with not only a Noah POV, but a Juliette one as well. To spend this finale in such an unfamiliar setting, populated (at least largely so) with characters we barely know or care about, was a choice both baffling and maddening. The dueling perspectives weren’t even enough to save it. To say this finale was a disappointment would be a colossal understatement.
Someone working on The Affair clearly has a fixation on Noah. This entire season devoted itself, in vain, to the rehabilitation of his character, and attempted to excuse his poor past (and present) behavior by showing us just how much his mother’s death affected him. If this was such an important part of his psyche, why wait so long to tell us about it? Why not offer a few hints or subtle insights, here and there, throughout seasons 1 and 2? One could only assume it would have made for a much better build up, a stronger reveal, and a far more emotionally impactful end result. If this endeavor had been successful, perhaps it wouldn’t feel like a complete waste of time, but success is not a word this giant mess is worthy of.
Juliette’s place here, in particular, is wildly undeserved. The character is sorely underdeveloped, in all aspects, but especially in terms of her infatuation with Noah. It remains unclear what, exactly, she gets out of a relationship with a man who rather callously rejected her sexual advances, crashed her beloved car, and yet still came to her for shelter when he was in need. I feel sorry for Irène Jacob, whose talents were almost certainly wasted in playing this walking stereotype. The story of Juliette, Sabine, and Etienne (these names feel so foreign in this review, and not because they’re French) could be interesting. It would need a hell of a lot more depth and a major fine-tuning for its characters, but it definitely doesn’t belong on The Affair. Even a Luisa POV would have made more sense.
How did Juliette and Noah even get to this point in their relationship? Last we saw, Noah wasn’t that into her, and was suffering with a serious mental illness. Now he’s happy-go-lucky again? Honestly, I don’t really care how it happened, and I hope we don’t see any flashbacks that explain it in season four. But, it’s hard to ignore the obvious time gap. The Affair was hell bent on redeeming Noah, but instead of spending time with him during what was likely an important recovery phase, the show chose to fast forward in order to wrap the season in a contrived little bow.
Though Whitney had mentioned her upcoming trip to Paris with her pompous excuse for a boyfriend, Furkat, her and Noah’s chance encounter still felt highly manufactured. As did the fight Noah witnessed between his daughter and the “artist.” What luck that he should stroll to the gallery at just the right time to see Whitney assaulted. Even their conversation afterwards was predictable; she has daddy issues, big surprise! Here was yet another effort to redeem Noah, to show that he had finally learned his lesson. Truthfully, this was the best crack at it so far, and if the scenes between he and Whitney hadn’t felt so cookie-cutter perfect, it may have actually worked. Unfortunately, it was all way over baked. I feel sorry for Julia Goldani Telles, too, for the utter nonsense she had to express while portraying Whitney. Sure, her character is bound to be at least a little screwed up, thanks to her top-notch parentage. But for Whitney to have turned into even more of a cliché, instead of someone nuanced, someone who defied the expected outcome of her situation, is a damn shame.
It’s probably (most definitely) wishful thinking, but maybe, just maybe, next season really will be The Alison and Cole Show. At this point, it feels as though things with Helen and Noah are pretty wrapped up. In her brief appearance, Helen is back with Vic and things look idyllic as the family celebrates on Christmas Eve. In choosing Whitney over Juliette, Noah has made some small progress – even if it’s too little too late for the audience to care. So, that really just leaves the unfinished business between the people in Montauk. If season four is meant to be the last – please let it be the last – Montauk would be a fitting setting for its end.
- With Juliette taking up half of the hour, she’s had as much screen time this season as Cole. In what world is this fair and balanced, or even enjoyable? Cole is a main character we’ve been following for 2 seasons, and Juliette is the randomest random who ever randomed, but, OK. At this rate, next season will feature the dueling perspectives of Stacey and Trevor, and the intricate differences in their memories of that time they argued in their grandparents’ pool.
- I guess we should be grateful we didn’t get a Gunther POV.
- The only marginally satisfying aspect of this finale was seeing Noah at a loss for where he would go once he arrived back in New York. He has no one, and he knows it.
- I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m talking to no one but, if you’re out there, thanks for sticking out this craptacular season with me. See you next season. Maybe.
The Affair S3E10
The Affair – S3E10 – “310” | Starring: Dominic West, Ruth Wilson, Maura Tierney, Joshua Jackson, Julia Goldani Telles, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Brendan Fraser