What a fascinating, mind-blowing episode.
If you’re one of the people still baffled by the inconsistencies between the stories told in each perspective (which was most prevalent last season), then this episode might have just answered a whole lot for you. I was never bothered by the differences, but mostly just intrigued by this storytelling device; nevertheless, I was more than satisfied when Alison came down at Noah for telling his side of the affair in the book, the side we’ve all seen in his perspective last season.
The reason that scene is so powerful is the same reason we still (sort of) like Alison: we know that beneath the campy, slutty exterior that Noah paints her out to be in his dreadful book, Alison is actually a good person. Never has the show recognized its own ploy like that before, so it was downright compelling to watch Alison demand that she’s more than what Noah sees in his eyes. The two of them even bickering about the way they first met and other interesting callbacks from the pilot made this a more gripping hour than usual (the bit about Noah calmly watching Alison and Cole have sex outside was also a terrific meta moment). That entire sequence, owned by Ruth Wilson’s outstanding performance, is a bone-chilling, game-changing moment for the series and for Alison as well. I just wish she didn’t forgive him at the end.
Other than that terrific moment, this hour proved to be another compelling one for Alison. It was quite jarring to suddenly jump so many months in time as we realize how close to giving birth Alison is, even though we’d just discovered she’s pregnant last week. This time jump luckily worked in the show’s favor as the episode lacked the typical exposition-heavy dialogue that most time jumps impose on a show. In fact, even when The Affair is tiring (sometimes Cole’s depressing face can become tedious to watch), it’s still so gripping because it’s grounded in reality in a way that no other TV show is. Characters are so alive on this show, even the supporting ones that barely make a difference (and there’s a whole lot of them in this episode), and it’s refreshing to see how committed the writers are to these characters. So when the time jump happens and the show is filling us in on the lost time, it literally feels like we jumped ahead in time with them. There’s no shocking revelation from this lost time or a secret twist that the writers kept from us. It’s the little things on this show that matter the most.
In Cole’s part, we see how much Noah’s book affected the entire town of Montauk. Like I mentioned earlier, I think Cole’s story drags a little sometimes, but it was worth it this time to see Joshua Jackson take Cole on a spectrum of emotions since the moment he started reading Noah’s book to the moment he exploded at Thanksgiving dinner after learning some pretty awful things about his family. Cherry never fails to amuse me and it’s mostly due to Mare Winningham’s cheer-worthy performance. Somebody please cast this fantastic woman as a Big Bad somewhere because she has what it takes to make you love her even when she is conniving and brutal.
In fact, the whole show is devious that way: it makes you love it even when it’s the most uncomfortable or brutally honest thing you’ve ever seen. Is it Sunday already?
Unfaithful Flings & Bits
– Alison and Noah’s new fancy apartment is so beautifully shot, it makes you uncomfortable to watch. I love how that’s exactly what the show was aiming for: Alison has everything she could possibly dream of, but it doesn’t even look like a home. The whole sequence just gave me goosebumps.
– I still don’t like Athena (at all), but I do appreciate some of the concerns she voiced to Alison about Noah taking over her life.
– I loved Alison’s little chat with the waitress in the beginning for some reason. What a nice gal!
– That Cynthia chick from the Page Six gossip column was horrible, right? Jeez.
– How hilariously caricature-ish was Alison’s friend Jane? And yet, still SO real. Come on, we all have that one friend.
– Speaking of, it’s so interesting to see Max through Alison’s eyes for once.
– Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck make the most of the shaky close-ups on Alison’s face (especially during the dinner scene) which add a new level of uneasiness. Terrific.
– Heartwarming moment between Alison, Athena and Noah as they listen to the baby’s heartbeat.
– I still love Luisa and her growing relationship with Cole. His apology at the end felt so honest. Definitely rooting for these two. #Coluisa (I hope that’s not what they’re called).
– LOL at Cole hanging up on Scotty, who happened to be just behind him.
– Look, even Whitney was tolerable this time. Except for the part where she went to the Lockharts and started screaming after Scotty.
– Loved Cole and Whitney’s scene in the car where the show takes another poke at its storytelling discrepancies, recounting the time Cole pointed a gun at her last year which apparently isn’t the way he remembers that moment going down.
– So what about that final flash-forward? At first, it definitely sounded like Scotty and Alison slept together and he’s the father of the baby, but it makes more sense to conclude that he meant the baby is a Lockhart (with Cole being the father) especially after hearing Cherry rant about the family curse. I still don’t care for this murder mystery, but I am intrigued about this development.
– How weird was that family curse/magic scene? Felt very supernatural to me.
– Oscar is the worst. He’s such a far-fetched, one-dimensional character that totally disputes my point about the show writing “real” characters. Not cool, Oscar.
– I kind of want to read Descent now.
– Good news you probably already knew: this season is 12 episodes long! And then we take a depressing year-long break.
Jane: If he’s not racist or a republican, I’ll be okay.
Alison: You said the book was fiction.
Noah: Of course it is, but it’s based on true events.
Alison: No, he threw himself at me. He basically followed me home one night and watched me having sex with my husband.
Noah: Which you did for my benefit.
Alison: What? I didn’t even know you were there! And then you make out that I’m some sort of cold-hearted drug-dealing psychopath. Nothing is sacred to you. Nothing!
Alison: You wrote that I begged you to come to the hospital when my grandmother was dying.
Noah: You did.
Alison: No, I did not. You offered to help.
Alison: And then you killed me. You killed me at the end of your book. Did that happen, Noah? Am I remembering that part correctly?
Cole: To Noah Solloway. For writing his book, about Alison, about me, and about all of you.
Whitney: You pointed a gun at my head.
Cole: I think I was pointing it at your father.
Whitney: Well, I remember you pointing it at my head.
Another fascinating hour of television. What a PERFECT show.