Right after I finished watching this pilot, I thought to myself: my goodness, jackpot! This show has it all: a compelling tangled love story, an intriguing complicated mystery and an emotionally gripping storytelling device that can’t possibly get boring anytime soon.
But it’s really not just the “he said, she said” gadget that I enjoyed about The Affair in its first episode—mind you, watching two different perspectives recall the events that led to their affair is brilliant—but there’s more to the show than that. It proved with just one episode that it’s a psychological romantic mystery drama—yes, all those, all at once.
The pilot does exactly what pilots are supposed to do, and it does so perfectly. It introduces us to two stories: one of Noah’s, a happily married man who takes his wife and kids to his in-laws’ house in a small town near the beach, and the other of Alison’s, a married waitress who is still grieving with her husband over their child’s death two years ago.
The show is really beautiful. They couldn’t have picked a more visually stunning location for a show that so far seems perfectly written. I was instantly hooked in the second half of the episode when the inconsistencies of Noah and Alison’s stories begin to take place. It’s a captivating thing to watch, really, because it’s more than just about how they have different perspectives on the same story; it’s really about how a person’s memory gets clogged down on specific details, like what Alison was wearing, or which of them was smoking on their second run-in. The show is so real.
And the casting is marvelous. Both Dominic West and Ruth Wilson give top-notch performances, and seeing Maura Tierney and Joshua Jackson on my screen again is even better. I hope we could see their perspectives on this affair as being the people who were cheated on (season 2 perhaps?), but so far I don’t mind that they are the supporting characters of this story.
I’ve also always had a thing for flashbacks and flash-forwards (only if they are done right; I’m looking at you, How To Get Away With Murder) and The Affair seems to be handling those in a very calm and steady matter. The scenes at the police station don’t feel forced and out-of-place; instead, they are fascinating. I can’t wait to find out why Noah and Alison are discussing their affair with a detective, why their stories seem so different, and how far into the future those scenes are. So far, I am hooked.
Unfaithful Flings & Bits
– The pilot left us with more questions than answers, specifically with that amazing cliffhanger where we find out Alison has a child! I can’t wait to find out if it’s Noah’s child as well.
– I love how Noah remembers Alison taking off her clothes and showering after he walks her home, while she remembers staying fully-clothed until after he leaves. And I love not knowing which is true.
– Kudos for West and Wilson for playing two completely different sets of emotions in what is supposed to be one single scene.
Detective: Do you remember the first time you saw her?
Noah: Like it was yesterday.
Detective: What do you remember?
Noah: I remember her face, asshole. What do you want me to remember?
Noah: I was a happy man back then. Proud of my family. My first book had just come out. Everything I dreamed I’d achieve as a young man, I’d done it.
Noah: That’s just it. There is no ‘but’. When I look back, I can’t tell you why it happened.
Cole: Alison, let’s try to have a good day today.
A fantastic start to a series that will undoubtedly be one of this year’s best new shows.