This is another case of The Affair going absolutely nowhere in its storytelling while still proving to be immensely engrossing and entertaining.
Alison’s side was surely more interesting this time where events take place right after last week’s episode. Noah’s absence from this hour does wonders for this show and for Alison in particular. Without him, she goes through a whole spectrum of emotions, from rage and anger when she discovers Noah’s book (which paints her as this horrible slut which “no marriage can survive from”) to sheer devastation (when her neighbors fire her from the one thing that’s been keeping her busy in the woods) to helplessness as she goes to New York looking for Noah (in a fantastic scene with Helen) and ends up at her old house in Montauk, in the arms of her soon-to-be ex-husband.
To say this was another unsettling episode is a bit much (this was not a Helen-centric episode after all), but this is still a truly exceptional show. When Robert gets an erection in that uncomfortable scene between him and Alison, it drove me crazy. It’s exactly the kind of unexpected, unnerving scene that only this show can pull off so perfectly without appearing like it’s trying too hard. The fact that the sequence immediately goes from Alison and Robert sharing a real, honest conversation to the two of them awkwardly looking away makes it even more uncomfortable to watch. We can’t say we didn’t see this coming though, what with the shot of Alison’s hands rubbing Robert’s legs and all.
Cole’s version wasn’t as captivating as I’d wanted, and that might be because the episode doesn’t tell two alternate sides of the same story this time (which I weirdly love), but instead focuses on making Cole seem even more depressing than the last time we saw him. It does seem like it’s about to get better after he bumps into Luisa again, and I have to admit that Catalina Sandino absolutely brightens up this side of the show. Every scene between her and Cole is charming and delightful, so thank God for her presence. I just wish she’s the one who murders Scotty so we won’t have to hear him talk anymore; the guy is a douche.
And yet, the most captivating scene of the hour (and yes I use this word quite a lot when discussing this show) comes much later, particularly during Alison and Cole’s reunion. I literally got the chills when Cole arrived at his old house and suspected an intruder or something because we (the audience) knew in advance through Alison’s perspective that she’s the one who’s in there. How they find their way back to each other (even if just for the night) is chilling and beautiful – a love scene unlike any other on this show, and I love how it contrasts with Alison and Noah’s typical sex scenes (rough sex on the couch, in the pool, etc.) or even with the loud sex scene between Cole and that married woman in the beginning. What a compelling, lovely scene, even though we know from the flash-forwards that these two won’t find their way back to each other.
Speaking of those flash-forwards, the show decided to dump quite the adequate amount of information on us in the closing moments of the hour. The detective is back, but that’s not nearly as intriguing as the lawyer’s accusations which once again make it seem like Cole is Scotty’s real murderer. We do find out that Cole starts the Lockhart’s Lobster Roll from underneath his brother’s nose and somehow, for some reason, hires Oscar (the most outrageous character on the show). Well, who’s watching this for the murder mystery anyway?
Unfaithful Flings & Bits
– At first, I thought it was weird how Yvonne was suddenly acting weird and offensive towards Alison. Then I remembered that Yvonne was always quite different in Alison’s perspective (drinking and saying outrageous things at dinner a few episodes back), but I still absolutely love Joanna Gleason no matter what version of her character she plays.
– Just the fact that these people can play different versions of their characters on the same show is fascinating, no?
– Before the awkward scene starts, Alison and Robert do share a very tender moment when the latter reveals that he was married when he first met Yvonne. Even better is Alison recounting how she and Noah met (quoted below).
– Loved Alison and Helen’s scene (also quoted below). It’s so sharply written and perfectly acted, and Helen’s dark clothes and blonde streaks were a nifty little touch.
– Also loved the shot of Alison staring at herself in the mirror. Chilling and beautiful.
– When Cole walked into the mansion and started fucking with that woman, I seriously thought he had become a prostitute. On that note, how soapy was that entire scene? The woman screaming “you were supposed to be golfing” to her husband who walked in on them was absolutely hilarious and something I’d expect on any other overly dramatic show.
– Seriously, Cole and Alison kissing and crying in bed is so different and amazing. Why aren’t these two back together already?
Robert: I always suspected there was something a little more to the story about the lighthouse and the rain. Like spouses?
Alison: It was insane the way it happened, Robert. How, I met him, and he said he was married, and I was married, so I thought “Well, good. This is safe. We can just be friends.” And then we were walking home one night and he kissed me, just on the cheek, and…God, I felt this bolt of electricity course through me. And I realized, fuck no. No, we can’t. I-I tried to stay away from him, but he was everywhere. It’s a tiny town. And then, that one night, he kissed me on the beach, and…it was the first time in my life I… I couldn’t say no.
Robert: Don’t let anybody fool you into getting old. They wax on and on about it being really satisfying. You know what’s really satisfying? Cartilage.
Helen: At first, Noah seems like the greatest guy on earth. He’s there for you, and he wants you, and he’s romantic and passionate and understanding. But then you start to really get to know each other, and he feels safe enough to let you see who he really is. And then he takes all of his fears, all of his failure, all of his petty bullshit, all of his fucking headaches in the morning, and he makes all of that your fault. And then you become the enemy just because you know who he is. And then one day, somebody’s going to show up at your house, thinking they fell in love with the greatest guy on earth.
Alison: I’m afraid there might be something wrong with me.
Cole: What’s that supposed to mean?
Alison: What, does everyone think I’m just a slut?
This show can do absolutely nothing in the span of an hour and still be enormously mesmerizing.