Initially, I had very mixed feelings about this episode. Plot-wise, nothing really happened this week that moved the story forward. And yet, why was this still captivating?
So instead of splitting an episode into two halves, we now have four different parts spread across two consecutive episodes. It’s a fascinating new storytelling device because it finally gives Helen and Cole the opportunity to become actual characters as opposed to being merely bits and pieces from their spouses’ perspectives. And just two episodes into this season, I can already tell I’m loving Helen and Cole’s viewpoints a lot more than Alison and Noah’s.
Alison’s part in particular wasn’t so interesting this week. It’s been a little difficult to feel an emotional connection with this character because, besides losing her son, she and Noah have been pretty awful and selfish people. At least last year it was intriguing to watch her interact with Cole’s family members (who are nothing less than terrible themselves), but here it became a little exhausting to see her bored in the woods. The pace picked up when she got offered a job to help her neighbors, but her scenes with Noah are sadly not something I enjoy.
What I did enjoy was seeing Cole and that’s mostly due to Joshua Jackson’s impeccable performance here. In the first season, the only Cole we witnessed was a cold-hearted, unlikable one so it was definitely a huge relief to see that he’s a lot more than that. Jackson sold every scene PERFECTLY as we saw the consequences of his deteriorating marriage. And how chilling was the scene where he drove Helen’s father home? It took me a few moments to realize that these two don’t know each other (and why would they?), and that added a lot more intrigue to an already incredible scene. Plus, did we know Helen’s parents are divorcing?
But other than seeing Cole become a lousy-dressed taxi driver, we also got a few more inconsistencies when the two perspectives overlapped and that’s always something I look forward to on this show. Sometimes the wild contradictions can be exhausting, but other than being a new form of entertainment, they’re also a smart look at how humans view memories. Comparing Alison’s side this week to Noah’s last week, all we get out of it is how selfish and self-absorbed Noah is. He doesn’t even remember her mentioning the “new job” in the first episode and she recalls him becoming rather defensive about it. While the show has made it abundantly clear that there is no right or wrong answer here, it’s still quite fascinating to see these two once their stories interconnect, even if I still can’t care at all about them as a couple. But it’s Cole’s reunion with Alison that carries the heaviest emotional load, particularly the way Cole views it: calm, forgiving, and heartbreaking. These two have gone through so much together and watching Cole bluntly come out and ask her if she’s ever coming back is both sad and satisfying to watch.
While the flash-forwards managed to cram some interesting story into the hour, especially the end with Noah getting charged for Scotty’s murder, the tonal difference between those scenes and the preceding ones was jarring. I’m not into the whole murder mystery as I am intrigued into everything else because that aspect of the show is still trying to find its footing, even after twelve episodes. But even without moving the story anywhere, there’s no denying that The Affair never looked better. It’s really visually stunning and captivating in every little scene. If it can still take my breath away every week while slightly focusing on moving the momentum forward, this can be another groundbreaking season of television.
Unfaithful Flings & Bits
– It’s so weird and funny how much time the show spent on focusing on the toilet incident. But let’s please pretend Alison didn’t just take a dump outside like that.
– I really hate how terrifying and mean Alison viewed Cole in the first half of the episode. But even worse is Noah, asking her about her house and whatnot. Jerk.
– I wish Alison didn’t lie to Noah about the plumbing situation. I kind of want these two broken up already.
– So is something about to happen between Cole and the babysitter?
– It’s also interesting how Alison sees Cole as more focused and better looking while he views himself as weak with a long beard and messy hair.
– I loved seeing Cole in the flash-forward in a suit and everything. Very heart-wrenching to see him meet Alison and the baby (a girl named Joey). He and Helen are by far my favorite two characters on this show right now.
Cole: I’ll fix it. Where are the tools?
Alison: Look, forget it. I’m calling a plumber.
Cole: What, he doesn’t have tools?
Robert: It’s not a glamorous job, and you seem horribly overqualified for this position.
Bruce: My son-in-law left my daughter recently. He’s a pathetic son of a bitch, and as far as I’m concerned, good riddance. But it got me thinking. If that poor, talentless schmuck thinks he deserves to be happy, why don’t I?
Cole: Can I ask you a question before I head back? Are you ever coming home?
Alison: I don’t think so. I’m sorry.
Cole: That’s okay. I just needed to hear that.
Despite moving the plot nowhere, parts three and four of last week’s episode were still breathtaking and hard not to love.